Wednesday, October 12, 2016

YouTube: A Writing Education

bicycle and screen door
Photos for this post shall be random photos I took that I like.

Making Your Own Education

For those of us without a formal writing education, there are lots of amazing resources online (and elsewhere I'm sure). Lately I've been watching Brandon Sanderson's lectures at BYU (here's a link to the first one.)

cracked door frame
Actually, the photos aren't that random.
They're of a house my parents fixed up.

Sanderson's BYU Lectures

By this point I've read plenty of recommended books, blog posts, and listened to lectures on plotting, character development, etc. So it's not like all this stuff is new, but there are a few things I particularly like about Sanderson's lectures:

  • He's a NYT Bestselling writer, so he's got the credentials to be giving advice.
  • He acknowledges that his way isn't the only way. In fact, he tries to mention as many different methods of writing as he can because he knows different methods help different types of writers.
  • He writes SFF. I haven't gotten to the world building lecture yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.
  • These lectures are from a well-known writing school (BYU), and he has experience teaching this class, and I think it shows.
  • He seems like a nice, funny guy. This might not matter to everyone, but if you're going to listen to someone for hours out of your life, it helps if you're smiling rather than grimacing as you listen.

shadows, abandoned house
It's a pretty cool house. It looks way more liveable now.
But it looked kinda cool all beat up.

Other Resources: Podcasts, Books, and Blogs

In other posts, I've linked to this two minute clip from Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They talk about how they plot out South Park, and it's a fun insight.

Sanderson recommends one of his fellow writer's YouTube posts, Dan Wells on Story Structure.

Sanderson also has a podcast with several fellow writers called Writing Excuses. It's not as structured or pared down as his BYU lectures, but it's a fun listen, and eleven seasons (and counting) gives them way more time to delve into issues. I'll admit that podcasts just aren't my thing, so I've only listened to a few here or there.

Then, of course, there are the books I hear recommended over and over again. The three I think I hear mentioned most are: Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, and Stephen King's On Writing. The first two books are all about structure and tricks to improve your book. On Writing is more of an entertaining memoir with some solid writing advice thrown in (it's actually a really fun read whether you write or not).

There are a TON of great writing blogs out there. In fact, Writer's Digest puts out a list of the 101 best websites for writers every year. I personally like Jane Friedman, formerly of Writer's Digest, for some good all-round advice. Best selling author Chuck Wendig veers off track more often than not, but almost always in entertaining ways (if he's your style), and there are some nuggets of excellent writing advice thrown in. I still use Nathan Bransford as a reference when I want to remind myself, for example, how to write a pitch. I don't think he's posting as much any more, but he's a literary agent turned MG writer, so he knows his stuff. And I've personally found some good advice in C.S. Lakin's blog.

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