Resources for Writers

I mentioned in the last post that I use WordWeb for my thesaurus. I like it for its simplicity and for the ability to access other sources. I have found over the years that there are good resources and there are not so good ones.

Some may not like Wikipedia due to its open edit vulnerability. And I say if you are going to depend on one resource for your research, then you are doing it wrong. Wikipedia is a vast resource and the ideal place to start. Their links at the bottom (see also, references, further reading, and/or external links), are the next step. Wikipedia is just one part of a wonderful organization called the Wikimedia Foundation. From images to quotes to even a species directory, Wikimedia Foundation provides a vast resource of information to get lost in.

Wiktionary is one part of the Wikimedia Foundation that I use almost as much as Wikipedia. I especially like it for its etymology.

Wolfram|Alpha is another huge network of resources. For example, their unit conversion section is amazing. You can even compute what size knitting needles you need!

The Phrontistery is an obscure word source. I blink a lot whenever I visit there. I use it to spark my brain into thinking deeper than it has been. Or to find a word that fits better. Like the section for Carriages and Carts.

The Guide to Grammar and Writing, part of the Capital Community College Foundation in Hartford, Connecticut. It is another huge resource that covers a wide spectrum. It is a wonderful place to get a refresher course on just what the heck is the object and predicate and whatever? Just be aware there are some website weirdness (sudden highlighting of sentences if your cursor goes over them, everything going bold as you scroll down, etc).

Similar to them would be Purdue University’s OWL (online writing lab). It is geared a lot toward students (how to write an essay, put together a bibliography, etc) but they do have a Workplace Writers section that deals with correspondence formats, resumes, etc although there’s still a plethora of information we can use.

The Urban Dictionary is…interesting. And can be…enlightening? I don’t use it often. I list it here because it is at least good for wondering just what the hell kids are saying these days. It is NOT Suitable for Work! OMG no. and are two linked sites that are another so-so source. While not community driven (as in open editing), they are advertising driven which makes for crowded webpages. Some users have noted errors with the overly simplistic answers.

Want to know medieval names and stuff? The Academy of Saint Gabriel. They have names, heraldry (weapons, banners, etc), and information on how to use both.

Want to know what occupations medieval folks had? This guy knows.

Want to know what food medieval people ate? Here’s not only information on it, but recipes! Also check out their Arts and Sciences of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

And of course there’s the Society for Creative Anachronism and their vast resources.

Oh! And the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts! Their “How much does historical swords weigh” article is enlightening.

And good ol’ Google. Seriously. Google searches are a great place to start. Just be sure to use the best search terms. Another article on how to increase your Google-fu.

The list goes on. My bookmarks file is huge and the one for Writer Stuff is a big chunk of it. The idea here is to not rely on one resource for information you are going to put into your book. Just don’t do it. Some of the research you will do will never be included in the book but will make you feel comfortable enough to help your characters discuss the topics.