FREE Writing Resources ~ UK Copyright

September 2019

Copyright is, even more, a topic now than it was in 2014 when I wrote this post. I have to admit that I still am not sure most of the time but just make sure I give credit where credit is due. I schedule this post in April 2019 just after the EU got their new rules through about copyright and sharing on the internet. So by the time this post is up again it might be a big topic again.

December 2014

Last week I was introducing you to the BBC Skillwise page which offers down to earth English lessons and games to improve your English skills.

In the process of posting, I was wondering if I can use their logo without asking for permission. Therefore, I googled both “fair use” the US-American term and “fair dealing” the UK and other English speaking countries term. Even though I found enough information, I still felt pretty unsure about the whole concept. So I took my usual path: search for a picture of the BBC logo on Flickr with the creative commons and “allowed for commercial use” filter.

It bugged me though that I am so unsure of the copyright in general and how to go about using other people’s work, which for me mainly includes using pictures. And I thought some of my readers might feel the same and would be happy to have a little library to find out more.

In my search for the “fair dealing” term, I stumbled over UKCS. UKCS is a UK copyright service which offers a huge information centre about intellectual property, copyright, trademarks, design rights and patents half of which I have never heard of.

I still feel pretty overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information given. But I decided this is a link for my “Writers little helpers” bookmark in Chrome where I have saved everything practical for my writing from spell check to name pages.

Even though the page is mainly designed for the usage in British copyright law, it also gives a good overview over US-American laws and international agreements which is very useful.

I feel this is a page every author and writer should know about and have bookmarked to ensure a better understanding of copyright and its use.

What about you? Do you know your countries copyright laws and how to deal internationally with copyright or do you feel as unsure as I?

Maybe you know a great page with down to earth explanation of copyrights? Please let me know! Thanks.

FREE Writing Resources ~ BBC Skillswise

September 2019

It’s not last weeks post as I am not following my old post schedule. I am just working all over the place and this week will be lots of writing resources. Hope you enjoy anyway!

December 2014

In last week’s post, I came out with my trouble with comma’s.

When I have been using grammar checks, which were good with spotting my writing issues, it was usually a missing comma. Funnily, I have the same problem in German.

Last week I suggested to you to try out Reverso which has many helpful language tools but I could not find anything helping me with my comma problem. Therefore, I have gone on a little expedition in the World Wide Web and stumbled over the BBC’s Skillwise page, which is designed to help adults learn English and Maths.

On the homepage, you can choose to go to the Maths or the English area. It is easy to understand no matter your English ability as they work with pictures and it also gives you the opportunity to go to other useful pages. Once arrived at the English page you are offered six topics: reading, writing, spelling, word grammar, sentence grammar and listening and speaking. Everything is kept in blue shades and in a clear design, which makes it really easy to find your way around.

I have chosen “Sentence Grammar” and am not only offered the four parts as pictures but also as links in a toolbar on the upper end of the page. Here I can decide to learn about punctuation, sentence structure, varieties of English, tenses and getting and giving clear instructions. This last topic sounds a little funny at first but the page is aimed at adults, who need English in a job environment. Therefore, “instructions” are very important.

Of course, I dragged myself down the punctuation lane and again was greeted with a clean cut page that offers a little video on why punctuation is important, three entry levels for punctuation explanations and games & videos. This last part interested me the most, as I know the use of punctuation marks in theory, it is actually using them, that gives me trouble.

Ah, there is a little child in all of us and so nothing can help you better to learn your comma’s than a game. An “adult” game after all as it is “Going to work with comma’s game” where you have to figure out where to set comma’s in a different sentence. The setting is: you starting a new job and having to write down what you have done on the first day. “And” is connecting your tasks and you are asked to erase the not necessary “and”, which ends in the game setting commas instead.

This is a fun little game which helps you to understand the basic use of comma’s in lists but unfortunately not the way to use them to mark out less important parts of sentences. No matter what: this is a great page to double check your English language ability and if you are a non-native English speaker, it can certainly enlighten you about one or the other trick the language has to offer.

