|Louis E. Catron
Annotated websites for writers
Please visit my home page for descriptions of,
and links to, the many other pages on this site.
Both fiction and non-fiction writers quite often need to discover a special
fact or concept for the piece they are writing. Pre-internet, you'd
expect to spend hours looking through dusty books. Now, however,
the internet has resources for ALL writers.
Try these sites and see if they help you. I think you'll find some places you'll want to bookmark. Click on the underlined title to access the sit e--
(If you wish, you can click each Part below to jump to that material.)
Part I: Reference.
Part II: Especially for Writers
Part III: Agents
PART IV: ONLINE CRITIQUE GROUPS
PART V: QUOTATIONS WORTH NOTING
It is astonishing what weird fragments of facts we need. Thanks to the Net, you can find virtually anything. A word of caution, however. Remember that any damn fool can post a website. Just because you read it on the Net doesn't mean.... But you know that.
Helpful basic tools are
below. I'm confident you can trust them to be expert and authoritative.
|All Experts. This free site has experts for virtually every area you can imagine, and many genuinely want to help. Tip: If you don't see what you seek on the menu, use the Search function. Tip #2: I've gotten best results from asking three or four experts, then corresponding with the one who appears most helpful.||
URLs for a Rainy Day. A great research tool. It is amazing how many riches you can find here -- politics... dictionaries... science...law... crime...writers' resources...internet search engines...directories and guides...more. The list is impressive. Tip: If you're like me, the riches will be so captivating that you'll spend hours browsing.
|Dictionary, Rhyming, Crossword Puzzle, Scrabble, Quotations, Thesaurus. A fine and easy way to find, locate, discover, unearth, stumble upon, track down... You get the idea. Tip: Take a few minutes to get used to the search engine.||The
Grammar Lady. Mary Newton
Bruder, a.k.a. The Grammar Lady, will help you solve those pesky problems
of "that" and "which" and "who" and "whom." And much more.
|Britannica.Com. E-Brit has gone through some confusing transformations. First you had to pay, then it was free, then there was a noble experiment of a delightful breezy style with contemporary observations (Britney Spears' belly button??--with a learned discussion of belly button preoccupation through history) that disappeared. At its best, it is beautifully laid out, clear, and has a wealth of information...just as you'd expect from this world-famous enclycopedia. Not only does it give you its own articles (always authoritative and expert), it also will suggest other publications plus web sites. Currently free.||Great
Books Online. This is a generous collection of non-fiction
and fiction, complete with valuable reference books. A great place to browse.
FedWorldInfo. The government is your friend (and the check is in the mail and...but you know the rest of the joke). This isn't a joke. You find here valuable access to governmental info on a number of topics. Count on the facts being accurate.
Links. The Writer's Guild
of America says, "These sites have been chosen specifically to help writers
research their scripts."
|Refdesk.Com. "My virtual encyclopedia," the site bills itself. There's something like 100 classifications for you to select. "Books and Literature." "Fast Facts 2000." "Conspiracy theories." "History." And more. Each leads you to more material.||RefDesk.Com.No, not the same as the one mentioned to the left. This says it is "the best single source for facts on the web." That may be a tad of an exaggeration, but whatever you're looking for --facts, encyclopedia, statistics, and a whole lot more-- may be here.|
Resources--Research. A page of sites for you to burrow
into to find what you seek.
Writer's Resource Center . You'll find a number of sites listed under five basic categories: Craft, Technology, Business, Poetry, and General.
|Indispensible Writing Resources. This award-winning site offers acess to seven basic categories such as Reference Material, Writing Style Guides, Writing Reference Sites, and Writing-Related Sites. All are rich with links.|
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Here you'll find links designed for writers. They'll help guide you through the complex labyrinth of the business of writing. (See Part III, Agents, for more business matters.)
Not everything is on the Internet. Among the books you'll want in your personal library is the annual Writers Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents by Jeff Herman.
might want to visit my site here for
more details and links.Not lick .on the underlined
title to access the sit
is a conglomerate site--one full of links--that can connect you to
"Create a writer's resume." "Freelance." "Writing for the web." And more.
|Manuscript Format. Chuck Rothman takes you through a well-organized step-by-step approach for being sure your MS looks professional. (There can be disagreement about his font recommendation of Courier 12, instead of Times-Roman 12, though.) Tip: The format is for almost all writers--but not playwrights.|
|Sample Query Letter. Most of us think of writing a query letter as being in the same category as having root canal. The pain is increased when you realize that editors will come to a "yes/no" decision based on your query, not on the MS. Arggh. That makes this site valuable, indeed. By the way , only non-fiction writers write query letters. Not fiction authors, playwrights, poets, or screenwriters.||The
Online Writery. This conglomerate
site lists links for "general resources"..."online writing labs"..."general
resources," and more. Although it seems to need updating, the links
agents. The Writer's vocabulary. How do I start writing? Tips
for the Writing Life. Workshops. All this and much much more.
|American Society of Journalists and Authors. ASJA is, they say, "The nation's leading organization of freelance writers." Some content is restricted to members, but there are healthy amounts of valuable info open to non-members.||Writer's Digest--The Insider's Guide to the Writing Life. Writer's Digest is a primary monthly publication for writers. Here they contribute slices of information culled from their experience.|
Guidelines Directory. The
opening page looks spare, but the search engine is what you want.
