Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by glorybee » Sat Apr 04, 2015 7:56 am

This week’s post will be a little different, because I really, really would love your contributions to the various items posted here. I’ve compiled a list of resources for writers, and I suspect that you all have your favorite resources that you can add to the list.

Brainstorming resources:

I just received my copy of the Writer Emergency Pack in the mail today, which got me thinking about this week’s lesson. It’s not cheap, but it’s got some great ideas, and I can’t wait to spend a bit more time with it.

I love the Storymatic box, which has literally millions of combinations of characters and situations.

There’s an app for iPhone called “The Brainstormer” that will also generate myriad combinations of characters, settings, and conflicts.

When I was teaching high school, I used Nanofictionary to teach my students the concepts of conflict, setting, and resolution. It’s also got a lot of possible combinations for brainstorming.

Enter “story prompts” or “writing prompts” into Amazon’s search bar and you’ll get dozens of books, boxed sets of cards, and games for nearly every type of writing.

In addition, you can Google “story prompts” or “writing prompts” and you’ll get hundreds of sites—and unlike the other items on this list, these are free.

Grammar resources:

Grammarly is a free download that does a far better job at spell-checking and grammar-checking your writing than any similar program I’ve seen. It’s not perfect, but it catches a lot, and once you’ve downloaded it, it’ll check your grammar not just in your word processing program, but everywhere else: email, Facebook, here on the forums, and anywhere else that you write.

I also like Grammar Girl for answers to tricky grammar questions.

Here on FaithWriters, don’t forget Ann’s Grammar Basics.. She’s a busy gal, and her forum tends to go through periods of activity and inactivity. But if “business” picked up there, I’m sure she’d pop in more often, and her advice is as fine as any I’ve ever seen.

Vocabulary resources:

I love Free Rice. You take a vocabulary quiz (or a quiz about any of several other topics), and for every question you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated to alleviate world hunger.

Vocabulary.com is also based on vocabulary quizzes. The site learns from you and adjusts what words you get quizzed on, for increasing difficulty and increasing mastery.

As I mentioned in a previous lesson on vocabulary, Reader’s Digest magazine has monthly vocabulary quizzes. You should be able to get access to back issues at your local library.

Books on Writing:

You can look these up on Amazon or a similar site, or in your library:

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, by Lynn Truss

The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard

Miscellaneous Websites:

RhymeZone, for rhymes, near-rhymes, synonyms, antonyms, and much more

Dictionary.com,, which also has a good thesaurus

BrainyQuote, for, well, brainy quotes

Google Translate, is far from perfect, but it’s a good place to start. It’s more useful if you’re trying to figure out what a foreign phrase is in English than if you’re looking to translate your English into a foreign language. In either case, it’s better to check with a native speaker, if possible. For Spanish translation, I like SpanishDict.

Bible Gateway has the entire Bible in dozens of translations.

Not a writing site, but I absolutely love Lumosity. It’s not free, but it has dozens of entertaining brain games to keep your brain working and stretching every day.

These are the sites and resources I use most often, but I’m sure I’ve left out lots and lots of great ones. Please add your own, perhaps with a sentence about how you use it or why you like it. Think of these categories:

Websites

Books or magazines

Apps

…and also of the writing categories I’ve used here:

Brainstorming/Writing Prompts

Grammar

Vocabulary

Miscellaneous

If I get enough additional resources listed here, I’ll put together a new, comprehensive list and make it available free by email to those who ask for it, but I really need your help. I’m positive there are gaps in my list, and there must be many, many resources that you all use to help you to become better writers. Let’s come up with a great list, okay?


Writer Resources - Part 2
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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by Verna » Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:53 am

This is a great list. A book about writing that I like is WRITE YOUR heart OUT by Rebecca McClanahan. In her chapter about writing for the public eye, she has a question I think about often when I write: Why would anyone want to read this?
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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by itsjoanne » Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:07 pm

I know not all folks here are children's writers, but a couple of FABULOUS books that have helped me immensely in that genre are:

The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb
Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul

Super list, Jan. Thanks!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by Vonnie » Sun Apr 05, 2015 2:52 pm

This might not be quite what you are looking for, but Brian Scott has a FreelanceWriting Morning Coffee Newsletter. He lists, daily, many different magazines, and businesses that are looking for writers. I haven't used the site to get a job yet, but am looking at possible magazines to consider once I feel my writing is good enough.

