The Online Amenities

The Online Amenities
Image provided by Michael D Beckwith
https://www.flickr.com/photos/118118485@N05/

On August 29th, Today’s Author posted a piece asking what are the online resources their readers use in their writing. This is one of the most glorious aspects of the technical age, in my opinion. Money and time are cost to the bone for a writer because of the availability of resources now.

We have talked in the past about important tools for writers such as software or specific kinds of notebooks and pens. Today we’d like to hear what kinds of online resources and tools you find helpful to your writing. Are there specific websites you use for research? Online tools to inspire you to write? What do you find invaluable on the internet when you look at your writing life? [Today’s Author]

As little as twenty years ago, many writers had shelves upon shelves of books in their wring space just for resources and references they’d need at a moment’s notice during their writing sessions. I think this was one of the things that stopped me from taking up writing as a serious venture. I didn’t know where the book fairs were so I could put up the needed knowledge at a lower cost. I’d need to win the lotto to afford what I need for my own private library.

Nowadays, all I have to do is click on my little Firefox, and I zoom to the Internet for the information I need.

Dictionary: Remember that big bulky book you could usually find on a  pedestal at the library? Now I just go to one of the dictionary sites to find out if I’ve spelled a word right or if it’s even the word I thought it was. Sure, many of the word process programs have this built in, but the definitions are often lacking–a lot.

Thesaurus: I could not even attempt to write without this resource. The short-term memory loss I have would do me in before I even got started. Without the thesaurus, I write like the fifth grader–maybe. The paperback of this resource is adequate and affordable. However, because of my right arm and hand not working, trying to keep that small book open and type or write the possible words to use is futile. Again, most word processing programs have this feature too, but the list of synonyms is rather short–puny actually.

Encyclopedia: When I was a kid, some parents bought the Encyclopaedia Britannica for their children’s education. It was a hefty price to pay but it usually included updates to the volumes as information was obtained or changed. Being a fireman’s daughter, this wasn’t an option for me. The closest branch library to my house was eight city blocks away. I’d hoof the hill to it when I had to and when weather would permit. It was either that or wait until I could get to the library at school. Now I just have to decide which encyclopedia I want to use and click to the site.

Editing: I haven’t used this tool yet but I know I will eventually. This, of course, is just for grammar and in-depth spelling. I’m a member at Grammerly.

Writing Groups: I live in a small town in the Tennessee mountains. The closest local writing group I’ve found is in Nashville, two hours away. Someone suggested I start my own here in Crossville. I have yet to find any writers here. I wonder sometime about who is writing the articles in the Crossville Chronicle. Are they writers who don’t feel a need for comradery? And I can’t find them in the white pages. Where do they live? Anyway, because of this dilemma, I belong to two online writing groups. It isn’t as helpful as I was hoping for, but a little is better than none, right?

Blogs: The blogs of writers is one of my main sources of inspiration, motivation, and lessons in the skills of the craft. I probably would have given up long ago on any serious writing without these sites.

Email: I have a couple of close writing friends I email every once in a while. I know I should write letters to them more often, but time slips away from me so quickly sometimes I even forget what day it is. They’re a little farther along on their writing journey than I am. I rely heavily on them for support and hope I’m giving enough to them.

§

According to the post at Today’s Author, I should specify certain sites. I only named one. Preference can differ too much and I’m sure the sites I frequent are so diverse from other writers even though they’re within the same categories. Each to their own. 😛

Do you have other types sites that are useful? Please share in the comment section.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” ― Mark Twain, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

 

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11 Replies to “The Online Amenities”

  1. This is excellent, Glynis, and well thought out. You’ve done a great job of identifying writer’s resources.

    Funny, but most of the on-line resources you listed I actually have on my bookshelves – two-volume dictionary, massive thesaurus, full encyclopedia set. However, I also use the ones available on-line, as sometimes they work better, especially for more current information. Maps and Google earth images are much more up-to-date on line.

