Writing Inspiration

Round-up: Top 10 writing articles of 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, here are the 10 most popular blog posts from the past year on Now Novel, as well as 10 posts we loved on writing websites we like. Enjoy and happy holidays!

As 2018 draws to a close, here are the 10 most popular blog posts from the past year on Now Novel, as well as 10 posts we loved on writing websites we like. Enjoy and happy holidays!

10 best writing articles on Now Novel in 2018

Here are our most-read posts from 2018:

1. Dialogue words: Other words for ‘said’

The most read article on the blog this year focuses on dialogue, specifically alternatives to excessive dialogue tags. Interesting, contrasting viewpoints on what is good style in dialogue-writing continue to be shared in the comments section. Read the article here.

2. Writing dialogue: 7 examples of dialogues that work

The second most popular article also focuses on dialogue. Here, we gave examples of effective dialogue. We chose examples that show how to use dialogue tags effectively, how to use dialogue to drive plot and more. Read the article here.

3. 5 ways to start a story: Choosing a bold beginning

Articles on beginnings were also popular. In this post, we examined 5 types of story opening. Read this post for inspiration on finding a good beginning.

E.M. Forster quote - writing manual on the novel | Now Novel

4. Story setting ideas: 6 effective setting examples and tips

Setting was also an area of interest (and one we’ve been focusing on more since launching our World Builder tool in the Now Novel dashboard). Read this post for examples of effective setting description (the infographic was also popular). Read it now.

5. 50 creative writing prompts to enrich your craft

This bumper selection of writing prompts also received some love. Find writing prompts organised by focus here.

6. Types of narration infographic – 6 narrative POVs

Narration and POV are confusing topics to many new authors. This infographic distills the different types of narration and was also a hit. See and share an improved version here.

7. Character description examples: 7 lessons from famous books

Character creation is always a popular subject (we creating this character writing hub to collect all our best articles on character creation in one place). Read 7 examples of effective character description.

8. How to write a short story: 10 steps to a great read

This much-read article breaks down the ingredients of a good first story. Read it here.

9. Good story openings: 8 lessons from famous first lines

Another article on story beginnings, here we shared 8 things first lines do that make us want to keep reading, with examples. Read it for inspiration on writing a good hook.

10. External and internal conflict: Definitions, examples and tips

This article examines different types of conflict and how you can use them to give your story drama and intrigue. Read it here.

10 top articles on writing from around the web in 2018

In no particular order, here are some of the interesting writing-related articles we’ve enjoyed this year:

1. Human rights for the 21st century: by Margaret Atwood, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Dave Eggers and more

In this article via The Guardian, several prominent authors imagine the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for modern times, coinciding with the declaration’s 70th birthday. It gives interesting insights on how times and viewpoints change (and how they stay the same).

2. Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell on why we need libraries – an essay in pictures

This lovely visual essay by fantasy author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell makes a compelling argument for why libraries are important and need our continuing support.

Neil Gaiman quote - the power of reading | Now Novel

3. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Art of Fiction No. 221

Although this interview with The Paris Review is actually from 2013, it’s fascinating as always to read the late Ursula K. Le Guin’s thoughts on writing and genre. Le Guin talks about how prejudices against genres have changed. For example, here’s Le Guin on how she found the ideas that would become her acclaimed novel The Dispossessed:

‘I had this physicist and he was in a prison camp somewhere. The story just went nowhere, but I knew that character was real. I had this lump of concrete and somewhere inside it was a diamond, but getting into the lump of concrete—it took years. For whatever reason, I started reading pacifist literature, and I was also involved in antiwar protests, Ban the Bomb and all that. I had been a pacifist activist of sorts for a long time, but I realized I didn’t know much about my cause. I’d never read Gandhi, for starters. So I put myself through a sort of course, reading that literature, and that led me to utopianism.’

Read the full interview here.

4. 265+ Forceful Verbs to Turn You Into a Literary Tyrannosaurus

We can’t resist a good list, and here our friends at Reedsy have compiled a useful list of active verbs to use in different situations. They touch on the trouble with weak adverbs before supplying a mini thesaurus of useful alternatives. Read the article here.

5. Against Self-Righteousness: Anne Lamott on Forgiveness, Self-Forgiveness, and the Relationship Between Brokenness and Joy

Maria Popova’s blog always has deep and interesting articles where she engages with great authors’ books, philosophy and various concepts. It’s challenging to read at times, but she has a beautiful way of weaving together ideas and observations, often with stunning illustrations. Read this post where she unpacks some of Anne Lamott’s writing on why we shouldn’t focus our energy on always being ‘right’.

6. How Long Should It Take to Write a Book?

Jane Friedman’s blog is a goldmine of practical advice on writing, publishing, and everything in-between. In this guest post by author Merilyn Simonds, she examines the idea of how long a book ‘should’ take to write, and ends with this simple, true advice:

Write well. Write to the end. Take as long as you need.

Read the full post here.

7. Pronoun Order

Mignon Fogerty’s Grammar Girl blog is a great stop for a daily grammar conundrum solved and explained simply. See for example this clear breakdown of the correct way to order pronouns when referring to multiple people/subjects.

8. Great Advice from 25 Writing Manuals By Famous Authors

Literary Hub is another great resource for interesting articles. Don’t have the time to read all the writing manuals by famous authors? Read this highlight reel. Emily Temple extracts illuminating pull-quotes from several by the likes of Patricia Highsmith and Ray Bradbury.

9. No More Mr. Nice Guys: How to Write Flawed Characters & Antiheroes

Writer’s Digest is another fantastic resource for in-depth writing articles. Here, author David Corbett shares useful ideas on giving characters flaws that make them interesting and complex. Read the full post.

10. Aliette De Bodard: Cannibalizing A Draft (Or: The Art Of Rewriting)

Chuck Wendig’s ‘TERRIBLEMINDS’ blog is full of character (and profanity), and also hosts interesting guest posts such as this one by author Aliette De Bodard. De Bodard shares great insight into her revision process. De Bodard describes how she wrote ‘list of current scenes in the draft’ and ‘list of scenes I would like in new draft’, for example, and used these ideas to salvage bits and pieces from a draft that wasn’t working.

Read the full post here.

Brainstorm your entire story over the next while using Now Novel’s easy story dashboard. You’ll go into the new year with a detailed plan that will make finishing easier.

By Jordan

Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

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