Below are the printable versions of the tools found in our bestselling books.

You can download, share, and print these as needed.

And, if you keep scrolling, you’ll find even more handouts, lists, marketing swipe files, and more. We hope these resources help a ton.

Character Arc Progression Tool (PDF)

  • Did you know that a character’s arc is tied to the wounding event from his past? Traumatic events are formative, impacting a character’s basic need, determining his story goal, generating sources of inner conflict, and more. The Character Arc Progression Tool can help you explore all the pieces and see how they fit together. For a deeper understanding of this resource, please reference The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma.

Backstory Wound Profile (PDF)

Setting Planner (PDF)

Emotional Value Tool (PDF)

Setting Checklist (PDF)

Setting Exercises (PDF)

Character Pyramid Tool (PDF)

Character Target Tool (PDF)

Character Profile Questionnaire (PDF)

Reverse Backstory Tool (PDF)

Weak Verb Converter Tool (PDF)

  • Transform all those generic, boring verbs into power verbs

Scene Revision/Critique Tool Level 1 & Level 2 (PDF)

  • A ‘light’ and ‘in-depth’ revision checklist for creating compelling characters and scenes

Emotional Movie Scenes (PDF)

  • A list of specific scene examples from movies that showcase different intense emotions

Crutch Words (PDF)

  • Those little, annoying overused words that hide in our manuscripts…finally a list for Search & Destroy during the revision process!

NEW: The Show, Don’t Tell Pro Pack
Want to strengthen your description but you’re unsure where to start? Or have you heard about our books from other writers and wonder what the fuss is about? This kit contains a descriptive thesaurus entry from each of our writing guides, tips on how that aspect of description will power up your story, and links to our top show, don’t tell articles.


Networking & Promo: Getting The Most Out Of Facebook (PDF)

Platform: Getting The Most Out Of Blogging (PDF)

Networking & Promo: Getting The Most Out Of Twitter (PDF)

Social Media Triple-play: Facebook, Twitter & Blogging (PDF)

Creative Book Launch/Event Ideas for Social Media Platforms (PDF)

“Inside a Book Launch” Swipe File: this PDF contains the email communications we sent out to our launch team, includes organized content for social sharing, marketing materials, and gives writers a great idea of how a book launch should be handled from the inside.

Also, check out the original post that links to an insightful Q & A that delves into this particular book launch. (LOTS of marketing help in this interview!)

Influencer Hot Sheet (PDF): Struggling to reach your exact reading audience? Maybe you should connect with a few people who have influence with your market. this handout guides you through the process of finding the right influencer, learning from them so you can engage with your audience better too, and how to reach out and create a relationship with them.For the article that accompanies this Hot Sheet, visit Jane Friedman’s blog here.

How Authenticity Attracts Readers for a Successful Book Launch (Podcast): If you are trying to understand how to build up your website and online platform to attract readers through your brand, this will help. We also discuss finding your ideal audience, and how to launch a book effectively, encouraging people to participate in your online events.

And because we like to save the best for last…


Writers Helping Writers is proud to bring you One Stop For Writers®, a powerhouse library packed with unbelievable tools and resources, including the largest fiction-focused description database available ANYWHERE.

If you like what we do here at WHW, then get ready to have your proverbial socks blown off. Explore One Stop for Writers for yourself by activating our generous 2-Week FREE TRIAL.

























157 Responses to WRITING TOOLS

  1. Pingback: Free Resources for Writers – Madi's Musings

  2. Susan Wilson says:

    Several of the tools above, listed as printable versions, print with a black rectangle or square in the center, the apparent watermark. How does one print the forms in useful format?

    • That’s quite strange – can you give us a bit more information, such as whether you have a mac or PC, and your process to print (do you save it to your computer first, or print directly from the PDF?

  3. Krishnendu says:

    I have just completed the first draft of my first single room novelette, thanks to your invaluable direction, without that advice I couldn’t have done it. Now, I have set myself another new goal – I am trying to pen a “Time Loop” story, I am watching all these films and studying online, but still, I couldn’t get my head around it. SO, here I again seek insight on how should I be approaching to write a “TIME LOOP” story.


