I often find myself wishing I could remember this awesome resource I found that time when I was seventeen and needed a name for a character in his 30's that sounded French and started with a P but wasn't "Pierre" or "Phillipe" or "Peter", and possibly had a Q in it somewhere, please. Damn I miss that resource.
I've decided to compile a list of the resources I use, or which have been recommended to me. Here it is. Expect additions to this in the future, and feel free to comment and leave links to pages you have found useful! I'll check them out.
Possibly the most life-changing writing tool I have ever used, barring only a computer word-processor. This may be designed for plotting with limited time to write...but I think I'm going to use this method for every novel from now on. Seriously, it has helped me to organize and make a coherent story SO MUCH. I've got just over half of the rough draft finished in a month (NaNoWriMo2010 Winner, baby. HOO-rah! (well...huzzah...)).
The University of Michigan's Science Fiction and Fantasy website Dictionary of Symbolism (too legit to quit, guys). Alphabetical by symbol, it's great if you want a quick, one or two-sentence reference of symbols to utilize. I've been using it for HELLHOUND.
Essays by Orson Scott Card on the craft of writing. Almost as addictive as Wikipedia. Almost.
Do I put the period inside or outside the quotation mark? Is it Moses' or Moses's? What the hell is a participle phrase? Commas? Help? This thing is my grammatical bible, and the reason I made such good grades in 12th Grade AP English.
I really love this list. I do it with a lot of my characters--even if it may seem tedious and redundant, some of the answers might surprise you. Some of the questions definitely surprised ME. "Why is this character angry?" is a GREAT one, especially for pansy characters. These questions will help create depth.
I really love having a good image for my characters. Sometimes it's in my head...sometimes I need help. Sometimes, I even get inspired by a picture, and end up creating an entire story or character based on it. Check out this site for awesome character art.
Because it's more than dialogue; it's whyalogue.
For those who like to have D&D-esque profiles for all their characters. I haven't used something like this since high school, but I know there are people who find them useful. Here's a ready made one by kittyfelone of Deviant Art. Now...Kitty Felone is a name that is so very Noir it makes me want to write a story. And have her cary an uzi. And possibly a can of tuna.
Exactly what it says. These questions are very helpful for getting you thinking about your world in a coherent way.
A very cool, logical way to go about constructing a world that works. Also fun to apply to worlds you already have, just to see where they're not quite cutting it.
Exactly what it says. How big a city does it take to support an inn? The answer to that and many other questions were fairly eye-opening! Go ahead...add some authenticity!
Can my characters drink coffee? Just how early did people start eating crumpets...and what is it anyway? How do I make mead? Find out just about everything you need to know about the introduction of food into the diet (of various cultures!) all over the world, not to mention links to recipes and primary sources! Gotta tell my dad that hot dogs originated in 1487.
A well-organized encyclopedia of different pantheons from Greek to Norse and on and on. Very useful when you don't want to get sucked into Wikipedia for hours (even if you like it. You should be writing).
A guide to different kinds of mythical creatures. If you want some basic information on different creatures, and which creatures around the world are similar (Griffin and Axax, for example), this is a good resource.
Free map-making software. It's designed for RPGs, and I'm currently testing it out to see if it's applicable to non-RPG Medieval fantasy mapping as well. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Originally designed for RPG dungeons, but I find it useful for mapping out rooms and buildings.
Seriously. You will create a language. No. Really.
FUN! FUNFUNFUNFUN!!!!!!!! (but I'm a language geek...) Use this to supplement the language clinic above, or the other way around. Using both is very helpful!
Link to the navigation post of this EPICLY good resource for war tactics, battle, logistics, and why women's breastplates don't need boob-bulges. That should be enough for you right there.
Don't be fooled by the simple title. This page will rock your steel (or iron, or bronze, or bone) with historical data, differences, misconceptions, and helpful pictures. Ever wondered "what's the difference between a great sword and a claymore?" "Katana or nodachi?" This is your place to find out.
Check this out. Seriously, it's really really useful for writing period fight scenes without them coming off implausible to members of the SCA and ARMA.
Wordle Create fun and pretty word-clouds. It's great for helping you figure out what the theme of your story might be based on which words you happen to use the most often. REALLY fun resource.
OTHER LISTS OF RESOURCES
*Thanks to the folks at the NaNoWriMo Fantasy forum for giving me some of these awesome resources!