OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Your computer’s fired up. Your printer’s filled with paper and ink. Red pencils? Check. Cup of coffee? You have that, too, along with multicolored highlighters, sticky notes, and a block of free time to create. So what do you need now, beside these basic writing tools? In the computer age–when trends and information can change in the span of an hour–you’ll also need the internet. From brainstorming through publication, writers of all genres can rely on these twenty-two websites to help navigate the writing process and make their work shine like gold.
General Writer’s Sites
1.) Writer’s Digest Articles: Prompts, interviews, discussion boards, a bookstore—this site has everything a beginning or seasoned writer could need to succeed in the industry.
2.) Publisher’s Weekly: Information from behind those closed doors of the publishing world, with book reviews, the latest news, and bestseller lists.
Inspiration and Invention
3.) CNN: Current events and opinions on them from around the world. The truth can be stranger than fiction—so use it!
4.) USA Today: News, sports, and weather from across the country, and just the right dose of Hollyweird to keep your creative juices flowing.
5.) Classic Reader: Full texts of classic stories, essays, drama, and more, to help you learn from the most-respected names in writing.
Research and Drafting
6.) Critique Circle: Post short stories, articles, novel chapters, and poetry; get feedback from fellow writers, both novices and old pros. Discussion boards, outlining tools, and writing exercises to help you stay sharp and connected.
7.) FindLaw: Whether you’re working on the latest legal thriller or an article about a new bill, this site can help you find codes, statutes, and other legal information on any state in the union.
8.) MuniCode: Similar to FindLaw, with information further broken down by city or town within each state.
9.) Encyclopedia: Compiled from trusted sources worldwide, this site puts archive and current information at your fingertips, along with Q-and-A, for delving further.
10.) MapQuest: How long does it take to drive from Mississippi to California? Find out here, along with the best route.
11.) World Atlas: Find physical and political maps of any place in the world, along with statistics.
12.) MEEZ: Create 3-D, animated avatars of your characters, complete with accessories and signature moves.
Revision and Editing
13.) Merriam Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus Online: The standard. The authority. Includes Spanish-English and medical terms.
14.) Reference: One-stop shopping for an online dictionary, thesaurus, reverse dictionary, and translator.
15.) The Bookshelf Muse: Have your characters sighed themselves hoarse? Are your setting descriptions predictable? Search here for fresh ways to “show” your reader what you mean, from its Emotion Thesaurus to similar guides (in progress) for settings and symbolism.
16.) The Grammar Book: Comprehensive list of usage and grammar rules, with clear, concise examples.
Getting Published and Protecting Your Work
17.) Box.net: Save, save, save! Online storage helps safeguard against hardware damage, disk obsolescence, and computer crashes.
18.) Duotrope’s Digest: Search for markets that publish your kind of poetry or fiction. Customize by style, genre, length, and desired pay scale.
19.) Agent Query: Similar to Duotrope; helps authors find agents for their novels and nonfiction.
20.) Predators and Editors: Be informed. Research agents, markets, and contests to make sure they are legitimate.
21.) National Writer’s Union: Know your rights as a freelance writer, and keep abreast of changes on the legal side of the industry.
Doing it All
22.) Google: From general research to browsing news articles, from reading classic novels to drafting and storing your files online with Google Documents and Gmail, Google truly helps do it all.
So now you’re ready, armed with paper, pens, coffee, computer, ink, and all the writer’s sites you’ll need. What are you waiting for? Get started!
Image: Flickr CC Dichohecho