Writing tips and how-to articles are everywhere, and here are a few that are astonishingly helpful. No one can know everything, so these references are sites with a large repository of writing advice that can be sifted through at your convenience.
“9. Let punctuation control pace and space. Learn the rules, but realize you have more options than you think.”
Special Effects: These simple notes are meant to help enhance the effect of writing. They help with clarity in complex passages, and many emphasize ways to elevate a first draft into a more compelling version through editing.
“17. Riff on the creative language of others. Make word lists, free-associate, be surprised by language.”
Blueprints: Advice in this section centers on planning and preparation. Each of these rules is a gem for working out unity in stories and cohesiveness in non-fiction writing. These are solid tricks for helping a work come out as a complete piece.
“37. In short pieces of writing, don’t waste a syllable. Shape shorter works with wit and polish.”
Useful Habits: Writing has to be cultivated as a habit. Some habits help others, and many of these are just as applicable to struggling students as they are for willing writers.
“46. Take interest in all crafts that support your work. To do your best, help others do their best.”
There are two batches of helpful PDF worksheets on this site. The first deals with character development. The character pyramid tool, target tool, and reverse back-story tool demonstrate a number of powerful links that are sure to add depth to characters by projecting their inner and outer motivations into practical traits. The character profile questionnaire covers all of the fundamentals and several of the often overlooked demographic questions that flesh out underlying concerns the character would realistically have.
The second batch concerns editing and elevating a draft. There are PDFs covering how to replace weak verbs, revising scenes, critiquing work, overcoming crutch words, and examples of scenes that use emotion very well. In the case of the emotion examples, the scenes are from movies and should be looked up for inspiration on increasing emotional impact in writing.
Just know what stage the manuscript is in and focus on tips for that stage. Trying to soak all of this in at once will just be overwhelming. Too many beginning writers read up on instruction material and then scrap their idea because they won’t get it right the first time. No one does, so get some crap on a page and then read up on editing. No use stressing over adverbs when there aren’t any words on the page.
There’s a whole mess of lessons to be learned here. Many of these are the same as the previous “50 tools” list, but these articles have a lot more to offer. While a couple of them may come up as errors (it could just be this computer), each one includes examples of the tip in use.
The best practical advice to be found here can is at the bottom of each page. The workbench section has a number of activities, advice, and suggestions on how to improve writing skills and/or enhance creative sensitivity to the topic discussed in the article. Seriously, going through one of these every couple of days would make a useful study guide for the self-taught writer.
The point here is that there are helps, suggestions, and freely given advice everywhere. Go for it, find it, and don’t be too proud to go looking. Even better, reach out and ask someone how they got good at what they do, and be willing to tell them what they’re good at. There’s not enough of that going on in the writing community. Lets get people the praise they deserve for skills well-learned!