"And how long have you been the language of a story that could be true?"
— Cooper Edens

Advice for Writers

Please check out this new publisher of "magic" eBooks: ePic Adventures, Inc.

Author Martha Wells has assembled a truly
fantastic list of resources for beginning writers.

Fantasy author J.V. Jones has put together a list of links for aspiring
Science Fiction and Fantasy authors, including a list of publishers and agents. Likewise, author Vonda N. McIntyre's pitfalls for writers (click on pitfalls) is a priceless article. Her page on proper manuscript formatting is pretty darn good, too.

Here's a MUST for
TV writers.

Backspace community is dedicated to helping writers navigate the often confusing world of Big Publishing.

Poets and Writers has a terrific online presence. Criters is a site for online critiques, but it also has some of the most complete resource lists and advice articles anywhere online.

Forward Motion is one of the very best "writers helping writers" sites around. Orson Scott Card's Hatrack River site is also excellent.

Writers on the Net is a resource for classes, tutors and workshops.

Learn to Write offers opinionated reviews of some major guides to writing. Writers Write have launched a new online magazine by the name of The Internet Writing Journal, featuring "how to" articles on writing and getting published, interviews with authors, editors, publishers, and agents, product reviews, and more. Recommended.

First Writer is another excellent resources for advice and references. If you're stuck, here's a list of recommended book doctors.

Science Fiction Writers of America, the professional organization, offers a wealth of advice to writers, including these Warnings and Cautions for Writers, a useful set of pointers for newcomers to the business of writing.

Mslexia is a magazine for women who write, offering advice and inspiration, news, reviews, interviews, competitions, and grants.

Startlocal offers some very helpful tips and resources to help writers improve their craft and get wider exposure.

For creativity coaching, advice on living the creative lifestyle, and inspiration, visit Musecraft.

Agents and Publishing

Authorlink is a writers resource and rights marketplace.

Booktrust provides listings and fact sheets on publishing and getting published, plus the latest book industry news.

Everyone Who's Anyone in Trade Publishing provides a searchable guide to agents, editors, and publishers in the US, UK and Canada.

You'll have to subscribe, but the Writer's Market is available online. Ralan offers an extensive list of markets, espcially science fiction and fantasy, and other resources. Here's an excellent on-line Directory of Literary Agents.

The Writers’ Advice Centre for Children’s Books is a manuscript agency in the UK specializing solely in children’s publishing.

This quotation is from Bernard Levin (from Arianna Huffington's eulogy for him), and it's the best, most succinct statement about mastering grammar that I've yet seen:

"You can break every grammatical and syntactical rule consciously when, and only when, you have rendered yourself incapable of breaking them unconsciously."

His advise for avoiding cliches and mixed metaphors was, "try drawing this."

Grammar, Style, and Usage

This is a terrific Grammar Blog with video lessons, exercises, and more. Grammar Resources on the Web collects annotated links to useful Web sites on grammar and style.

Common Errors in English

Garbl's Editorial Style Manual

English Usage, Style, & Composition is a collection of reference works at Bartleby.com, including American Heritage, Strunk & White, Fowler's King's English, and other indispensable public-domain works.

Strunk, The Elements of Style. Here's the classic, one of the defenitive resources for authors. I'd say more, but Strunk advocates concise writing. Speak and write The King's English with help from this site.

"It's" vs. "Its" It's easy to get these two confused, isn't it? But the magic of grammar is found in its rules.

Here's an online guide to the journalist's bible: AP Style and here is one of the most useful style resources around, the Chicago Manual of Style. RECOMMENDED!

Schoolhouse Rock & Grammar Rock — Hey, can you get those songs out of your head? Even all these years later? They help, don't they? Here are all the lyrics you can't quite remember, and can't seem to forget.

HyperGrammar is a still-under-construction resource for grammar and usage.

Online References

Ready useage reference for editing: when you have an editing question, such when to use that or which or when to use a semicolon or a comma, this site has an exhaustive, searchable database of answers.

Search libraries in your neighborhood, or pretty much anywhere else, with

Here's an excellent source for common errors in English.

