Online Writing Tools

Happy New Year, guys. I know I haven’t been as active on here as I should, but all that’s about to change. I don’t believe in New Years’ resolutions, but I totally believe in constantly trying to better yourself. So here’s to hoping I actually post some stuff this year, eh?

Writing can be super hard, and sometimes you just don’t know how to do something. Or, worse, you struggle for inspiration. I want to share my favorite online tools that I use when the going gets tough. You may have heard of some before–at least, I hope you’ve heard of a thesaurus–but maybe you’ll find some new things to explore.

Thesaurus

http://www.thesaurus.com

Because obviously. Probably twenty times a day I know exactly what I’m trying to say, but the words my brain generates just aren’t right. That’s where thesaurus.com comes in. Even if you’re only in the ballpark of what you’re trying to say, this site can help you get where you want to go. Sometimes it’ll even surprise you, and you’ll realize you weren’t actually trying to say what you thought you were when it gives you a better alternative.

Fantasy Language Cypher

http://www.risusmonkey.com/p/rosetta-stone.html

So I’m a linguist and I get a huge rush from spending hours slaving over a fantasy language no one will ever care about. However, if you’re a normal human being who just happens to need a bit of fantasy language for your writing, check this site out. You input the text you want translated and it gives you back some awesome-sounding mumbo-jumbo. It won’t make sense if someone tries to dissect it, but it’ll totally kick your writing up a level. And if you don’t like what it has to say, you can always use it as a starting point to get your language where you want it to be.

Naming Sites

http://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/#fantasyNames

This is one of my favorite sites for when I just don’t know what to do. The fantasy name generator is awesome for when you need something unusual. You can sort based on what kind of story you’re writing, and the categories are to die for: pirate, super villain, caveman, futuristic, evil, and Christmas elf are just some of the names you can find here. If you’re looking for an out-there name with a certain feel that you just can’t put your finger on, this is the site for you. They also offer “real names” (whatever those are), as well as other categories like food, evil organizations, potions, usernames, jewelry… If you need to name it, this site can assist you. There are description generators for inspiration, flag generators, backstory ideas. You can also find helpful guides like overcoming creative blocks, language creation, writing dialogue, and more. CHECK IT OUT.

http://www.babynames.com

Thanks to this site, my friends always think I’m pregnant. But I’m not. It just happens to be my favorite all-around naming site. It’s pretty straight-forward and user-friendly. I make good use of the search feature “ends with” when I know a sound I want for a name but can’t get the whole thing right. This site is also good for looking up meaningful names, like if you want your heroine’s name to mean “fire” so middle-schoolers can debate symbolism in your book in the future.

Fantasy Calendar

http://www.donjon.bin.sh/fantasy/calendar/

This is a great way to keep things straight when you’re not writing about Earth. Most fantasy/alien worlds will not have the same 365-day solar cycle we have here; even if they do, the odds of them breaking it down into 12 months of 4 weeks each with 7 days is just not at all likely. I find it way easier and more fun to make up my own calendar! This tool allows you to make your own calendar with whatever cycle you like, name the days and the months, and print for use in keeping your story’s timeline straight.

Fantasy Map Maker

http://www.inkarnate.com/

Inkarnate is so freaking cool! Like the calendar generator, it’s good for helping keep your story straight when you have a lot of travel happening. Real talk, this site makes it so easy and fun to create your own fantasy world. You can do mountains, rivers, keeps, castles, forest, creepy forests, and more. I would even feel confident submitting a map from Inkarnate along with a manuscript to a literary agent. It looks so damn professional. I’ll probably use this for all future projects, even ones where geography isn’t an important factor.

Word Usage Visualizer

http://www.wordle.net/create

Sometimes when you get so up close and personal with a project, you get in too deep to notice things that may be affecting the power of the story. The words can be overwhelming, I know. This website allows you to input the entire text of your book and gives you back a visualization of your word usage frequency. Check out the image with the post for the Wordle created from the text of my 2nd novel, The Last Ginger. It takes out little words like “a” and “the”, but the rest are arranged so you can see which you use the most. If you write fantasy, like me, often a name or two the computer doesn’t recognize will be in the mix, but ignore this. Using Wordle, I’ve learned to watch out for over-usage of boing words like hand, face, think, say, walk, and more. Wordle can help you have some epiphanies about your writing, after which you can start to change your habits.

A huge setback with Wordle is that it only works on Firefox and needs Java to run. It will also only save the images as .png files, which I find hard to work with, so if you need to save your image for any reason I suggest my method of taking a screenshot and then pasting into Paint or whatever to get a .jpeg. There are alternative word visualizers out there, but Wordle is by far my favorite–so much that I downloaded Firefox just to be able to use it freely.

That’s all I have for now, but these are in no way the only sources online I use to help my writing. I’m sure I’ll think of more to add, and I find new ones all the time. I love hearing about what works for other people, especially since I can often get good use from it too! What are some of your favorite online tools?

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