Come here to find markets. Tip:
with the search engine--it also will work even if you don't fill in the
top blanks of "publication name" and "keywords."
Much the same is the "Writing For Dollars" Guidelines Database.
for Fiction Writers
Style. Manuscript format. Grammar. Writing genre fiction.
Writer's conferences. Contests, prizes. Short fiction on the
net. A healthy site if you write fiction.
for Writers Guarding your rights when you post on the internet.
Electronic publishing--promises and perils. Books. Links. Good
stuff is here.
|The Best 101 Sites for Writers Writers Digest magazine says that these are the best. Try 'em and see if you agree.||Soberanis.ComA resource for insight into publishing. Once you open the page, click the links to "publishing" and "writing."|
|The Frustrated Writers Society. How can you not love that title?! They say they are "dedicated to finding, developing and finally publishing new writers."||Writers Write . I especially like the collection of interviews with writers. They offer a number of boards for collaborative communication, and a host of other materials.|
|Required Reading . Screenwriter and novelist Karen Hall (who also is armed with a terrific wit and firm convictions) shares her ideas about books writers should read. She certainly has the writing credentials to make recommendations. Her webpage is fun to browse: See Karen's webpage here.||Publishers
Weekly . This is the online
version of the print magazine. You'll go here if you want the best
and recent information about happenings in the world of publishing.
Professionals visit it regularly.
Online . Jenna Glatzer, your editor, is determined to make this
a potent tool for writers. She fills her pages with insightful mini-essays
from writers, along with a frequent poem and story, making this an excellent
site to browse.
|Eclectics.com . Browse by clicking the menu buttons. "The Eclectic Authors" takes you to various writers' sites. For me, most interesting was "The Eclectic Writer," which is rich with articles and sites, plus a very long list of clever divisions for resources for writing Crime, Romance, Horror, Children's, Poetry, Screenwriting, and more. There also is a Message Board (registration required).|
|BLACK ON WHITE "The Contract With Yourself" is excellent advice! Get to it by clicking "contents."||HOLLY LISLE'S VISION--A SITE FOR WRITERS. Holly Lisle (an accomplished novelist) has made this a highly respected site. It has a clean and effective design, and contents are rich. You're bound to find very helpful essays and articles. Go browse! (In the interests of full disclosure, I've had stuff published there.)|
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Writers tend to think an agent will magically bring forth publication, riches, and fame. Nice dream. But the fact is that your agent will ask you to be a loud promotional-salesperson for your books or plays.
any agent who asks you to pay a "reading fee" or who recommends a specific
"rewrite doctor" to improve your MS. Reputable agents won't.
|Writer Beware. Sadly, the writing profession has its scam lunkheads and ripoff jerks just like you'll find in the rest of the world. This site tracks phony agents and pseudo publishers. The site isn't reporting mere rumors: They give you authoriative references.||List of Agents. The title is accurate: this is a list. It doesn't contain descriptive or evaluative material. A handy alphabetic link speeds you to specific agents with addresses and, sometimes, phone numbers.|
Agent.Com. The master site
is under construction at this time, but check the quite helpful FAQs.
|Writer's Net--Literary Agents. You'll find a Directory, which you can browse or use a search engine, lists of agents, and a Discussion that may help you by giving others' opinions.|
|Writer'sNet-Writers, Editors, Agents, Publishers. This site is full of materials about agents. You'll find articles and advice, descriptions of what an agent does, and a very handy search engine to use to find an agent. The directory of editors and directory of publishers are still under construction.|
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A number of sites offer critiques. Sometimes even good critiques. Some boards have people answering questions writers may have. Many sites offer friendly comraderie.
I don't know if there is any "best" site because so much depends on what you want. You can visit sites and lurk around for a while to find out if you're comfortable with the place and people. If writers are critiquing other writers, check the comments to see if you'll feel comfortable with those sorts of responses.
as one who participates (anonymously!) on some boards, I have some suggestions.
Be prepared for C&C (comments & criticism) that ranges from insightful
to did-that-damnfool-actually-read-what-I-wrote? Often you've find
remarkably helpful critics. Yes, some C&C will appear to be the
critic's personal agenda that has nothing to do with what you submitted
and some will be sophomoric attempts to prove literate intelligence.
Shrug it off. Silently. Don't be argumentative or defensive;
instead (tip #2:),
graciously thank those who commented (yes, even those who panned your work).
#3: You're expected to return the service:
offer C&C on others' submissions if you expect comments on your work.
Critique Groups Can Help Your Writing. Moira
Allan tells you how to make the most of critique groups, whether you are
executioner or executionee (also known as "critiquer" or "recipient").
to use an Online Critique Group
Sabrina Becker offers practical advice about getting the most our of a critique group...and some good rules of conduct we all wish others would follow. (We, of course, being perfect beings, perfectly automatically follow such codes.)
