Learn By Doing

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30+ Tools For The Amateur Writer

30+ Tools For The Amateur Writer
October 25, 2007 — 04:12 AM PDT — by Sean P. Aune —

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is almost upon us. On November 1st, brave souls everywhere will embark on a month long endeavor to write a story of at least 50,000 words. We’ve gathered 30 tools to help those folks who want to try their hand at it.Collaborative Writing


Coventi.com – A site offering several different packages, with the cheapest being free for the personal user.

Google Docs – Part of the Google suite of products, which enables you to invite others to work with you on a document.

Glypho.com – Put down the basic idea of your story, get a plot and character suggestions.

Novlet.com – Collaborative writing where you write just a couple of paragraphs at a time.

Portrayl.com – A site that lets you write one chapter at a time, and when done, release it as a PDF. You can also allow others to write a chapter if you want.

SynchroEdit.com – A browser-based editor that allows multiple users to edit the same document at the same. Will indicate who’s doing with with colors.

WideWORD.net – Create a secure document online and then pick who can look at it and participate.

Writeboard.com – A collaborative writing system by the folks at 37 Signals.

Writewith.com – Upload your documents and work with others on it together online.

Zoho Writer – A free online word processor from Zoho.
Dictionaries & Thesauruses


Alternative Dictionaries – Sometimes we all need to bend the rules some, and this site gives you definitions of various slang words.

Cambridge Dictionaries – Multiple dictionaries and references from Cambridge press.

Dictionary.com – Based on the Roget’s Dictionary. Also gives you quick access to thesaurus.com.

Dictionary.hm – An AJAX powered dictionary that pops up the definitions as you type.

Merriam-Webster.com – The online version of the well known print dictionary.

The American Heritage Dictionary – Over 90,000 words, a full print version of a dictionary put online.

UrbanDictionary.com – Multiple slang definitions of just about every word you may encounter in every day conversation.

Word.sc – A user-edited dictionary that lets you vote on definitions and upload photos of the word.

YourDictionary.com – Gives you the definition and suggest idioms.
Grammar & Tips


Bartleby.com – A collection of books in the public domain, broken down by category. Has a large election of books on language usage.

EnglishForums.com – Stumped by a tricky grammar moment? Join these forums to get advice from others who love the language.

Guide to Grammar & Writing – Gives tips on grammar from the word level up to essay paper length.

WordNet – Simple in appearance, WordNet is a huge lexicon of the language.

World Wide Words – Articles on word usage, turns of phrase, weird words, and more.
Plotting & Writing Tips


BlockbusterPlots.com – Get numerous free tips on how to construct a sensible plot for any story.

Character Questionnaires – Every good author will tell you that you need to know your characters before you write. This will help you interview them.

Freytag’s Pyramid – From ReadWriteThink, it explains the concept of “Freytag’s Pyramid” which is the basis of how any plot should be structured.

The “Basic” Plots in Literature – Describes the theories behind all of the known basic plots, and the schools of thought for each list.

Tips for plotting for every type of character – A lengthy list of stupid archetype characteristics for just about every type of character.
Word Processors


ajaxWrite – An AJAX based online word processor that runs in Firefox. Looks like Microsoft Word so you have a familiar interface.

Nevercode Docs – A downloadable word processor that allows you to store your documents online so they are accessible anywhere.

ThinkFree.com – Looks almost exactly like Microsoft Office and offers 1GB of free online storage.


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