    • I think we would need more information on what you mean by a time loop story?

      • Krishnendu says:

        Movie like – Groundhog Day, Looper, Predestination, Source Code, Edge of Tomorrow, Triangle, A Day, Run Lola Run. The main problem I am experiencing is conjuring up the “Main Reason” which is making the repetition of the events over and over again. Also whatever resetting the time, why is it doing so? How can I connect these with story’s theme? Inside my head I am feeling foggy of these things.

        • These are all great questions to ask, but answering them is personal to the story you want to tell, so I don’t know how much help I can offer. The “why” behind the reset is key, and will direct everything else. Is there a disruption of some kind outside the character’s control that causes the reset (a rift in time, a time displacement, a thin spot in between realities, etc.) or is it another causing it (god, technology being part see by someone, etc.). Either answer forces you to look at what: what caused the loop to form and what will end it, or what is the motivation of the person causing the loop and what goal of theirs will close it? Start here so you can move onto the other questions.

          • Krishnendu says:

            Thank you and lots of love & Thanks again for this christmas gift!
            Wish you all a very good christmas eve.


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  5. Steven A. Reynolds says:

    Dear Sir:

    I just wrote a memoir, and am looking for a literary agent to represent me. Please notify me, if there are agents where one of their specialties are memoirs, and I will Email them my query.

  6. Krishnendu says:


    I am struggling with a writing project. The goal is I need to keep the whole story exactly in a single setting. I need advice & guidance. Please help.

  7. Robin says:

    Looking at this site, is like listening to a handful of marbles rattling around in a five gallon drum!

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  20. Rob Mason says:

    Thank you for providing such helpful information. After reading the first 52 pages of a manuscript, my wife encouraged me to hurry up so she could see how the story ends. She purchased The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, The Negative Trait Thesaurus, and The Emotional Wound Thesaurus and eagerly handed them to me because, as she put it, I’m too hard on myself when it comes to my writing.

    I have found them very helpful and would recommend them to any aspiring writer. Even though I have a very strong understanding of my protagonist, who turns out to be an antihero, the tools have helped hone certain character attributes for many of the other characters in the manuscript.

    Thanks again! I look forward to receiving the other two Thesauruses, which have already been ordered.


    Rob Mason

    • This is such a nice note to receive! I’m really happy that the books are helping you. Big hugs to your wife, both for her purchase and her words of wisdom and encouragement to you. We all need those honest cheerleaders in our lives. Keep up the good work!

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  26. John Pepper says:

    I wondered about the Character Target and Reverse Backstory tools for a while and how to use them. But I finally managed to get the Positive and Negative Trait Thesauruses yesterday and I was finally able to see an example for each of them. But I still have questions about them, if you wouldn’t mind answering.

    What would be a good place to start on each of these tools? Just with finding out what are the most defining traits, or by figuring out your character’s backstory or lie? For both tools, about how many traits are necessary to make a well-defined character? And when using both for a single character, how can you bring the results together?

    Thanks for answering all my questions in all the pages around this site. I’ve been looking forward to getting your books for a long time and I can’t wait for the new ones.

    • Hi, John. I’m sorry for the confusion about these tools; while I’m glad you were able to get some answers from our books, this tells me that having an example at the blog for these tools might be a good idea, too.

      In terms of where to start, I would begin with the Reverse backstory tool, since that fills in all the important blanks. And with that tool, you can start literally anywhere within the spreadsheet. If you’re plot driven and know what your character’s outer motivation is, you can start there and work downward. If you know your character well and you know their personality, you can start there and work your way backward and forward. If you know what wounding event is motivating them, start there. I love this tool because of its versatility.

      Once you’ve gotten all the blanks filled in, I would then go on to the Character Target Tool, because you’ll already have an idea about some of the traits. I like to identify a defining moral trait first, since moral traits will determine what other traits he might have and which ones he definitely won’t have. I would shoot for around two traits per category; some will have a few more. But you don’t want to have too many or the character becomes hard to define. Then you’ll want to figure out which of those traits your character will really own throughout the story. You may end up with 10 traits for him, but you can’t focus on all of those or he’s going to come across as scattered and not well defined. I would pick two, maybe three, of those traits to focus us on when you’re writing the character so the reader can get a good bead on him. Think of how you want him defined; to do this, think of your favorite characters who are clearly drawn. Which traits define them, and how many? Scarlett O’Hara (determined, self-serving, clever, manipulative). Sam Gamgee (loyal, organized, simple). For your own character, figure out which the traits are the important ones both for him and the story, and make those his defining traits.

