The internet is a writer’s greatest resource! It can be used right from the beginning in the research and concept development phase, all the way through to conducting edits and final touches. But what websites are the most useful—and most often used—during those times you actually sit down to write?
Now I know some writers prefer to shut off the internet during their writing sessions in order to limit distractions. While I can understand this perfectly, it’s not for me, and today I discuss five key websites that I almost always have open in my web browser when writing. I find them so useful and helpful as both resources and quick-reference guides when there’s something I need to look up. What tabs do YOU keep open while writing?
(or your online dictionary of choice)
Most word processors have some kind of inbuilt dictionary and thesaurus, which are certainly helpful for a quick definition or synonym check, but they can also be fairly limited in scope and functionality. This is where an online dictionary comes in. My favourite is dictionary.com, which provides definitions and well as word origins and example sentences. With a single click, you can also switch over to thesaurus.com, where you can find extensive lists of synonyms, antonyms and related words!
(or your online encyclopaedia of choice)
Now, I know your teachers have probably told you not to use Wikipedia, but while this is probably true for your scientific research paper, “the Free Encyclopedia” is actually an excellent resource when it comes to writing a story. There are millions of articles on Wikipedia, and 99% of the time it’s my first stop when, midway through a scene, I need to double-check the finer details of the Ancient Egyptian embalming process. A key advantage of using an online encyclopaedia as opposed to just a web browser is the way the articles are linked together so you can readily access related information!
(or an image browser of your choice)
How many times, while writing, have you felt the need to quickly look up punk rocker hairstyles while describing that particular character? It is for reasons like this that I always have an image browser open—images are inspiration! At the moment I just use Google Images because it’s quick and easy and free and I know how it works, but there are many other options out there. From my understanding, Pinterest is a good one too!
(or your name website of choice)
Are other writers as obsessed with names and etymology as me? Surely! I love little more than finding the perfect names for my characters and places, both in sound and meaning. While there are billions of naming websites out there, I believe Behind the Name to be by far the best. There are options to search names by origin, letter, gender, meaning and more, and they give detailed descriptions of their etymology, similar names and related names in other cultures. If you don’t already have this site added to your favourites, it’s definitely worth checking out!
(or your online translator of choice)
This one might not be relevant or required in 100% of cases, but I almost always have Google Translate open while I’m writing. I use it a lot while working on a fantasy WIP, because I often find inspiration for names and terms from other languages—and Google Translate has a lot of languages to conduct a quick check! A word of warning, though: if you want a precise translation, don’t rely on this site. It’s pretty good for words and short phrases, but the grammar and structure for longer sentences is not always correct.
What tabs do YOU keep open while writing? Do you use any of those listed above? What are your favourite online writing resources?