I didn't know there were so many wonderful sites like those you mentioned. I will be sure to check them out. Thanks for the list. LaVonne

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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by glorybee » Sun Apr 05, 2015 2:57 pm

Vonnie wrote:This might not be quite what you are looking for, but Brian Scott has a FreelanceWriting Morning Coffee Newsletter. He lists, daily, many different magazines, and businesses that are looking for writers. I haven't used the site to get a job yet, but am looking at possible magazines to consider once I feel my writing is good enough.

I didn't know there were so many wonderful sites like those you mentioned. I will be sure to check them out. Thanks for the list. LaVonne
Vonnie, is this an email newsletter, or a website, or what? If it's a website, could you give us a link? If it's an email newsletter, can you give us the info to sign up?
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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by Vonnie » Sun Apr 05, 2015 3:24 pm

I get an e-mail every day. I think this is the link to sign up for the newsletter:

http://www.freelancewriting.com/newslet ... g-jobs.php

Not sure how I got started with this. Must have been searching the web or something.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by A Softer Voice » Mon Apr 06, 2015 11:38 am

Hi, Jan. I just downloaded Scrivener's trial app. It's good for 30 free uses (not days). I'm learning so many things that are probably basic to more experienced writers. This program could be my new "drug" :)

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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by WriterFearNot » Mon Apr 06, 2015 6:22 pm

@Nancy, I used Scrivener to write my first novel. Once the story was pretty much finished and ready for final editing, it was easier to transfer the document to Word and work from there. But for those earlier versions, when I had so many trailing thoughts, Scrivener was a fantastic writing tool, allowing me to compartmentalize, sort, organize, and keep my story straight.

My favorite writing resources are 1) The Synonym Finder, which is a giant hardcover thesaurus that (in my opinion) is far more clever than a simple Google search. 2) The Emotional Thesaurus. Ever have a character who is full of resentment and you want the reader to know but you don't want to "tell" them? Flip to page 130 to read a long list of physical signals and internal sensations, like a pinched mouth, arms crossed over the chest, tension headache, and so on. 3) Writing Fiction for Dummies. Lots of great inspirational and informational stuff in here. I could not have written my synopsis without this book.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by CatLin » Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:39 pm

For brain exercise, I've recently rediscovered crossword puzzles. Great for building vocabulary, and training you think from all angles - and sometimes punnily outside of the box. And a free Boggle-like app that doesn't require internet access is WordPlay. After the game you can scroll through all of the possible words and see which ones you missed.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... free&hl=en


WritersDigest.com always has excellent articles and advice, from the basic "how to write" all the way through publishing and marketing. You can sign up for a weekly newsletter with links to highlights.
http://www.writersdigest.com/subscribe/ ... newsletter

Randy Ingermanson
has resources and advice galore. I have his book "Writing Fiction for Dummies", and while I've only a little of it, I love his methods and teaching.
http://ingermanson.com/

I also have Randy's Snowflake Software. I dipped into it and can tell it could be a great story-building helper. I snatched up when he had a $20 special price code in his e-zine. :)
http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/a ... ke-method/
You sign up for the e-Zine here, in the yellow box on the right.
http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/ezine/


When I'm searching my imagination for a story idea, and all I see is static, I've been known to use a twist on a fun FaceBook game for an idea kickstarter.....

Randomly pick 3 numbers - the first one between 1 and 100, the second and third between 1 and 25. Now, pick up the closest book. Your first number is the page number, the 2nd and 3rd are line numbers.

For example -I choose 78, 5 and 22.

