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Writing 2.0 March 28, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Web 2.0, Writing.

Writers have always been resistent to change when it comes to accepting new technology as useful tools. It probably started with writing instrument replacements such as the quill, pen, pencil and later the typewriter which most writers resisted in the beginning. Ultimately, these new gadgets all became a common writing instruments. The same thing happened with computers and word processor programs. Most writers didn’t make the switch at first, but in time the majority of them did. The same pattern has repeated with the Internet and web 2.0 services that have been launched for writers. Fortunately, there has always been maverick writers who enjoy testing new things and experimenting with new technology and inventions. Eventually, others follow their lead until it becomes an accepted tool. While many writers are still resistent to these new online tools and services, the new age of writing technology has indeed begun. History will continue to repeat itself as the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Here are some of the best writing websites that I’ve seen thus far.


Invent-a-Story is another collaborative story writing site but this one does it just one line at a time! It’s silly but fun stuff.

Glypho is a story-by-committee type of service where everyone works together on a story and vote on the best chapter contribution. This all leads to many twists and turns in the direction of a story but it can be fun for those who are into this type of thing. It appears to be a good way to exercise your writing chops or breaking any writer’s block you might have.

Ficlets is a unique service. They describe themselves are literary legos and here’s why. Everyone can contribute their own ficlet which has a maximum character (not word!) count of 1,024 (as in one megabyte) and a minumum 64 character count. Others can contribute a prequel or a sequel to your ficlet and you can do the same with other ficlets. I told you they were different.

Novlet is similar to ficlets in that you are writing a story with others online, but the limits are not as low. Each Novlet story is divided into passages or sections of texts (usually 2-3 paragraphs long). Each passage can have one or more different continuations: it’s up to you, the reader, to decide how the story you’re reading should go on. And if you don’t like any of the potential continuations that have been already written, you can always write your own one, and start a new storyline.

NovelMaker is an interactive community for fiction writers, readers, critics, literary agents, editors, and publishers. Authors can upload completed works, or works-in-progress, and receive editorial suggestions, comments, reviews, and ratings. Those reviews and ratings may take new and unpublished writers into a realm never before accessible to them – a large, interactive community participating with them in the creation, and potential commercial success, of new works of fiction.

Authors can get instantaneous feedback, cover art, factual information, maps, pictures, and all manner of useful information to advance their literary endeavors to new levels. Readers can participate in an author’s creative process, rate and review an author’s work, create a user group to discuss the author’s work, or buy the author’s completed novel – in paper format or one of several e-book reader formats.

Literary agents can seek talent and worthy works of fiction online instead of just the old methods of over-the-transom submissions, query letters, and word-of-mouth. They can now read new works of fiction online, see the results of ratings and reviews by users on the site and see whose works may be commercially viable – because of the voting by the online community.

Editors and publishers have the opportunity to review new works of fiction, provide comments, and, most importantly, see what will sell based on our community response to new works. It can become a “testing ground” for an editor looking for the next best-seller.

StoryLink is an online networking and educational site for the creative community. They were conceived with both professional and aspiring writers and filmmakers in mind. Here’s what they offer:

  • StoryLink allows you to connect with peers with similar aspirations and experiences. Store, share and swap stories with other writers. Make invaluable contacts that will help launch your writing or filmmaking career.
  • Communicate with professional writers and filmmakers.
  • Up-to-the-minute events calendar featuring workshops, seminars, retreats and lectures. Be informed of the thousands of grant, fellowship and contest opportunities.
  • Articles and educational lectures hosted by professionals.

BookSpoke claims to be a dual-purpose site. One for readers and one for writers. It allows you to setup a blog of sorts so you as the writer can keep your legions of readers informed on your every move.

PlotBot is an excellent service for screenwriters that was previously covered on here in “Your Ticket to Hollywood“. You can work on your screenplays privately online or collaborate with others.
Final Thoughts:
I am still looking for that killer social network for writers, a sort of MySpace for literary types or a facebook for authors. I know it will happen some day very soon. In the mean time, I will keep an eye on this space and maintain a list of the best writing tools and services in a public spreadsheet called Writers Tools.

Free Writer’s Toolkit March 22, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Freeware, Writing.
Tags: , , ,

There is a vast treasure trove of free software and online services that can greatly assist writers with their work. Here are some of the best free tools and services that writers can add to their technological toolkit. Most of the free software is for the Microsoft Windows platform but versions for other platforms like MAC OS and Linux will be noted when available.

Free Software


StorYBook is an open-source application for writing books of all types. One of the most impressive packages that I’ve seen. The best feature is the way it helps you organize your chapters and offers differents views such as a chronological view of chapters by date or book view according to chapter numbers.
Here’s a screenshot:








Download (windows or linux)

yWriter is an impressive novel-writing program that was created by a writer so it makes
the process of outlining and editing much easier and even pleasurable!
Incredbily, it’s totally free!

WordWeb is a small but powerful dictionary that hardly misses a word.


MobySaurus is an impressive thesaurus!

