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Author Clare Dudman wrote a post on Reading and the Internet a few days ago, listing a variety of ways in which the internet can enhance the reading experience. When I read her post, I automatically changed the word “reading” to “writing” in my mind because the two are interchangeable and intertwined for me. I posted one of the ways I, as a writer, use the internet and then realized my mistake, suggesting that Clare create a list for writers, in addition to her reader list. She may be considering that, but I thought I should post my own list and then, if she decides to create one, I can compare our uses.

So then ….

25 Ways Writers Can Use the Internet

1. Search for character names, both first and last, using a baby name site.

2. Investigate locations using Google Maps or Mapquest. Though Google may be at the top of everyone’s mind, I have found that Mapquest tends to give more direct routes, using roads the locals might use, and its drive times are more accurate than those on Google Maps. Google Maps has Street View, though, so you’ll want to check out both for your settings.

3. Get help with grammar and punctuation.

4. Use an online dictionary and thesaurus.

5. Find great quotes to start your book chapters. (Why do so many writers use this technique?)

6. Look up health-related info for whatever ailments you want to inflict upon your characters.

7. Collect “clippings” by bookmarking news stories, blog posts and other online content. Use the Bookmarks feature on your browser, or sign up for a social bookmarking service like del.icio.us. (Looks like delicious has lost the dots in its name. Thank goodness. Too darned hard to remember how to spell the word & where to put the dots.)

8. Get a grip on journalistic ethics so as to avoid any legal issues with your writing.

9. Commune with other writers online. Ask for help & get feedback.

10. Locate basic writing advice.

11. Keep track of your reading. (And other writers!)

12. Find pictures to help you create scenes.

13. If you’re in need of an unusual prop, search museum websites for artifacts. Don’t just visit sites for Really Big Museums, look for small, local museums, too.

14. Mine Wikipedia articles for original sources. Check both in-text citations and those at the end of the article.

15. Get inspiration from writing prompt websites and Oblique Strategies.

16. Learn various poetic structures, such as haiku and sestina.

17. READ! For free! Because you can’t be an effective writer unless you are also a reader. (Oh, my. I think I’ve just made a pronouncement. Shame on me.)

18. Follow trends.

19. Get technical information for those technical things you want to insert into your articles and books.

20. Allow Dr. Wicked to prod you into writing.

21. Use Dipity to follow historical time lines.

22. Add a dash of a foreign language to your writing using Google Translate. Check with a native speaker during editing to make sure the translations are accurate.

23. Start a blog in order to maintain a regular writing practice, market your work, and connect with readers.

24. Self-publish a book.

25. Brush up on copyright and an alternative to copyright.

Got other suggestions for ways writers can use the internet? Leave them in the comments, please!

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