I think setting out to be a writer, there is a lot of things they don’t tell you and a ton of things to learn. This is the case I find, even if you’re going the university route. I mean some of it is the smaller things, like basic manuscript formatting, other things are more necessities like publishers will only give your manuscript a go once and editors/agents are a bit of a necessity. The reality is, people starting out probably need a mentor to help them learn the craft. An author who has gone the hard yards before them and knows how it all works.
On that note, I know I’m not yet published, but I think I should start with some resources I’ve found useful.
I can’t stress how handy these books are.
Book 1: Has been a great resource for refreshing punctuation and grammar, very handy for polishing your manuscript and going over the finer points of the English language. Very extensive, great reference book. I’d say it’s a must have for any writer or anyone trying to improve their English.
Book 2: This book has been endlessly helpful in the editing phase. It teaches you quite a few of the issues that arise when writing. What to look out for and common mistakes; especially for new writers (E.g. Saying someone said angrily, when the dialogue carries the emotion. It’s a bit like telling your reader the same thing twice). There are a lot of examples in this book and it covers many topics, while it seems endless, sadly it is not. There are things that are expected knowns, like certain layouts and ways of doing things, but that said it’s a must have resource, I feel.
Book 3. This books more of a quick reference book which compliments book 1.
I’ll be honest, when I first started writing I hadn’t a blind clue how to set out a manuscript. It’s not something they taught me at uni. It’s a bit of an expected to be known already. Giving that if you don’t know how to set out your story, it really detracts from the writing (An grades). It is important to know how to set your manuscript out, no matter what type of piece you are writing.
A useful resource I found on manuscript formatting isn’t in a book, but non the less very helpful and Free. It is William Shunn’s Proper Manuscript Formatting for Short Stories and I found a link to it originally, when I was going through the submission guidelines for the Asimov magazine. A link to it is here: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html It basically tells you how to format your manuscript from start to finish. So if your stuck, like I was. I’d highly recommend giving it a read.
Here we have these little gems.
The Writer’s Artists’ Yearbook, is the book to go to for publishing in the United Kingdom. It’s got essays and guides about every part of publishing. From things like, lists and addresses of publishers/editors to bits on copyright and self publishing. There is even some genre specific tips and comments from established authors. I hasten to add though, this is very U.K specific, but there are plenty of useful bits in there to learn from.
It’s neighbour there, my even more dated copy of The Australian Writer’s marketplace is I feel the Aussie equivalent. In my opinion though, I think it focuses more on contacts to get published. This is why, I have a copy of both.
Overall, hopefully you guys find, as much use out these resources as I have.
Have a great weekend.