I’ve been a keen reader all my life, but I’ve never formally studied creative writing, and I’ve read very few books on the writer’s craft, so I don’t feel particularly qualified to offer writing advice. However I have picked up a few things here and there, and rather than paraphrasing, I’d prefer to point you in the direction of online resources I’ve found useful in the past. If they’re not as in-depth as you’d like, they’ll form a good starting point from which you can go on to do more research.
I will offer one word of advice though. Very few people are born being able to write brilliant prose. You can learn by reading how-to books or articles, and you can learn by being a keen and observant reader, but all that can only take you so far. Mostly, as with anything, you’ll learn by doing. So after having read what you feel you need to read, sit yourself down and write.
On the writing craft
Author Richard Harland has put together a very comprehensive set of writing tips, and he says that his guide is primarily directed at writers of speculative fiction (fantasy, horror or science fiction). Though he notes that most of it will “work for any popular fiction that needs page-turning excitement, suspense and a strong storyline.” What writer doesn’t want some of that?
Richard’s guide doesn’t need to be tackled all in one go. It’s very well indexed, and when I contacted him about it he said that his guide was “never really designed for end-to-end reading – I hoped the organization would make it easy to jump in anywhere.”
Click on the ‘Writing Articles’ tab on the Writer’s Digest home page and you can choose to search for articles by Genre, Writing Goal or Writing Level. There are literally hundreds of short articles on this site covering every writing craft topic you can think of.
Finding a literary agent
There are good old-fashioned paper books on this subject, but in terms of online resources, in Australia, you can start here. For the US, you could try here or use the ‘search members’ function to look for agents here.
These are a great way to find like-minded people to share your journey with, and often provide mentoring programs, courses and conferences, and much more. As I’m Australian, and based in Sydney, I’m a member of the following: