Awesome Sites and Links for Writers
Just about every writer out there has several go-to websites that they use when it comes to their writing. Be it for creativity, writer’s block, to put you in the mood or general writing help. These are mine and I listed them in hopes that you’ll find something that you’ll like or will find something useful for you. I’ve also included some websites that sound interesting.
Spelling & Grammar
- Grammar Girl — Grammar Girl’s famous Quick and Dirty Tips (delivered via blog or podcast) will help you keep your creative writing error free.
- The Owl — is Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) it’s a great resource for grammar guides, style tips and other information that can help with your writing, especially academics.
- Tip of My Tongue — have you ever had trouble of thinking of a specific word that you can’t remember what it is? Well, this site will help you narrow down your thoughts and find that word you’ve been looking for. It can be extremely frustrating when you have to stop writing because you get a stuck on a word, so this should help cut that down.
- Free Rice – is a great way to test your vocabulary knowledge. What’s even better about this site is that with every correct answer, they donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. So, please disable your adblock since they use the ads on the site to generate the money to buy the rice.
- HyperGrammar — the University of Ottawa offers up a one-stop guide for proper spelling, structure, and punctuation on this site.
- AutoCrit — the AutoCrit Editing Wizard can check writing for grammar errors, clichés and other no-no’s. It also provides a number of other writing resources as well.
- Writer’s Digest — learn how to improve your writing, find an agent, and even get published with the help of the varied blogs on this site.
- Syntaxis — it allows you to test your knowledge of grammar with a ten-question quiz. The questions change every time you take the quiz so users are sure to be challenged each time around. It definitely helps writers know if there’s something that they need to brush up on.
- Word Frequency Counter — this counter allows you to count the frequency usage of each word in your text.
- Copyscape — is a free service that you can use to learn if anyone has plagiarized your work. It’s pretty useful for those that want to check for fanfiction plagiarism.
- Write or Die — is an application for Windows, Mac and Linux which aims to eliminate writer’s block by providing consequences for procrastination.
- Written? Kitten! — is just like Write of Die, but it’s a kinder version. They use positive reinforcement, so everytime you reach a goal they reward you with an adorable picture of a kitten.
Information & Data
- RefDesk — it has an enormous collection of reference materials, searchable databases and other great resources that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s great to use when you need to find something and check your facts.
- Bib Me — it makes it easy to create citations, build bibliographies and acknowledge other people’s work. This is definitely something that academics will love. It’s basically a bibliography generator that automatically fills in a works cited page in MLA, APA, Chicago or Turbian formats.
- Internet Public Library — this online library is full of resources that are free for anyone to use, from newspaper and magazine articles to special collections.
- The Library of Congress — if you’re looking for primary documents and information, the Library of Congress is a great place to start. It has millions of items in its archives, many of which are accessible right from the website.
- Social Security Administration: Popular Baby Names — is the most accurate list of popular names from 1879 to the present. If your character is from America and you need a name for them, this gives you a accurate list of names, just pick the state or decade that your character is from.
- WebMD — is a handy medical database loaded with information. It’s not a substitute for a doctor, but can give you a lot of good information on diseases, symptoms, treatments, etc.
- Google Scholar - is an online, freely accessible search engine that lets users look for both physical and digital copies of articles. It searches a wide variety of sources, including academic publishers, universities, and preprint depositories and so on. While Google Scholar does search for print and online scholarly information, it is important to understand that the resource is not a database.
- The Old Farmer’s Almanac — this classic almanac offers yearly information on astronomical events, weather conditions and forecasts, recipes, and gardening tips.
- State Health Facts — Kaiser Family Foundation provides this database, full of health facts on a state-by-state basis that address everything from medicare to women’s health.
- U.S. Census Bureau — Learn more about the trends and demographics of America with information drawn from the Census Bureau’s online site.
- Wikipedia — this shouldn’t be used as your sole source, but it can be a great way to get basic information and find out where to look for additional references.
- Finding Data on the Internet — a great site that list links that can tell you where you can find the inflation rate, crime statistics, and other data.
- RhymeZone — whether you’re writing poetry, songs, or something else entirely, you can get help rhyming words with this site.
