- Baby name websites, like this one - Yes, really. Super helpful when figuring out names for characters. Sure, sometimes I'll create a character and just know instantly what to name them, but since there are certain letters I like more than others, this can lead me to name multiple characters with similar names. These lists help pull me out of the letter rut and are great for throwaway characters that still need a name. And here's another site for surnames.
- Color thesaurus, like this one - For when you want a better word than just "blue"
- Personality descriptions or free tests, like this one - I've started collecting information about different personality types. At first, I focused on ENFJ (my type) as a method of self understanding*, but I've started branching out and reading about other types, because I realized it could help my writing. Some authors even go so far as to take a personality test as their character. I'm not sure I'll do that, and if I do, it will probably only be for one or two main characters. But whatever helps you understand your character will enhance your writing and advance your plot. If this is something that interests you, here's an article on using the MBTI to create characters.
- Articles about writing believable antagonists, such as this one - Sure, you could have the crazy "tie them to the railroad tracks with a death ray pointed at them" type, but in some of the best writing, the antagonist is someone the reader can understand, maybe even identify with. For my backup NaNoWriMo idea, I really struggled with how to explain the villain and give her an understandable motivation for her actions. If I ultimately decide to go with that idea, I'm still going to need a little help/work to create that character.
- Sites to help with... you know... when the word you want is right there but you... Here's a great site for when that word you want is on the tip of your tongue - This site is freaking brilliant.
- Spotify - Lots of writers create writing soundtracks. I didn't always do this, but recently, I realize when listening to music that a song reminds me of a character or sets a scene I'm visualizing. So I've started saving those songs to a playlist for later consumption. It's a great short-hand for getting you back into the mindset when you first thought about the character or scene, which is often where your best ideas come from.
- A calendar to note word count goals - The recommendation is to shoot for 1667 words per day, which gets you to 50,000 by the end of November. But some days will be better than others. Though I don't always know in advance how my mood will affect word count, I do know in advance what days might be better for writing than others. Weekends will generally be better than weekdays, days I'm traveling (and have downtime on the plane) will generally be better than days I need to run errands, and so on. So I can go through the month and set different word count goals for each day. Then I won't beat myself up for not hitting 1667 on a day I knew in advance would be busy. Relatedly, here's an article on writing a novel while still living a full-time life.
And yes, a book written in a month is likely going to be terrible, but (and this could be inspiring or intimidating) Kazuo Ishiguro, who was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, wrote The Remains of the Day in just 4 weeks. So, you know, no pressure.
You can find many of the online resources I'll be using on my NaNoWriMo Pinterest board - note that you don't have to be on Pinterest to view this board and its links, but if you are on Pinterest, I highly recommend creating a board for your book, where you can post articles you find helpful (whether about writing or related to the topic of your book), pictures of people your characters look like (great for describing appearance), and anything else you find inspiring.
BTW, if you're participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to add me as a writing buddy!
*I took the Myers Briggs in college and got ENTJ. I forgot about this result (found it again, very recently) and over the years, began thinking the Myers Briggs was BS. I took it again recently and got ENFJ. Since then I've been 1) shocked/amazed at how accurate this type is for me, and 2) really shocked/amazed (when I found my test results from freshmen year) that I have such a consistent personality over the span of 17 years.