27 YouTube Channels to Help Improve Your Writing
Chapter 11 “Resources” – Section 1 “Youtube Channels”
One of the things that inspired me to begin writing these writing tutorials was that, about a year and a half ago, I came to a frustrating point in my writing where I knew enough about the craft to no longer be a novice but not enough to make my novel publishable. In particular, I wanted to find a Youtube channel that I could listen to while I was cooking or working, so that my skills as a writer could increase. Since then I have found (through research, friends, and even you awesome peeps) a list of videos by which I can do just that, and I want to make sure that you have access to the same. So here is my list of Youtube Videos that can help you in varying ways with your writing. I'd like to also give a special thanks to all of the people who suggested Youtube channels (whose names are linked below).
Novel Writing Advice:
Big Think actually a compilation of brief seminars on a variety of topics that go far beyond just writing. Part of me hesitates to add this link only because there is no comprehensive list of all of the Big Think videos related to writing. The one linked above is simply a small and selective playlist that you can use to link you to a seemingly never-ending string of writing-related videos. However, there is such a vast amount of information from so many published writers that I feel I have to. If anyone enjoys making lists, loves the Big Think writing videos, or happens to have a published playlist with more variety, please let me know and I will update the link and happily credit you for your work.
This is a Vlog channel dedicated to a variety of writing topics. Ava Jae's videos do focus primarily on the writing life (how to be a better and more efficient writer), publishing (self-publishing and traditional publishing), editing (with a writing partner and by yourself), etc... She also has a very impressive section on World Building, which you should definitely check out.
Ellen Brock is a freelance editor who professionally edits novels. If you are in the editing process of your novel, or even if you are just trying to learn general good practices in composition, these are the videos for you. Her videos are very concise, brief, professional, and to the point. Her updates are becoming more rare, but hopefully the channel will pick back up.
So of the writing blogs listed, Jenna's perhaps has the largest selections of topics to choose from, and is one of the most active in keeping her channel updated. Her channel mostly consists of weekly writing tips. If you are looking for a long playlist of articles to listen to as you work or do other things, this is the channel for you. With the large variety in topics, this channel can also help fix a particular problem with your novel. Additionally, she puts some effort into making her vlogs more entertaining than most.
J. P. Beaubien
Terrible Writing Advice is a satirical take on the writing craft. Through the author's witty pokes at writing mindsets, cliches, and the like, he gives great advice for the sorts of things we can avoid and aspire to in storytelling. His animation style is fun and adds to the charm of the channel. I highly recommend going through to see all the advice he has to offer.
Though a large portion of Katy' videos are book reviews (which you may want to listen to, depending on the genre), she has a playlist devoted to her own writing tips. In particular, Katy is awesome at looking at a concept and breaking them down to more simple and understandable ideas. A good example is Katy's novel outline—which is different from my outline but just as valid. Katy is also prone to link her audience to other writing videos by different authors and bloggers. (Recommended by SuperiorStory )
Kim has some videos relating to the craft of writing, but many more devoted to being a productive writer. This includes such topics as finding a writing community, avoid writer's block, and even publishing. It's also worth noting that she has a three-part series on editing and revising your novel, that will be helpful to writers who have already finished a draft or several drafts of their novel.
Shade's vlog covers book reviews, general writing tips, and especially fantasy writing tips. Her channel has been consistently updated for the past several year, creating a very large database of videos on various topics writing and non-writing related. She just recently announced that her channel is getting a reboot with a focus on writing related videos for the primary content, and I'm very excited about that. Now is an excellent time to check her channel out.
Like Big Think, Ted-Ed writing is a hodgepodge of different writing tips from different authors, with subjects ranging from genre, to grammar, to characters. However, Ted-Ed Writing actually has a playlist, is efficiently organized, and manages to stay on topic without going into political discourse.
Travis's videos have some variation in the topics he covers, and his advice is generally down to earth and pretty entertaining. Some of his most unique contributions to writing are his experience and misadventures in publishing, which are definitely worth checking out. He also does a large number of Q & A videos that are worth watching and participating in. I will admit that there are also pretty funny pet videos that will serve to distract you but... I have that you will resist temptation and – aw look at the puppy!