BBC Skillwise

 

FREE Writing Resources ~ Reverso Spell Check

September 2019

Today I mainly use Grammarly and also try to learn as much grammar by heart that I can recognise mistakes without a helper. I also forgot totally about Reverso which could help me with my other languages. Do you use a Grammar check? Which do you use and what are your experiences?

November 2014

Do you use a spell checker?

I do. On and off. No matter how good those are they do have their limitations. If you like to use a little unusual language most spell checks are overtaxed. Most spell checks also are not really able to check for the right use of comma’s which is one of my biggest problems.

What to do then? Not use any? Pay for them? Learn proper grammar?

Well, I actually tend to do the latter as no spell check can be as accurate as someone who has learned his letters and punctuation marks. For that I have bought “English Grammar for Dummies” but to be honest I have not gotten very far with it yet.

So, I still use the online spell and grammar checks no matter how limited they are. The latest on my tryouts is Reverso’s spell check.

Reverso is actually a portal for linguistic tools including translation, dictionary, conjugation and grammar. It is free and financed by advertising which is not too intrusive. The languages supported are  French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese.

The translation and conjugation tools are pretty easy to use and are a great help as they support a variety of languages important in today’s writing and the online world. The spell check, on the other hand, needs some getting used to:

The ones I have used so far (Grammarly (you have to pay for full use), LanguageTool.org and Paperrater) offer you suggestions on how to change your text but do not change it automatically. You can change what you want which is handy when you use unusual language or maybe foreign language words.

Reverso, unfortunately, changes automatically what they think is wrong and you have to click on the word to get it back to its original form. That is not very practical. On the other hand, though they offer you a good explanation, why they chose the new word and what it means when you click on it. This can teach you a lot.

You can also only check a word count of 600 which is annoying if you write longer texts. But I have a feeling that others, who allow more words, are overtaxed with it and miss important mistakes. Therefore, I rather split my longer texts and check them bit by bit.

One thing I really like about Reverso is its conjugation tool: Key in a word and it gives you all the possible conjugations. There are some that I still get wrong so this will be one of my newest favourite tools.

The best thing is: You try it out for yourself and figure which part of Reverso helps you the best. And if you have found the perfect grammar check: Please let me know! 😉

 

FREE Writing Resources ~ The Poets Resource

September 2019

Two years on and “The Poets Resource” is still alive and kicking which is brilliant. So if you are looking for magazines to publish your poetry or other resources check this one out:

December 2017

I posted this suggestion first in 2014. It is still going so please head over and find great information.
 August 2014

I know it is not everybody’s thing to take part in competitions, but if you are looking to make a name for yourself on both sides of the pond, then you must not miss this blog:

The Poets Resource

Rosie, who writes this blog about poetry competitions, is especially interested in free-to-enter competitions but also offers information about those which have a fee.

You can email her to have your competitions promoted on her blog, but I think this blog is a jewel for poets themselves. She offers such a variety of information on poetry exhibitions, e-publications, prizes, magazines and all usually pretty up-to-date.

One that caught my eye, for example, is the SASH competition to raise awareness of homelessness. SASH is a charity in Yorkshire, which helps young people who are homeless or are in danger of becoming homeless. As I have been without a home for about 3 months when I left my ex-partner this is a cause close to my heart. The closing date is World Homeless Day on October 10th 2014.

Another one is her latest post about the on-air series of Transatlantic Poetry a Google+ Group which supports poetry on both sides of the pond. They offer poetry readings using google hangouts and conversations with the poets. That sounds really exciting and I will have a peek into the reading if it is not in the middle of the night for me.

“The Poets Resource” is a great blog and resource if you want to try your poetry out in comparison with others, but also if you just want information and inspiration for your poetry writing.

It is a bit of a shame that you cannot really find any information on who is writing the blog, but in the end, it does not matter as she is giving great information. So please feel free to visit her on The Poets Resource and find out more about what she offers you.

Resources: The Poets Resource
Transatlantic Poetry
SASH

FREE Writing Resources ~ Sarah Kolb Williams & WritingForward.com

May 2019

A re-post of a re-post?! Well, yea, sorry but this writing resource is worth it!