TheSage is a dictionary and thesaurus all rolled up into one cool
little application. Search results reveal a great deal of samples too.
OpenOffice The ultimate Microsoft Office clone that is totally free and open source.
There is Write (Word), Calc (Excel), Impress (PowerPoint), Base (Access) and more!
Download (Win, Mac, Linux)
CutePDF Writer lets you create professional quality PDF files from any printable document.
FREE for personal and commercial use.
No watermarks. No popup Web advertisements!

McGill Dictionary of Rhyme is an amazing deal here because not only does it include an excellent rhyming dictionary but also a program called
VersePerfect that used to cost $150. These tools are excellent for song writers and poets. The real-time syllabel counter and spellchecker are VERY nice!

FreeMind is a free mindmapping program written in java.Downloads (win, Mac, Linux)

EverNote allows you to capture and search through notes, mobile phone snapshots,
webpage clips, images of printed and handwritten text, emails, passwords, brainstorms,
sketches, documents, and much, much more.

NoteTabLite The best text editor that I’ve ever used and I’ve been using it for many years!
NoteTabLite lets you open many text files at the same time with its unique tabbed
interface (much like a browser). It remembers all of the files you had open the last
time you used it and reopens them all automatically for you.

Free Services

Definr is a quick and powerful online dictionary that never seems to miss.


Freethesaurus is an useful online thesaurus from the makers of MobySaurus the thesaurus software.


RhymeZone  Very fast and useful online Rhyming search engine


WordFrequencyCounter Counts the frequency of words you’ve used.


MindMeister  is the best online mindmapping service that allows you to embed any map and share them with
others. An excellent tool for outlining stories or ideas.


Google Docs  is an excellent online word processor that lets you store your writing which you can access from anywhere,
anytime.You can export your google docs to word format or import word documents. You can publish any document as a public document so others can view it online. You can make it totally public for everyone to see or make them private justfor yourself or invite others you select to view or even edit the document.


Google Notebook is an online notebook for storing all kinds of text, images, links, etc. Create many subsections, tags, etc.


Zoho Writer Another excellent online word processor with storage anZoho offers the same features forsharing as google docs.


Zoho Db & Reports Easy and fast online database builder. Create databases to track story ideas, plots, characters,submissions, etc.


Zoho Creator
Similar to Zoho DB & Reports, but the big different is the ability to create slick looking web apps within minutes without a line of code! Here’s a sample app I created in 5 minutes called My Muse that lets you track your writing, including blog posts. It’s overly simple, but you can copy it to your account and change it any way you want.


Free Social Networks and Services for Writers were covered in Writing 2.0. Here’s a list of the best of these writing networks as well as all of the free software listed on here.

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Pen 2.0? January 8, 2008

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Gadgets, Writing.
Tags: , ,

Yes. There have been many digital and computerized pens in recent times, but the LiveScribe is the best pen ever.
Words alone will not do it justice. You must see it to believe it. Here is a short video showing just some of what it can do:

Here are three more videos from their website that go into further details about this amazing new pen.

Your Ticket to Hollywood December 7, 2007

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Writing.

Every once in a while there comes a new website or software application that makes my mouth drop open and gets me totally excited. I just had that experience with a new screenwriting social network called PlotBot !

I’ve tried countless writing websites and software packages that claim to be the ultimate writing tool but PlotBot is the best one I’ve ever used. At the heart of the service is the screenplay project that you create. You can make the project totally private just for yourself, make it a group project to collaborate with other writers you invite or make it totally public and allow anyone from PlotBot to join in the mix. You get your own URL such as: www.PlotBot.com/writers/YourName .

Here is what you get for every project (screenplay) you create in PlotBot:
Unique URL: http://www.plotbot.com/screenplays/screenplaytitle/join/ssd1e33
Outline: Brief overview of the story
Scenes: Create scenes, includes branch scene feature which allows you to keep alternative scenes available
Screenplay: Displays the entire screenplay
Notes: Tracks all notes you will need about the project
RSS feed: Notification can be sent out to all subscribers whenever a change has been made to the project
Blog: For news and information on the project
Characters document: Notes on all characters in the project (even those that might not make it into the story)
References document: Notes on anything that might help with the story
Guidelines document: Important notes about the project that all writers must keep in mind

You can download the completed screenplay in RTF (Rich Text Format) or XML which means you can open it in your favorite Word processor or even script applications like FinalDraft.

Final Note: When you sell your script and go to Hollywood thanks to this service, please don’t forget who told you about it! 🙂

Quotations 2.0! November 30, 2007

Posted by Doriano "Paisano" Carta in Writing.
Tags: ,

If you are a lover of words and quotations, then you will love this new website called QuotationsBook! Amit Kothari shares his passion and vision for a truly social network for quotations. Please keep in mind that the service just launched and very raw and basic at this point. The best things are yet to come! Pay close attention to what Amit says about what they plan to do in the near future! We will be able to not only collect all of our favorite famous quotations from literature, movies, TV and elsewhere, but also add our own quotations! Things we’ve said ourselves or heard from friends, relatives or colleagues, etc.
They already offer a cool quotation badge widget to add to your website/blog. Much more to come so stay tuned!

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