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The Musings of James Paddock

10+ Online Resources for Writers   

Posted August 13, 2018 (Revised from original post September 16, 2011)

There are a number of links to online resources for writers that I keep on my desktop while I’m writing. They include several different kinds of dictionaries, of course, as well as Sun & Moon data, the Almanac, a name generator, and more. I’d love to learn what resources other writers use. Comment and let me know.

Dictionary Resources

dictionary.com & thesaurus.com – These are two great online resources. Go here to look up a word and you’ll find a whole lot more, from the visual thesaurus to a crossword solver, and even more in between. These rate the “Hey, Honey! Come look at this” award.

yourdictionary.com – This online dictionary isn’t bad. It comes with the usual bells and whistles and then a few things more. Worth checking out.

Grammer Resources

Grammer Monster is a site I keep available while I’m writing. It helps with things like lie/lay/lain/laid, which I can never remember, or how about ensure/insure/assure? Check it out. You may find yourself digging through completed manuscripts, wondering—hoping—you got it right.

Date, Time, Sky & Weather Resources

Date & Time.com – This is one of those online resources I keep handy. If I have my coming-of-age character, Jack, kicking a can down the railroad tracks on July 14, 1962, and it’s a Saturday morning, I’d better check to be sure that date was actually a Saturday.

Sun and Moon data – If Jack is kicking that can down the railroad tracks at 3:30 in the morning, what is the status of the moon? Is it visible at all? What time will the sun rise?

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for weather history – It is dark, cold, and stormy that early Saturday morning. Jack, pack cinched tight to his back, loaded with his most treasured possessions, is bent forward against the wind, trying to keep the rain from driving into his face and down his neck. He kicks an old split-pea soup can a third time whereupon it bounces over the track and disappears into the weeds. He looks into the dark beyond where the tracks fade and then over at the one light illuminating the old depot. Shall he move on or take shelter? He trots over to the depot landing and slips under, pushing two beer cans and an animal’s leg bone­–he hopes–out of the way. With the assistance of his headlamp, he extracts his notebook computer, finds a Wi-Fi connection–how weird is that?– and looks up the weather history for this old railroad depot.  He opens his browser and types in http://www.almanac.com/weather/history/ and then enters Aberdeen, SD, July 14, 1962.  He wipes water from his face and waits; it is a very slow connection. He waits a while longer until finally . . . hold on a minute! It’s not raining and it is certainly not all that cold. He looks out at the railroad tracks and sure enough, it is dry. The weeds are undulating in the breeze. He crawls out and peers down the tracks. Shall he keep going or wait until daybreak? He could continue by moonlight. He checks his computer again, entering the address for the Sun and Moon data. Blasted anyway! The moon set an hour before and it is still another hour before twilight. What to do? What to do?

It may be that the weather accuracy and sun/moon data are not important to your story, but if you’re like me, you want the little things to be accurate so as to make the bigger things, like quantum teleportation or a Wi-Fi connection in 1962, more plausible.

Several Unique Online Resources for Writers

Grandiloquent Dictionary – A collection of the most obscure and rare words in the English language. You just never know when this might come in handy. Jack may have been haingling down the tracks, worried about his quatrayle, now concerned about zoonosis after touching that animal bone. This may or may not be helpful if you suffer from lethologica. A great online resource for writers, or for anyone interested in words.

Random Name Generator – An interesting place to scan the US Census data for names. Put in the number of names you want to see and then the obscurity level, and bingo, you have a nice list of new character names, or, as the site suggests, random names you can give to that special someone you meet at the bar. I think I’ll rename Jack to Dario Fellezs. He is running away because his step father makes fun of him, calling him Dairy because he is lactose intolerant. He’d rather live with his quatrayle.

What online resources do you keep handy? Comment and let everyone know.

2 comments

Leave a comment


May 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm
Karen Devaney wrote...

Great sources–thank you for posting them. I write middle grade and adult fiction and did research what places looked like but did not always check on specifics that you mentioned. I will pay closer attention in my current novel that I am working on Between the vines!

Another source I use that may help writers is youtube videos to get the feel of particular place–hear actual sounds of say the language and feast on the details (the intensity of colorful shrubs or flowers, using as much of my senses as possible!

Karen

May 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm
Dusty Books wrote...

Thanks for your comments, Karen. I never thought of youtube videos. It’s amazing what resources are out there if we just take the time to notice.

 


 

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Who is
James Paddock?
James Paddock
James Paddock is author, novelist, playwright and stage actor, not to mention husband, father and pround grandfather of many beautiful and intelligent children. Still calling Montana his home, James spends his twilight years writing novels, short stories and plays, in between walking Florida beaches, playing pool and hanging out with his
wonderful wife, Penny.


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