The Index [Writing Resources & Reference]

Discussion in 'Workshops & Recreation' started by Ars Nova, May 3, 2014.

  1. Misty gimme kiss

    Sep 25, 2006
    Cisgender Female
    Stumbled upon this on tumblr and found it incredibly helpful; I've started rewriting something small I've been working on with it in mind and the general style is much less clunky yet far more vivid than it ever was before.

    Writing Advice by Chuck Palahniuk
    In six seconds, you’ll hate me. But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.

    From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.

    The list should also include: Loves and Hates. And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.

    Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”

    Instead, you’ll have to unpack that to something like: “The mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”

    Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.

    Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”

    In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.

    Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.

    For example: “Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. Traffic was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”

    Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.

    If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.

    Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.

    Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”

    Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.

    Present each piece of evidence. For example: “During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”

    One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.

    For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”

    A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”

    A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.

    Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.

    No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”

    Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”

    Again, unpack. Don’t take short-cuts.

    Better yet, get your character with another character, fast. Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.

    And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”

    For example: “Ann’s eyes are blue.”

    “Ann has blue eyes.”


    “Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”

    Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.

    And forever after, once you’ve learned to unpack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”

    Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.


    For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by unpacking it.

    Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.

    “Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”

    “Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”

    “Larry knew he was a dead man…”

    Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.
  2. Calxiyn Keyblade Master

    Jun 6, 2012
    Cisgender Female
    Bumpy bump bump~~

    To get these threads kinda threads up and running again, I thought I would post a list of resources that I personally use, as well as a list I stole got from Tumblr.

    Purdue OWL: My teacher made me use this for a project. It's really helpful if you want to improve your grammar (and stuff)

    Rhyme Zone: Really good for poetry and song lyrics
    Literature Classics: FREE (Public Domain) BOOKS
    GoPubMd: Has your character gotten shot? Do they have a terminal illness? You this to help make science and medical stuff more realistic.

    Now for the ones I totally took from a list and still used:

    1. Litscene: Use this search engine to search through thousands of writers and literary projects, and add your own as well.
    2. Get a boost in your creativity with some assistance from this site.
    3. PoeWar: Whether you need help with your career or your writing, this site is full of great searchable articles.
    4. Publisher’s Catalogues: Try out this site to search through the catalogs and names of thousands of publishers.
    5. Edit Red: Through this site you can showcase your own work and search through work by others, as well as find helpful FAQ’s on writing.
    6. Writersdock: Search through this site for help with your writing, find jobs and join other writers in discussions.
    7. PoetrySoup: If you want to find some inspirational poetry, this site is a great resource.
    8. Here, you can search through a wide range of self-published books.
    9. One Stop Write Shop: Use this tool to search through the writings of hundreds of other amateur writers.
    10. Writer’s Cafe: Check out this online writer’s forum to find and share creative works.
    11. Literary Marketplace: Need to know something about the publishing industry? Use this search tool to find the information you need now.
    12. WriteSearch: This search engine focuses exclusively on sites devoted to reading and writing to deliver its results.
    13. The Burry Man Writers Center: Find a wealth of writing resources on this searchable site.
    14. This fully-featured site makes it possible to find information both fun and serious about the craft of writing.
    15. Writing Forums: Search through these writing forums to find answers to your writing issues.
    16. Google Scholar: With this specialized search engine from Google, you’ll only get reliable, academic results for your searches.
    17. WorldCat: If you need a book from the library, try out this tool. It’ll search and find the closest location.
    18. Scirus: Find great scientific articles and publications through this search engine.
    19. OpenLibrary: If you don’t have time to run to a brick-and-mortar library, this online tool can still help you find books you can use.
    20. Online Journals Search Engine: Try out this search engine to find free online journal articles.
    21. All Academic: This search engine focuses on returning highly academic, reliable resources.
    22. LOC Ask a Librarian: Search through the questions on this site to find helpful answers about the holdings at the Library of Congress.
    23. This search engine can help you find basic encyclopedia articles.
    24. Clusty: If you’re searching for a topic to write on, this search engine with clustered results can help get your creative juices flowing.
    25. Intute: Here you’ll find a British search engine that delivers carefully chosen results from academia.
    26. AllExperts: Have a question? Ask the experts on this site or search through the existing answers.
    27. Writer’s Web Search Engine: This search engine is a great place to find reference information on how to write well.
    28. Bloomsbury Magazine Research Centre: You’ll find numerous resources on publications, authors and more through this search engine.
    29. Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus: Make sure you’re using words correctly and can come up with alternatives with the help of this tool.
    30. Find all the reference material you could ever need through this search engine.
    31. If you need a quote, try searching for one by topic or by author on this site.
    32. Literary Encyclopedia: Look up any famous book or author in this search tool.
    33. Acronym Finder: Not sure what a particular acronym means? Look it up here.
    34. Bartleby: Through Bartleby, you can find a wide range of quotes from famous thinkers, writers and celebrities.
    35. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Find all the great philosophers you could want to reference in this online tool.
    36. PubGene: Those working in sci-fi or medical writing will appreciate this database of genes, biological terms and organisms.
    37. Jayde: Looking for a business? Try out this search tool.
    38. Zibb: No matter what kind of business you need to find out more about, this tool will find the information.
    39. TechWeb: Do a little tech research using this news site and search engine.
    40. Google Trends: Try out this tool to find out what people are talking about.
    41. Godchecker: Doing a little work on ancient gods and goddesses? This tool can help you make sure you have your information straight.
    42. Healia: Find a wide range of health topics and information by using this site.
    43. Sci-Fi Search: Those working on sci-fi can search through relevant sites to make sure their ideas are original.
    44. InLibris: This search engine provides one of the largest directories of literary resources on the web.
    45. SHARP Web: Using this tool, you can search through the information on the history of reading and publishing.
    46. AllReaders: See what kind of reviews books you admire got with this search engine.
    47. BookFinder: No matter what book you’re looking for you’re bound to find it here.
    48. ReadPrint: Search through this site for access to thousands of free books.
    49. Google Book Search: Search through the content of thousands upon thousands of books here, some of which is free to use.
    50. Indie Store Finder: If you want to support the little guy, this tool makes it simple to find an independent bookseller in your neck of the woods.

    (sources )