Resources for Writers

Here are some online tools to hone your writing skills, connect with other writers, and work more efficiently and effectively. Your writing will thank you.

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Blogs

The Creative Penn: Joanna Penn offers up her insights on writing, publishing, and book marketing on this useful blog.

Evil Editor: Learn what not to do when submitting your work to an editor through this entertaining blog.

Fiction Writing: This About.com blog is a great place to get some basics insights on how to write better fiction.

Harriet the Blog: The Poetry Foundation maintains this blog, full of great reviews, news, and information about the poetic community.

Jeff Goins WriterCheck out Jeff Goins’ regularly updated blog or download his free ebook, The Writer’s Manifesto, on this site.

Write to Done: This blog is home to hundreds of articles, all on writing, that can help you improve your skills at things like comedic writing, finding inspiration, and more.

Writer Unboxed: Focusing on the craft and business of fiction, Writer Unboxed features numerous monthly contributors who share their own insights to the professional field.

The Writers Alley: Lacking in inspiration? Pay this site a visit for a little lift, helping you stay on track with whatever you’re working on.

Writer’s Digest: Learn how to improve your writing, find and agent, and even get published with the help of the varied blogs on this site.

Business and Legal Matters

Copyscape: Use this free service to learn if anyone has plagiarized your work.

Creative Commons: Creative Commons provides free tools that let you easily mark your creative work with the freedoms you want it to carry.

Intellectual Property Law: This list for online resources that focus on intellectual property will keep you busy for weeks. Some items focus on Canada, some on the U.S., and some on international law.

Legal Guide for Bloggers: Here, The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides a summary of U.S. copyright laws as they apply to blogging.

Preditors and Editors: Save time and money by avoiding the common publishing scams featured on this site.

U.S. Copyright Office: Your writing is copyrighted the minute you’ve put it in a tangible form, but if you want further protection for your work you can register it here for a fee. The FAQ is free, however, and it’s the best tutorial around on copyright.

Citation and Style Guides

APA Style: On the APA Style blog, you can get access to the fundamentals of American Psychological Association style, updates on specific style elements, and find loads of other reference material.

Associated Press Style: If you’re working on a journalistic piece, you’ll need to use AP style. Learn the fundamentals from this guidebook on OWL.

The Chicago Manual of Style Online: The Chicago Manual of Style’s website includes an online forum, guidelines for basic rules, and even creates quick citations.

The Elements of Style: This classic book by Strunk and White is offered up in its entirety on Bartleby.com so you can improve your writing without spending a dime.

MLA Style: Not sure how to cite something correctly in MLA style? Use this online handbook to get started on doing things the right way.

Turabian Quick Guide: Essentially the same as Chicago Style, this documentation system does have a few differences which you can learn about here.

English Language Skills

Common Errors in English UsageConfused about whether to use lie or lay? Use this site as a guide to help you avoid some of the most common mistakes in English usage.

English Practice: This site can help you practice English grammar and writing, even if you’re a native speaker.

Grammar Girl: Grammar Girl is one of the most popular grammar sites on the web and is a great place to look for answers to all of your burning questions about proper usage.

Grammar Handbook: The Center for Writing Studies at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana offers access to this incredibly useful grammar handbook that can ensure you’re getting things right in your writing.

Guide to Grammar and Style: Written by Jack Lynch, this site provides grammatical rules and explanations, comments on style, and suggestions on usage that Lynch put together for his classes.

Guide to Grammar and WritingChoose from several modules that will help you to determine how to structure your writing with this tool created by the Capital Community College Foundation.

How to Use English Punctuation Correctly: Punctuation can be confusing but on this site you’ll find a cheat sheet that can ensure you use your commas, semicolons, and quotes correctly every time.

The Tongue Untied: Head to this site to find basic instruction on grammar, sentence structure, word choice, and punctuation.

Genres

Children’s Literature Web Guide: David K. Brown from the University of Calgary maintains this list of resources for writers who prefer to pen children’s literature.

Essays on the Craft of Dramatic Writing: Learn about the craft of writing a novel, screenplay, or play through reviews of popular stories.

Fantasy-Writers.org: With news, a directory, writing challenges, and more, this site is a great resource for those who love to craft works of fantasy.

Short Stories: 10 Tips for Creative Writers: Need some basic tips on keeping your stories short but sweet? This guide from Jerz’s Literacy Weblog can be a big help with step-by-step instructions on the process.

Information and Data

Answers.com: Answers.com is an encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus, and almanac rolled into one.

Blackfacts.com: Here, writers can find a searchable database of facts related to black history that can be used to start research on a story.

ePodunkePodunk provides in-depth information about more than 46,000 communities in the U.S. through maps, cemetery listings, and even local newspapers.

FedStats: If you need government stats, this site is a smart place to look. It brings together data from more than 100 government agencies in one easily searchable site.

GeoHive: For global statistics, consider using this site.

InfoPlease: InfoPlease combines an encyclopedia, almanac, dictionary, thesaurus, atlas, and biography reference.

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.

ISBN: Bowker is the place to go for your ISBN and barcode.

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.

RefDesk: Run a quick fact-check using the reference materials found on this useful all-in-one site.

U.S. Census Bureau: Learn more about the trends and demographics of America with information drawn from the Census Bureau’s online site.

Wikipedia: While you probably shouldn’t use it as your sole source, Wikipedia can be a great way to get basic information and find out where to look for additional references.

