Louis E. Catron
Annotated websites for writers

 
 

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ANNOTATED SITES FOR WRITERS

 
        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--

Contents:
(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



 
 

 
PART ONE:  REFERENCE

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.

Research 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.
Writer's 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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PART TWO:  ESPECIALLY FOR WRITERS

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.

Playwrights might want to visit my site here for more details and links.Not lick .on the underlined title to access the sit e--
 


 
 
e-Writers.Net.This is a conglomerate site--one full of links--that can connect you  to valuable information.
"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 are valuable.

Writer's Exchange    Finding 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.
Writer's Guidelines Directory.   The opening page looks spare, but the search engine is what you want.  Come here to find markets.  Tip: Experiment 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.

 

Resources 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.

Resources 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.
 

 

Writer 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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PART THREE:  AGENTS.

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. 

Caution.  Avoid 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.
Literary 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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PART IV:  ON-LINE CRITIQUE GROUPS

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. 

Tip:  Speaking 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). Tip #3:  You're expected to return the service:  offer C&C on others' submissions if you expect comments on your work. 
 


 
 
How 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").

 

How 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.)
The 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. 
ForWriters.Com 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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PART V:  QUOTATIONS WORTH THINKING ABOUT

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."
~Robert Cormier.
"Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else."
~Gloria Steinem.
"It is perfectly okay to write garbage - as long as you edit brilliantly."
~C.J. Cherryh.
"What every writer needs is a good, fool-proof shit detector."
~Ernest Hemingway.
"Half my life is an act of revision."
~John Irving.
"There is no perfect time to write.  There's only now."
~Barbara Kingsolver

 
 
 

 

"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."
~Mark Twain, 
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.
~Margot Fonteyn
<----
One must love the art in oneself, not oneself in art.
~Stanislavki

 
 
 

 

 

 

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 ( link ).
 


 
 
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        poems."

-- 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 it]."

-- 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 (1926)
 

 

The Sound and the Fury -- 
". . . 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 a poem."

-- London Critic (1855)
 

 

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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