This is a very useful
Guide to Writing for College from Veritas Prep.

The Handbook of Rhetorical Devices offers guidelines and examples of, um, rhetorical devices.

XRefer is a reference search engine.

The Word Detective is not only one of the funniest sites around, it's also a marvelous resource for the origins of words and phrases.

Wordnik intends to learn everything about every word, ever! This just might be my very favorite word site of all.

When Web searching, try Vivisimo, a site that clusters search results by category, making it MUCH easier to find exactly what you're looking for. It's quite a time saver.

The Visual Dictionary is a collection of words in the real world. Photographs of signage, graffiti, advertising, tattoos, you name it, we're trying to catalogue it.

Thumbshots Ranking also helps when you're searching for information on the Web. It compares results from any two different search engines. It is really, really (even surprisingly) useful; you'll be amazed at how few references are duplicated.

The Writer's Reference Desk has links to on-line encyclopedias, books of quotations, dictionaries, slang, daily newspapers and more. Very useful and always up-to-date. On a related note, here you can click to see the front pages of newspapers from all over the world.

TheFreeDictionary.com has about 2,000,000 articles and definitions from leading dictionaries and encyclopedias.

It never hurts to learn a new Word A Day.

Here's a free online encyclopedia. Here's a collection of online maps and atlases.

OneLook is an exceptionally useful online resource that allows you to search multiple dictionaries at once. Or click here to search just one dictionary.

Here's a terrific and constantly updated dictionary of young Urban Slang.

This site might be my very favorite online writer's resource. It's a Connected Thesaurus that lets you explore relationships between words. It's the brainstormer's best friend, especially if you work in advertising or marketing. This is a very cool Visual Thesasaurus. You must subscribe, but it's worth a look all the same.

Thesaurus.com is an excellent and very helpful online thesaurus. I would have said something else rather than using thesaurus twice in the same sentence, but I couldn’t think of another word for thesaurus. It’s a part of the always excellent and exceptionally helpful Dictionary.com family of sites. They have an iPhone app, too.

So what does a nornal room look like elsewhere in the world? What does an ordinary dining room in Oslo look like? Or, how about a bedroom in Ames, Iowa? Finally, you can put to rest your curiosity about other people's homes by viewing these galleries of, well, normal rooms from around the world.

WordNet: A Lexical Database for English, similar (though not quite as cool) to the above, is an on-line lexical reference system whose design is inspired by current psycholinguistic theories of human lexical memory. English nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are organized into synonym sets, each representing one underlying lexical concept. Different relations link the synonym sets."

Here’s a nifty
Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language.

Read Print offers thousands of free books for students, teachers, and the classic enthusiast. To find the book you desire to read, start by looking through the author index. If you need help with something, feel free to drop us a line.

Georgia State University's library has a source for online research. This site by the Library of Congress allows you to ask questions and interact with real librarians on the Web through this online reference service from the Library of Congress. LibrarySpot.com is a free virtual library resource center for educators and students, writers, librarians and their patrons, families, businesses and just about anyone exploring the Web for valuable research information.

Symbols.com offers the world's largest online encyclopedia of graphic symbols, ranging from from ideograms carved in mammoth teeth by Cro-Magnon men to hobo signs and subway graffiti. So many ways to visualize information, so little time. Fortunately, this site on Visual Literacy has gone to great trouble to organize and display the many ways we can represent data with illustrations, charts, graphs, flowcharts, and more. A quick mouse-over shows you all your visualization options.

Animal adjectives are terms such as bovine, meaning of, relating to, or resembling a cow. As an example one may use the term "the dancer moved with feline grace" which means the dancer moved as gracefully as a cat. Here's a site for those cool collective nouns for animals, such as a murder of crows and an unkindness of ravens.

The Free Public Records Directory is the largest directory of links to free public record databases on the Internet. Find business information, corporate filings, property records, unclaimed property, professional licenses, offenders, inmates, criminal and civil court filings, and much more.

Robert's Rules of Order: In 1876 General Henry M. Robert set out to bring the rules of the American Congress to members of ordinary societies with the publication of Pocket Manual of Rules of Order. It sold half a million copies before this revision of 1915 and made Robert's name synonymous with the orderly rule of reason in deliberative societies.

