Top 10 Free Online Writing Resources

By Manuscript Doctor

September 24, 2020

publishing, story structure, writing life, writing resources, writing tools

To become a successful writer, you need to build your skills, your platform, and strong writing habits. That’s an enormous amount of work that takes many years. While a writing degree will take you a long way, you need other resources to help you hone your craft.

In this article, we give you ten free writing resources that will put you on the path to success.

1. Helping Writers Become Authors

K.M. Weiland is a story-structure guru, and her site is a treasure trove of information on how to develop scenes, characters, and stories. Weiland writes a new blog post, which she often reads for her podcast, every week, touching on the processes and techniques of writing fiction. She believes in a 3-act story structure and extensive outlining, though writers who use other processes will still benefit from her content.

A unique feature of Helping Writers Become Authors is the story-structure database. In it, Weiland plots the story structure of popular books and movies to show examples of how authors have organized their tales. Not only will the database help you understand story structure better, it will give you ideas for how you might construct your own novels.

Helpful Content: In this post/podcast, Weiland explores how to use an outline to guide your first draft.

2. Alyssa Matesic — YouTube Channel

Alyssa Matesic has worked for two of the five big publishers and a large literary agency. She understands the publishing industry from all sides. Currently a freelance editor specializing in novels, Matesic creates helpful YouTube videos each week that discuss the publishing industry and provide novel writing tips.

Her videos are relatively short, less than 15 minutes each. But Matesic covers a lot of material in a short amount of time. She is mainly focused on helping writers get traditional publishing deals and much of the value in her YouTube channel comes from knowing the industry. She also helps explain why you need an editor and the different kinds of editing that will take your manuscript from good to great.

Helpful Content: In this video, Matesic describes the five elements of a successful query letter.

3. The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn writes blog posts, books about the craft and business of writing, and novels at blinding paces. Her website, the Creative Penn, includes a podcast, numerous blog posts, and links to many other helpful resources.

Penn shines brightest when she discusses how to market books and make a living as a writer. Because self-publishing is a real option, Penn’s advice gives writers a chance to make their dreams a reality. Her own success is a testament to the validity of her methods.

Helpful Content: On Penn’s podcasts, she often interviews publishing experts or well known authors. In the podcast below, Penn interviews Natalie Sisson about succeeding long term as a business creative.

4. Jerry Jenkins – Jerry

Jerry Jenkins is the bestselling author of the Left Behind series and has written nearly 200 books. By his own admission, Jenkins gets excited about developing the writing of others. His website is an excellent resource for writers of all ages and styles. The blog covers the following topics:

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • The Writing Craft
  • Publishing
  • Inspiration
  • Tools

Some of the best resources Jenkins offers are free e-books. You will need to provide your email address, but it’s worth it. Jenkins’ 12-step guide to writing a novel will give you confidence and direction as you begin your journey. You won’t find a lot of depth with the free content, but the quick tips will answer many important, basic questions.

Helpful Content: If you are looking for helpful writing software, Jenkins reviews several tools on his blog.

5. Well Storied

Well Storied is the brain child of Kristen Kieffer, a fantasy fiction writer who also publishes writing development books. She makes it easy to find helpful content, organizing articles into four main categories: storytelling, writing process, authorship, and writing life. These articles, which double as podcasts, are short but helpful, giving practical tips and information.

Kieffer provides an excellent “tools” page with links to software and online tools that will help you organize your writing process and improve your content.

Helpful Content: Kieffer has a handy guide on the cost of self-publishing.

6. The Write Life

The Write Life is one of the best all-encompassing writing resources on the web and will appeal to business, fiction, and nonfiction writers. You will get an inside view of publishing through articles that describe contracts with Literary Agents, publishing terms you may not have heard of, how to write a synopsis and book proposal, and much more. This content will answer many of your questions about how the publishing industry works

For copywriters and freelancers, The Write Life gives practical advice on creating portfolios and asking for referrals. If you want to build an author platform or market yourself better as a writer, you will love this site.

Helpful Content: They also have helpful lists on where to publish articles and essays. For example, this article lists travel magazines that accept submissions and pay writers.

7. Writer’s Digest

The website for Writer’s Digest provides so much content that all writers will find something useful. They write excellent articles that help writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry hone their craft. They also produce blog posts about publishing both traditionally and through self-publishing, including how to build author platforms. Writer’s Digest highlights new literary agents and identifies who they work for and what genres they accept.

Writer’s Digest publishes interviews with accomplished writers and has writing competitions so you can submit your work. This site has almost every resource you could want.

Helpful Content: For writers looking for critique partners, Writer’s Digest has a great article that details popular writing communities online. In these communities, writers can provide feedback on other’s work and receive critiques on their own.

8. Jeff Goins –

Jeff Goins has written five books and specializes in teaching creative people how to make a living. Many writers struggle with how they can turn their love of words into a career. Goins has succeeded at just that and provides plenty of real world advice for authors, bloggers, and other creatives.

He does a great job simplifying the writing life to manageable and achievable steps, motivating his audience to write and market themselves better. For those who struggle with procrastination, Goins is an excellent resource for learning how to block out distractions and build better writing habits.

Helpful Content: In this podcast, Goins answers audience questions about blogging, podcasting, traditional versus self-publishing, and much more.

9. Grammar Girl

Mignon Fogarty, more widely known as Grammar Girl, has been helping writers navigate tricky grammar waters for years. Our writing does not usually sink or swim based on whether we use the correct form of “every day” or not, but getting the details right can take a piece of writing from good to great. The grammar girl website helps writers identify tricky issues and make good decisions.

Fogarty is a lover of words and all things writing, so she also has interesting articles on where phrases come from (bad apples, cool your heels, etc.), how hurricanes get their names, and the difference between fiction genres.

Helpful Content: In this article, Fogarty discusses when we should use contractions.

10. Brandon Sanderson Lecture Series

Sanderson is the top selling author of many fantasy and science fiction books. He teaches a science fiction writing course at Brigham Young University (BYU) and has several years of lectures published on YouTube. These lectures are some of the best content on writing fiction on the internet.

Sanderson discusses many techniques for developing characters, plots, and unique worlds. He emphasizes that not every writer works the same way, so writers should try different approaches to see what works for them. His insights on how to run writing groups is essential for those who want to write for a living. Oftentimes, writers find little value in workshops as it quickly becomes overly critical, but Sanderson offers strategies for both writers and readers to maximize their time in writing groups.

Helpful Content: In the following video, Sanderson describes how to construct characters that readers will care about.

Using a Variety of Writing Resources

Writers are always looking to improve their craft and livelihoods. These 10 writing resources will help you do both through engaging articles, podcasts, and videos. Whether you are a beginning or seasoned writer, they are worth your time. 

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