I pick up "Words of Life" by J. Robert White (which is on the floor by my feet) and turn to page 78. I count down 5 lines, and THEN, Write down the first noun I come to I count down 22 lines, and write down the first verb. (Pick a 4th number if you want an adjective. :) )

My words from this random, free writing prompt:
- Crowd
- Leave
- Frightened

(If your book is a devotional or poetry book, adjust your line numbers as needed.)
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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by lookinup » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:08 pm

WriterFearNot wrote:@Nancy, I used Scrivener to write my first novel. Once the story was pretty much finished and ready for final editing, it was easier to transfer the document to Word and work from there. But for those earlier versions, when I had so many trailing thoughts, Scrivener was a fantastic writing tool, allowing me to compartmentalize, sort, organize, and keep my story straight.

My favorite writing resources are 1) The Synonym Finder, which is a giant hardcover thesaurus that (in my opinion) is far more clever than a simple Google search. 2) The Emotional Thesaurus. Ever have a character who is full of resentment and you want the reader to know but you don't want to "tell" them? Flip to page 130 to read a long list of physical signals and internal sensations, like a pinched mouth, arms crossed over the chest, tension headache, and so on. 3) Writing Fiction for Dummies. Lots of great inspirational and informational stuff in here. I could not have written my synopsis without this book.

Theresa
I got on this thread of Jan's for I'm pretty certain the first time, and was glad I saw this entry before mentioning Scrivener. It has made the difference between night and day, as I do a complete rewrite on my self-published novel. Being able to keep scenes straight alone, without having to partition them in Excel, or as a string of paragraphs in Word, makes it worth every penny spent.

I'd like to add one more tip. Finding a writing coach with a teacher's heart is also worthwhile. A few years ago, I also located a body of information with rich content on every aspect of writing a novel from "scene" to "dialogue" to "attitude" to.... It was written by a writer with a teacher's heart, Rachel Simon, and here is the table of contents. http://www.rachelsimon.com/wwg_contents_v2.php. Hope it helps!
Catherine - Keep Lookin' Up! :thumbs

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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by lookinup » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:19 pm

One more quick note after my last, after perusing the storymatic card game. What a great tool to use in a Writers' Group!
Catherine - Keep Lookin' Up! :thumbs

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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by Anja » Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:28 pm

I use these, as Jan cited.
glorybee wrote:
Grammar Girl

Here on FaithWriters, don’t forget Ann’s Grammar Basics.. She’s a busy gal, and her forum tends to go through periods of activity and inactivity. But if “business” picked up there, I’m sure she’d pop in more often, and her advice is as fine as any I’ve ever seen.
What Jan said. (And thank you.)
My interest wanes as your interest seems to wane.
I am busy, to be sure, but if there were a steady business, I would come by more often.
glorybee wrote:The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard

RhymeZone,

BrainyQuote
I use the above, as well. And these...

Good ol' Roget's Thesaurus

A Canadian Writer's Reference by Diana Hacker

An Auto-Correctional Text in Correct Writing by Butler - Hickman - Overby

Women On Writing Articles, workshops, contest, etc.
Last edited by Anja on Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:19 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by Shann » Wed Apr 08, 2015 7:44 pm

This is my favorite resource as far as checking on commas and other things. I like it because it gives a quiz after each section, which allows me to see my weaknesses. http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/index.htm

I've used Grammarly before too, but you need to not totally rely on it because sometimes it can make mistakes, but it's a great learning tool. I knew someone who used it as a replacement for an editor and was upset when her MS had over 600 mistakes that Grammarly didn't pick up. She wanted to know what resource I would recommend that didn't need a human to double-check it. There aren't any that I know of--at least not now, but who knows in twenty years or so. :mrgreen: Grammarly also has a subscription that gives a more detailed check (that was the one the one person used). It's like $12 a month, I think.

Thanks Joanne for the children's references. I have a couple in my writing bag that I like too but can't think of the names and ache too much to check, but will try to look the next time I'm up and moving around.

This is a great idea, Jan. Thanks so much.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--RESOURCES FOR THE WRITER

Post by Milly Born » Fri Apr 10, 2015 5:48 am

I just received a warning from Deb about citing a song that's not in the public domain, and she explained the huge risks involved :(

So for all of you who would like to use song texts in their writing--http://pdinfo.com/ contains information about copyright and a massive list of songs that are in the public domain, and thus, free to use.
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make known his deeds among the peoples!
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