Free online tools for writers: just for fun

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By Chelsey Krause

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed Online Tools for Writers: Part 1, where we explored the more practical aspects of writing (grammar, dictionaries, staying organized, etc). Part two will explore writing tools that are just for fun (think writing prompts and plot generators). Whether you’re looking for inspiration or for something to flex your writing muscles on, these free online tools will help get you started.   ♥

As I’ve said before in part one, there are hundreds of online tools for writers. To narrow down my search results, I asked myself two questions:
1) Would I actually use this?
2) Is it free?

Here’s what I found:

1) Easy Street Prompts
This is my favorite site for visual prompts. With hundreds of photos and videos to choose from, it doesn’t take long to get inspired. The pictures are usually black and white, or have strange content, which makes me wonder, “What happened there? What’s the back story?” Be sure to subscribe and follow this great site.

2) Six Word Memoirs
Ernest Hemingway is credited as being the first writer to tell a story using only six words.
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” – Ernest Hemingway
Six Word Memoirs encourages us to think creatively and write succinctly. Click on “Six Topics” to choose from a variety of categories, and read entries from other contributors.

3) Murphy’s Law of Writing
In his book, “On Writing,” Stephen King suggests that when you’re feeling bored or frustrated with your story, add a new problem. In other words, remember Murphy’s Law, which states that anything that can go wrong, will. I’ve tried this technique with my own writing, and found that the parts I was stuck on were usually boring. And if I’m bored, my readers will be bored too. Adding conflict adds interest to your story. Not convinced? Test this theory against your favorite book or movie. I tested it against Disney’s Cinderella (mostly because my kids had it on at the time). Things go from bad to worse for Cinderella, and I kept thinking, “How is she going to get out of this?”
This is EXACTLY what you want your readers to ask. Check out this site for ideas on how to keep your character’s lives interesting.

4) The Story Starter
This free site randomly generates a sentence to get you going. Some of the starters are good, others are plain ridiculous. Either way, it’s lots of fun.

5) Writer’s Edit – Weekly Writing Prompts
Writer’s Edit provides weekly writing prompts, complete with pictures and instructions. These writing assignments are fun, and encourage writers to step out of their comfort zone. If you get time, check out the other “Resources for Writers” that Writer’s Edit has to offer.

6) Plot Device Generator
What is a plot? This site describes it as the “items, events, and people [that] are the driving forces of your story.” Press the “generate” button, and a brief list of people, events, or things will come up (ex. a locked briefcase, a robbery, a woman waiting at the train station). So whether you’re dreaming up a whole new book or stuck on a particular plot point, this free online tool might be worth trying.

7) Automatic Plot Generator
This plot generator allows you to get really specific. Choose your genre, character names and adjectives, and it will generate a synopsis based on your entries. I’ve tried this using characters from my first book, with some hilarious results!

8) Pinterest – Writing Inspiration Boards
If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a very visual person. Inspiration boards are totally my thing. Which, explains why I spend an embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest.
Pinterest is an excellent place to make an inspiration board about your book. Collect photos of what your characters look like, the places they visit, quotes that resonate with you, etc. Make your own, or try looking at boards made by other people. I’ve found some of coolest photos and quotes this way.

9) What a Lovely name
Not sure what to name your character? Try this site. I like it better than other baby name sites because it is easy to navigate and isn’t cluttered with ads along the sides. My favorite feature is that it allows me to find names according to “attribute.” Ex. Boys name that means “brave” or “leader” or both.

10) Title Generator
I found this site when I was trying to come up with a title for my book. Press the “Give me Some Titles” button, and it will generate six random book titles. Some of the titles are great, and others were really, really weird. But, it was fun (if somewhat addicting).

Thanks for reading! And good luck writing.

Chelsey Krause is a nurse and book reviewer for Chicklit Club. She lives in Canada. Her debut novel, Can’t Always Get What You Want, is to be published by Loveswept in January 2015.


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