December 2017

There are a lot of great and free writing resources out there and I am surprised how many I found in 2014 still exist. Here is one of them

July 2014

Hello, apprentice science fiction writers.

Have you wondered how to start writing good science fiction and are you looking for some resources to help you? If so, you are in the right place. On my travels in the world wide web for some guidance on better writing I have come across an article by Sarah Kolb-Williams on writing science fiction, which was first published on Writing Forward: “9 Steps to Writing a Science Fiction Novel”

I have come across Writing Forward at first on my search for poetry prompts for “A Prompt A Day For Bee” at the end of May just before I started my year-long poetry project. The page seems to be a great resource in itself, but this post just hit a note.

So who is Sarah Kolb Williams? Sarah is an editor and blogger specialising in science fiction but open to other genres as well. She has a wonderful page where she offers e-book proofreading, copyediting services and developmental editing. Her blog gives you lots of information around science fiction, but more importantly, everything you ever wanted to know about editors and how to approach them the right way.

Her nine steps to writing a science fiction novel seem pretty logical when you read the article, but knowing my own writing practice with the sci-fi serial “Morsmart at the End of the Galaxy” has shown me that you can get carried away quite easily. And then you are in trouble. She warns of being carried away. One of her first pieces of advice is to really get your world right and know the rules of it. Readers do not like books that contradict themselves and I know she is right. I am a reader :-). But not only the world building is important. Stories happen to characters and if you neglect to live and breathing characters in your novel you will not get anywhere.

Then, of course, advice you will hear again and again: Write! All your great ideas are for nothing if you do not sit down and get to the tough bit of writing it. And then forget it. Yes, she wrote exactly that. A tip you hear very often is to let your first draft rest for at least a month as you then can go about it with a readers eyes and not the writer’s eyes. Those are too much that of a mother hen protecting every single chick in our case words. But if you want to please readers you need to see it through their eyes and rewrite until it is perfect which is another tip of Sarah Kolb-Williams.

Another good advice I think is even when you self-publish to afford the expense of an editor as again the mother hen eyes come into play. But she also suggests using the help of beta-readers. And at last: You need to get out and sell the thing. Hopefully with much success.

The reason why I like this article so much is Sarah’s style: it’s professional but at the same time amusing. She keeps you interested in short paragraphs which give you the essentials in understandable words.

This has been just a short summary of Sarah Kolb-Williams post on Writing Forward and why I like it. However, I suggest you head over and read the real post and bookmark it to come back to it again and again: 9 Steps to Writing a Science Fiction Novel

FREE Writing Resources ~ Tina Hunter?

March 2019

I reviewed Tina Hunters page way back in summer 2014 and was surprised that it was still there, to be honest. So many I have visited in 2014 are gone now. Tina does not seem to blog a lot but her writing resources are still worth checking out.

August 2014

In my searches, through the labyrinth of the world wide web, I have stumbled across the blog of Tina Hunter who describes herself as “Writer. Mother. Geek. Lover of Science Fiction & Fantasy”. I liked that. I like the fact that she shows so many facets of herself in a short line. That looks like a great writer is at work.

She has actually published 5 books none of which I have read so far but they are another addition to my growing reading list. The reason though why I mention her here is her brilliant blog posts about writing science fiction (and fantasy).

There is a page on her blog where she collected links to publishers, writing contests and conferences as well as pages to fight writer’s block. Her posts though about resources are the ones that are interesting.

Two I want to mention are “Top Ten Writers Guides” and “10 Research Sites for Fiction Writers“. We all know good fiction comes with good research, but no matter how dedicated we are, we are not able to go in person and visit every place on earth neither can we study everything we need for our science fiction novels.
Thank goodness there is the net now and Tina has made a list of 10 brilliant pages which can give you a mass of information that will help you along.

Her list of Writers Guides covers a vast field of what writers need to know from world-building to create a hero and an emotion thesaurus. All things I need to get my mind around more when writing. In my opinion, her blog is a great resource to improve your skill as a writer, no matter if you are just starting or if you are a seasoned writer.

