The trope of the starving artist isn’t always true, but it has more truth to it than many of us would like. With that in mind, free is always best, especially when it comes to writing tools and resources. Whether you need help editing or a better way to track worldbuilding details, these sites and apps have you covered. A few have special features locked behind a paywall, but the basics are always free.
Hemmingway is like Grammarly, but there isn’t a paywall blocking half its features. The digital editing tool isn’t perfect, but it will force you to think carefully about word choice and sentence structure. Named for the famous author, the algorithm takes its cue from his style, keeping prose sharp, tight, and clear.
This is a simple, free character and story planning app. Its strength is outlining, making it a powerful tool for heavy editing and revision work. Of course, it’s also a friend for plotters. The app doesn’t just let you make character and scene outlines. It lets you arrange, rearrange, and connect them. As you move scenes around, you can remember the who, what, and where with character and place tags. There aren’t many bells and whistles, but if you’re as easily distracted by shiny things as this writer, then that may be a good thing.
While there is a “Pro” version of Inkarnate available for a fee, the basic tools are free. The site helps you imagine and design beautiful maps for original worlds, particularly fantasy-leaning creations. You can make up to 10 maps with the free version of the site, and these can include worlds, nations, cities, forts, battlefields, and more. If you decide you want to include your gorgeous map(s) as illustrations for your book, you can essentially buy them off the site for commercial use by upgrading to Pro for $5.
It’s like an inspiration box – but digital. This site offers random name generators for everything from characters to poisons along with writing prompts to keep you creating. There’s even a personal to-do list feature to keep you on track. RanGen has its own community as well, kept active with monthly writing and art challenges, straw polls, and more.
This site features a significant paywall to get to its best elements, but the basics are free. Designed as an intuitive worldbuilding “notebook” that helps you keep track of a world’s minutiae, free users can build universe, character, location, and item pages. The site lets you upload images and easily reference other pages within the same universe. Paying users get additional page-types for everything from flora to technology to deities. There’s nothing that says you can’t write about those things in place and universe notes, of course.
Finding high quality, royalty-free images for programs like Notebook.ai, mood boards, etc. gets harder every year. Unsplash has thousands of dazzling images available for free, and the site is extremely easy to search.
Which of these tools have you used in the past? What other free writing resources would you recommend to other writers? Share your thoughts below!