Websites and resources that can help you with your craft:
Note: I have NO affiliation with, and receive NO money or benefits from, the sites or products below. I find them useful, so they get a recommendation. There are, of course, alternatives available which may work better for you…
Kelley Armstrong’s Writer’s Forum (OWG): Specialist areas – contemporary young adult fiction, paranormal, romance, some fantasy and sci-fi. Other genres can be submitted, but the main areas of expertise for the members seems to fall into these genres. My first experience of an online forum, there are plenty of friendly people here who are willing to critique your work. After signing up you spend around 2 months in the newbie area, before choosing a group of more experienced writers to join. Format: pieces can be up to 3500 words, and you are expected to critique two other’s pieces for each one you submit. Recommended, especially if you want the more intimate feel of a smaller group (although there are plenty of members!), and your work is primarily in the areas already described. They are willing to help new writers find their feet, and are always on-hand for advice. Crit quality varies, but it is inevitable as other new writers are also developing their crit. skills. Mature members do crit. new writer’s work in my experience, so there is the opportunity to learn from them.
Scribophile: Another online forum, like OWG above, but broader in scope in terms of what you can submit for critique, in that they accept fiction, literature, factual prose, and even poetry. They operate a credit system – leaving work for critique uses credits, commenting and critiquing other’s work builds it up. I’ve not really used the site yet, but a bit of maths would indicate that the ratio of critting other’s work to receiving crit. from other’s is higher than for OWG. There are free and paid options, the latter lowering the credit cost of submitting your own work. I’m still new to this site, so I’ll let you know how I get on…
The Online Dictionary, and Thesaurus: It’s a dictionary, it’s a thesaurus. You can use it online from your computer, without having to pause your train of thought to flip through an ancient tome… and it’s FREE! ’nuff said. The advertising is obtrusive, but I suppose they have to keep it going somehow.
Using this I can work on my manuscript on my main pc, and start work from where I left off on my laptop, or even mobile device. Files are synchronised automatically, with local copies kept on each device, and automatically backed up on the company’s servers. It’s a great way of moving files between PC and Mac too, but obviously you will have to sort out any compatibility issues yourself.
I’ve been using Dropbox since Feb. 2011 with very few problems (some v. occasional service outages, but I have never lost any data), and I find it invaluable as it helps me to work freely. All you have to do is make sure you save your files within the Dropbox directory on your hard-drive, and with an internet connection sync and backup are automatic. Recommended.
The best note taking software I have found, after looking at several alternatives. It works, “…with nearly every computer, phone and mobile device out there…” so you can access your saved data from almost any device. This software is my pen and paper replacement. Story and poetry ideas, inspiring images and websites, reminders – it nearly all ends up here. It is a very versatile and powerful piece of software, and I will refer you to the website for it’s capabilities, but suffice to say it is an invaluable tool. In over twelve months with Evernote the service has been extremely reliable, with no data loss and excellent reliability. Data is kept online in the cloud, and locally on whichever system you are using, so even with no internet connection you can still access all the data since your last synchronisation on your local device. Another piece of software that ‘just works’, with powerful options available if you need them.