- Acronym Finder — with more than 565,000 human-edited entries, Acronym Finder is the world’s largest and most comprehensive dictionary of acronyms, abbreviations, and initials.
- Symbols.com — is a unique online encyclopedia that contains everything about symbols, signs, flags and glyphs arranged by categories such as culture, country, religion, and more.
- OneLook Reverse Dictionary — is a dictionary that lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. Your description can be a few words, a sentence, a question, or even just a single word.
- The Alternative Dictionaries — is a site that you can look up slang words in all types of languages, including Egyptian Arabic, Cherokee, Cantonese, Norwegian and many, many others.
- Online Etymology Dictionary — it gives you the history and derivation of any word. Etymologies are not definitions; they’re explanations of what our words meant and how they sounded 600 or 2,000 years ago.
- MediLexicon — is a comprehensive dictionary of medical, pharmaceutical, biomedical, and health care abbreviations and acronyms.
- Merriam Webster Online – the online version of the classic dictionary also provides a thesaurus and a medical dictionary.
- Multilingual Dictionary – that translate whatever you need from 30 different languages with this easy-to-use site.
- Open Office — why pay for Microsoft products when you can create free documents with Open Office? This open source software provides similar tools to the Microsoft Office Suite, including spreadsheets, a word processor, the ability to create multimedia presentations, and more.
- LibreOffice — is a free and open source office suite. It was forked from OpenOffice.org in 2010, which was an open-sourced version of the earlier StarOffice. The LibreOffice suite comprises programs to do word processing, spreadsheets, slideshows, diagrams and drawings, maintain databases, and compose math formula.
- Scrivener — is not a free program, but it’s certainly a very popular one. It’s great for organizing research, planning drafts, and writing novels, articles, short stories, and even screenplays.
- OmmWriter — is a free simple text processor that gives you a distraction free environment. So you can focus only on your writing without being tempted or distracted by other programs on your computer.
- Evernote — is a free app for your smartphone and computer that stores everything you could possibly imagine losing track of, like a boarding pass, receipt, article you want to read, to do list, or even a simple typed note. The app works brilliantly, keeping everything in sync between your computer, smartphone, or tablet. It’s definitely a useful app for writers when you have ideas on the go.
- Storybook — this open source software can make it easier to manage your plotlines, characters, data, and other critical information while penning a novel.
- Script Frenzy — scriptwriters will appreciate this software. It offers an easy layout that helps outline plots as well as providing storyboard features, index cards, and even sound and photo integration.
Creativity, Fun & Miscellaneous
- National Novel Writing Month — is one of the most well-known writing challenges in the writing community, National Novel Writing Month pushes you to write 50,000 words in 30 days (for the whole month of November).
- WritingFix — a fun site that creates writing prompts on the spot. The site currently has several options—prompts for right-brained people, for left-brained people, for kids—and is working to add prompts on classic literature, music and more.
- Creative Writing Prompts — the site is exactly what it says. They have 100+ and more, of prompts that you can choose from.
- My Fonts — is the world’s largest collection of fonts. You can even upload an image containing a font that you like, and this tells you what it is.
- Story Starters — this website offers over one trillion randomly generated story starters for creative writers.
- The Gutenberg Project — this site is perfect for those who like to read and/or have an ereader. There’s over 33,000 ebooks you can download for free.
- The Imagination Prompt Generator — Click through the prompts to generate different ideas in response to questions like “Is there a God?” and “If your tears could speak to you, what would they say?”
- The Phrase Finder – this handy site helps you hunt down famous phrases, along with their origins. It also offers a phrase thesaurus that can help you create headlines, lyrics, and much more.
- Storybird – this site allows you to write a picture book. They provided the gorgeous artwork and you create the story for it, or just read the stories that others have created.
- Language Is a Virus — the automatic prompt generator on this site can provide writers with an endless number of creative writing prompts. Other resources include writing exercises and information on dozens of different authors.
- SimplyNoise — a free white noise sounds that you can use to drown out everything around you and help you focus on your writing.