    These additional hard back books I use all the time:

    The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. I’ve long since lost my first copy used at university and picked up a used copy at a bookstore. This is the classic handbook that lays out the basic writing skills one must master if one is to master the art of writing. Written one hundred years ago, it is still valid.

    Fowler’s Modern English Usage, edited by R.W. Burchfield. This book explains the complexity of language so you understand things like the differences between credible, creditable, and credulous, all in one entry so you can see the comparisons. The entry for the word do is more than one densely written page. Examples are numerous.

    NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms by Kathleen Morner and Rausch. From absurd, theater of the to zeitgeist – definitions and suggested usage of just about every writing term and application you can imagine.

    Rules for Writers by Diana Hacker. A compact grammar-punctuation-spelling-usage book, a trove of editorial wisdom in one place. There is an on-line component I’ve used once in a while for particularly sticky problems.

    These books are not only useful when writing, but they’re fun to rifle through. You can see I haven’t listed on-line tools.

    I agree about the people resource being the most important – I’ve made so many wonderful on-line friends. You, of course!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I knew I was forgetting something, the maps! I tried using the the Earth map. I just didn’t like it. I know, odd beyond belief. I use Bing’s map. I do have The Elements of Style, but like Grammerly, won’t be using it until revision time. I didn’t know about Fowler’s Modern English Usage. I’ll need to find myself a copy. I’ll look into Rules for Writers, although I think Grammarly is going to do the job for me.

      Thank you for this list, Shari. Helpful as all get out. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very nice post and a great subject to think about. I don’t have writing tools, per se, but I make use of online notebooks and project management services. I use them for things other than writing too, but I am surprised at how helpful they are to maintaining a blog. The most important “tool” for me is online storage. I use Box, and having drafts and photos online means I can get to them wherever I am and with whatever device I happen to be using.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you should mention online storage. I think they’re called “clouds” now. Yep, trendy but I like the image that comes in my noggin with it. I’ve already started my post for next week and I’ll be discussing my problem with one of my clouds right now. I have two now. It’s more of a way for me to stay organized.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I watch some of the lessons in writing at YouTubes but I’ve never considered it for research. Hmm… :/

      I use the poor man’s version of Scrivener, yWriter. Not as many bells and whistles but I do love that the organization features. 😉

      Like

  3. A bit of asking around could probably pave the way for starting a writing group in your local community. Try the library and local bookstores. Putting up a flyer or two at coffee shops or local colleges could also prove fruitful as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jeri, I’ve thought about trying to start a group. I’m pretty sure the staff at the library would help too because the building is just a few years old and is amazing for such a small town. However, I don’t have my own transportation. Husband needs the one and only vehicle for work. The isn’t any bus here and the two taxis in the area are impossible to get a hold of. I know because I’ve tried several times for appointments, 48 hours in advance too. Additionally, I can’t really see myself being the leader of a group of any type. I’m not the follower type but I’m not all that sociable. I know that sounds bad but that’s the way I am.

      Like

  4. I enjoyed this post because I, too, think writing has been revolutionized by on-line sources. Another resource I use is a friendly reader. I never post or publish anything that my husband hasn’t read, edited and sometimes questioned. Whenever he says, “I’m not sure were you were going with this,” or, “This part seems too wordy,” I’ve learned to ay attention because he’s usually right. I have another friendly reader on a less regular basis as well. A year ago, a fellow blogger with whom I regularly exchanged comments, took a risk by emailing me and asking me if I would consider being part of a friendly reader partnership with her. (In fact, she introduced me to the term friendly reader.) Since then, twice a month, we send each other pieces we’re working on or have questions about on Sunday, then on Tuesday we FaceTime for an hour and discuss one another’s work. It has been tremendously helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The face time sounds wonderful. It’s the kind of thing that would really help. As terrific as the online helps are, I think Skype may be one of the best. I have the program along with a webcam, yet still haven’t hooked it up. I should, of course. Just need to find that reason to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

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