20 great FREE online resources for writers

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Photo by Rocky

Photo by Rocky

I’ve amassed a lot of resources over the years – here are some of the best ones I use both for copywriting and fiction writing. Some you’ve seen in previous posts; some are new!

 

Staying Sane

Evernote

I sometimes refer to Evernote as my best friend. It’s a notebook program you download to all your computers. I add a note from work, and when I get home, there it is. I have separate notes for blog post ideas, prompts, story ideas, daily life to-do lists and more. All bundled in one notebook and accessible with one click. This program saved me from sending myself email notes all day.

Tick Tock Timer

A simple online timer. Set it for any amount of time, and it alerts you with three gongs when the time is up. You can use it to block out time for writing, cleaning, whatever. I use it to remind me to look away from my computer screen every hour or so.

 

Finding the Right Word or Phrase

Thesaurus

I love MS Word, but its synonym tool isn’t very good. This online synonym finder is far better. I use it several times a day.

Thsrs (The Shorter Thesaurus)

If you are specifically looking for a simpler or shorter version of a word, this is the thesaurus for you. I sometimes use it for writing Google or Facebook ads (which have tiny character limits).

Idioms at The Free Dictionary

Enter a word and get a list of common phrases in which the word appears. Another tool I use daily, mostly for writing headlines. But it could also be used for story, novel, and chapter titles as well. Anything that requires a play on words (change the original idiom slightly to give it a new and witty meaning).

WordHippo

This tool does several things, but I mostly use it for the rhyming dictionary and the “words that start with” feature. I use it mostly for writing headlines, but I imagine it would be super useful for poetry.

Urban Dictionary

This user-generated slang dictionary is 90% crass. However, you can use it to ensure a word or phrase you are using doesn’t have a secondary meaning that is negative or disgusting. If the term you search does come up with a bad meaning, check the number of user votes it received. If there are more thumbs down than thumbs up, you’re probably still okay to use it.

 

Fun & Inspiration

My Favorite Word

A long list of fantastic words. People submit their favorites, usually with explanations why. I chiefly use it for naming projects.

Wordsmith’s Anagram Generator

Enter a word, it scrambles the letters into other words. Use it to come up with names or aliases of characters or places. Or just type in your own name for a laugh. I’m Anti-Sheep, apparently.

Six Word Stories

Inspired by the story Hemmingway reportedly considered his best (For sale: baby shoes, never used.), this site allows users to submit their own six word stories. The good ones get posted on the main page. Read for inspiration – and submit a few of your own.

 

Rules & Grammar

Daily Writing Tips

This blog will grow your vocabulary and improve the way you use it.

Grammar Girl

Quick and Dirty grammar lessons. I go here when I can’t remember the difference between affect and effect.

The Elements of Style

The free online version of the writer’s bible, penned by Strunk & White.

 

Character Development

Meyer’s-Briggs Personality Test from HumanMetrics

Answer a few yes-or-no questions on behalf of your main character, get a detailed outline of his personality traits. So insightful.

Baby Names

To name all those characters!

 

Getting Published

Duotrope

Helps you find a literary magazine to publish your short stories.

Miss Snark

A literary agent ruthlessly tears apart query letters submitted by her readers. She’s no longer snarking, but the archives are a gold mine for those looking to learn how to write a good query.

Query Shark

The savior for those bereft of Miss Snark, this lit agent is still critiquing queries with gusto.

Agent Query

A database of literary agents with an easy-to-use search that makes it easy to build your submission list.

Preditors & Editors

The site writers have long relied on to ensure agents aren’t con artists. Look up your agents here before querying.

What are your favorite online resources? Share in the comments!


About Stephanie Orges

Stephanie is an award-winning copywriter, aspiring novelist, and barely passable ukulele player. Here, she offers writing prompts, tips, and moderate-to-deep philosophical discussions. You can also find her on and Pinterest.
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28 Comments

  1. Wow!!!! This is so helpful! Thanks, I will be using most of these immediately.

  2. Some great resources I didn’t know of…thanks.
    Siggi in Downeast Maine

  3. Will definitely be book marking a few of these! 🙂

    Thanks honey xx

  4. Apparently my name can be scrambled into Whatever Inn or the even better Tavern Whine.

    • That. Is so. Awesome. You’ve got to open one of those now. Or both. Or at least put one in a story somewhere.

      • Considering where I live, “Tavern Whine” would probably be taken for a reference to country music, which is pretty funny to me, and yet “Whatever Inn” is just too awesome to be passed over. Such a dilemma.

        I am also amused by Raven Whiten, Van Whitener and Wave Thinner, which sound like sketchy infomercial products to me. The only viable pulp-fantasy name I got was Winter Haven, so apparently I can only be anagramed into place-names, sketchy products and nonsense. Not that I am complaining, because they are great! I think I will go anagram the rest of my family and friends now. Muahahahahahahahahaha!

  5. I use powerthesaurus.org as my daily online thesaurus. Recommended.

  6. BNC i.e British National Corpus is one resource that I use and it helps.

    Key in the word/phrase and there will be many examples of it’s usage in literature will show up. Give it a try.

  7. Fantastic List will check some of ’em out after I hit POST COMMENT!

    Happy NOW!

  8. Excellent article. I will be dealing with some of these issues as
    well..

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  10. Power Thesaurus (powerthesaurus.org) is a handy tool for any writer. Hope this helps!

  11. Thank you for sharing your wonderful resources. What a sure way of learning about the world of writing when one is as green as Spring!

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  14. Writer of poetry, and yet where to blog, or where to get published.
    oh, this world is kind to writers, but where has all the poetry gone

    • I wouldn’t say “kind,” but I can see how it’s even tougher for poets. Poetry is harder to understand than prose, and therefore fewer people enjoy it or pay money for it. But there’s one type of poetry that’s even more popular than the best-selling novel: music – poetry as lyric. If you have any musical talent, or know anyone who does, maybe try that outlet.

      The music business isn’t any more forgiving than the publishing business, but at least it’s an opportunity to make your voice heard.

  15. So cool, thank you!

  16. Great list for any writer! Have had a look at Power Thesaurus (http://www.powerthesaurus.org)?

  17. Infoplease, is a clearinghouse for online research, with links to headline news and timeless information alike.

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