I thought it might be useful to give a few thoughts on how the web can be used as a creative writing tool - or at least, on how I use it. You might have completely new ideas, and if so, I'd love to hear and share them.
First, and most obviously, as a source of ideas and of research. Here Google comes into play in a variety of ways.
Sometimes I get words so wrong that an online dictionary can't help. Google will often give the right word. It can also be used to adjudicate between different words - for example, blog or weblog. Weblog gets 64 million hits whilst blog garners 269 million. Then there are the online dictionaries, such as Onelook and dictionary.com.
I use a couple of different sites to help me with rhymes, Rhymezone and Rhymer. They each have their strong points. Rhymezone is very useful, but I also like the double rhymes feature of Rhymer, and the easy access to thesauri, wildcard and even reverse dictionaries at Onelook - also useful for crosswords!
There's a lot of help available on the web, such as this Guide to grammar and Style.
I am constantly amazed at how much information is available on the Internet, especially via Google. From medical complaints to compositing, from the works of Murray Lachlan Young to Benjamin Zephaniah, from astronomical facts to speculative fiction, it is all there at your fingertips. Just take into account the constraints of copyright.
But don't forget resources you already have available. Most of you have Word:
If you have a recent version of MS Word, you can use lookup. Just right-click on any word and choose Look Up...
You now have easy access to dictionary definitions, translations between several languages, synonyms, and autonyms.
The spell-checking and grammar-checking facilities are woefully under-used, judging from some of the semi-illiterate verbiage that arrives in my inbox at work almost every day.
But you can't leave it all to the machine. Spelling and grammar-checkers can't check that you have said what you meant to say. If the biblical commandment had said, "Thou must now kill", the world might be in an even more violent state than it is now.
Sometimes it is easer to proofread the printed page than to squint at a monitor.
updated Fri 13 May '05 give feedback...
: : © Mike Bliss 2011