Vivien's channel is new, but so far it is very proactive with producing content and contains a very high quality for a vlog. Her video topics are diverse, covering an array of writing topics; and she is self-publishing which means there will hopefully be videos about her experience as time goes on. The most significant insight, in my opinion, is her focus on how the audience and writer will react to certain elements of the story.
The Universal Art of Storytelling:
The Nostalgia Critic is a fictional vlogger who does reviews on popular movies, especially those from our youth, along with his many fictional sidekicks and nemeses. Within the reviews, he does an in-depth critique of what aspects of storytelling ruined or saved each, focusing on storytelling elements that can also apply to writing. In his later videos, he also focuses on what these movies could have done better, and on the hidden strengths that the viewer might not have noticed. In addition, there is usually a fun, fictional, meta-story happening in the studio, trying to prevent Critic from doing his review, and it will usually serve to emphasize the point he is trying to make.
Cinemasins is a mid-length (15 minute) series of videos, with a specific focus on the cliches and mistakes that are over-abundant in popular films. Watching this channel has helped me see the cliches that I unknowingly adopted in my own writing, and is helping me to purge them. I recommend this channel to writers who are working on dialogue, character actions, settings, and situations—basically during your first few drafts. We have a tendency to create these story elements in a way that replicates what we've seen in other stories, and this channel will help you to see the ones that are overwhelmingly present in popular media.
Similar to Cinemasins, Honest Trailers take a tighter focus on the failings of the overarching plot, instead of the specific details. This is very important for making sure that your plot is not a cliché. This channel is most helpful to writers who are developing a plot-outline and want to see which mistakes to avoid in the overarching plot. Note, however, that it primarily exists for humor and entertainment.
Compared to most of the other channels in this part of this list, this one is not quite as entertaining. However, it more than makes up for it with a close look at storytelling both in the form of books and movies, as he compares the strengths and weaknesses of both. Matt puts critical thought into the details of each mode of storytelling, dividing the analyses into multiple segments—looking at plot, character, world, action, etc, and analyzing each level separately.
KrimsonRogue seems to be a spiritual successor to the Nostalgia Critic franchise—with similar humor, purpose, and all around feel. Its originality comes from selecting movies based on books, comparing the two, and then judging the appropriateness of the adaption. In the future, I would like to see more emphasis placed in explaining what the book did better or worse, instead of putting attention almost exclusively on the movie. However, he does often directly provide writing tips when comparing the two. (Recommended by NightWingSurge )
I hesitate to add video game reviews to this list, not because I think video games aren't perfectly valid forms of storytelling but because I want this list to be reserved for channels that primarily discuss elements of storytelling instead of gameplay. However, MrBtongue's videos are a clear exception to this rule, as he focuses on videogames almost exclusively as a storytelling medium. The standard sequence of events for each video is: MrBtongue presents a problem with an aspect of storytelling in a videogame, he discusses principals and innovations established classical writing (from Tolkien, to Star Trek, to Greek story philosophy), he illustrates what the story did wrong given its strengths and everything it did right, and then he concludes with how it could have done better. Not only do I recommend this channel as a means to a clear and entertaining way to learn the principals of high literature, but as a means to recognize the strengths of your story and how to empower them. (Recommended by MakenMeister )
Tale Foundry is a newer channel to the Youtube scene, and somewhat difficult to place. The channel picks literary topics with monthly themes that are chosen by their viewers. These range from anything from film analysis, cultural mythology, to literary genres. This channel has academic professionalism, a very high production value, and a focus on how each of their themes can apply to storytellers. I most highly recommend this channel to those writers who want to write fantasy, and those looking for a more interactive watching experience. (Recommended by one of the channel founders Coughin05)
This channel is split primarily between two different series: “Thug Notes” and “The Philosophy of”. “Thug Notes” are plot summaries of works of classical literature, and then analyses of the characters and themes within, along with a high entertainment value as the narrator compares the characters and plot as if they were the actions of modern street thugs. What impresses me about this series is both the simplification of such stories that have been complicated by years of over-analysis, as well as that the twist on perspective makes these stories of high literature seem very familiar and relevant even in the modern day. “The Philosophy of” is a series where the narrator looks at works of contemporary fiction, analyzes the many themes, and then tries to figure out what worldviews and philosophies that each show is trying to illustrate as a whole. This is important particularly if your stories take an emphasis on message to the audience. (Recommended a long time ago by my college roommate, Doomerator)
