This was going to be a long post. A mighty helpful one if you don’t know any good online research spots to help you along in your writing efforts. But I shortened it to the best, free, reliable sites I could find.
I have to say this before I start.
I don’t just use online resources. Your library is your best friend when there is something you need to know about in great depth. Especially when your character(s) or story is going to be mainly about this thing. So I advise using your library for that, or to buy your books if you think you will get a lot out of them!
Now when I say research. I mean all kinds of research. Which is why the list is going to seem like a mismatch. From recently updated dictionary websites, to psychology databases, encyclopedias, and everything in between.
So where to begin.
Ah, this is a good place to start:
1. I consider Grammar Girl my personal mentor in getting the little but important parts of writing, right. Don’t overlook her help. It’s free on the web, and she has a free podcast you can subscribe and listen to too. Although I do own both her book and audio book, and continue to always use them to this day. So it was a good investment for me.
2. Ted is an exiting and visual way on getting professional talks on your topic; if they have it. There is really interesting subjects that I’ve found and used in some of my own ideas ; I put them aside to hopefully write about someday. Here’s hoping.
3. Do not use Wikipedia in your writing. It can be unreliable, and make you look like an idiot. Trust me, I know this from experience. So, for this, I give you the professional Encyclopedia Britannica. This particular site is a public domain, the official site you have to pay for all access, but houses the same information as far as I know. It has lots of entries and is extremely useful. Although it takes a bit more searching for what you want (since it is divided into professional articles), it is a reliable source that beats Wikipedia hands down. You will also notice there is mental health links, law, science, surgery, health, even famous biographies encyclopedias on the left, and more. All very helpful, depending on what you need.
4. If you want to go a step bigger than Britannica, Enclycopedia.com has articles from multiple encyclopedias that you are able to find in one place. I find this site especially helpful, as you can select different tabs on the search words you’ve just used and view them all separately, but with great speed. I prefer this site the best myself. But it’s all down to personal taste in the end. Remember, these are all external, reliable sources; so you can count on them.
5. Now if you want to go even BIGGER than the last encyclopedia database, check out the Internet Public Library. It uses hundreds of reliable web sites, not just encyclopedias, to find what you are looking for.
5. Google Scholar can be useful if used right too. As long as you don’t become too dependent on it for extensive knowledge. It focuses on articles, but I have come to find extracts of books in the searched category that mean nothing of great value without other parts of the book. I encountered some of these dilemmas when doing some essays in university. So I had to take them out and find other suitable sources. Although ‘Scholar’ can be useful, I warn you not to rely on it too much. Remember, if you need depth–go to your library.
6. PsychCentral is a psychology database that has been useful a number of times for me to understand, be accurate and realistic in my character’s flaws, actions and quirky behavior.
7. Snopes is not the most useful link on the list, but it has helped put some things I wasn’t too sure about, to light. It is a reference source for clarifying the truth of rumors and what we might have been, or might one day, be told. In short, it is a colloquial fact-checker.
8. Merriam Webster has a great up to date dictionary, useful for simple fact-checking, and is in league with Encyclopedia Britannica. What more else is needed.
That’s it for me.
Till next time. Have a good week!