The Strictly Writers' Top...Websites

Here are our top websites and blogs - we'd love to hear what yours are in the comments below!

Gillian: One of my favourite writing-related websites is The New York Times Books. In the absence of enjoying a copy of the paper in my hands, the next best I suppose is the comprehensive website featuring reviews and features plucked from the supplements. With info on all the latest books as well as archival articles, conversations and interviews, New York Times brings you the latest in the world of literature. My natural interest lies in American literature, so once the books have crossed the ocean to the UK, I'm already in the know! You can check out all the movers and shakers via the hardcover and paperback charts too. And of course, you can download the podcasts - simply go to the website.

Susie: I've been a member of WriteWords online writing community for a couple of years. The members take writing seriously - there are loads of published writers on the site who are extremely generous with their advice and experience - and there's a very supportive and encouraging atmosphere there. It's a place where you can ask (or tell) anything, both writing-related or generally. As well as forums for every kind of writing - from Chicklit to Flash Fiction, Non-Fiction to Poetry - there are also specialist forums for discussions on Getting Published, Technique etc. You can also post your work for critique - and the quality of critique is high. Why not try it - you can have a free month's trial: thereafter it's just £35 for a year's membership. All the Strictly crowd are members (if that's a recommendation!) and we'd love to welcome you onboard.

Geri: I have many reasons for nominating Womag's website as my favourite writing website. Through it I've made contact with writers whose bylines have become very familiar to me over the years, and who I hope I can now count among my many online friends. Without her research and her generosity in sharing it I wouldn't have entered and twice won Write-Invite, which led to an interview on Express FM. Nor would I have submitted a story to Bridge Publishing - a story which will appear in their Ghost Anthology in October. There are many websites to do with writing but generally the focus is on writing novels or literary short stories. Womag understands that if you're a writer aiming at the women's short story market then unless you understand that market before you submit your story then you won't get very far at all. And she is fabulous at providing and collating all the information you could possibly need in an easily accessible format. Womag gets my vote for best website every time!

Caroline G: Help! I need a publisher! (and maybe an agent…?) is the very funny and informative blog of Nicola Morgan, award-winning author and self-styled ‘crabbit old bat’. She has no truck with time wasters or anyone who thinks writing is easy. But her advice on the business and craft of writing is always spot-on and encouraging, albeit never sugar-coated.

Rod: contemporarywriters is the perfect haunt if you want to pass yourself off as well-read. It has biographies, bibliographies and photos of our most loved living writers. Well, the famous ones anyway. You won't find me or you there. The best bit is the "critical perspective", which puts the writer in context. Endless browsing fun is to be had by clicking on the strangely captivating photos that drift eternally across the top of the screen. They also list their agents, so it's a good place to go if you are tailoring submissions letters and want to claim a striking correspondence between your work and one of the gods.

Caroline R: Red Room is a great social media site for writers at any stage of their career. The design is classy, the content excellent, and you don't have to be published to create a page there. It's a brilliant way for authors to consolidate all their online stuff (links to interviews, reviews, blog posts, podcasts etc), for serious but not-yet-published writers to build up a web presence, and for keen readers to get in touch with their favourite authors.

Sam: I can highly recommend Nik’s Blog. Nik is a diverse writer of adult and children’s fiction and of poetry. He runs workshops and was recently instrumental in putting together the book 20 Photos & 20 Stories, to raise money for the Alzheimer’s society. I admire his initiative. I admire his innovation. I enjoy the interviews and reports on the literary events he’s attending. What’s more I enjoy following the life of someone who genuinely strives to make a living from the writing. It’s like popping in to catch up with a friend over a virtual coffee - a cosy safe haven within what can be a brutal world of publishing!

