Just like any craft or task, having the right tools for the job can make writing your own story or short story much easier. There are myriad writing online resources and websites out there to help with every aspect of story writing, from story title ideas and plot development to editing. We’ve picked a few of our favorite websites to help you get started, improve your writing, develop your characters, and learn how to edit your work. Ultimately, we want to help you become a more confident and productive writer.
Resources for getting started
Nothing strikes fear into the heart of an aspiring author more than the blank page. The endlessly flashing cursor. Even when your head is full to the brim with plot twists and characters, getting it all down on paper in a coherent form is another thing altogether. Luckily, this is a common first hurdle for lots of writers, so hundreds of tools and apps have sprung up—dedicated to helping you gather your thoughts and start writing.
This bookmarking tool is a great way to collect moments of inspiration and ideas for your story together in one place, where they can be filed and organized, ready to be put to good use. It might be a ‘how to’ article you want to read, a quote that reminds you of one of your characters, or an image that would be the perfect setting for your next scene. Inspiration strikes in the most unexpected of places, but as Evernote is available on pretty much every platform, you can collect notes wherever you are. You can choose to have one notebook that you throw everything into, or you can set up separate notebooks to help you organize your thoughts and ideas as you go. If you’re working on a novel, why not set up separate notebooks for each character or each chapter?
November is a special time of year for writers. If you are struggling to get started writing your own story, then joining NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity. Confident that anyone can write a novel in just 30 days, NaNoWriMo provides tools, advice, and resources throughout November to help writers do just that. Be spurred on by the hundreds of writers around the world who join across social media and NaNoWriMo forums to cheer each other on and share learnings from their own experiences. All you need to start is a draft title for your book.
3. The Time is Now
Check out this section of Poets & Writers Magazine online to get weekly writing prompts—poetry on Tuesdays, fiction on Wednesdays, and creative nonfiction on Thursdays. It’s a great resource to help you build a daily writing practice, get new ideas, and improve your craft. Most prompts are inspired by specific books, so you can also grow your reading list!
Formerly known as Figment, Underlined is a website that provides story starters, writing inspiration, and advice from published authors. You can also join a community of aspiring writers, share excerpts of your work, and provide feedback to each other—all valuable parts of the creative life.
Sites for improving your writing
Whether this is your first attempt at writing your own story or you have a few books behind you always, there are always new things to learn and more ways to improve your writing.
5. 750 Words
As with any skill, the best way to improve your writing is practice, practice, practice. Story writing websites like 750 Words or Writer’s Digest’s Creative Writing Prompts, provide daily nudges to get your creative juices flowing. By just writing without an agenda and without judgment, you’ll make writing every day a regular productive habit and steadily build your confidence.
6. Helping Writers Become Authors
The Helping Writers Become Authors podcast recourse hosted by award-winning author, K.M. Weiland, offers practical tips and advice on story writing from structure and plot to character identity and honing your craft as a writer.
7. Grammar Girl
Get to grips with the quirks of language and the rules of good grammar with this entertaining and hugely useful podcast. Popular Grammar Girl episodes include “Affect Versus Effect” and “Active Voice & Passive Voice.”
Resources for developing your characters
We’re betting you have more than one favorite character from more than one book. Characters like Elizabeth Bennett, Albus Dumbledore, and Bilbo Baggins live on in reader’s minds long after they’ve turned the final page. Your characters should become like old friends, that you know inside and out, to add depth and humanity to your story.
8. Writer’s Digest – Character Development Sheets
Subscribing to the Writer’s Digest mailing list gets you access to this free worksheet designed to flesh out each of your characters. Working through a series of questions, you’ll develop their key hopes, fears, and skills, their personality quirks, how they might act in different situations, and how all of this will be revealed to the reader throughout your story.
9. The Write Practice – Characterization 101
This free course from The Write Practice guides you through seven key steps to creating memorable characters, covering important character archetypes, character motivations, how not to introduce a character to your story, and much more.
Resources for editing, reviewing, (and repeating it)
In addition to proofreading for spelling, language, and grammar errors, two other forms of editing should form part of your review process. Developmental editing, which is editing for the structure, flow, and consistency of your story, and substantive editing, which is concerned with clarity, accuracy, and reader comprehension.
When your manuscript or first draft is complete, let it sit a while before reviewing. It also helps to have a second and third set of eyes on your work. Even better, if budget allows, employing the skills of a professional editor can give your story the polished finish it deserves.
Available as a Google Chrome extension, Grammarly works across your web pages as you write to help you catch common writing errors. It will highlight and fix grammar, punctuation, and contextual spelling mistakes. The premium version can also suggest alternative vocabulary choices.
Remember not to rely on online spell checks alone to proofread your work. Always give your text a thorough sense check yourself, too.
11. Hemingway Editor
As the name suggests, Hemingway Editor is an online editing tool and website that will help make your writing clearer, bolder, and more direct—just like the author it’s named after. Simply copy and paste your text into the tool to check for overly complex sentences, overuse of adverbs, and the passive voice. It will also highlight instances where a shorter word could serve the same purpose.
Every writer needs a good editor, and the Reedsy website only works with the best. Their hand-picked, experienced, professional editors can review your story development, structure, consistency, and style, helping to perfect and polish your manuscript. Reedsy also offers a tool to easily write and format a book, the same way a professional typesetter would.
Resources for promoting your writing
Use this storytelling platform to connect with writers and readers around the world, build an audience, and even get discovered. On Wattpad, you start by sharing a story, and then if you build a big enough fan base, you may have a chance to work with entertainment companies and publishers looking to feature your work.
On this writing and reading hub, you’ll find stories, articles, and inspiration that are curated to your taste, written by people like us. Want to share your own writing, photos, or videos? You can do that on Medium—and potentially earn money. The platform lets you see how your stories are performing and what kinds of readers like your writing, plus it offers tips for starting a newsletter, submitting to publications, and curating your work.
If you’re interested in getting feedback on your own work—and browsing an archive of self-published short stories, fiction, and poetry—see what’s happening at FictionPress (a sister site to FanFiction). You can upload your own writing for free and let other people review it. Sometimes all you need is a little motivation and support from like-minded writers to keep you on track toward your writing goals.
From collecting inspiration to the final finishing touches, there’s a whole world of tools, websites, support, and advice out there to help you with every stage of writing your own story and making your own book. But, when it comes down to it, the thing that will make the most difference is you. You have all the tools you need. Now write!