For me, writing often starts with reading. Researching, digging out facts, flipping through ideas for settings, names and places come first, then there is my habit of pausing mid-stride to look up something I want to flesh out as I go. Over the years I’ve established a folder of writing favorites that I tend to start with, branching off into the time sucking search engines only if I have to. Below are a random 10 of my favorite go-to sites.
1. Intertran – Language translators are all over the web, but this one lets you translate both single words and full paragraphs, and the list of available languages is extensive. Sometimes all you want to do is call someone a bastard in Italian. Or Brazilian Portuguese. The standard invectives are here as well as the obvious polite language. Very helpful for writers wanting to add an element of authenticity to foreign characters.
2. Behind the Name Many writers labor over the naming of their characters almost as much as they labor over the name of their real-life first-born. Names are important, even if the writer is the only person fully cognizant of the reason for its selection. When you’re looking for names, this site is great, as it is not just Anglo-Saxon names. Names for many cultures, both popular and historic are here, and best of all, you can type a meaning into the search box and get a list of names that represent the term in many languages.
3. Internet Sacred Texts Archive For any writer that delves into the mystical, paranormal or religious, this is a great resource. In many cases the full text of sacred texts is available, incredibly helpful if a writer is attempting to build or work within a mythological structure. And you can get sucked in here, so be warned – if you’re interested in things like this you could waste a day poking around.
4. Writer’s Forensic’s Blog – For writers of crime fiction, this is a great place to start your research. Author of a number of books both fiction and non, D.P. Lyle MD has put together a great, easy to navigate blog full of answers and real-life examples of everything from DNA sequencing to the youngest age a child can be and still have testimony admissible in court.
5. Query Tracker – Keep track of what projects have been submitted to which agents/publishers, see feedback from other writers about their experience with individuals in the industry, see stats on turn around time and acceptance frequency. Very helpful if you have many irons in the fire at once. And there’s a free version!
6. Duotrope – a place to search for direct markets for fiction and poetry – magazines, e-programs, pretty much any type of market. You can filter results by the genre, length of your work, pay scale and other options that can really help you target submissions to programs that are a good match for both your work and your income.
7. Fiction Matters This is a great overall craft site. Everything from a glossary of terms, help articles, industry news, tips, tools, you name it, they cover it. A great place to poke around if you don’t know where to start – there are a lot of external links to other sources in their toolbox. There’s even a video library if you are tired of reading.
8. Freelance Writing This has the obvious freelance writing venues, but I like this because they have a fairly comprehensive list of writing contests, which you can sort through by deadline. I love this feature and it saves me a lot of legwork.
9. Writer’s Conferences & Centers Find a retreat, conference or other focus venue here, according to state. There is even a scholarship program to help writers pay for their admittance to a program. Don’t let the “member” tag fool you – the organizations are the members, not the writers.
10. Squidoo Writers Associations page I kind of hated to post this one, but it does contain one of the most comprehensive lists of State and National Writers Associations that I have found. But since it is a Squidoo page, there are little green links to ads scattered throughout, which drives me nuts, so I hemmed and hawed a bit before including them. The link jumps to each Writers Association’s home page are really quite helpful, though, so it bears a quick check out, if nothing more.