Tools for Organization

Bubbl.us: A great mind-mapping tool, Bubbl.us can give you a leg up on organizing your thoughts and laying out a story.

Dropbox: Store and share your writing online so that it will be accessible to you from anywhere, even on your phone or mobile device.

Google Drive: Google has created a tool that makes it easy to keep your documents, spreadsheets, and other materials stored and organized online.

Memonic: With Memonic, you can take notes and clip web content, take this data with you or print it out, and share it with others who might find it interesting as well.

MindMeister: Another mind mapping tool, MindMeister makes it easier to see just where your story is headed.

Professional Organizations

The Authors Guild: All writers should consider joining this professional guild focused on helping authors get copyright protection, fair contracts, and the right to free expression.

Mystery Writers of AmericaMWA is a great organization for crime writers, fans of the genre, and aspiring writers alike.

National Writers Union: The NWU is the trade union for freelance and contract writers, journalists, book authors, business and technical writers, web content providers, and poets.

Romance Writers of America: Those with a passion for romance writing should seriously consider looking to this group for resources, advocacy, and professional networking.

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America: Likewise, those who focus on the science fiction and fantasy genre will benefit from connecting with SFWA’s more than 1,500 members.

Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators: If you write, illustrate, or have an interest in children’s literature, this is the place to turn for help and services related to your work.

Rhetoric

Read Write Think: Persuasive Writing: Here, you’ll get access to a strategy guide that can help you become a more persuasive writer.

Rhetorica: Visit this blog for analysis and commentary on the modern rhetoric found in journalism, politics, and culture at large.

Rhetoric and CompositionThis site is loaded with rhetoric resources, including bibliographies, journals, reference material, and blogs.

Ten Timeless Persuasive Writing Techniques: You can go wrong when you use any of the classic persuasive writing techniques laid out in this Copyblogger post.

Tools

Autocrit: AutoCrit automatically identifies weak words and structures in your writing so you can clean it up.

Creativity Portal Prompts: Can’t think of anything to write about? This site provides useful prompts that can help get your creative juices flowing.

MorgueFileIf you’re looking for a free image to use with an article or a blog post, look to this site for photography that’s free to use, with attribution to the artist, of course.

Unstuck: Writer’s block can really destroy your productivity. Battle through it with this downloadable app that will help you get past any problem you’re facing.

Wordcounter: This program is much more than a basic word counter. Instead of just counting the number of words, it also pulls out words that you’re using too frequently, helping you add variety and interest to your work. Try running things through Cliche Finder, too, to weed out any other phrases you might want to avoid.

Writing Room: Get support from writers, writing guides, expert advice, and more on this great community site for writers.

Word References

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.

Arts & Humanities Dictionary: Through this dictionary, you can find the definition of hundreds of terms related to the arts and humanities.

Dictionary.com: Use a dictionary or thesaurus, translate words, or look up quotes and other information on this multi-purpose site.

OneLook Dictionary: More than 5 million words in more than 900 online dictionaries are indexed by the OneLook search engine so you can find, define, and translate words all at one site.

RhymeZone: Whether you’re writing poetry, songs, or something else entirely, you can get help rhyming words with this site.

Symbols.comWant to use symbolism in your writing or analyze it in a famous work? Symbols.com can help, with more than 1,600 articles about thousands of signs from Western cultural history.

Urban DictionaryKeep up with the latest slang with Urban Dictionary, where you can look up the meaning of hundreds of words you won’t find in the regular dictionary.

Your DictionaryYour Dictionary provides access to a dictionary, thesaurus, word etymology and much more.

Writing Skills & Grammar Review

50 Tools to Increase Your Writing Skills: You’ll find some amazingly useful links here that can ensure you’re writing to your full potential.

A Guide to Writing Well: Joshua Sowin offers a great guide to writing well distilled from the information in The Elements of Style.

Purdue Online Writing Lab https://owl.english.purdue.edu/: The Online Writing Guide offered by Purdue University is home to handouts and exercises on topics like effective writing, revising, editing, and proofreading, as well as other genre-specific resources.

Mind Tools Writing Skills: This basic review of what makes for good writing can be a great reminder to those who are caught up in the process.

Writing Software

Blogger: This popular Google-owned site is a great place to start your own blog for free.

Scrivener: This popular, feature-rich program is great for organizing research, planning drafts, and writing novels, articles, short stories, and even screenplays.

The Literary Machine: This free software allows writers to compile research and writing modules that makes it easier to draw on information collected during research to write an outline or a final draft.

New Novelist: Created for Windows users, this program is specifically designed to meet the needs of novelists, making it possible to juggle ideas, notes, and more in one place.

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.

Storybook: This open source software can make it easier to manage your plotlines, characters, data, and other critical information while penning a novel.

TreePad LiteThe free version of this software keeps the writing process simple, ensuring that information stay organized and your story stays on track.

WordPress: WordPress is another popular and free choice for starting a blog (or two).

Writer’s CafeGet creative with writing fiction with this easy-to-use software. Designed by a writer, it features a notebook, journal, organizer, writing tips, and even an e-book all about writing.

yWriter5: Another word processor for writers, yWriter5 helps break down a novel into chapters and scenes to make everything a little more manageable.

ZohoDocs: Zoho is another free word processing suite, and like Google Drive, it allows you to write and access your work from any computer with an Internet connection.

 

Acknowledgments: This list is based on an even longer one, found at OEDB <http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/150-writing-resources/>