Please head over and pay her a visit: Tina Hunter

 


Fellow Bloggers wrote about Free Writing Resources:

From Nothing to Novel: Interviewing 101: gathering stories from others in 6 important steps

 

 

 

FREE Writing Resources ~ Freelance Folder

March 2019

This is an awesome resource for writers and bloggers even though they have stopped creating new content in 2015. Check it out anyway. It’s worth it!

November 2014

Here we are, bloggers and authors, all interested in improving our craft as well as making our writing life easier.

Freelance Folder a good source

How great is it, that there is lots of information out there on the World Wide Web to help you grow your writing. One great source of information not only for freelance writers is: “Freelance Folder”.

What is Freelance Folder?

Freelance Folder is a homepage and blog dedicated to showing writers how to write better, blog better and save some time and money. This is what they say about themselves: “FreelanceFolder is a community for freelancers, entrepreneurs, work-at-home business owners, and web-workers. We strive to bring you the articles, information, and community you need to succeed. If there’s anything specific you’re looking for, please contact us to let us know!” (source: freelancefolder.com on the bottom of page)

Freelance Folder gives what is promised

They promise articles, information and community for (freelance) writers but I think they are great for authors too: Many writers today chose to have a blog to advertise for their books, showcase their new projects and just stay in contact with their readers. However, to do that successfully, you need to gain some blogging (i.e. freelance writing) know-how. And that is where Freelance Folder gives you valuable information.

Valuable information on Freelance Folder

There are posts about free writing courses, apps for project management, how to improve your homepage/blog, accounting tools and many more. Even if you have a day job you need to start thinking about your book as a business unless you do not want to sell it… but well, who wants that?

Even more information in the comment area

Do not miss to read the comment area of each post as it often gives you even more information and tips like in “7 Can’t-Miss Ways To Kick-Start The Writing Habit” which gives you clues how to get over writer’s block and into the habit of writing no matter what. The 330 something comments add their inspirations and writing tips as well as ping-backs to other blogs with valuable information.

Authors are freelance writers

In my opinion authors are freelance writers who work for their readers. They might not produce copywritten articles to potential clients but their readers or publishers are their clients and what counts for a freelance journalists helps authors too to get the “business” of writing going and the “clients” happy.

So do not miss to go and check out Freelance Folder.

Your best free resource on the net?

I love to find new and inspiring resources for writing. Therefore give me clue: what is your favourite free writing resource?

Resource: Freelance Folder

 

Lean against… and listen Writing Prompt

This is a writing prompt I have used a lot and it is fun to do it over and over again. Feel free to copy it and use it for writing inspiration!

I quote Kasey Mathews from the WANA group “Write to Heal” for this writing prompt:
“With paper and pen, or computer handy, lean back in your chair, or against the wall, or a sofa, etc., close your eyes and imagine you are sitting under a large tree with your back resting against the trunk. On the other side of the tree, a Storyteller has come to sit down and also rest against the tree trunk. With eyes still closed, just listen. Wait for the Storyteller to begin his or her story. When you hear it begin, simply write down all that you hear. “

 

FREE Writing Resources ~ 10 Tips for Writing Short Stories

December 2018

I posted this one first in September 2014:

Well, as my nicely figured plan for blogging this month went totally bust on Tuesday I had to think a little. If I cannot introduce you to great ways of building a world what else could I do?
I have gained some taste for writing short fiction or short stories and therefore I visited another page to get some tips.

“Writers in the Storm” is a blog which is written by professional writers who polish their work for publication and along the way share their experience with others. They have moved from the blog location to a permanent site since and I will give you the link at the end of this post.

The blog post I am referring to is by Lyn Horner, who usually writes historical romance novels of considerable length, but when she agreed on taking part in an anthology of short stories she had to learn a lot.

She explains it quite easy going in the blog post and made me laugh. But the good thing is, she shared her learning experience with us and gives us some tips on how to get on the short story train.

