This page contains links to all manners of sites that can be used by researchers, authors, self-publishing writers. I’ve used this stuff, and it might be of interest to you.
Amazon Author Central Links
The Writing Lifestyle
General Writing Advice
General Agent Advice
Writing Comic Books
New York Times search page: I had to bookmark this site because I keep coming back so often. The basic archive starts in 1981, but to search the entire range, then click on the “Advanced Search” button.
British Newspaper Archive: A fee-only, searchable archive of British newspapers. Pay for 2 days, 30 days or a full year.
Need inspiration for your story, or public-domain images to use in your book or website? Here are some leads:
Wikipedia’s Public Domain Image Resources: A list of other places where you can get collections of images. Some of them might not be in the public domain, so tread carefully.
Duke University Libraries Digital Collections: Digitized historic photographs, advertisements, texts & more from Duke’s unique library collections.
Open ClipArt Library: A free repository of PD images. Currently (Dec 2012) down for maintenance reasons.
Vintage Ad Browser: Does what it says on the tin. 100,000 images.
AMAZON AUTHOR CENTRAL LINKS
A lot of authors probably didn’t realize that Amazon is expanding their Author Central program into their international sites. If you’ve built an Author page on the U.S. site, you can duplicate that effort on their other sites.
The sites are structured on the same pattern as the U.S. site, making it easier to surmount the language barrier. Hint: If you use Google Chrome, when you visit these sites, a button at the top of the page will appear asking if you want that page translated.
Note: Not all overseas Amazon sites have Author Central set up. But as of December 2012, here are the ones I’ve found.
THE WRITING LIFESTYLE
Health Insurance for Freelance Artists and Other Creatives (as of 2012): Colleen Doran compiles useful links and advice on obtaining health insurance. “Freelancers without steady income or employee benefits packages need to be scrupulous about their health care plans. I’ve always depended on my royalty income to perform as my benefits package, and that doesn’t always work in these days of falling book sales.”
GENERAL WRITING ADVICE
A rookie writing mistake: writing on the nose: “Now this isn’t to say characters never articulate their feelings, but there has to be a reason for them to. They’re cornered. They’re confronted. They’ve had a few drinks and let down their guard. They slip. They’ve left so many clues that haven’t been picked up that out of frustration they just blurt it out.”
Inspiration: 100 best first lines from novels: “1. Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)”
Comedy writing 101: How we break a story: This is about Ken Levine’s approach to writing a now-forgotten show called “Almost Perfect,” but I think any writer would appreciate ideas about how to create a story that will hang together before you write 10,000 words, only to discover you’ll have to toss it all out and start over again.
The ultimate story checklist: This applies to screenplays, but why not apply it to your story? “Part 1: Is this a good story idea? 1. Is this an extreme situation extrapolated from a common emotion?”
Know Thy Hub: “Once you know what a writer’s favorite or most frequently used hub is, you can begin picking them out (for Ray Bradbury, the playroom, the carnival, the tattoo, the planet Mars and the book have all served as hubs.)”
Mr. Ray on writing: “Mr. Ray [Bradbury] is utterly in love with the craft, not himself, and passes along enough practical advice that I don’t mind the autobiographical framework.”
Intellectual Property and Its Uses Part Three: Lyric Reprint Permissions by Lori Lake: Information on how to get permission to quote song lyrics that are copyrighted. “Because by nature songs are relatively short, there is no “Fair Use” amount of song lyrics that can be used. I read about an author who wanted to quote from Aretha Franklin’s song, “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” but was turned down by the music administrator, so he only used one line, “Sock it to me.” He was sued and lost, and the penalty was substantial.”
How to find an agent A.C. Crispen gives an outline from his workshop on the subject. “Some parts will seem familiar to many of you, because they amount to “conventional wisdom” on the subject. But I’m going to cover the introductory stuff anyhow, because there’s always the chance that some of the folks reading this are reading it for the first time. Feel free to skim, okay?”
WRITING COMIC BOOKS
Jeff Parker offers scripts he wrote for “All Ages: Marvel Adventures-The Avengers”: “My panel descriptions are usually brief, I like to let the dialogue also help build the scene (but hopefully not repeat what you can already see). I don’t type the dialogue in all caps even though that’s how you see it in the books- I know some say to do it to save the letterer time, but it only takes five seconds to select all the text in the document and convert it to capitals. In the word processing programs, all caps looks like constant shouting, and I want my collaborators to read the lines sounding more conversational in their heads.”
