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Resources for writers
Our master list of best resources for writers of fantasy, horror and sci-fi.
One Stop for Writers: The most comprehensive set of resources and tools for writing, including an online emotion thesaurus, a setting thesaurus, idea generators, character builders, outlining tools, story maps, tutorials, and a lot more. There’s a free two-week trial, then it’s $9 a month.
Scrivener: The gold standard for novel writing software. Includes a wordprocessor, outlining tools, character planning tools, and ePub export functionality. The software costs $49 but there’s a 30-day free trial.
Fantasy Name Generators: My favorite place to find names for characters, places, and things. More than 100 random name generators in categories like “Elf names” and “Necromancer names” and “Pirate names” and “Alien names.” They also have real name generators for more than 100 different cultures and nationalities and languages. Plus name generators for places, companies, works of art, colors, alliances, space fleets, planets, magic types.
Name Generator: Generate names for characters, babies, authors or bands. Search at random or filter and sort by gender, popularity, birth year, country, personality and many other interesting properties. Also creates backstories.
Writing advice sites
Writer’s Knowledge Base: Huge database of more than 40,000 articles about writing. Always my favorite place to start to research any writing problem (other than Google, of course). These are the best articles, from the top writing blogs. I also subscribe to Elizabeth Spann Craig’s weekly list of the best new writing-related articles, called Twitterific Writing Links, which then all get added to this database.
Save The Cat!: Lots of good examples of how the STC framework works for a variety of popular movies and books.
Mythcreants: My all-time favorite writing advice site, since it’s about speculative fiction, and also because the editors here seem to care about a lot of the same issues that I do. Latest favorite post: Five common reasons tension is missing.
Fiction University: Lots of great advice articles here, including 5 questions to ask for stronger scenes — 1. Can the protagonist be in any danger? 2. Can the protagonist learn or reveal a secret? 3. Can the protagonist be in conflict with someone, something, or themselves? 4. Can the protagonist make a choice? 5. Can the protagonist fail at something?
Reedsy: Clear accessible writing advice on all the basic topics, like How to write a series and 150+ Useful Character Quirks. They’ve also got a cute plot generator and a really good character name generator.
Writing the Other: An educational resource with articles, classes, workshops and seminars on writing diverse characters.
Writing With Color: A collection of writing and resources centered on racial, ethnic and religious diversity. They have Q&A-style writing advice, guides, book recommendations and more.
Find more writing advice sites on our writers’ advice sites list.
The Grinder: The best free resources out there for tracking where you’ve submitted your short stories. Plus, has the best database of paying markets, sortable by genre, rates, and how fast they tell you if your story has been accepted.
Pre-made book covers
Pre-made book covers have revolutionized independent book publishing. Just pick a professionally-produced cover from one of these sites, often for less than $100 a pop, and the artist will replace the mockup’s title and author with your own and remove the cover from the site so nobody else will have the same cover as you.
See more book cover sites in our article Where to find low-cost, pre-made covers for spec fic books.
Otter AI: Several members of my writing groups swear by this tool. I like it because it’s the only dictation tool I’ve found that doesn’t stop in the middle of the dictation just because I had to think for a few minutes about what I want to say next. That means that if, say, I’m dictating while walking or driving, I don’t have to keep pulling out my screen and hitting the record button over and over again. It’s cloud-based, so it works on the web or on any mobile device. If it didn’t quite catch something you can click on the place where the transcription goes wonky, hit the play button, and it will play back your actual voice recording from that spot, so you can make fixes. I use it to dictate scene outlines to my phone while driving, then cut-and-paste the transcriptions from the website into my word processor. The free version gives you 10 hours of recording a month. For $8 a month, you can upgrade to 100 hours a month. It is the hands-down best transcription service I’ve ever used. I also use it to transcribe old recordings, YouTube videos, and all my Zoom interviews. I recently spoke to their CEO (I cover tech at my day job) and it really looks like this company has their act together.
Feedly: This is a free online tool that lets you collect all the latest blog posts from all your favorite sites in one place. I use it to keep up with news, with my favorite writing advice sites, and with celebrity gossip. It syncs across the web, Android, and iOS apps, so you can check in on your newsfeeds from anywhere, and only shows you the posts you haven’t read yet. For longer articles that I want to come back to, I save them to Google Keep, but you can also email them to yourself, save them to your Google Drive, or share them with any other app or platform. It also lets you group your feeds into categories, like “news,” “humor,” and “writing advice.” To add a site to your Feedly account, you can search for the site’s title, or add its RSS feed. For example, MetaStellar’s main RSS feed is MetaStellar.com/feed. And the RSS for our Free Friday posts is at MetaStellar.com/tag/free-friday/feed/. To make it easier to add blogs to your Feedly reader, and you use Chrome, you can use the Feedly extension for Chrome.
Google Docs: Google has an excellent free online alternative to Microsoft Office, which, if you have a Gmail account, you already have full access to. Google Docs saves your documents as you type, and keeps backup copies of every single revision you’ve ever made. You can edit your docs from your browser or any mobile device, and share them with collaborators. In my writing groups we use Google Docs to comment on each other’s story drafts. See my article 14 reasons to use Google Docs to write for more details.