Helpful On Writing

These are sites and suggestions which I have found useful. Bear in mind the old YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) caveat because everyone is different, but certainly take a look.

For some of these I am an affiliate – look for the * – which means if you buy through me I get a slight payment which enables me to offset the costs of my book addiction. You do not have to do this. You can always go to the site direct.

They’re listed below in alphabetical order, for ease of finding.

  • Gwen Hernandez is the writer who started me actually understanding scrivener. She also writes some fun Romances.
  • * Holly Lisle has a series of mini (and a few maxi) courses. Try her free one first to see if you like her style of teaching. If you read, then follow her blog at and the Alone In A Room With Invisible People podcast for insight into her writing and what to expect. She has written a wide variety of books, and you may find a series or two to add to your shelves!
  • K.M. Weiland is also a writer worth visiting, especially as regards her Scrivener and writing hints.
  • Scrivener software from Literature & Latte for writing (Mac and Windows), and Scrapple (for ideas and ‘carding’) are the best (for me) that I’ve found, and I’ve tried quite a few!

  • Gwen Hernandez wrote Scrivener For Dummies.

    Holly’s classes are very practical, hands-on, step by step. This does not mean they’re simple – in fact, sometimes they make my brain work a bit too hard.

    What they excel at is offering bite-sized morsels in a way you can use YOUR way as a springboard to what YOU want to create. Add to this an active community and even if you don’t always agree with/use her classes exactly as written I’d be surprised if you don’t find something worth the time and price. I have a large and extensive library of texts and helpful books (which I consult with and read from time to time because they are all useful, one way or another) but I found Holly’s classes to be, for me, a great mix of practicality and encouragement.

    Holly offers a number of special topic classes, and several big classes (and yes, these I own and use unless noted, which is why I think they are good value).

    Special topic classes – These core classes are shorter, less expensive, and a good introduction to Holly’s offerings. They target one specific detail.

    I call these the ‘help me!’ classes. They are not on writing, per se, but they cover topics which writers (anyone, really) can find needful at times, and are

    The Big Classes – are ‘career’ classes. Expensive, but (in my opinion) worth it, especially when you add in the encouragement of other students (published or not). They are also information-rich.

    • How To Think Sideways is about setting you up with tools for being able to create the tools needed for longevity in your writing career.
    • How to Write a Novel PRELAUNCH is currently open. It is about blending everything together to create, and write, your novel – including those awkward hiccups when things explode and plans go out the window. After the prelaunch the price will increase.
    • How To Revise Your Novel covers that important ‘oh no! now it needs revising!’ horror and turns it into a relatively pain-free process.
    • How To Write A Series OK, first decision: is what you have really meant to be a series? Recognising what does, and doesn’t, make a good series is important, as is maintaining coherency, pacing, and interleaving plotlines.

    K.M. Weiland is also a writer worth visiting, especially as regards her Scrivener and writing hints.

    She has written several excellent books – Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, (both with companion workbooks) and Creating Character Arcs. She also offers a Scrivener template to fir her development style. They are not the same approach as Holly uses, but complimentary (and may suit your style better!)

    I found her page of ‘useful books’ to be interesting – and the books themselves are worth the time and effort, describing several processes and methods. Sometimes a different approach may be just the jog needed.

    Scrivener (and scrapple) is the software I use. It is designed specifically for writers, and of the various products I have tried is the one I feel most productive using.

    The learning curve can be steep, but it does get easier as you go on, and the creators are very helpful. It has a free trial (worth it!) and around NaNoWrite is usually on sale.

    Seriously – give it a try. There are literally hundreds of (usually free) templates to try, tutorials, and hints for setting it up to get the best out of using it for everything from novels (in just about any genre you can name), to theses, plays and storyboarding. It is reliable, relatively bullet-proof (what is perfect?) and has both an avid and active user base and the creators actually support it. I know: shocking!

    The big benefit to Scrivener, for me, is the ability to combine work and reference in the one file, and easily switch between displays. Need to re-organise plot points? use cards alone. Want the equivelent of a plain typewriter screen with everything in one document? done. Prefer to see both what you’re working on and scenes notes for it, as well as the ‘bible’ notes about characters and settings complete with pictures? Easy.

    And if you just want to export to a text file? You can do that as well.

    Scrapple is their ‘thinkings and noodlings’ software. Playing with lines and boxes can be both fun, and help organise and clarify plot, timelines, and backstory of characters. Also useful for garden planning and working out those annoying jobs around the house!