Resources can be challenging to find for any writing project. I started work on The Xenthian Cycle in September 2014. I also read voraciously.
After completing the series alpha draft in December 2015, I took six months to read about topics that emerged in that first headlong rush.
I started with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Summary Report. My research broadened as I went and continues in my day-to-day work on the series.
Here are some resources that have provided insight, suggested related topics for me to explore further, or created space for reflection on my biases. It’s not an exhaustive or prescriptive list by any means, but it may give you some places to start.
Writing about modern-day Toronto means reflecting the diversity of people, backgrounds, and perspectives I’ve encountered living here. From the beginning of this project, I was excited to work with beta and sensitivity readers.
If you’re unfamiliar with this term, sensitivity reading is the practice of giving a manuscript draft to a person from a specific community or cultural group to have it read for offensive content, misrepresentation, stereotypes or other biases. Like structural editing or proofreading, it is a professional service for which the sensitivity reader is paid.
I was fortunate to have a wide and varied group of 25+ beta readers reviewing drafts of Chaos Calling from the second edit onward. After gathering their feedback, I wanted to be sure I’d heard from people who write and publish, and not just people in my network. For Chaos Calling, I sought sensitivity readers for both the story’s Chinese Canadian characters and Anishinaabe characters.
Overall, I found the experience tremendously constructive. To respect their wishes, the people who provided sensitivity reads for me aren’t named here or in my book.
I am solely accountable for any subsequent failings of my work.
If you’re working on a project that could benefit from sensitivity feedback, here are some places to look:
You can also search via Twitter, Tumblr, and TikTok account bios. Try googling “sensitivity reader” + a keyword related to your work to find a more specific list.
There is no singular approach to writing or any creative act that works for everyone. The trick is to keep at it until you figure out what works for you.
I don’t have an MFA, although I respect writers who choose to go that route. To me, the most important thing is practice. I am fortunate to have had many mentors in my professional career. My line is stronger because of their guidance and feedback.
That said, there are some tricks and tools to writing fiction. The books and resources listed below may be helpful to you, or googling them may lead you to other useful resources.
I also believe in the value of writing groups to improve your writing, provided your group has strong, considerate ground rules for feedback and everyone is committed to giving feedback on time. Some great places to look? Try university or college writing courses, meetups, Wattpad, or fanfiction boards. Again, your mileage may vary.
I write steadily, but I also work full-time. I know from experience as a reader that it’s hard to wait between books. Below, I’ve linked to writers whose work I’ve read and enjoyed.
This list isn’t exhaustive or prescriptive. As with any personal recommendation, your mileage will likely vary. I recommend that you check trigger warnings for individual books.