This Web index of The Merck Manuals provides links to all of the online versions of the famous Merck Manuals, including: The Merck Manual Home Edition, The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy and The Merck Manual of Health & Aging. Merch Veterinary Manual is the single most comprehensive electronic reference for animal care information. It includes more than 12,000 indexed topics and more than 1200 illustrations.

Infoplease Biography profiles biographies and special features about newsworthy people around the world. It's searchable by subject or category.

National Anthems of the World: this 1,500 page site offers a wealth of information on the National Anthems for the world, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

In POTUS: Presidents of the United States you will find background information, election results, cabinet members, notable events, and some points of interest on each of the presidents. Links to biographies, historical documents, audio and video files, and other presidential sites are also included.

OYEZ: U.S. Supreme Court Multimedia is a multimedia database with abstracts of key constitutional cases, digital audio of oral arguments, and more. Also try the Official Site of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Names and Forms of Address

Here is a guide to first names and meanings, and here is one for last names. Here is a resource for international names.

Think! Baby Names is a resource on the origin, meaning, and history of first names. Popular Baby Names, a site by the Social Security Administration, provides a list of the most popular names for a particular year of birth; you can select the year and the length of the popularity list. To see how the popularity of a name has changed over time, you can search the name and, optionally, the sex and number of years.

This name reference site offers the usual name meanings and stuff, but also an especially cool and useful random name generator—complete with first, middle, and last names. How else might you come up with Damien Hugo Bievenue? Hmmm. I may have to use that some day.

Jane Espenson (whose blog for television writers is a Godsend) recommends some character name sites: "this one, and then there is this other one." Jane elaborates: "These are both useful sites for coming up with character names. What I like about these sites as opposed to other sites or books I've seen is that they can help you find the right name for a character that reflects the character's age. This can be really useful for giving a script authenticity and for helping readers remember and visualize the characters. The first site allows you to enter a birth year and it gives the most popular (U.S.) boy and girl given names for that year. Got characters born in 1975? Hmm… looks like Michael and Jennifer are good choices that will, consciously or subconsciously, evoke the right age for your reader. 1999? Jake and Emily. 1901? Good ol' John and Mary are leading the pack. The second site is more visually exciting, and I recommend you play with it for fun if nothing else. And check out the blog, too — was Placenta really once a common girl's name? Find out in the blog. Perfectly fascinating. This site graphically displays given names charted against years and allows a user to display, say, all boys given names starting with "An" over all the years. (Watch "Angel" surge in 2003.) This site is a good one for finding names that never were in the top ten, but which enjoyed prior and interesting popularity, or for exploring other subtleties. Want to make sure no one forgets your "Molly" is old? Spell it "Mollie." She just aged in front of your eyes."

Behind the Name: given names, what westerners call first names, are generally bestowed at some point after the birth of the child. This website looks at the etymology (i.e. the linguistic origin, or meaning) and history of all types of given names.

Forms of Address, a site by Infoplease provides forms of address and salutations for academics, clerical and religious orders, government officials, military and naval officers, and members of various professions.

"I know some very great writers... not one of them writes elegant first drafts.
All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think
that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her."
-- Anne Lamott 


Here's a helpful source for Quotations.

The 2,100 entries in the eminently researched collection Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations are from the constellation of collected wisdom in American political debate. In fulfilling decades of requests from Members of Congress for citation of quotations, the Library of Congress compiled the most frequently asked questions of the legislature for the edification of every citizen.

Quotey Quotes is different from many of the quotation compendiums online (apart from our unusual –and growing collection of quotes…) because they haven’t shied away from including categories of quotations that many other sites seem to stay away from. For example, there are quotations on sexism. And they include writers which may not be incredibly well known. Also, they focus on the content of the quotations, not necessarily the prominence of the people who said or wrote the words.

Writing Various Genres

Drama and Screenwriting:
Children's Literature:
Technical Writing:
  • Technical Writing is well-written collection of useful tips specifically for technical writers.
History or Fantasy:
  • If you write traditional fantasy or medieval historical fiction, you might find The Labyrinth useful, either for research or ideas. It’s a source for researching medieval stuff, well organized by category.

