Not everything comes from an author’s mind. Probably not a good idea, anyway. Sometimes they need help, whether it’s research, editing, critiquing, or creating covers. There are some great resources online that can help with these and more. This week’s very useful question comes from Amy Morris-Jones.
Whee, link time! Alas, I lost a lot of my links in my computer upgrade, but I do have a few of interest. I make my own maps using the GIMP 2 program (like an open-source Photoshop), following the advice of a great mapmaking tutorial. I use this color chart sometimes, and this medieval demographics calculator (though just for a rough guide), and I find Peter Menzel’s photography site (and books) to be really helpful in visualizing the differences between cultures in terms of food and home-goods consumption. I also learn a lot from organic farming and DIY websites. While most of the information will never make it into the text, I like knowing the details of my places and peoples.
I guess I should get some, huh? Google count? Winterbayne has some! http://winterbayne.com/for-writers/
I don’t go there much anymore because there’s a time-management factor that’s required and I just don’t have it, but CritiqueCircle.com is an awesome website to be a part of. The basic idea is that you can post a chapter of your manuscript and have fellow writers critique it. In order to keep everyone playing fair, you have to earn points by critiquing other people’s submissions before you can post one of your own. If you’re looking for opinions on your work during the editing process it’s an awesome resource, but if you’re like me and you just don’t have time to earn your points, it might not be for you.
My other favorite would probably be WritersDigest.com. There are a lot of resources available on one site, and thought quite a bit of it is stuff you have to pay for, there’s quite a lot of free stuff as well. They’re also constantly running contests that you can take part in for a chance at prizes and exposure, and that’s pretty cool.
And lastly, definitely NaNoWriMo.org, because having a community can be very important to a writer, and I don’t think there’s any greater or more supportive community than NaNo.
Uh… To be honest, my resources are on the shelf over my desk.
I’m a faithful user (or daily stalker if you want to be truthful) of The Grinder. Because of my recent focus on short stories, The Grinder has been a valuable resource in researching markets. It’s wealth of market information, specific searches, and submission tracking are quick and easy to use, which means more time for writing. http://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com
I feel like this list could go on forever since I’m always adding to it, but here is a handful of my favorites that I continually return to again and again:
Aerogramme Writer’s Studio: http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/
The Write Practice: http://thewritepractice.com/
Writer’s Digest: http://www.writersdigest.com/
Writer’s Helping Writers: http://writershelpingwriters.net/
K.M. Weiland: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/
I’ve also found Twitter incredibly useful to keep up with the writing “conversation.”
Most of my answers aren’t specifically for writers, but can be very helpful to them anyway.
Behind the Name ( http://www.behindthename.com/ ) is good for helping decide names for characters.
For research I prefer to use semi-major sites that are about the general subject. The Nine Planets ( http://nineplanets.org/ ) for solar system astronomy, Encyclopedia Mythica ( http://pantheon.org/ ) for mythology, etc. Wikipedia is not as bad as some people say, though and I’ve done a lot of my research there.
http://www.aqua-calc.com/ has some useful tools, including the best volume/mass calculator I’ve seen.
http://stardestroyer.net/Resources/ has some tools for sci-fi writers, such as a planet parameter calculator.
I haven’t actually used it for anything that I’ve written, but http://www.seventhsanctum.com/index.php has all sorts of generators.
Wow, that’s a loaded question. I like Critique Circle, an online writers group that has forums as well as allows for critiques. Wonderful for someone like me who hasn’t found a local group. Blogs from other writers are great to read about their successes and struggles as well as techniques. Pinterest is a great place to find articles relating to everything. Good for research.
Writer’s Digest has forums and loads of information.
The Writers Forensics Blog has information on …. forensics! Body parts, police, murder, etc…
Crime scene writer at Yahoo groups this is another great resource. A place to ask questions relating to crime scenes and forensics.
Twitter, great place to keep tabs on all kinds of info for research.
Thrill Writing, another blog on crime writing.
Do you see a trend? With all of these resources I can plot out my novel, track down multiple ways to murder a character, clean up the crime scene, follow the clues and have my protagonist track down the killer. All in a days work.
The only thing I really have is WordPress. Can that be considered a resource?
I rely on a few resources, but here are the biggest ones I use.
Critique Circle is my number one resource for critiquing. The community there is wonderful, and I’m guaranteed to have three or four critiques for my writing.
Writers Write has some great advice, but they also offer courses in writing. They have some interesting topics that are quite helpful.
Another resource with blogs, forums, and articles about writing is Writing.com.
In the past, when I was doing my worldbuilding, I used this Medieval Demographics Made Easy calculator. Of course, you can see the original calculator on this page, as well as spreadsheets and other calculators. Here’s another interesting generator called Constructed Country Generator. And for an in-depth file, I suggest city216 on this page. I used this a long time ago, and you can adjust many parameters so they can apply to more modern society. Although these are for RPGs, they can also be a bit of fun for worldbuilding in fiction.
How about you?
Do you know of any resources we didn’t mention? Leave your suggestions in the comments below. I hope you found something new this week to help you with your writing.