Writing Tool Box

Here are some of my favorite things for quick inspiration and help.

If you want to explore blackout poetry, the wonderful publisher Wave Poetry has an erasure poetry tool that is really fun to play with, and it lets you save your redacted work.

The Chicago Manual of Style

Visuwords Online Graphical Dictionary

The Hemingway Editor quickly hip-checks troublesome bits of prose.

Grammarly — goes beyond the basics a word processor offers in terms of catching mistakes.

Little Film School: Basic Shot Types.  Short and sweet visual reminder of what your reader needs you to do with words. 

 

Amy Hempel explains “The Harvest,” a story from her challenging collection At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom.  

 

Kurt Vonnegut on “The Shapes of Stories.”  Part stand-up comedy, part university lecture: you’ll never think of Cinderella the same way again.

 

18 thoughts on “Writing Tool Box

    1. Well, especially writing flash where the punctuation and complexity are part of the compression — that’s going to make old Hemingway light up like a Christmas tree, for sure! But for a novice writer, especially one who can’t “see” passive construction in his or her own writing, it can be another useful gadget. Thanks for your suggestions below, too!

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  1. David Jauss’s craft book “Alone With All That Could Happen” is an excellent craft resource. I think it’s published now as “Writing Fiction”… Check it out!

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    1. She’s amazing. I feel like her “At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom” is my writing pair of skinny jeans. If I keep writing and studying, one day I’ll be able to put that book on and I’ll understand all the wonder of it.

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  2. These are great! I’m big into craft books…I like to collect them so I can pick them up when I want some inspiration. Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering is good, and Story by Robert McKee (so much to learn from screenwriters). Those are rather novelly. Charles Baxter’s Burning Down the House is good, too. Oh, and the Art of Subtext. So many good ones.

    I also think Grammar Girl is pretty great: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar

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    1. I’d say Robert McKee’s STORY is one must have if anyone is wanting to write short stories and novels even though it’s aimed at screenwriters. The principle of Set-ups and pay-offs is just one lesson I use with almost every story I write. And finding the spine.

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  3. I loved the Vonnegut and wouldn’t mind seeing more of him or of other writers you admire. I second Kate’s Grammar Girl suggestion. Visuwords is neat and much better than the Visual Thesaurus which requires a subscription. A Word A Day includes some pretty cool quotes and etymology — http://wordsmith.org/words/today.html.

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  4. I like Robert Olen Butler’s book on fiction writing titled “From Where You Dream.” And even though it’s not directly a book about HOW to write, I’ve drawn much inspiration from Flannery O’Connor’s “A Prayer Journal.”

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  5. These resources are terrific. Visuwords incompletely new to me. I can’t wait to start playing with it. The basic shots type resource is very helpful. A couple of wonderful resources I’d recommend for flash fiction writers are The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction edited by Tara L. Masih and A Pocket Guide to Flash Fiction by Randall Brown.

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    1. Those are two of my all-time favorites, too, Jan! I should try to add a bookshelf widget. I can’t tell you how often I’ve referred to Randall’s Pocket Guide. Thank you.

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  6. I love the Vonnegut video! Great piece! I was going to mention Grammar Girl but it looks like I was beaten to the punch. That is a fantastic resource as well as entertaining! There is the website or you can purchase it on Amazon for fairly cheap as well.

    The Mindful Writer by Dinty Moore is another wonderful resource that I use, as well as The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. Of course, there is my absolute favorite as well, Stephen King’s On Writing. A must read!

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