Writer's BBS. You'll find
numerous forums. Some are rather social but they also answer writer's
questions. There are also specialized forums where writers can post
their stories, poems, plays, essays, and the like. Critiques vary
from shallow or opinionated to more in-depth helpful comments. The
site will host your personal webpage. The two webmasters are quite
dedicated to improving the site and responding to requests.
|Scrawl. (On the home page click "The Writer's Asylum" to enter.) But it is very strange that you'll need register even to visit to see if this board is for you. There are workshops for Novels, Short Stories, Non-Fiction, and Poetry, plus discussions of Marketing. Members submit materials and receive comments. Warning: Out-and-out flame wars are not uncommon on these sorts of writers' groups, but currently (October 2002) Scrawl has a most ugly blaze caused by one individual's apparent megalomania that frustrates the rest of the members. Likely it will go away. Sooner or later.|
has an impressive list of OnLine Writer's Groups (
link ). Some surfing here is bound to help you find a critique
group that fits your interests. The home page offers pages
for Reference Sites, Markets, Agents, and Conferences. There's a
neat listing of Author's sites.
|Writers.com offers classes "for all genres." It says "instructors are published authors who are experienced in teaching as well as writing." The cost ranges from $190 (eight weeks) to $240 US (ten weeks). To find a list of faculty (there's no menu entry), go to "bookstore" and scroll down to "books by our instructors." There are some free writers' tips.|
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I've always collected quotations like other people collect stamps or baseball cards. A well-turned phrase that expresses a meaningful idea will shine like a newly minted proof coin.
Here are a few that are currently on my list.
|"When I was a young boy,
they called me a liar. Now that I'm all grown up, they call me a writer."
~Isaac Bashevis Singer.
|"The beautiful part of
writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike,
say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word,
the apt phrase, the leaping simile."
|"Writing is the only
thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else."
|"It is perfectly okay
to write garbage - as long as you edit brilliantly."
|"What every writer needs
is a good, fool-proof shit detector."
|"Half my life is an act
|"There is no perfect
time to write. There's only now."
|"Writing is rewriting.
A writer must learn to deepen characterization, trim writing, intensify
scenes. To fall in love with a first draft to the point where one
cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing."
~Richard North Patterson.
|"The personages in a
tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses. Always the reader
shall be able to tell the corpses from the others."
from his scathing review
of The Literary Offenses
of James Fenimore Cooper
---->The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second disasterous.
One must love the art in oneself, not oneself in art.
REJECTION IS HELL--AND SO ARE CRITICISMS
Of course we all hate receiving those rejections from editors who've obviously lost their senses. They say baby is misshapen or rambling, and they are "sorry, but this is not for us."
But after we manage to find brilliant, intelligent, and insightful editors and we get published....then there are the critics. Owch.
Perhaps we can get some comfort from knowing just how blind editors and critics really are. Below you'll find some amazing rejections and critical comments.
For these, many thanks to Stephen Railton,
Department of English, University of Virginia (
|The Poems of Emily
Dickinson -- ". . . for the most part the ideas [in Miss Dickinson's
book] totter and toddle, not having learned to walk. In spite of
this, several of the quatrains are curiously touching, they have such a
pathetic air of yearning to be
-- Atlantic Monthly (1892)
Huckleberry Finn -- "If Mr. Clemens cannot think of something better to tell our
pure-minded lads and lasses, he had best stop writing for them."
--Louisa May Alcott, member of the Concord Library Committee that banned Twain's novel (1885)
|The Yellow Wallpaper
-- "Dear Madam, [I'm rejecting your story because] I could not forgive
myself if I made others as miserable as I have made myself [by reading
-- H.E. Scudder, Editor, Atlantic Monthly
|The Waste Land --
"Mr. Eliot has shown that he can at moments write real blank verse; but
that is all. For the rest he has quoted a great deal, he has parodied and
imitated. But the parodies are cheap and the imitations inferior."
--New Statesman (1922)
|The Sun Also Rises
"[Hemingway's novel] leaves one with the feeling that the people it describes really do not matter; one is left at the end with nothing to digest."
--New York Times
|The Sound and the
". . . the chief indictment against the modernists is their utmost complete lack of communication. Under this indictment young Mr. Faulkner must fall. His novel tells us nothing. . . . It is so much sound and fury -- signifying nothing."
-- Providence Sunday Journal (1929)
|Leaves of Grass
-- "Walt Whitman is as unacquainted with art as a hog is with mathematics.
His poems, we must call them so for convenience, resemble nothing so much
as the war-cry of the red Indians . . . or rather, perhaps, this Walt Whitman
reminds us of Caliban flinging down his logs, and setting himself to write
-- London Critic
|Native Son --
". . . it is impossible for me to conceive of a novel being worse . . .
In the midst of the hurrahing, I rise to assert that I think the moral
in Native Son is utterly loathesome and utterly unsupportable as a 'message.'
. . . I can't see that Bigger Thomas had
anything more to contend with, in childhood and youth, than I had or than
dozens of my friends had."
-- Burton Rascoe, American Mercury (1940)
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Louis E. Catron
Books & Films
for Non-Theatre Jobs
Superstition and Saints