Today I’m featuring a guest blog courtesy of Tahlia Newland. Tahlia is the author of a new YA fantasy novel Lethal Inheritance.
A guide to finding writers’ resources on the web
By Tahlia Newland
Some people get frustrated with trying to find information on the web. This is understandable because it is a web with limitless junctions and connections. It is easy to get lost or miss the very thing you are looking for.
From my own experience, I’ve found that there are a few things we can do to minimise frustration and help us find what we’re looking for.
Know what you are looking for
Do you want quick hints or a detailed essay? Do you need help with grammar, punctuation, editing, style, finding an agent or publishing? Are you interested in non fiction writing, speculative fiction or general fiction? Or do you just want general articles?
Frame searches carefully
Be specific. If you want quick general writing tips, use the keyword, ‘tips’. Type something like ‘top tips for writers’, or ‘10 tips for successful writing,’ into your search engine. If you want a quick overview of what’s important in editing, try ‘tips for editing writing’. The last word could be ‘essays’ or ‘novels’ but if you leave off the last word, your search engine will come up with points on editing music and film as well as writing.
If you want something more than a brief list of points, search for ‘how to edit writing’ or ‘how to edit a manuscript’.
If you want to write a novel, search for ‘how to write a good novel’, or be even more specific eg ‘how to write a good fantasy novel’.
When I needed them, the following searches came up with lots of excellent results:
- ‘writing a synopsis’
- ‘ writing a querie letter’, and
- ‘how to write a querie letter’.
Guess the contents of a page before opening it
After you click ‘search’, your search engine will show a list of possibilities. Which do you choose? Yes, whatever is closest to what you’re looking for, but it’s not necessarily the first one on the list. And be careful; check the URL beneath the entry. If the name of the site has no relationship to writing, you may find that it’s just a one line reference in someone’s personal blog or a mostly unrelated forum.
Open links in new browser tabs
This is really important for ease of navigation. Right click on a link and select the ‘open in a new tab’ option. You can easily return to your search results by clicking on your previous tab.
Don’t be distracted
You’ve arrived at a page and it’s full of text, maybe some pictures, advertisements, links etc. They’re all very interesting, but don’t get distracted by them. Remember what you are looking for and find that on the page first.
When you do check the links, consider how relevant they are to your search. If you want to go off into something related that looks interesting, still keep in mind what you started out looking for. Otherwise you can end up wandering aimlessly through a maze of information.
Scan text rather than read it
You might read a page of text and get to the bottom only to find out that it’s not what you’re looking for. Learn to scan. Run your eyes quickly over the text looking for key words. You’ll get a feel for the content, enough to know whether you want to spend more time on it or search elsewhere.
Bookmark as you go
As soon as you find any info you think will be helpful, bookmark the site so you can easily go back to it. Alternatively copy and paste the info into a word document for later study (and copy the link to the site too).
Avoid getting overwhelmed
Be relaxed about your searching. Don’t get fixated. Get up and stretch every now and then.
And lastly, use the history button if you get lost!
Links to useful writers’ resources
These aren’t necessarily the best and there are masses more out there, so I encourage you to do your own searches. I have some links on my blogsite too.
Editing, style, grammar, good writing
About.com: grammar and composition. I’ve returned to this website many times for clear and detailed info on the basics of writing.
There is a particularly good section on ‘cutting the clutter’.
Revising and editing
This University of Queensland site has links to info on grammar, punctuation, structure, plot, feedback and so on.
Fiction Factor contains lots of useful links.
There are many blogs offering writing tips and related topics of various depth and you can find them in blogsite listings like Blog top sites, Blogflux, Blogarama, Blogcatalog, Bloggapedia, Bloggexplosion, Bloggernity, OnToplist and Australian Planet. There’s a world of writers like us out there and we have so much in common and so much to share. I have links to my present favourites on my blog.