Your stop for writing tools, grouped into prose/story-level resources, publishing databases, free editorial feedback, motivation-enhancers, podcasts, videos, writing worksheets/exercises, and more. We only list free resources with exceptions for highly recommended paid resources (will be noted as such.) Feel free to let us know ([email protected]) which resources are the most/least helpful, and if you’ve found the list beneficial, please pay it forward by letting us know any resources we’ve missed!
- Color Thesaurus - Spice up your descriptions with “garnet” and “flaxen” instead of bland “red” and “yellow.”
- Emotions Chart - Be more precise than “happy” or “sad.”
- Facial Expressions - Help readers picture characters without repeating your descriptions too often. Also see list for body language.
- Visual Dictionary - For when you know the word but can’t picture the object or can visualize the object but not the word.
- Reverse Dictionary - Input a concept and find related words and phrases.
- Power Thesaurus - A free, crowdsourced online thesaurus that also includes idioms and expressions.
- Redundancies 101: 400+ Words to Avoid in Writing - Reduce writing bloat.
- Ngram Viewer - Make sure the language in your novel reflects the time and place in which the story is set by searching what time certain phrases began appearing in books.
- Tip of My Tongue - Find the word you’ve been thinking about all day but can’t seem to recall.
- Symbols Encyclopedia - Info on symbols, signs, flags and glyphs arranged by categories such as culture, country, religion, and more.
- Grammarly - A free Chrome extension, Grammarly scans text for grammatical mistakes, spanning everything from subject-verb agreement to article use to modifier placement.
- Narrative Therapy and Your Character - Tamar of PsycheWriter dissects the narrative therapy framework and, in other posts, how understanding the psyche can only benefit authors.
- How to Write a Great First Sentence - “Publishing industry veterans” Anne R. Allen and Ruth Harris offer insider tips. This post, in particular, analyzes 22 examples from classic and contemporary literature. This award-winning blog posts every Sunday and includes a roundup of submission calls each week.
- 3 Keys to Writing Effective Action Scenes - Drawing examples from movies, Remy Wilkins breaks down components of a compelling action sequence.
- Raising the Stakes - Janice Hardy of the Fiction University blog shows how to keep readers engaged. Check out her regular columns, which tackle the planning to selling stages of a novel.
- Most Common Writing Mistakes - A series, running the first Monday of each month, by author K.M. Weiland on Helping Writers Become Authors.
- Namedropping: Finding Solid Names for Your Unique Characters - Popular mystery writer Elizabeth Sims relays strategies, inspired by Joyce Carol Oates, to pinning down the perfect character name. Also check out her more condensed tip list.
- Social Security Administration: Popular Baby Names – is the most accurate list of popular names from 1879 to the present. If your character is from America and you need a name for them, this gives you a accurate list of names, just pick the state or decade that your character is from.
- Geographic Character Naming - Writing World has links to geographically-based names.
- Agent Query Connect - Searchable database of literary agents.
- Query Shark - A blog that posts submitted query letters with revisions.
- The Evil Editor - Tears apart query letters submitted by its audience for the greater good.
- Janet Reid, Literary Agent - An NYC literary agent who specializes in crime fiction, and narrative nonfiction, Janet dissects tropes and other common issues with the query letters she receives.
- QueryTracker - Refine your search with this database of literary agents and publishers, with data on response time, reply rates, etc.
- Writer Beware - They track, expose, and raise awareness of the prevalence of fraud and other questionable activities in and around the publishing industry. Search for their list of scams.
- Flogging the Quill - Email in your prologue/first chapter to FtQ for a “flogging” critique.
- CopyScape - Check the web for copies of your page; is anyone plagiarizing your content?
- The Writers' Dig - Writers’ Digest’s curated content collection of articles ranging from grammar rules to publishing. See also other WD editor blogs, which include tips on how to keep your head up through the publishing industry’s technological change as well as inside looks at literary agents’ work.
- MyNoise - A free noise generator with options like white rain, fireplace, and more that you can adjust to your liking.
- Ambient Mixer - A free online audio mixing tool. Listen to popular user mixes like Gryffindor Common Room.
- Writing Hacks: Starting - Scott Berkun discusses how to get past the hardest obstacle to writing.
- National Novel Writing Month - Participants write a 50,000-word novel in November.
- Scrivener - $40 software. A word-processing program and outliner to manage documents and notes.
- YWriter5 – Free Windows software. Simplistic word processor with organizational features like Scrivener.
- Written? Kitten - Reach a word count goal and get a kitten picture. Check out Write or Die 3 if you prefer being yelled at.
- WriteSpace Houston - A nonprofit grassroots literary arts organization supporting writers of all genres through writing workshops, festivals, manuscript consultations, readings, open mics, and other events.
- NNWM YouTube Guides - A playlist of short writing tips from YouTubers.
- Ellen Brock - Freelance novel editor who runs a novel boot camp on her blog and YouTube channel. Linked: Novel Bootcamp playlist.
- Jenna Moreci - Moreci’s “Tips for Writers” playlist contains engaging writing advice on topics that range from realistic character development to writing habits.
