Research—Writing Process

There is a lot of information out there about writing technique and the writing process. It’s good to experiment to figure out what works for you, but here are some of my favorite resources.

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Research and Inspiration

The Breakout Novelist: How to Craft Novels That Stand Out And Sell by Donald Maass

Maass, a literary agent, is clearly a passionate reader. His advice on technique is helpful, but his clarity about the power of heart is inspirational. (The Breakout Novelist is a compilation of several books, including The Fire in Fiction, quoted below.)

“Having something to say, or something you wish us to experience, is what gives your novel its power. Identify it. Make it loud. Do not be afraid of what’s burning in your heart.”

Donald Maass, The Fire in Fiction


Other Books

The Art of Character: Creating Memorable Characters for Fiction, Film, and TV by David Corbett

I love that Corbett addresses the soul of building characters, espousing the revelations found in a character’s stories and background, rather than focusing on checklists or exhaustive details.

Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises For Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers From Start to Finish by James Scott Bell

I found this classic helpful in trying to figure out the complexities of novel writing.

Online Resources

National Novel Writing Month Pep Talk From Roxane Gay by Roxane Gay

Gay’s pep talk for NaNoWriMo sums up what I’ve come to believe after four years of writing and listening to writing advice—everyone is different, and so is their writing process. But the way she says it is inspirational.

Roxane Gay Pep Talk

Creating Fantasy and Science Fiction Worlds by Michael James Liljenberg with an introduction by A. R. George

This tutorial series was a lifesaver for me when I was trying to figure out my worldbuilding process.

Originally published on, a now-defunct website, the series is available through the Library of Congress Web Archives Collection. The link below will take you to the introduction, which has links to all the other steps in the series.

Michael James Liljenberg Worldbuilding

My Writing Process: 9 Steps From Idea to Finished by Marissa Meyer

This series of blog posts is a frank discussion of Meyer’s approach to writing novels. I came across it when I was working on my outline, and was especially grateful for her insight into that process. I also appreciated her recommendation of Dan Wells’ video series, which I have also listed here. This link will take you to an introductory post which has links to all the others.

Marissa Meyer Blog

Dan Wells on Story Structure by Dan Wells

Wells’ seven point system for building a plot is more intuitive to me than the traditional three-act structure I learned in high school. In this series of five videos, Wells does a great job of explaining his system. He’s entertaining too.

Dan Wells Story Structure Video

How I Went From Writing 2,000 words a day to 10,000 words a day by Rachel Aaron

This is a little extreme, I know. But I was curious. I came to two conclusions: 1) speed is not as important to me as I thought; 2) Aaron brings up some good points, and her techniques are worth experimenting with.

Rachel Aaron Speed Writing


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