Last week, I promised you a review of a new writers' resource site from authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Pugilisi. One Stop For Writers pulls together content from their already existing Writers' Thesaurus series, and adds brand new content that these lovely ladies researched for themselves so we didn't have to. To get detail on their settings, they went to any lengths they could: up to and including getting arrested so that they could have a full sensory experience! That alone is worth some serious acclaim, in my opinion... but we're here to talk about the website.
One Stop has a very clean, inviting interface that has a simple, classical feel to it. The drop-down menus are easy to navigate and understand, and the font is large enough to read for long periods of time without straining the eyes. The only caveat I would include about the site design is that some subscribers with light sensitivities may wish to dim their screen before prolonged use.
Anyone curious about the resources available before they start poking around can begin at the About OS page, or check out the breadth of tutorials that have been created for the site. These make it easy to quickly find whatever exact information you might need if you're in a hurry and not just wandering around for fun, like I was. As for the content, itself ... I haven't felt this excited about access to a broad wealth of knowledge since I got my first library card.
The Information Desk can be bypassed if you are there for a quick fact run, because it deals with FAQs, the site's blog, and other "About The Site" components. The meat of the content is in two sections of the menu: The Stacks and the Thesaurus. I won't bore you with a list of everything, but the Thesaurus has the kind of details I didn't even know I'd needed. Sensory details and alternatives to describing different items are a huge boon for me: who hasn't wondered how to describe something in a unique way? The Setting thesaurus even gives a sample description for each location, and shows authors the ways a setting can be personalized to your characters, while still maintaining the qualities that readers will be able to recognize and relate to. There are other Thesauri which will help set the mood with color and weather, or weave symbolism into your plot ... so if you are the sort of author who struggles with finding or maintaining a theme, this will be a treasure in itself.
Once the Thesauri have been plundered for all the bounty you need for your scene, The Stacks are there to help you finish the job. They are more than the finishing touch: they are more like flying buttresses which can help support your beautiful cathedral of words. The tutorials for the Thesauri can be found here, as well as an Idea Generator for the blocked and bewildered ... but the star of The Stacks are its templates and worksheets. These are a NaNoWriMo Plotter's dream content: not just your standard outline or character creation lists, but ones which help you get to the heart of your story, the parts which make it really come alive and sing. Work out your characters' fears and emotional growth, or create reference sheets for each character and setting so that you don't have to flip back through your manuscript to remember if Professor Goddard's eyes were blue or green. In fact ... oh! Let's get that thesaurus out now that you've looked it up:
The Professor stared them down with the bluest eyes Nick had ever seen. In any other circumstance, he might have thought them beautiful, but in that moment, they were a frostbite that spread to him and chilled him through.
That's the color thesaurus at work! I wouldn't have come up with that frostbite line, otherwise - I may have gone with electricity, perhaps, but that's far too overused, and I would've had this song stuck in my head for the rest of the day (and likely still will). But that isn't even scratching the surface of what's available at One Stop For Writers. The search engine for cross-comparison helps you connect themes, colors, textures ... any thesaurus entry can be cross-referenced with any others that could apply to it. Just like that, you've got a wealth of ideas for description, instead of sitting slack-jawed, buggy-eyed, staring at your monitor. And in case you find things you want to use for later, there's a Notes feature built into the site that saves your notes directly to your profile and allows you to link back to the article you used when you're ready for it.
I had a grand old time with One Stop For Writers, and I can see that it's going to be an invaluable resource. Unfortunately, the Thesaurus I was anticipating most, Emotional Wounds, was not yet available on the site, and several settings are still in the process of being added. I can't use it for everything I personally need, but that isn't going to stop me from strongly recommending it to any fiction author. A free membership lets you access a limited amount of content and get a feel for the site so that you can see if it would be worth the full subscription, which is broken down into 1-month, 6-month, or yearly price brackets. If you consider that the standard price of one Writer's Thesaurus is $12, and there are several available ... a $9 one month subscription which combines them pays for itself. But here's the thing ...
Value isn't the biggest reason I enjoy One Stop For Writers: and it isn't necessarily the content, either (though that plays a very large part). The entire site is imbued with the spirit that I think every author should have: to take the knowledge they have gathered and share it with other authors, so that they can find their path to their own goals just that little bit easier to traverse. Thanks to Angela and Becca for letting me test it out and spread the word!
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