- The Creative Penn - NYT bestselling author Joanna Penn draws upon her own experiences in curated playlists that tackle the business side of writing and the successful author’s mindset. Linked: How To Write A Novel With The Snowflake Method With Randy Ingermanson
- Katytastic - “BookTuber” Kat O’Keeffe’s “Writing/Outlining/Revising” and NaNoWriMo playlists are especially helpful, with micro- and macro-level tips for writers. Linked: 7 Tips to Improve Your Writing
- Vivien Reis - An aspiring YA sci-fi writer, Vivien has a growing playlist of “writerly” videos.
- BookishPixie - Ava Jae, YA sci-fi author, has playlists on worldbuilding, querying, editing, and publishing.
- Rachael Stephen - Rachael has a novelcraft playlist discussing plot embryos and guides her audience through "Prep-tober" before NaNoWriMo in November.
- Kim Chance - Linked here is Kim’s video “How to get more involved in the writing community,” which is part of her “writing tips” playlist.
- ImmerseorDie - This channel, with its 5 Minute Immersion Lab, delivers quick, detailed tips on identifying and fixing common writing mistakes that distract your reading audience. Linked: Temporal Whiplash
- ShaelinWrites - ShaelinWrites is a young BFA student and author of eight novels. Linked: 18 Writing Hacks for Stronger Prose
- Lessons from the Screenplay - Lessons from the Screenplay, while analyzing only movies, provides applicable lessons on storytelling. Linked: The Dark Knight - Creating the Ultimate Antagonist
- Terrible Writing Advice - A sarcastic channel; reverse its jokes and you’ll get some quality advice. Linked: Mary Sue.
- Free online writing courses - LearningPath’s compilation of some free classes offered by MIT, Yale, and more.
- Brian Sanderson's 318R - Fantasy/sci-fi author Brian Sanderson taught a BYU course on creative writing, which is on YouTube in full.
- HyperGrammar - The University of Ottawa’s Writing Centre’s electronic grammar course.
- Reedsy - Free, email-delivered 10-day courses on plotting, outlining, writing dialogue, and more.
- The Elements of Style - The free online version of Strunk’s famous reference book on writing.
- The Anatomy of Story - In his book, John Truby, renowned story consultant, shares his secret for writing compelling scripts.
- Robert McKee's Story - Famous screenwriter Robert McKee, whose students have gone on to win Academy Awards, discusses the essence of stories in an interview. His book, Story, is a bestseller.
- Helping Writers Become Authors - K.M. Weiland discusses, in ~20 min, specifics of outlines and story structure. See: How to Intertwine Plot, Character, and Theme in Every Scene
- Writing Excuses - “Fifteen minutes long because you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart. Linked episode: Internal Conflicts, in which the hosts discuss building stories and subplots around internal conflicts and how to tell when it’s not working.
- Story Grid - Shawn Coyne, author of Story Grid and a top editor for 25+ years, and Tim Grahl, struggling writer, discuss what makes a story great. ~1h. Linked episode: Fixing the Most Important Scene
- Writership - The podcast helps fiction writers master self-editing skills. The show is ~1 hr, but they also publish detailed notes to accompany each recording. Linked episode: How to Take Your Story from Pretty Good to WOW!
- Writing Class Radio - A recorded writing class ~20 min in which you can hear writers share their stories. See: Voices in Your Head?
- Self Publishing Formula - This hour-long podcast features interviews with indie authors, traditional publishing stars, and industry insiders, as well as deep-dive “Masterclass” episodes (eg. building a mailing list, social media advertising techniques.)
- Well-Storied - The Well-Storied blog offers a ~15m podcast and accompanying transcript covering storytelling tools. Linked episode: How to Find Your Character’s Motivation. Strong goals drive plot, of course, but it’s your characters reasons for wanting to achieve those goals that lend your story context and power.
- First Draft - Mitzi Rapkin hosts a show highlighting the voices of writers as they discuss their work, their craft and the literary arts. ~30m.
- Beautiful Writers - Linda Sivertsen brings in bestselling authors to chat about breaking success and staying “in power.”
- The Paris Review - An audio odyssey through fiction, archival tape, interviews, and late nights with the cutting-edge writers of our time.
- Literary Disco - The hosts “read books and talk about them.”
- Writers on Writing - A weekly radio program on the art and business of writing
- 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop - A peek into how great writers conjure and craft their work. From creative rituals to guilty distractions...what it takes to get pen to paper, all in less than ten minutes. Hosted by Virginia Prescott. Also on spotify!
- The Gutenberg Project – The most universally acknowledged method of improving your writing is to read a lot, so here’s a collection of thousands of free, downloadable ebooks.
- Language Is a Virus – An automatic prompt generator.
- People-watching Writing Worksheet - Great practice for describing characters. Eva Deverell has much more exercises tagged “Writing Worksheets.”
- Stream-of-consciousness writing - Set aside a short period (say, 10 minutes in the morning) to just open a document and word-vomit onto a document. Write about absolutely anything that pops into your mind, even if it's "I think this is so stupid I can't stop thinking about lasagna it's really good and I'm hungry but I want to become a better writer and I need to practice discipline." Hypothetically, of course.
- UT Fiction Writing worksheets (scans forthcoming)