- Rainy Mood — from the same founders of Simply Noise, this website offers the pleasant sound of rain and thunderstorms. There’s a slide volume control, which you can increase the intensity of the noise (gentle shower to heavy storm), thunder mode (often, few, rare), oscillation button, and a sleep timer.
- Coffitivity — a site that provides three background noises: Morning Murmur (a gentle hum), Lunchtime Lounge (bustling chatter), and University Undertones (campus cafe). A pause button is provided whenever you need a bladder break, and a sliding volume control to give you the freedom to find the perfect level for your needs and moods. It’s also available as an android app, iOS app, and for Mac desktop.
- Rainy Cafe — it provides background chatter in coffee shops (similar to Coffitivity) AND the sound of rain (similar to Simply Rain). There’s also individual volume and on/off control for each sound category.
- 8tracks — is an internet radio website and everyone can listen for free. Unlike other music oriented social network such as Pandora or Spotify, 8tracks does’t have commercial interruption. Users create free accounts and can either browse the site and listen to other user-created mixes, and/or they can create their own mixes. It’s a perfect place to listen to other writer’s playlist, share yours or find music for specific characters or moods.
tips #no sorry but these are waaaaaay too purple for me to ever use
Point of View - The Complexities
On Tuesday, we looked at the basics of point of view; but there’s far more to it than simply choosing between 1st, 2nd and 3rd POVs.
The POV choice you make for your story will be based on a number of different factors, and will result in a number of different effects. It’s an important decision to make.
Let’s go back to 1st, 2nd and 3rd viewpoints.
- Seeing a resurgence in popularity.
- The usual choice for writing a story in the form of letters or diary entries (epistolary narrative voice).
- Commonly used in the gothic horror and noir genres.
- If used as 1st person limited, the reader only sees what the narrating character sees, hears, feels, thinks. They only go where the narrator goes, only sees through their eyes, which can be very limiting.
- You can use 1st person omnisciently, so that the narrating character can see into the minds of all the characters. This is often used if the narrator is dead, or some kind of deity or supernatural being. You’d have to have a good reason for them to have so much insight.
- This is the least popular and most unusual choice for literature, which may alienate some readers.
- It does bring them into the story, giving them a sense of intimacy to the characters and plot.
- It can be a hard-sell, however. If you chose to use 2nd person narrative, you would have to have a very specific reason for doing it, and be sure that you can pull it off.
- The most common choice and what readers are most used to reading, so there is little or no learning curve.
- 3rd Person Objective: there is no insight into the heads of any characters, allowing the narrator, and the reader, to view the story neutrally and objectively. More common in journalism, it disconnects the reader from the characters, and would be an unusual choice for fiction.
- 3rd Person Limited/Subjective: the story is seen through the eyes of one or just a small number of characters. You do not know every character’s thoughts, only those chosen. Allows a wider viewpoint of the story than 1st person, but without opening it up to every single character.
- 3rd Person Omniscient: the narrator can see into the head of every character. While previously the most popular POV, it is losing favour to a preference for 3rd Person Limited. It can become a little overwhelming for readers who, thrown quickly from head to head, find it difficult to get to know any one character enough to really empathise with them.
- For one reason or another, the narrating character is deemed untrustworthy. They may simply be naive or inexperienced, or they may be bias, or purposefully skewing the facts for their own gain.
- Usually found in 1st person narrative.
- They may omit information, either by accident or on purpose, or see things differently to the way anyone else would.
- Examples of unreliable narrators could include children, characters with mental health issues, characters that are drunk or have drug addictions. It could include characters with amnesia or sensory impairments. It may simply be a character who is very modest and downplays their own part in the story.
- Their unreliable nature may be evident from the start, or may only come to light further into the book.
- While it can be used to great effect, it can run the risk of leaving readers feeling angry or frustrated.
Furthermore, you have the choice of past, present or future tense, which all lend themselves to different POVs in different ways.
And even so, this is still a bit of a whistle-stop tour to POV, and there are a lot more things to consider. If you are deciding to use a less common POV, go and read other books using the same one, see how it has been done well, and see how it has been done badly too.