Fionnuala: I was recently recommended by a fellow writer friend and have been a daily visitor since! Holly Lisle, author of thirty two books including some writing clinic e-books offers a wonderfully informative website, being incredibly generous with her experience and insight into the writing world. The sight offers a wealth of information for writers of all levels from beginners to published successes.
At beginner level there are many FAQs, for example ‘What is a chapter and how do you know when you’ve finished one?’ For the more experienced writers, workshops are available on subjects such as ‘Creating Conflict’ or ‘Honing Your Craft’. These are presented in easy format – just read it through and sometimes perform a few simple exercises.
As I’m currently allowing my novel to breathe for a couple of weeks before revising it, her ‘One Pass Revision’ and ‘Revising Vincalis’ workshops are my chosen reads for today.
Have a peek. There is something there for everyone who already writes or wants to start.

Susannah: This Itch of Writing is the blog of literary historical novelist and writing teacher Emma Darwin. It’s witty, erudite, forthright and gives a deliciously varied insight into the life and mind of a working writer. I love this blog because it never feels dashed off. There is something in every post to mull on. Her posts are incredibly varied and always informative – particularly for the novice, as she is generous with information, not only on the nuts and bolts of getting published, but with those elements of craft that can have us feeling like headless chickens. She will bother to analyse a single sentence of HG Wells in minute detail to debate whether/why each word is necessary (in this post, Learning to Fly ) or discuss how empathy works (between reader and character) in Where The Wild Things Are.
Interestingly the tone of the blog is consistent with Darwin’s voice as a novelist. There isn’t a false chattiness or dumbing down when she moves online. But best of all, what shines through is that she is clearly constantly learning and developing. Here is a teacher who willingly shares what she knows then romps ahead so there is always more to be had. And that, for me, is what gives her blog the edge.

Rebecca: The Rejection Collection bills itself as “the writer’s and artist’s online source for misery, commiseration and inspiration”. Ever felt like drowning in a sea of self-despair after receiving a particularly vicious rejection letter? Get yourself over to Rejection Collection and be safe in the knowledge that you are not alone. Here, would-be writers (mostly from the U.S., but with a small British contingent too) post up letters they have received from agents, editors and the like, and share their thoughts – from sorrow to outrage. It hasn’t been updated for a while, but there’s a healthy backlog to plough through… perfect for those times when you feel as if you are the only writer in the world ever to have had a door slam in your face.

Helen: My two favourite websites aptly sum up my life: WriteWords and Mumsnet. The former is great for anything from a moan about 'the state of the publishing industry', to a heated discussion on the merits of literary fiction. The later is where I find information on everything from the charity status of private schools to the relative pleasures of “bumsex”. What's not to like?


Administrator said...

I don't think i can cope with finding out about any more top sites - i'll never get any work done!

Anonymous said...

You can subscribe to WriteWords for as little as £20, and with the wealth of experience on the site it's well worth the money.

Karen said...

Literary agent, Janet Reid's blog, QUERY SHARK
is a fun way to waste some time, and a real eye-opener in how not to write a synopsis.

It's actually pretty helpful too :o)

CarolineR said...

It's good to see all the others' recommendations. I like Holly Lisle's site too but had forgotten to visit for a while, so thanks for the reminder, Fionnuala.

Mumsnet scares me - I would never dare post on there. The relationships forum is good for plot/character ideas, though.

Administrator said...

That sounds good, Karen.

I'd also recommend Vulpes Libris for great, indepth book reviews - but then i do review for them occasionally:)

Gillian McDade said...

A lot of great suggestions there for further browsing! Not that I have enough to do already :) !!

Caroline Green said...

Oh dear, all sorts of new procrastination aids here....

Administrator said...

I just looked at Query Shark - addictive reading!

Sheila Norton said...

Thanks for all these recommendations - plenty here to keep me busy!!

Kate said...

Thanks for the great sites! I'd love to add one: prints and ships your mss to US literary markets for you- has a free database of over 4000 markets. A real winner!

M. L. Kiner said...
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Kath McGurl said...

Thanks Geri - I'm honoured to have been chosen as your favourite blog! Great to be in such illustrious company too. Emma Darwin's blog is one of my favourites, along with Strictly Writing, of course! Wish I had more time to keep up with them all.