Writing Resources

Below are links to writing-related resources I've found on the web that were useful, interesting, or helpful to me. If you're interested in writing, you may find them of value as well.

Mentors and Inspirations:

Though none of these authors has actually sat down one-on-one and worked with me, all of them have given me something significant that helped or inspired me.  I therefore recommend their blogs and books:

  • Michael A. Stackpole's Web Site:  New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole shares insights on writing, the publishing industry, and other topics on his web site.  I've learned a lot from him and recommend the various writing products he sells in his web store.  I've posted notes I've taken at seminars he's taught in the "Writing Tips" section of this site.

  • Joe Konrath's Blog - A Newbie's Guide to Publishing:  Author Joe Konrath is a proponent of self-publishing, and shares tips and recommendations via his blog.  His Jack Daniels thriller series is great fun to read.

  • Storyfix:  Writing tips from Larry Brooks, author of Story Engineering and Story Physics, two very good books on how to construct a novel

  • Immediate Fiction:  The web site of author and writing teacher Jerry Cleaver.  His writing book of the same name is one of the best I've read.  They offer a $4/page (in 5-page increments) writing review.

  • Janine K. Spendlove:  Janine is the author of the fantasy book series War of the Seasons.  Like me, she's a student of Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston.  She took what they taught her and ran with it. Her example has inspired me to do the same.

Writing Tips, Advice, and Stories:

How-To Publications for Writers:

  • Michael A. Stackpole's Web Store:  From this site, Michael A. Stackpole sells his short stories, novels, and various "how to write" guides.

  • Writer's Digest:  This magazine and web site provides tips for aspiring authors and publishes a number of valuable "how to write" books.

  • Online Novel Writing Workshop:  Says it will help you write a novel from start to finish.  It's a four-week workshop delivered by email.

  • The Writer Magazine:  This link goes to their index of articles on fiction, freelance writing, nonfiction, poetry, and other topics.

Online Tools of Value to Fiction Writers:

  • Social Security Administration Baby Name Database:  If you're looking for a name to give one of the characters in a story you're writing, this can be helpful in picking something realistic.  It contains data about popular baby names going back several decades.

  • Textalyser:  An online text analysis tool that can provide word count, readability measures (Gunning-Fog Index), average syllables per word, average sentence length, word frequency, phrase frequency, etc.

  • Seventh Sanctum:  This site offers a number of "generators" for things like character names, magic spells, government and organization names, gadgets, spaceships, etc.

  • Behind the Name:  This random name generator can help you generate a real-sounding name based on criteria you specify, such as names based on various ethnicities, mythologies, etc.

  • Document Readability Tester:  Supply it with a sample of text, and it will count the characters, words, and sentences.  It will tell you the average number of characters per word, syllables per word, and words per sentence.  You'll also get readability ratings using Coleman Liau, Flesch-Kincaid, ARI, SMOG, and Flesch Reading Ease.

  • Slanguage:  This rather chaotic looking site contains information about "slang language" used in various parts of the world, different professions, etc.  It may help your dialogue sound more authentic.

  • AutoCrit Editing Wizard:  Provides information about overused words, repeated phrases, sentence length variation, dialogue tags, repeated phrases, and more.  Some features are free, others cost money.

  • Word Frequency Counter:  Provides statistics on the frequency of certain words in your text.

  • Random Name Generator:  Provides randomly generated names of a variety of types.

  • Town Name Generator:  Provides randomly generated names for towns.

  • Red Dragon Inn Town Generator:  Provides detailed information and randomly generated names for fantasy towns

  • Cliche Finder:  Searches for "just the right cliche to use"

Writing Contests, Projects, and Workshops:

  • National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo):  This site runs a contest each year in which participants try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days or less.  I participated in 2009, and expect to do the same in 2010.  It boosted my confidence by showing me that I really could crank out a novel in that much time.

Software for Writers:

  • Celtx:  Described as the number one choice for media pre-production, this software is intended to assist in the entire media production process from writing scripts through planning the scheduling of a film or stage play.

  • Great Dialogue Software:  Not a dialogue "coach" really, but more of a tool that provides examples of great dialogue from books, movies, and plays.  I haven't used it, but I often find examples of dialogue and description helpful to me when writing my own, so this software appeals to me.

  • Literature and Latte's "Scrivener" Software:  This Mac-only application is one of the nicest writing tools I've ever used, and comes highly recommended if you have the Mac to use it on.  A Windows version is currently in Public Beta Test.

  • Microsoft OneNote 2010:  On the Windows side, this is one of my favorite tools.  It helps you to organize your thoughts and research into "notebooks" that are reminiscent of (though by no means identical to) Scrivener on the Macintosh.

  • NewNovelist:  Software to help novelists write their novels.  I haven't used it, but it has a lot of glowing testimonials.

  • Storybase:  This software claims to provide "direct access to an amazing clipboard of narrative writing prompts that can be personalized with your characters" to "help your writing project come alive".

  • Storybook:  This free, open source software is designed to help novelists and short story writers create good fiction.  I've played with it some, but not enough to render much of an opinion yet.  But since it is free software, it's worth checking out.  Runs on Windows and Linux (and I suspect it might work on the Mac also but they don't guarantee that on the site).

  • StoryCraft:  Claims to help writers identify weak plotting, melodramatic writing, and other issues.  It also helps writers by providing samples of good writing, columns on the art of writing from Writer's Digest, and more.

  • StoryWeaver:  Described as step-by-step story development software for novelists and screenplay writers.

  • WhiteSmoke:  Claims to use artificial intelligence, "the most powerful grammar checker on the market", a spell-checker, and otther features to help you write better.

  • ZappTek Legend Maker:  A Macintosh application for creating electronic books in PDF, ePub, and Kindle formats.

  • RightWriter:  Writing analysis software to help improve grammar, punctuation, syntax, and more.

  • WikidPad:  Open source wiki-like notebook for storing thoughts, ideas, and other information

  • yWriter:  This free product from Spacejock Software is a scene-based writing tool that helps organize a novel, keeps a running word count total, saves a log file of activity, automatically backs up your work, and more.

  • Sonar:  A submission tracking tool for writers.

  • yEdit2:  A simple text editor that makes automatic backups and includes a "countdown word timer" that could be useful for projects like NaNoWriMo.

  • PageFour:  Software for novelists and creative writers

  • WriteItNow:  Creative writing software

  • Preceden:  Timeline creation software

  • Liquid Story Binder from Black Obelisk Software

  • Rough Draft from Richard Salsbury (no relation)

  • Writer's Cafe from Anthemion Software

  • Dramatica Pro from Write Brothers

  • Character Writer from Typing Chimp Software

  • Stylewriter from Ravenshead Services

  • PowerWriter from Write Brain

  • Power Structure from Write Brain

  • PlotCraft from Fahim Farook

  • Writer's Blocks from Ashley Software

  • WordWeb

  • WriteSparks

  • WriteTrack from Fahim Farook - a submission tracking tool

  • WriteWay Pro

  • The Literary Machine

  • Outline 4D for Windows

I'll add more resources and links when I find some worth passing along.

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