Writing Advice Master Post
Hi! I am Courtney Summers. I write YA novels. Since a lot of the questions I get asked on my Tumblr are about writing, I decided to make a master list of the advice posts I’ve made for convenience. Yay, convenience! I will update it for as long as I continue to get these types of questions.
Note: the writing process is such a personal thing. What works for one writer might not work for another, what works for one writer for one book might not work for them for the next… all of my writing advice is of the ‘your mileage may vary’ variety. If what I am saying sounds impossible to you, that’s okay! Listen to your gut! You will figure out what you need to do.
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to reach out. I hope I’ve offered something that’s helped you.
MY BLOG POSTS ABOUT WRITING
Make Words (Writing Tips)
On Writing for Girls
Doors Won’t Always Open for You
Thoughts on Reader Response to Character Trauma
Thoughts on Reviews
Characters Don’t Have to Be Likable
IDEA & DEVELOPMENT STAGE
Don’t know where to begin
Lots of ideas, where to start?
Pinning down your first chapter
Unable to pick and stay on one idea
Worried your idea isn’t original or belongs to someone else
You know your characters but don’t know what to do with them
Tips on making cardboard characters come to life
Writing unlikable female characters
Tips on writing unlikable characters
How much is too much with unlikable characters
On happy endings
Is it okay to have an unhappy ending?
Writing about things you haven’t experienced
When you start strong and the writing just dies
Dealing with writer’s block
Writing too much of one thing
Getting too attached to your characters, to the detriment of your work
How much action is too much action? (Balancing scenes.)
How to get as excited about revision as you are about drafting
Can’t stop editing/unable to tell if your novel is ready
Revising an old story
Falling out of love with your work before you’re done
Brief strategy suggestions for major revisions
Should you share your work on Wattpad (or similar sites)?
Can’t stop making big, unexpected changes close to deadline
CONFIDENCE LEVELS, EMOTIONAL ROADBLOCKS & OTHER ISSUES
When you don’t enjoy writing anymore
Everyone says you’re not good enough
Suffering from self doubt/finding self belief
Having and coping with envy
Reading good books makes you feel inadequate as a writer
You’re close to done and convinced you suck
Worried about the people you love reading your work
Tips on managing insecurity
How to deal with negative reviews
Struggling to find inspiration after finishing a project
Just started, already overwhelmed
Dealing with a crippling fear of missing deadlines
When you love the story, but you’re bored of writing it
When you take a break before revising, return and dislike the work
Do you have to suffer emotionally to be an artist?
Can you be too young to take writing seriously?
Should aspiring writers be nervous if they write in multiple genres
Exploring the next steps
Do you find an editor or an agent first?
Do you submit your first draft to agents?
Tips on narrowing down your agent search
Tips on querying + deconstructing my query for CRACKED UP TO BE
Advice on querying and what age does/doesn’t have to do with it
More advice on querying and getting published
How to deal with rejections that feel personal
How much do authors make per book?
Choosing a pseudonym
Can you be an author if you have trouble meeting deadlines?
When querying, does it matter if you have won writing contests?
Does age matter?
Updated August 7th, 2014.
Thank you to readers/writers who have helped me with build this resource with their great questions and everyone who has shared it. I hope it continues to be helpful to writers at all stages of their journeys.
Useful Writing Websites
I compiled most of the writing websites I’ve mentioned on my blog into one post. I find a lot of these sites useful, so hopefully they can help you out!
Imagination Prompt Generator: This give you a one-sentence writing prompt that will help you come up with ideas. I think it also allows you to set a ten minute timer for each prompt.
Wridea: I really like this site because you can write down simple ideas that you can organize later and put into a bigger project. You can share these ideas or the site will help you randomly match ideas. It’s great for brainstorming and building a fully formed outline.
List of Unusual Words — Here’s a site you can browse through that gives you a list of unusual words for every letting in the alphabet. If you’re looking to switch up your vocab, or looking to develop a way a character speaks, this is a good reference.
Picometer — Here’s a writing progress meter that can be embedded on your site or blog. There’s also the Writertopia meter that shows word count/current mood.
Cut Up Machine: This website takes whatever words you typed or pasted into the box and rearranges your sentences. It’s not practical for writing a novel, but it might help with poetry OR coming up with ideas. Experiment with it and see what you can come up with.
