November 28, 2012

Writing Club Wednesday: Writing Resources

Writing can be a solitary pursuit, but it doesn't need to be a difficult one. There are tons of writing resources out there that can help you increase your productivity, help make it easier to draft your story, and develop your characters. I want to talk about a few of my favorites today.


I used Microsoft Word for drafting for years. It did the job - it was a basic word processor, with spell check and formatting. But my writing world was blown away when I discovered Scrivener. Now I won't draft without it. Part word-processor, part outlining machine, part genius, this little program is a robust way to pull together all aspects of your story into one place. There are areas where you can store pictures and resources. There is a cork board where you can pin "notecards" to help you outline scenes and chapters, and then there is the actual word processor. It's a no-frills space where you can get your words down, keep track of your progress, and easily re-order sections and chapters. I could write an entire blog post about the joy that is Scrivener. But really, you should just check it out yourself :) The Literature and Latte site gives a great description (And a free trial) of the software so you can see if it works for you. And, they have both a Mac and PC version now, which is really cool!

The Emotion Thesaurus
I've been a huge fan of The Bookshelf Muse blog for years. These two ladies have created an astonishing resource called the Emotion Thesaurus for writers that is beyond helpful when you're looking for yet another description of someone being angry. While they took down most of the original posts, they actually pulled them into a helpful book form that they published last year (you can find it on Amazon linked from their site). And I can say it's worth it's weight in gold. They've also expanded their blog to highlight personality characteristics, physical attributes, settings, and even weather. Whenever I'm stuck for a new way to say something, I make a visit to this site.

Write or Die
Ever have that problem where you open your computer, get ready to write, and then decide to check Twitter. Just for a second? Or send a few emails? Or do some shopping. You look up and three hours later you haven't written a thing. Well Write or Die will cure you of that. From the site:

"Write or Die is a web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you’re fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences."

The Desktop version is $10, but definitely one of the best $10 I've ever spent. My productivity went through the roof. They also have a web-browser version that's free and super easy to use. You just have to copy and paste into your word processor when you're done. I can't tell you how much the threat of losing your work will push you to write past that urge to see who's chatting on Twitter.

Online Name Generators
I don't have the time or patience to skim through thousands of names, so I rely on some basic name generators to help me come up with characters. The Seventh Sanctum has more than just character name generators. It also contains types of beings, magic types, settings, pretty much anything you might need to develop that fantasy world you're writing.  

When you want something simple that'll give you some good, basic names, try The Random Name Generator.  It's based on names from the US census and you can get as normal or as unusual as you'd like with the results.

Finally, a good general baby name list, broken down by culture is available here

So how about you guys? What are some writing resources you can't live without?


Elizabeth Briggs said...

Write or Die! I started using it this month and it changed my life. Love!

I'm going to bookmark these name generators, I always have a rough time with names. I think some of the characters in this draft are named X. Oops.

Amanda Olivieri said...

I'm totally bookmarking this page! I've heard amazing things about Scrivener but haven't used it yet. I plan on trying it for my next WIP, though! MS Word can get messy when you write out of order. :)

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