Literary Terms

A Glossary of Rhetorical Figures includes brief definitions of dozens of terms.
English Grammar -- Glossary of Terms is, as you might guess, an extensive set of very brief definitions of terms from grammar and rhetoric.

"Your story is your soul."
— Jonathan Carroll

Copyright and Intellectual Property

Copyright Clearance Center Online
Copyright Coach: articles and references on protecting your intellectual property.
The Copyright Web site
U.S. Copyright Office Home Page
Copyright Law
This Plagiarism site gathers a huge collection of information on plagiarism, copyrights, intellectual freedom, and more.


Copy Editor Home Page

Miscellaneous Research

The Reporters Network
Garbl's Writing Resources On Line
Paradigm Online Writing Assistant
Robin's Nest Writer's Help
SUNY Geneseo Online Writing Guide— A useful collection of advice.
Here’s George Orwell on Politics and the English Language.
The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing provides a helpful guide to writing papers, with advice on thesis construction, use of evidence, style, and mechanics.

Fun and Helpful!

This is more fun than useful, but why ohn eaaarth would that be ah frightful thing? Learn tae spick in proper scot when ye send email an' messages tae aw yer friends an' fowk. Translate your emails and text into British dialects, including Geordie, Scouse, Cockney, Scottish, Posh, Irish, Cockney Rhyming Slang, and the like. Here's another dictionary of Scottish Vernacular. Or browse a Jamaican glossary.

Here's a useful site for 1920s slang (Well, it's useful if you happen to need some, uh, 1920s slang, anyway).

Writer's Medical and Forensics Lab offers a wealth of information for crime and mystery writers... or for writers of any genre that happen to need to craft a scene that requires specific medical or forensics information.

Ever seen a Kroner from Denmark? I'll bet you a Romanian Bani you don't know how many Indonesian Rupees make up 10 Turkish Lira. Doesn't matter: these
coins of the world are just for looking, not exchange.

And because something you've just gotta research Edwardian and Victorian stuff ....

This is silly but classic... ever wonder what would happen if all stories were written like (bad) science fiction?

Because you just never know when you might need this, Footrule offers old English measurements, like a firkin, an Essex Whey (not to be confused with a Suffolk Whey), and a dutch cask.

What's a chiasmus? Glad you asked. Here's a site where you can learn a lot more about chiasmi, the most interesting bit being that the first five words of Coleridge's poem Xanadu are phonetically chiastic.

You (truly) never know when you might need this ... the apparel glossary.

Omniglot is a fascinating guide to alphabets and writing systems.

This is a truly fascinating site on the history of punctuation.

From my pal John Burnet, Word Count is a page only a writer could love: a list of the most commonly used words, in descending order.

Far too funny to be offensive, this site translates into various dialects, including Jive, Redneck, and Pig Latin.
If you write science fiction, here is a fun site for Science Fiction Technology.

Trying to master the hardcore gangster slang found in the detective novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett? Ever pondered the meaning of "soup job" or "Chicago overcoat?" If so, visit this Literary Gangster Slang page! Or try work some of this manly slang from the 19th Century into a conversation.

The Word Detective answers questions about words and language. On a similar note, enjoy some fun and fascinating English Language Trivia.

Here's a Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.

The Word Wizard is an entertaining and useful site for lovers of the English language.

The Internet Anagram Server is a fun and even occasionally useful resource. It's also a terrific way to cheat at Jumble.

Trouble getting started? Here are some... um, interesting prize-winning first lines.

Forbes Best of the Web is a very useful directory resource for exploring ... well, anything.

If you're thinking of writing especially morbid science fiction, here's a page on How to Destory the Earth.

To be honest, I don't actually know anyone who will find this useful, but this site on Scottish Handwriting for researchers and historians was too cool not to include. I admit that stretches the definition of cool, but you are on a booklover's site.

Last but definitely not least....

Radio Rivendell plays great music to write fantasy and anything else, by. Recommended!

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