Orion’s Arm: This is a great website to use if you want to research worldbuilding or if you have science questions. There are tons of resources you can use.
Word Frequency Counter: If you’re finding that you’re using the same words over and over again, this website should help. You’ll be able to count the frequency usage of each word in your text. This should help you switch up the words you’re using and understand where the problem might be.
Phrase Frequency Counter: This is same site explained above, but it counts the phrases you’re using.
My Writing Nook: This allows you to write or jot down ideas wherever you are. You don’t need to have your laptop in order to access it, so it might help you during this time. You can write as long as you have your phone.
Writer: The Internet Typewriter - This site lets you write, save, share, and/or convert your writing online. I tried it out and it’s pretty cool. It saves for you and is a great way to brainstorm or plan out some ideas.
The Forge - The Forge is a fantasy, creature, spell, and location name generator. It’s awesome.
One Word: This site gives you one word to write about for 60 seconds. This should help you get started with your own writing and will work as a writing prompt to get you warmed up. It’s a great way to get yourself motivated.
Confusing Words: On this site you can search through confusing words that often stump many writers. It’s not a huge reference, but it should help you with some writing/grammar issues.
Cliché Finder: This site allows you to enter parts of your writing and it will search for clichés. If you find that you’re using the same phrases over and over again, this will help a lot. I haven’t messed around with it too much, but it looks useful.
Hand Written Fonts: If you’re looking for great hand written fonts, this is a great reference. All of them are pretty awesome.
Tip of My Tongue — you know when you’re trying to think of a specific word, but you just can’t remember what it is? This site will help you narrow down your thoughts and find that word you’ve been looking for. It can be extremely frustrating when you have to stop writing because you get a stuck on a word, so this should help cut that down.
- Write many, many drafts. Write them on different topics. Rewrite the same drafts several times.
- Have people read them. Take them to school counselors, advisers, and staff members who are on scholarship committees, even if you’re not applying for their scholarship.
- Show that you have passion for whatever you plan on doing.
- Don’t actually use the word “passion”.
- Don’t use purple prose.
- No one cares about your beloved high school teacher who inspired you to do blah blah blah. Everyone has heard this story. Whoever reads your essay will roll their eyes because they’ve probably read hundreds more like it. Write about something specific to you.
- For you English/Literature majors: No one cares if you’ve been reading/writing since you were a kid. That’s true for pretty much every English/Lit major.
- Keep it short. If they give you a maximum of one thousand words, that does not mean they want to read one thousand words. Keep it around one page or less.
- Don’t use quotes from other people. This is all about you, not what someone else said.
- Don’t put all of your achievements in a list.
- I’ve heard at least three college professors complain about essays that start with “in modern society today” or “in our society today” or “in the world we live in today”. They’re cliche and they’re redundant. Of course modern society is today. That’s why it’s modern.
- Make sure whatever you write about is relevant to the question for the personal statement or relevant to your reason for applying to whatever you’re applying to.
- Show that you have long term goals and that whatever you’re applying for now will help you in the future.
- Stick to one topic.
- Back up your claims. Anyone can say they are ambitious. You have to show that you are ambitious for it to hold any weight in a personal statement.
- Whenever you mention an academic or extracurricular achievement, talk about how it has helped you and how it is relevant. Winning a major spelling bee is irrelevant if you’re applying for nursing school unless you’re able to use that fact to show that you have excellent memory, which is valuable in many fields.
- Don’t try to be funny.
- Talk about what you hope to learn.
- Personal Essays in General
- Demystifying the Graduate School Personal Statement
- Writing Your Personal Statement
- Personal Statement Notes 9 (the other 8 are linked at the bottom of the post)
- Writing the Personal Statement
- Tips for Writing a Personal Statement
- Personal Statements
- 4 Tips for the College Essay
- 28 Tips on Personal Statements
- College Admission Essays
- Tips for an Effective Essay
- Do’s and Don’t’s
- College Application Essay
- How to Write a College Application Essay
- How to Write a Personal Statement
Author Victor Salinas discusses setting effective writing goals and how he maintains a productive writing schedule every week.