Here’s some resources that have helped me over the years!
Note: Never take any “writing rules” as written in stone. Learning how lots of other authors write can be helpful in crafting your own methods. So keep an open mind about new techniques, but if something doesn’t work, don’t worry about it!
“Your novel’s structure” – A nice breakdown of important beats and where they need to be in a novel.
“Plot Mash Up: The Four Act Structure, The Twelve Point Outline & the Quest” – A handy chart that compares three different well known plot structures.
“The 8 C’s of Plotting” – A detailed structure to help with plots that are sagging or full of blank spaces.
Amanda Foody’s Plotting Process – A really quick and easy-to-understand method of plotting an entire novel based on your main character’s starting goal! More for people who already understand basic plot structure but are struggling to connect the dots with a new project.
“My Revision Process” – A nice breakdown of carefully planning and executing revisions from large issues to small stuff.
“The 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing” Series (link is to the first blog of series) – A nice primer/reminder for common mistakes to look for in the revision/editing phase. It’s a long series, so if you’re just focusing on a few weak points in your writing, skim for that fatal flaw and dig in!
Be Your Own Mentor – An in-depth guide to tackling revisions made by authors who participate in various mentorship programs.
Agent Jenny Bent’s Editorial Checklist (Twitter thread) – A short & sweet list of things to check in final editing stages of your manuscript.
“FORMATTING YOUR NOVEL MANUSCRIPT” – A very thorough guide for people who stress about formatting before sending to an agent/editor.
Query Letters/Finding Agents
The Query Shark – Infamous, endlessly helpful. Agent Janet Reid has been critiquing query letters for years. Start at the beginning and read ALL of them up to current before starting your query. Trust me. The link is to the first query letter she critiqued.
“HOW I GOT MY AGENT (PART 1: THE PARTS OF A GOOD QUERY)” – NYT bestselling author Susan Dennard talks about query structure.
“25 STEPS TO BEING A TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED AUTHOR: LAZY BASTARD EDITION” – A handy primer for anyone who wants to be traditionally published. Goes from the first draft to after your first book is released.
AgentQuery Connect’s Successful Query Forum – Tons of examples of successful queries to help you get a sense of what agents respond to!
QueryTracker.net – An extremely helpful database of literary agents. It’s a great place to start a list of possible agents to query (which you will pare down by doing research!) but its true usefulness lies in how it lets you keep track of who you’ve sent queries to, when, their response, etc.
Manuscript Wish List – Site full of agents’ wish lists for manuscripts they want from potential clients! Read through their lists to see if they are looking for a book like yours.
Some of these are pricey, so don’t forget to check your local library for them!
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott – A must-read for every writer.
On Writing – Stephen King – Another one that’s well worth reading.
Save the Cat! – Blake Snyder – Well known book for screenwriters that can also be really helpful for those writing a novel. It helps with fast-paced stories, and with creating a main character with agency who readers want to root for.
Wired for Story – Lisa Cron – In depth look at story structure alongside scientific reasons why that structure is effective.
Story Genius – Lisa Cron – An excellent follow-up to Wired for Story, this book gives a step-by-step guide to writing a novel, from the first spark to drafting, focusing on the main character’s arc.
2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love – Rachel Aaron – A great read if you’ve been struggling to get words on the page! It also covers plotting and revision techniques to help speed up your process.