Favorite Prompts

A list like this, above maybe all else, would have been really helpful when I was just starting out. As it was, I had to stumble upon these weekly challenges through the writing of some of my favorite blogging authors (not a bad way to go about it, actually). I highly recommend these prompts and challenges, if you’re not doing them already!

  • The Speakeasy at Yeah WriteWeekly prompts consisting of a sentence to be used in your story and a media prompt to be used for inspiration. Don’t be intimidated – get in there!
  • Five Sentence FictionThis one is hosted by Lillie McFerrin and it is exactly what it sounds like. What can you do in five sentences?
  • Friday FictioneersFirst shepherded by Madison Woods, the Friday Fictioneers are now led by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields over at her blog. This is the first prompt I discovered, long long ago, and one I still respond to when I can.
  • 100-word writing challenge for grownupsName pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?
  • Inspiration MondayInspiration Monday (InMon for short) is the baby of bekindrewrite. By far the most free form of all the prompts here, there are a few guidelines for those squeamish about letting go (you know who you are).

Dictionaries This is my go-to whenever I need a quick definition. Also has interesting articles on word history, word games and utilities that let you look up definitions from within word.

Merriam-WebsterBut if you’re a purist and looking for a standard dictionary, this may be more your speed.

OneLook: On the other hand, if you can’t choose just one dictionary, you don’t have to! OneLook searches a slew of online dictionaries all at once and aggregates the results for you.

Grammar and Usage

StackExchange: This one is informal and forum based, but it’s also free and I’ve found it helpful whenever I have a specific question about grammar, punctuation or  how to use a phrase.

AP Stylebook: The AP Stylebook, however, is a more formal resource and it’s just as easy to use (you’ll need to pay for a subscription though).

GrammarGirl: That’s right, I’ve read GrammarGirl. Want to fight about it? If you have trouble remembering certain rules of usage, this site’s got a lot of helpful devices to clear that right up.


Google DocsGoogle Docs is my first choice for collaborating with other writers on projects, mostly because it’s easy to use, free, and most people seem to have Google accounts these days.

MixedInk: This is a free collaborative writing tool that lets you invite other writers, vote on sections of text, and then share the results.

And then there are simple online word processors like Primary Pad and Pirate Pad. I don’t really have a preference here, as I find the first two options easier to use anyway.

You can also, of course, collaborate with other writers through blogging platforms like WordPress, but this is really only for when you intend to share the results as posts.

Writing Exercises

Poets & WritersThis sites has scores (yes, scores!) of  exerises for poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. Admittedly they aren’t terribly easy to find, but if you scroll down you should be all set.

Fiction writing at Apart from being a great resource in general (more on this later, suffice to say I’ve found the information and advice here to be surprisingly good) the section of writing exercises is thoughtful and aims at honing specific parts of your craft.

Desk Drawer: There’s certainly nothing fancy about this site, and at first it looks a little weird (I’ve never actually done the email exercise exchange) but you have access to a pretty good range of exercises nonetheless.

Getting Published

Writer’s MarketIt’s pretty tough to argue with the value of the Writer’s Market. Once bound to its physical form, now this guide to agents and publishers (just about every single legitimate one there is) can be had online for a fee.

AgentQuerySaid to be pretty reliable, I would still take the information you find here with a grain of salt. That said, it’s really easy to find lists of agents by category and genre, with notes on which ones accept queries, and it’s free to use.

Self PublishingI will not pretend to be an expert on self publishing, so instead I’ll send you to this useful CNET article with a bit of good information and a listing of resources.

If you want the quick, down-and-dirty info, though, Lulu and Amazon’s CreateSpace are the two recommended (and I can vouch for these, insofar as I have seen good work come out of them). Caveats, of course, abound.

Social Media for Writers

I will be the first to admit: I’ve been a little slow on the uptake with using platforms like Twitter and Facebook to get my writing out there. But it’s never too late to learn, so let me share some links you might find helpful!

The Book Doctors Present: As You Like It, Or the Power of Facebook for Authors

7 Essential Elements for an Author’s Facebook Page

Facebook for Authors: How to get Started

Facebook Strategy for Authors: In-Depth Discussion

The Writer’s Guide to Twitter

40 Hashtags for Writers

There will be much more in the future of course, including resources for publishing (both the traditional and do-it-yourself routes), inspiration, procrastination and the assorted cool bits and bobs I find about the internet.

For now though, I encourage you to let me know if you’ve got something you think others would find useful (or if you’ve used one of the resources above and feel like giving it the thumbs up).

  1. I’ve got some stuff I use here, don’t know if anyone else might like it:

    Written? Kitten!

    Writer: the internet typewriter:

    Haiku Syllable Counter:

    Look Up the Number of Syllables in Any Word (useful for writing haiku):

    These are just some of the ones I like and use regularly and I can recommend them to anyone. Hope to see more free writing contests here soon! 🙂

    PS: I’ve used Lulu myself, its OK.

  2. Brian–

    Thanks for this. What a great resource. Here are few other mildly useful tools that I have happened across in the past year or so…

    An interesting random plot generator (to help jumpstart those brain cells) can be found at:

    A fake name generator that gives you a whole dossier (useful for creating character background histories) can be found at:

    A word frequency counter (so you can find out if you are using the word “crepuscular” or “borborygmi” too much) can found at:

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