Free Resources for Learning a Subject- MIT OpenCourseware

MITOCW512-300x300Yesterday I blogged about using Coursera to become an expert in a topic you might need to know for your latest fiction (infectious diseases, anyone?) But what if the topic you want to learn about is fiction writing itself? Where can you find a good, free course on honing your craft?

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Free Resources for Learning a Subject- Coursera

Become an expert in pretty much anything with

Here’s a hypothetical situation: you’ve written a zombie apocalypse novel involving a scene that requires more detailed knowledge about epidemics than you currently have. Maybe one of your characters is an epidemiologist but you don’t know enough about the topic to write her dialogue credibly. You could contact a real epidemiologist and ask them to help you write your character, but chances are they’d be too busy fighting the next strain of superbugs to answer your questions. What do you do? Continue reading “Free Resources for Learning a Subject- Coursera”

Said Posterism

The Said Book, via

Back in the late 40’s, hopeful writers could purchase a small book called “The Said Book” by JJ Rodale, whose sole purpose was to offer alternatives to the word “said,” which Rodale deemed too repetitive and boring. It’s not clear what his authority on this matter was that he could make such a proclamation, but he took it upon himself to publish his book filled with suitably spicy said substitutes.

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Color Tools for the Writer

In the book, “Lolita,” Humbert Humbert describes his little nymphet with “lips as red as licked red candy.”


How gorgeous is that description? Can’t you just see the deep red and glossy sheen of a wet lollipop? The fact that he’s describing a 12 year old girl’s lips makes it all the more provocative and disturbing. Perhaps that’s why it works on so many levels. When I heard that line for the first time (I was listening to the audiobook) I stopped and rewound it four times just so that I could appreciate how utterly amazing Nabokov’s writing was. And then I set fire to my current manuscript in a fit of despair as I realized I would never come close to the level of descriptive mastery that writers like Nabokov showed. Continue reading “Color Tools for the Writer”

Scrivener: A Review

I want a one-stop shop for all my writing needs, hence today’s photo. Get it? It’s “one stop.” See?

Anyway, in my quest for an all-in-one writing solution, I am now trying out Scrivener for 30 days. The 30-day-trial is actually 30 days of use, not 30 days from the time you first run the program. That earns it beaucoup brownie points in my book (the one I just imported into Scrivener.) Continue reading “Scrivener: A Review”

Story Bible Blues

A few weeks ago I listened to a podcast on Writing Excuses about story bibles. A story bible is a place to keep all the details of your characters, locations, and events organized so that you can easily look them up later on.

For somebody like me who 1) has poor memory, and 2) is obsessive about keeping notes in a systematic way, a story bible is an excellent idea. Wikis make an obvious choice for this type of document so I tried out a few. Continue reading “Story Bible Blues”