My Favorite Writing Resources

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Today’s post is short and sweet: a list of my go-to resources when I sit down to write, brainstorm, or otherwise worldbuild. Some are commonly known, but some might surprise you! Regardless, I hope these help you on your writing journey.

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The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

The Emotion Thesaurus is one of several in Ackerman and Puglisi’s series, and after receiving this book as a Christmas gift and using it, I may just have to buy some of the others. Each of the 130 entries includes the main emotion, its definition, lists of physical behaviors, internal sensations, long-term responses, signs of suppression, ways that emotion may either escalate or deescalate, and verbs associated with that feeling. Not only does this provide information for character development, but it’s so helpful to skim through the lists when I’m stuck during an emotional scene or need to figure out why a certain piece of dialogue seems off or falls flat. It’s also nice to have alternatives to my characters’ go-to behaviors, since there’s only so many times someone can cross their arms, raise their eyebrows, or rub the back of their neck before it seems repetitive. The bulk of information and ease of use makes this book one of my newest favorite writing resources.

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Encycolorpedia

I love utilizing unique color descriptions and names in my prose, but sometimes it’s hard to find words that don’t seem too over the top or, conversely, overused. Sometimes, too, I envision a particular color but can’t remember the word(s) to describe it. Encycolorpedia is a color-matching database/directory that allows you to enter hex codes or adjust the brightness and saturation of a color picker to find the exact hue you need, then pulls up the names of paints, HMTL codes, flags, stock photos, and other sources to give you a long list of potential descriptions. It’s such a fun and helpful site to use as I’m deep into story world description!

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OneLook Thesaurus

Think of OneLook like a normal thesaurus on steroids. This site allows you to search not only for similar words, but words ending or beginning in a certain letter, phrases that begin with or use a particular word, phrases that spell acronyms, and much more. What I’ve found most useful is that the list of synonyms is more expansive and intuitive than usual thesaurus websites, which means it’s much easier to find the right word for a particular sentence. However…

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Thesaurus.com

I almost always have thesaurus.com up on one of my browser tabs. You can’t beat the classics! Several online dictionaries also have thesauruses, so it’s a matter of preference when picking which one. I just happen to like this site’s interface the most.

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Pinterest

I wonder if there’s a list of writing resources that doesn’t include Pinterest or some equivalent. While there’s always the risk of spending an hour creating boards before you realize you’re distracted (and while Pinterest’s updates haven’t been the best), I’ve yet to find a site with better, more easily-accessed reference photos—which I rely upon often when describing setting. I have boards for nearly all aspects of worldbuilding (food, clothes, architecture, festivities, etc.) that are easy to pull up and browse when I need a little inspiration. It’s also helpful when looking for prompts for new characters, novels, or short stories.

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Behind The Name

The last three entries on the list are baby name sites, and two of them are perhaps the most famous of the genre. Lately I’ve been using Behind The Name most, because of their unique database of names and the ease of navigating the search filters and lists. They also have a surname site, which isn’t the most comprehensive for certain languages but is extremely helpful nevertheless.

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Nameberry

Prior to the past year or so, Nameberry has been my go-to baby name site, and I still use it often to find names. By using more than one, I’m able to find names that really suit the cultures of my story or are less common, since both sites have parts of their databases that don’t overlap. One feature I really enjoy about Nameberry is their Name Hunter, which is down for the moment but is likely to come back later this year. They also have a lot of blog posts with themed lists with a lot of unique options.

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Old West Name Generator

Sometimes, though, nothing will do but a good old-fashioned name generator. This Old West Name Generator (and the related Old West Name List) have been my go-to in these instances, namely because a) this style of names suits my current WIP, and b) there are some really interesting names that don’t show up on most other sites. In the past I’ve simply looked for historical records or compilations of old names, but this generator is a lot easier and very handy when I need to name an unimportant side character. Also, this site has several other name generators for different genres and for streets, towns, businesses, and other worldbuilding elements.

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What are your favorite writing resources? Leave me a comment—I’d love to find a few more to add to my list!

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