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Writer Web Resources*

There are literally thousands of websites for writers out on the web now. Listing them all would take a large book! And that wouldn't include the sites that aren't specifically for writers but are very useful to writers. So I'm putting down a few sites that I have found useful. Explore links from these to find many more interesting sites. Please note that since I write science fiction and fantasy, most of my resources are geared toward those genres.

Resources I have added since the symposium are marked with a red asterisk (*).

ReferenceGetting Ideas/
World Building
and Maps
Characters and NamesCraft of WritingCritiquing and WorkshopsManuscript Preparation
Selling Your WritingOrganizationsTalk to Other WritersLocal (Utah) Writers' Groups

Reference THOR Virtual Reference Desk
Purdue Library has a most useful set of links to such things as thesauri, encyclopedias, dictionaries, maps, government documents, and phone books. The Internet Public Library Reference Area
Extensive links to sources such as online newspapers and archives of all kinds of esoteric knowledge. iTools
Search for language, research, financial, map, and internet tools all in one place. The World Factbook
Includes maps and all kinds of information (geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military) about each country in the world. Great Books Online
Includes Roget's thesaurus, Strunk's The Elements of Style, and many others. PMS: Punctuation Made Simple
The title says it all. Uses of colon, semicolon, comma, dash and apostrophe are discussed very clearly. Online English Grammar
Nicely put-together web guide to grammar. Bookmark this one! The Copyright Website
Examples of copyright infractions in various media, as well as basic information on copyright. Ten Big Myths About Copyright
Not sure if your knowledge of copyright is correct? Most people are pretty hazy about copyright. This site discusses the myths of copyright. The Slot, A Spot for Copyeditors
Bill Walsh has created a web page for copyeditors and people who care about how the English language is used. Check out The Curmudgeon's Stylebook if you have some bones to pick with usage--and see what his ticklish spots are.

Getting Ideas/Brainstorming Dare To Be Bad
Cosmic Thoughts, Oblique Strategies, The 37 Dramatic Situations, and Science Fiction Story ideas are all randomly generated to give you a kickstart for beginning a story, a twist for the middle, or an idea for the end. Atlantis Rising Online
Source of ideas for stories, especially near future. Has an archive of past articles. Paradigm Online Writing Assistant
Paradigm is an interactive, menu-driven, online writer's guide and handbook. It works on frames-capable browsers, using hypertext structure to create a web of links and text frames that you can navigate quickly and easily. Guides through the writing of several types of documents--mostly essays--using the steps of Discovering, Organizing, Revising, and Editing. Very useful hints and list.

* The Big List of RPG Plots
These are common roleplaying game plots, but the ideas behind them can be mined for any type of story.

* Hatch's Plot Bank
This is a great tool. A list of over 2000 plot ideas, some quirky, some cliche (and mostly contemporary, but they can be adapted). It doesn't take long picking ideas from this list at random to get the mind clicking away!

TOOL Worgan (Windows 95/98)
Shareware that's more than just a brainstorming device. It's a complete system for keeping track of details of stories, worlds, people, etc. as well as tracking submissions. Try it!

World Building and Maps World Builders
A university course on world building! Includes links to sample worlds others have built. Fascinating! Building New Worlds
An article (on the SFWA website) by Steve Baxter, on (what else?) building new worlds. He discusses how to use the worlds you build in your stories. Cities, Population, Subsistence, and Land Area
To add realism to your created worlds, this is a great guide on how to figure out how populous your city or kingdom would really be.

* Medieval Demographics Made Easy
S. John Ross has figured it all out for you! Depending on various things like terrain and size of the kingdom, figures population, number and size of towns and villages, etc.

* The Domesday Book: Medieval Demographics in JavaScript
Puts S. John Ross's Medieval Demographics figures into a JavaScript where you fill in the blanks and it gives you numbers and percentages. This is fun to play with!

* Random Village Generator
While this is designed for role-playing game use, it could come in handy for your fantasy novel as well. This is a CGI-program that generates a whole fantasy village with a map, castles, craftmen, farms and houses and villagers. It generates a family for every (almost) house and farm, with random names, profession, equipment etc.

