When I first began writing, one of the most daunting things was figuring out where to start and whose advice to trust. There are tens of thousands of Kindle ebooks, hundred-dollar seminars, Masterclasses and other resources aimed at new writers. I was always skeptical of these, and sure enough, I soon found that much of the best info on writing can be found for free on Youtube.
Having written both as a hobby and semi-professionally, I’ve found these videos and channels super helpful in my writing journey. Covering everything from free college lectures, to fun and snappy overviews of myths and tropes, these eight videos are a great first start for any wannabe genre writer. I know just as well as many of you that starting out and thinking like a commercial writer can be a daunting task, but hopefully the following tutorials and courses (again all free, thanks Youtube!) can make that leap forward a little less scary. And for my first recommended video, I can’t think of any better candidate then…
Brandon Sanderson’s Lecture Series
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll no doubt have noticed me mentioning Brandon Sanderson quite a bit. This lecture series is largely why, and it’s probably one of the best free resources for learning the ins and outs of pro genre writing. Brandon is a NYT bestseller, and I’ve greatly enjoyed his Mistborn series. His insight into SFF is stellar, and it’s basically a free college course sans paperwork and due dates. Watch this series first, as it’s a solid overview that’ll enhance your subsequent video leaning.
Overly Sarcastic Productions’ “Trope Talk”
Fun and bite-sized, these videos go over various genre fiction tropes, and how best to apply or subvert them. They’re visually engaging as well, with a cute art style and snappy editing that keeps you focused on the topic at hand. Fun, fast and highly informative. Beats scouring through hours of TV Tropes articles, and the channel goes over myths, legends and famous novels as well, so be sure to check those out if you’re interested.
Shadiversity’s Fantasy & Sci-fi Weapons/Architecture Series
As a fantasy writer primarily, I must admit that my biases are fairly obvious in this list. While the overwhelming majority of these videos can apply to Sci-Fi as well, certain channels such as this one, have a distinct fantasy bent. Shadiversity’s channel, being focused on such things as swords, castles, history and GLORIOUS MACHICOLATIONS would at first glance, seem geared solely towards the fantasy genre. However, he also goes over sci-fi in a few videos, and if you have any historical fiction elements in your story (time travel, apocalyptic “future past, a character who’s into HEMA or reenactment, etc) I still heartily recommend this channel.
The Art of Story
These videos are long, detailed, and essentially a Film School class packed in a free online video. However, for the prospective novelist, there’s quite a few tips here (particularly in the above video) that can take your writing to the next level.
Hello Future Me’s Magic System/Worldbuilding Series
Aside from Sanderson, this is probably the best video series on Magic/Tech systems you can find. It’s easily digestible, uses popular TV shows and films such as Harry Potter and Avatar: The Last Airbender to explain its points, and has excellent presentation. This channel has a lot of great content on writing as well, and I strongly recommend watching as many of these as possible. Though the worldbuilding and magic system ones are a priority in my opinion.
Every Video by “Writing Realm”
Subjects like geography, economy, battle scenes and general writing advice are all covered here in great detail. These are excellent videos, and the more recent ones go over the step-by-step process of novel writing. Important subjects such as how to outline, picking your genre, and good habits for successful writers.
Daniel Greene’s Reviews and Videos
I’ve interviewed Daniel Greene before, and enjoy his video content immensely, because it’s a great window into how fans interact with and enjoy SFF books. Listening to his reviews and overviews of series like The Wheel of Time, Kingkiller Chronicles and Game of Thrones show what specific elements really resonate with him, and having a fan’s perspective can make all the difference in how you see your own narrative. He also does videos on writing good characters, the fantasy genre in general, and other things that are absolutely worth your time.
Tale Foundry’s Sci-Fi and Mythology Videos
Tale Foundry is a hidden gem of a Youtube channel, with great art, a series of free short story “audiobooks,” and (more importantly for the newb writer) a video series on mythology and the history of Science Fiction. This is a stellar channel, and while it’s not as focused on the mechanical side of things, I don’t think I could make a proper list about videos for writers without mentioning these guys. Like Overly Sarcastic Productions and Terrible Writing Advice (which missed this list by a hair, but I’d still recommend), Tale Foundry straddles the line between useful information and charming entertainment.