Cullen Bunn describes the process of writing comic books: “I’m frequently asked how I go about plotting and pacing a comic book script. My process has changed over the years, and I continue to shake up my methods and try new things. Still, there are some core steps I usually take that seem to work well for me. They might not work for anyone else, but if you’d like a behind-the-scenes look at how I work, here’s your chance.”
Faith Erin opens up about the financial side of making webcomics (1/2012): “I do suggest looking up grants, as getting that grant in 2010 was incredible. I also suggest building a savings (maybe instead of buying shoes) so if you are laid off or choose to take a break from your day job, you can maybe spend a month or two working fulltime on your own comics, without having to worry about paying rent. I suggest learning to live frugally.”
THE BIG IDEA SERIES
From The Cockeyed Caravan, a great screenwriting blog. Here one series they did on writing, in particular, writing for Hollywood movies. Some of these ideas might apply to your own fiction writing:
The Big Idea, Part 1: Are Ideas Cheap or Valuable? “For once, Hollywood had actually bought a once-in-a-lifetime, nobody-could-mess-this-up idea… and messed it up. And yet, the fetishization of ideas continues unabated. Why??”
The Big Idea, Part 2: Does It Matter What Else Is Out There? “After you’ve been pitching for a while, you quickly realize that the biggest single factor influencing the studio buyers on Monday morning is how the box office did that weekend.”
The Big Idea, Part 3: What is “High Concept” Anyway? “The lure of the “high concept” logline is that you can do the opposite: start with an initial idea that is so damn interesting that you can flub the execution and everybody will still come to see it.”
The Big Idea, Part 4: Are There Too Few Good Ideas or Too Many? “If you’re an unproven screenwriter, you can’t immediately seek out the projects that you’re passionate about, because that means you’re competing against everybody else in town and you’re only adding to the problem. Instead, find a way to write passionately about whatever small assignment randomly comes your way, even if it’s something you’ve never heard of.”
The Big Idea, Part 5: Do You Start With Plot or Character? “Which comes first? Do you create an interesting character and then craft a situation around them, or do you create an interesting situation and then figure out who might be dealing with it.”
The Big Idea, Part 6: Story Happens When Character Collides With Plot “Thesis plus antithesis equals synthesis. Your hero’s personality is the thesis. The dangerous opportunity that arrives has to be the antithesis to that. When the unstoppable force meets the immovable object, a story is born. ”
The Big Idea, Part 7: Every Main Character Must Be Volatile: ” I don’t mean that they have to blow up yelling at people all the time. I mean that they have to have something unexpected inside them that gets ignited by the plot, and then that ignition turns the plot into a full-blown fire.”
The Big Idea, Part 8: Won’t Somebody Think of the Trailer? “Yes, right from the start, you have to ask yourself “Is there a trailer here?” And what do trailers show? Hint: not delicate character moments. Trailers show three things: a unique concept, startling imagery, and funny or bad-ass one-liners. That’s about it.”
http://cockeyedcaravan.blogspot.com/2011/08/big-idea-part-9-twist-is-not-concept.htmlThe Big Idea, Part 9: The Twist is Not the Concept “The concept is the compelling idea that sells the movie. The twist is what wakes the story up once the original concept starts to run out of steam.”
The Big Idea, Part 10: The Concept Has to Survive Past the Twist “This shows why it’s good to start with an antagonist as the genesis of your concept. If the concept has nothing to do with the antagonist, then your concept runs the risk of disappearing in the third act as the conflict with the antagonist takes center stage. ”
The Big Idea, Part 11: All Good Stories Are Ironic: “My generation of Americans tend to think that we own the word “irony”, but in fact, most of us don’t really understand what it means.”
The Big Idea, Part 12: Keep the Dilemma Alive “The dilemma can continue past the climax, but it can’t end very far before it, or else everything will roll downhill.”
The Big Idea, Finale: Unique Characters are Hard, Unique Relationships are Easy: Unique characters are overrated. … You’re going to have much better luck if you take two familiar characters and give them a believable but never-seen-on-screen-before relationship.
Five tips for writing smart thrillers from Linwood Barclay, Joseph Finder, Kathleen George, Andrew Gross, Andrew Pyper and Matt Richtel: “1. Don’t try to show how smart you are as an author. Instead, create a smart protagonist and ensure that readers want to spend time with your hero.”
BBC archived interviews: Virginia Woolf, P.G. Wodehouse, Kingsley Amis, Doris Lessing … virtually anyone notable for putting pen to paper during the 20th century in England were given a few minutes to talk about the writing life.