* Suite 101's World-building
A series of articles in which the author, Dee-Ann Latona, builds a world. Includes problems encountered, errors made, etc. Most educational! Patricia C. Wrede's Worldbuilder Questions
Invaluable! What questions should writers ask themselves as they build their fictional worlds? Past Symposium Guest Patricia Wrede's lists in an easy-to-use format. Planetary Fact Sheets
Picky details about the planets in our solar system. Use them for verisimilitude while building your own star systems. Color Landform Atlas of the United States
Need a state map to use for your story? Here they are! May include relief map in color or black and white, county map, satellite map, even historical (1895) maps! 3-D Starmaps
Perhaps more than you ever wanted to know about stars, figuring the distance between them, and how to remember that space isn't flat!

Languages Foreign Language Resources on the Web
Need a word or two in some other language for a story? These extensive links, to many language resources on the web, could help.

TOOL LangMaker (Windows 3.1 or 95)
Freeware software to help you build your own languages!

Characters and Names Creating Memorable Characters
Short article on creating characters that will grab the reader. Character Chart
A chart to fill out on your major characters to get down all sorts of details about them.

* How Well Do You Know Your Character?
This website has a ten-question quiz you can give yourself to "find out" more about your character. You're not limited to the quiz's multiple choice answers--if your character would say or do something different, fill it in! What's In a Name?
An article on naming characters. Popular American Names for Specific Ages
Most useful for writers of contemporary fiction, these are lists of the most popular names during each decade since the 1800s.

* Behind the Name: The Etymology and History of First Names
A large database with many countries and cultures represented. As well as name lists (with meanings), also has short descriptions of cultural sources for names and other informative links. Articles to help you construct medieval names
Society for Creative Anachronism site with lots of name links--mostly geared toward the medieval period, so they should be great for fantasy or historical writers. Many countries and languages. (Scroll down or use the "find" function of your browser.)

* Academy of Saint Gabriel Library
Another SCA-oriented site, with links to information on names from many countries and languages.

* Eponym
A wonderful site for names. The world name links at are especially useful for fiction writers.

* Name Tables
Designed for the Warhammer Quest role-playing game, these tables (using 6-sided and hundred-sided dice) can be used to generate random names for your fantasy or science fiction story. Eight different tables generate names for Empire, Bretonnian, Dwarf, Elf, Orc or Goblin, Skaven, Norse, or Lizardmen characters. Each table also available as a Word 97 document.

* Fantasy Name Generator
Fantasy, Deverry, Elvish, Orcish, Tolkien--even Babylon 5 Narn names generated online. Can also be downloaded as software for PC computer.

* Phantasy Name Index
The author has collected lists of fantasy names found on the web and elsewhere. These are only given names.

* TOOL The Everchanging Book of Names (EBoN)
Random Name Generator Software for Windows PC (32-bit)--shareware. Build random names from quite a few fantasy milieus and actual human cultures as well! Once the software is downloaded and installed on the computer, new "books" with "chapters" for different languages can be downloaded. You can even make your own books or chapters fairly easily. You can change various factors in the software to affect the names generated.

Craft of Writing NovelAdvice, A Cyber-Journal for Writers
Online bi-weekly writing advice magazine. Free, and you can sign up to receive notice of when the newest issue is posted. Back issues available at the site. General Writing Gateways
A compilation of links to articles about writing all over the web, neatly categorized into Prewriting, Characterisation, Writing principles, Synopses and outlining, Plotting, Technique, Query letters and proposals, Manuscript format, Self-editing, Copyright and Critiquing and writers groups. Sherwood Smith's essays on writing
Past symposium guest Sherwood Smith has some fascinating looks at writing here. Uncle Orson's Writing Class
Orson Scott Card has a series of writing articles on his Hatrack River website. Speculations
Once a paper magazine, now online, monthly magazine specifically for writers of SF/F. Has many articles of relevance to SF/F writers, and market news. Costs to subscribe, but it's worth it. Check out the Rumor Mill (free). Holly Lisle's Writers' Pages
Information about writing, selling and publishing fiction from full-time novelist Holly Lisle. Focuses on How to Write Professionally, How to Get Your Writing Published, and How to Be a Professional Writer. Free E-mailed writers' newsletter. Website for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
You don't have to be a member of SFWA to access these very useful articles on the craft and business of writing. Basic Plotting for Science Fiction
Goes through a simple list of what makes up a story, specifically geared to science fiction. Smort
Great site to kickstart your writing. Geared toward mystery or suspense writers, but useful to anyone. Check out the Short Story challenge, the articles on outlining, revision and query letters, and the painless grammar workshop. It's the smort thing to do! Writers Digest
The online side of the popular writers' magazine.

