Since the last “Writing Resources” post was so popular (and I do love popular posts), I decided I’d do another one with all of my newfound writing loves. There are a surprising amount of awesome tools out there, and, though not all of them were actually intended for writers, they can come in pretty handy.
Bubbl.us is a free, online mindmapping program that I found a week or so ago, and I love it. It’s nice for doing character sheets, plot maps, outlines, brainstorming–whatever you can think of. It’s pretty easy to use, and you can store up to three maps in their cloud without having to go pro and pay for the service. Also, you can export your work as jpegs for easier reference.
2. BBC’s Victorian Franchise
For those of you who write Victorian or Edwardian historical fiction, these shows are goldmines. There were five shows (that I know of): Victorian Kitchen, Victorian Pharmacy, Victorian Farm, Victorian Flower Garden, and Victorian Kitchen Garden. All of them delve into the culture and the practices of the day, not only in their title areas, but in others related to them. They’re detailed, well-researched, and very, very informative. Despite all the books I’ve read on the era, the shows still managed to enlighten me on a lot of things. For example, did you know that pharmacists were responsible for everything from rat poison to electroshock therapy to fireworks back in the day? I now want to be an 1800’s pharmacist…A word of warning: these aren’t necessarily great for entertainment purposes. Some of them can rather dry. But they are vastly intriguing to history buffs and writers, and well worth your time if you need to research any of the aforementioned areas.
This is awesome for those of us without the necessary artistic talent to get our characters from our heads to a sketch. It’s a free online program for creating comic-book style portraits of your characters. It turns out surprisingly detailed portraits, complete with backgrounds. They can either be saved to your computer as a document (V. 2.5) or exported (V. 3) or printed directly. Fair warning, though, Version 3 can be a bit of a pain to use unless you do quite a bit of tinkering around with it. Still, it’s a really handy tool. It has a lot of variations and the finished sketches look professional. Also, it makes me feel somewhat productive while not actually writing.
This is a find from my dad’s amazingly varied library, and I was practically giddy when I got ahold of it. It has (obviously) formulas for everything from cosmetics to antidotes to explosives, all in one handy (and massive) volume. Be warned, though, the book was originally published in 1907, so be careful what you use, in either reality or fiction. Some of the formulas are pretty outdated. It’s perfect for period pieces, but if you show a modern character whipping up a lead-and-mercury-laced face cream, your readers are going to think them idiots. As they should. Still, for more obscure things–explosives, acids, adhesives, this is a handy way of finding out how to make them and describe the process.