Shakespeare did it with quills and candles, Mark Twain did it on a typewriter, but today's authors don't even need paper to tell their stories. We live in a modern age, and the modern writer is more Internet presence than person. Our books are online, our photos are online, our words are online -- it's only natural that we get online to do the writing, too. Use online writing tools to help you get the job done, and maybe even make it a little easier. Paper's totally overrated, anyway.
Writing Tools Online
Going online to research isn't always easy. It's hard to find reputable sources, and it takes a long time to seek out specific information. But the Internet isn't just a source of information for writers; it can actually help you get the job done. There are lots of writing tools online that will make it much easier for you to get from the first page to the last page of your book.
- Names. In a previous post, I talked about about using certain Internet sites to find different character names -- which can be somewhat tedious. A Twitter friend shared his secret with me, and I love it: a fake name generator. Choose by gender, language and country to get a completely random, computer-generated name.
- Age calculator. I'm horrifyingly bad at math, and I don't think I would ever get it right if I didn't use an age calculator. Just type in your character's birth date, and pick any additional date you like to find out how old that character will be on that day. There are tons of age calculators online, but I prefer this one from Cornell.
- Mapping. Google maps has proven invaluable to me. It's incredibly easy to use, and if you have any Google account (Blogger, YouTube, Gmail, etc.), you can create and save your own personalized map. I like to take my characters to real places, and when I send them off to new settings I like to know how long it's going to take them to get there. You can even use Google maps to get down to street level, and see with your own eyes what one of your settings looks like -- an amazingly powerful tool for any writer.
- Words. Don't ever knock the thesaurus. If you're like many writers, you can pull up a site and type in a word a lot faster than you can thumb through the pages of a printed book, sorting through a bunch of different words to find just one. Too much repetition of the same words will make any book boring, and no matter how creative you think you are there are always new words to learn. A quick check on the thesaurus can infinitely improve your writing.