Critiquing and Workshops Amy Sterling Casil's Guideline to Critiquing
Once you've written that masterpiece, you may want friends to critique it. Or you may be critiquing someone else's baby. Here's what to look for in your critiques. Turkey City Lexicon
A Primer for SF workshops. Guidelines on how to run a workshop, terms to use in critiques, things a writer doesn't want in his or her manuscript! A classic in SF writing circles.

Manuscript Preparation the Obligatory Manuscript Format Article
John Gregoy Betancourt, who's been working with writers and manuscripts for years and is owner of Wildside Press, gives the nitty gritty of manuscript formatting. (Other articles for writers from Wildside at Amy Sterling Casil and Nick Neuro's Guide
Another look at manuscript submission. Proper Manuscript Format
Formatted on the web page just like you should do your manuscript!

Selling Your Writing The Process of Publishing a Novel
Short step by step process of writing, submitting, rewriting, and beyond! Spicy Green Iguana
Market website, with links to many SF/F and some mainstream magazine websites. Not nearly as up to date as Ralan's website. Ralan Conley's SF/F Market Site
Fantastic market site for SF/F. Updated frequently, includes guidelines in popup boxes. Paula Fleming's Market List
Updated monthly, a market list for SF/F. The Write Market
Another website for SF/F markets. The CALLIHOO newsletter
Free weekly newsletter for SF/F/H markets. Can read it online or have it E-mailed to you. Markets are indexed at the website. Also go to for links to websites of various SF/F/H magazine and book publishers. The Gila Queen's Guide to Markets
Website for this almost-monthly print magazine about writers' markets of all types (including contests and anthologies). The magazine contains full guidelines and updates on markets, and is in my opinion the best market magazine around. The website contains some sample articles from the magazine. Scavenger's Newsletter
Website to complement the monthly print magazine for small press SF/F magazines. Freelance
Articles archive, freelance job bank, all kinds of resources for the working freelance writer. Syne Mitchell's Response Time Calculator
Want to know how long it took for an editor to respond to one of your submissions? Use this handy calculator. Submitting to the Black Hole
Do book and magazine editors seem like they've dropped your manuscript into a black hole? Does it take forever to hear back? Report your response times here, and see how fast specific publications responded to other writers. Myrtle the Manuscript
An editor tells the story of a manuscript--a tongue-in-cheek but true look at what happens to our poor darlings when they get sent off through the U.S. Snail to the tender mercies of editors. A must read.

Organizations American Crime Writers League Horror Writers Association Mystery Writers of America Romance Writers of America Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Western Writers of America

Talk to Other Writers SFF.NET
Newsgroups for many science fiction and fantasy topics, free to the public. "Talk" to many SF and fantasy writers. Members of SFWA can gain access to many private SFWA newsgroups and discuss writing, politics (of course) and anything else under the sun. There are also newsgroups to discuss aspects of writing where anyone can ask questions. Dueling Modems
Similar to SFF.NET, but has many newsgroups besides those for SF and fantasy (such as stamp collecting, genealogy, etc.). Must be a paid member to access the newsgroups. Members can "talk" to many SF and fantasy writers in the SFRT (Science Fiction Round Table), plus there are newsgroups to discuss aspects of writing where anyone can ask questions.

* The Speculations Rumor Mill
Free web-based discussion groups on many writing topics. This one's got a bit more "noise" than the nets, but is very worthwhile.

Local (Utah) Writers' Groups CALLIHOO
Salt Lake City-area SF/F writing group. Limited membership. Xenobia
Utah Valley-based SF/F writing group, with membership in the Salt Lake area as well. Limited membership.

This list was originally compiled for a presentation on web resources given at Life, the Universe, and Everything (the BYU Science Fiction Symposium) on March 25, 2000. It has been updated periodically since then, and used again in a presentation at LTU&E in February 2002.

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Last update 23 April 2002