It's my opinion that all good writers - published or not, educated or not - write for themselves. All any fiction writer (and some non-fiction writers) does is tell stories. A good story told badly is just wasted effort. There are a lot of published writers who tell horrible stories so well that readers can't get enough of them.
If you are like me, you are a writer with good stories to tell. The trick is learning to tell the story well.
(God, that gave me a little bit of a headache!)
Anyway, here are some links to resources that might help a "newbie" writer become a better storyteller:
- A very general definition of "Genre" (it's not that simple, but it's a start)
- Types of fiction (Who the hell knew there were so many?!)
- Types of plots
- Fiction types by word & page count
- Good article on "Plots" (Check out the entire site for great info)
- Wikipedia on "Genre fiction" (Use links within for more)
- Literary Devices (explains parts and pieces of literature)
- Character development tools (gotta love those folks on Tumblr!)
- (Meta)search engines (Dogpile, search.com, and a list of others)
Also, here's personal advice from me. I'm no expert, but these are things I do that (I believe) help my writing:
- I listen to comedians. Not to steal their material, but to watch the rhythm and pacing in the way they communicate with audiences. Comedians don't get enough credit for their craft. It's not about the jokes they tell, but how they tell them. Chris Rock, Sebastian Maniscalco, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Ralphie May - they all have found their own "voice". Brilliance.
- I eavesdrop on everyone. I like to watch people who are different from me to see how they speak. I pick up on accents, cadence and dialect that I might be able to use in a story. I try to always base my characters on speech and mannerisms I've seen actual people use. The cliched advise of "Write what you know" is the best advice.
- I read books that I love. A lot. When I find a story that really grips me, I read it first just to enjoy it, then I go back and read it to see how the hell the author performed such magic.
- I read stuff that would put a coffee-swilling insomniac into a coma. This is something I usually save for when I do need to get some sleep, but I find that I learn a lot of interesting things this way. While sitting in the lobby of my doctor's office, I read two and half pages of a five-page article about the Maori's, learning something about the Maori's beliefs about death and afterlife. Over a year after reading that article, I was able to use the information in the story I'm now working on.
- I pay attention to people who are older than me. I write a lot of fiction centered around family, traditions, and generational history because I don't want future generations to get all their history from textbooks. No matter what type of fiction a writer writes, we all have to know where we came from in order to tell our stories with truth.
- Use the hell out of Google, Bing - or whatever your preferred search engine is. I like to use multiple search engines.
- I let people read my work as I'm developing the first draft. I pick people who love reading so that I can see how my story "plays" with an actual reader. This is tough because I like to choose someone who won't mind hurting my feelings with their honest criticism.
The hardest thing to do is to write without comparing yourself to whoever may be on a "bestseller" list. The next hardest thing is not being hard on yourself while writing a first draft. Everyone says it like it's no big deal, but -AAAAGH!!! - it's a huge deal to write (no editing allowed) to finish the story the first time around. What you rarely hear is how good it feels when you get to write those two most important words in any story: "The End".