Cinefix is a variety channel that focuses on several of the sorts of videos mentioned in the links above. These include book vs movie analyses, list articles about popular films, and close looks at how different movies accomplished storytelling goals with excellence. In every video, they place a large deal of emphasis on what can be learned about storytelling from the topic at hand--making it a favorite of writers who post in the comments. What really stands out about this channel for me, however, is both the quality of the videos and the large array of different films that they feature. In their discussions, they'll discuss (without much favoritism based on era) anything from the most recent of action movies, to Kubrick's work a few decades ago, to movies shot in black and white. So far it has served to add quite few movies on my much-watch list, just to better learn the craft of storytelling. (Recommended by grimtales2 )
Lessons from the Screenplay
In this series, Michael analyzes the screenplays of popular movies for their hidden strengths. What makes this channel stand out is the focus on movie writing as opposed to cinematography. There are also references to outside works and writing outside of the movie being reviewed. I recommend it for anyone looking to look at the power of the most influential modern movies, and how to adapt that power for your own work. (Recommended by @JS-Churrch )
Olivia Van Buskirk ( RedVanB ) has created a channel dedicated to SUPER nitpicky (but good) criticisms of popular films and shows. I actually encountered her videos quite randomly, noticing one of my favorite shows being criticised. I went in not expecting much and discovered that she has a unique perspective on storytelling. As an artist herself, Olivia shines an interesting light on camera angles, animation style choices, and their effect on the story. Watching her videos makes me want to put a considerable bit more effort and thought into my own scene building, point-of-view, and descriptions. Additionally, she shares a passionate and fresh view on plot building and character development in those episodes when she really rips the heart out of a story. I also appreciate her gutsy choice to go after stories that are popular and beloved, instead of ones that are just universally hated. Plus the jokes are pretty good too.
Are you writing a story, but need to conduct research on a real-world topic? Maybe you need to learn some aspect of science to apply to your science-fiction, or maybe you are writing historical fiction and need to know more about the period and characters involved. Regardless, if you need to do research, the best place the start is CrashCourse. Crashcourse is entertaining, educational, and provides new perspectives on the matters that the hosts look at. This channel also includes an impressive playlist of literary themed topics.
If you are writing horror, I can recommend no resource as much as CreepsMcPasta's stories. These terrifying short stories are written by writers all over the world and read on the channel with minor visuals. I listen to these works as I clean or cook or do other chores, in addition to whatever audio-books I happen to get my hands on. Even if you do not plan to write horror, these short stories are an example of how to compress plot, excellent writing, characterization, and especially description into a very short amount of text. (Recommended by Amber134 )
Another fantastic collection of creepypastas being read, if you simply cannot get enough. (Recommended by Watchful-Bystander)
The source of many of my research papers, PBS Idea Channel is a learning resource for understanding themes that truly are complex and dynamic. I recommend this channel specifically for those authors looking for deep topics and writing prompts that will help you create dynamic stories.
Welcome to Night Vale is a fiction radio show about the fictional town of Night Vale, where monsters roam, portals in the sky open, and beautiful journalists named Carlos try to uncover the truth while avoiding the daily dangers and mass deaths. There is no plot here, and there is no real protagonist. There is a narrator and a town, and the story comes from the very intricate world-building that the authors invested in. I highly recommend this channel to those seeking to create an amazing, living, breathing world, as well as memorable and powerful narration.
Please note that just because I recommend a channel does not mean I agree with everything said, only that they have some valuable insight on the craft. The criteria used when selecting channels was that they be mostly helpful and insightful, that they are still being updated or have a vast library of content, and that they have a significant number of videos pertaining to storytelling. So if your recommendation was not selected, it was likely not because I don't think they have value but because they simply weren't right for this list. However, please feel free to continue sending in suggestions and I will add them to the list as I am able. Finally, be sure to thank these awesome people making videos for the writing community by subscribing and liking their channels if you enjoy them.
Click Here to see my full gallery of writing tutorials!
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