Here they are taken from “Writers in the Storm”:

  • Settings must be bare-bones; no flowery descriptions.
  • Don’t dilly-dally. Jump quickly into the action. Your opening must grab the reader and make them want to read on.
  • Avoid passive voice and choose strong verbs. Use adverbs sparingly, especially ones that end in “ly.”
  • In most cases, stay in one point of view. If you must use two POVs as I did in mine, stick to one per scene; NEVER head hop.
  • Forget delving deep into your characters’ thoughts, memories and motivation. There’s no room for much introspection. If backstory is important, make it concise.
  • Every word should move the story along; sentences are like paragraphs, paragraphs are like pages in a book.
  • Don’t show off; fancy words can be a turnoff. Write in a way readers can relate to and easily understand. If someone is reading your short story on their lunch break, they don’t want to hunt for words in a dictionary.
  • Actions speak louder than words. Show emotions through body language, facial expressions and dialogue.
  • Catch your characters off guard. An unexpected event, whether good or bad, gives the reader a jolt of surprise.
  • Conclude paragraphs and scenes with action; don’t summarize what’s happened. Save the best for last. End your story with a dramatic punch that sticks in a reader’s mind.

I like the way she put it all down in a down to earth way. If you follow those rules your short stories should get where they are supposed to get. Into the reader’s hands and mind.

Resource:

Writers in the Storm ~ Ten Tips for Writing a Short Story                                               

Lyn Horner                                                                                                              

Writers in the Storm homepage

 

FREE Writing Resources ~ Ginny Wiehardt on About.com

December 2018

About.com does not exist anymore but their resources have been moved to other places. So please, do not be confused that the links lead to “The Balance Career” instead of “About.com”

August 2014

Ever since I read my first short story (something really gruesome with a child’s coffin is all I can remember) I liked the short form. But until today I am still not quite sure about the rules and the length of one. As far as I could figure out the reason for that is that there are no clear rules and the short story is quite a good form to experiment with and break the rules of, therefore, it is difficult to find common elements. According to Ginny Wiehardt on About.com Fiction Writing the basic elements for novels apply to short stories too, like plot, character, theme and point of view. But unlike the novel you have not a lot of space to develop them. In general, Ginny says, a short story fits within 10 to 25 pages. Therefore, her five rules for writing short stories look like this: 1. ~ few characters 2. ~ short time frame 3. ~ Every sentence counts 4. ~ Use conventional story structure 5. ~ Break the rules when necessary Let’s have a closer look at those rules:

1. Use Few Characters

To stay with just a few characters, usually one or two, makes sense as you have to develop them within about 10 000 words which is the usual word count for a short story if you want to have it published in journals. If you ever have tried to develop a character into something realistic you know how difficult that is and how long it can take. Therefore, this rule makes good sense.

2. Use a Short Time Frame

The same applies to the time frame: You have few words you can work with so better keep the time frame short to be able to develop both characters and the story. Even though I am sure that is one rule one is very likely to experiment with, at the beginning it makes sense not to.

3. Every Sentence Counts

Ginny compares the short story with poetry where every line counts and has to bring the meaning forward. The same applies to the short story where every sentence needs to either develop the character or push the story ahead, otherwise you run out of space and time for what you want to say and it rather develops into a novel.

4 Conventional Story Structure

Ah, you remember it well from literature lessons at school: exposition, conflict, rising action, climax and denouement/resolution. From what I have been reading up about this structure seems to be hardwired into our subconsciousness and if a story follows those rules it is easy for the reader to understand it and enjoy it. It makes good sense to me too, as it gives you a great structure to work with and built your story in.

5. Break the Rules

With the short story the same counts like for all good literature: Know the

rules but break them when needed. Astonishing aspects may they be how you describe your characters, how you develop your story or which elements you use to tell the story make your reader more alert and thinking about what you want to say. There is nothing more boring like something a reader has heard a thousand times in the same form again and again. But if you do not know the rules in the first place you do not know how to effectively break them to bring your message over. Therefore allow yourself to follow the rules until you are confident and then let your creative flow loose and experiment as much as you want to. So what do you think about these five rules? Do they make a good short story and can they help you to develop your short story writing skill?

 

Resource: You can find all these 5 rules in Ginny Wiehardts blog post “How to write a short story” on About.com Fiction Writing and of course more that can help you to develop your writing craft.