      I hope this helps! Best of luck!

      • John Pepper says:

        Hello, Becca

        Thank you for your reply. I have been using both tools for some time now to practice creating characters or try and develop or break down characters I’ve seen elsewhere.

        However, I have come across a bit more confusion in terms of the Positive Trait tool. I am a little confused about the distinction between the Morals and Identity attributes. As I understand, morals are natural beliefs held by the person in terms of right and wrong, while identity is who the person is naturally? In that case, adding in the Interaction aspect, it becomes more confusing, as people can act differently from their actual selves in public. What I mean to ask is, can I get a little more explanation/clarification on the four attribute types? Thank you.

        • Ok, let’s back up a little bit. We know that personality traits are formed based on our positive experiences and the people who have influenced us. So before you can figure out which traits your character embodies, you have to know about those positive things and people from the past that have caused those traits to form. What role model had a positive influence on your character, and which traits did they embody? What positive experiences and exposures allowed them to form positive ideas about culture, society, and community, and what traits would naturally emerge from those? When were they able to successfully navigate a difficult situation, and which traits enabled them to do that? These are where positive attributes come from. Knowing these important people and events from your character’s past will enable you to figure out which positive traits he would likely embrace.

          Digging into the backstory will give you a long list of possible attributes for your character. You’ll want to narrow it down to a manageable size that will enable you to focus on the really defining traits and write them clearly into your story. That’s where that Target Tool comes in handy. To answer your question, yes, moral traits are ones that tie into what we believe to be right and wrong. Sometimes a character adopts a character trait simply because he believes it’s the right way to be: just, honest, generous, kind, etc. (possibly because a role model exemplified that trait, or because that trait enabled him to overcome something difficult, etc.). So when I’m building a character’s personality, the core moral trait is the one I usually unearth first, because it will determine what other traits will (or won’t) follow, since the others have to align with that one. Interactive traits are relational ones; they determine how we interact with other people. Ask yourself: what is my character like when he’s with others? (extroverted, enthusiastic, nurturing, etc.). Achievement traits are ones that help us succeed at life (and help the character succeed at his goals): organized, responsible, cooperative, thrifty. And identity traits are ones that often make your character unique; they make him who he is and help him stand out from the crowd: spontaneous, talented, wholesome, curious, etc.

          I like to shoot for 2 traits from each category. This is just a ballpark, or course, not a set-in-stone rule. Out of that final short list of categories, there will probably be 2 or 3 that really define who your character is and also help him in the story. Those are the ones I focus on when writing. Those become his defining traits.

          Does this clarify things for you? This response field is getting narrower and narrower ;). If you need more info, please feel free to email your questions to me at becca.puglisi@yahoo.com.

  27. Jan says:

    This information is so valuable for new writers. Thank you for your help.

  28. Thank you for sharing such a wealth of information. This is great.

  29. Kthleen Cooke says:

    I’m a young teenage writer, and everything on the website has helped me so much.

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  33. John Garbi says:

    Hi, thanks for the great tools!

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  36. JC says:

    Having so much fun with the Settings Exercises tool. Done 12 and can’t stop – addictive! Thanks for these tools, and so much more.

  37. Krisna Starr says:

    Awesome tools, Angela! Thank you so much for sharing this with the rest of us 🙂

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  39. Pingback: 018 Write Captivating Novels Using the Emotion and Setting Thesaurus with Becca Puglisi

  40. Your weak verb converter is the most complete list of non-specific verbs I’ve ever seen (or concocted myself). I’m going to send the members of my Reno Writing Clinic to this site to 1) download the list, and 2) to discover this incredible blog. As I compared your list to mine, there were three I had that you didn’t. Novice writers that come into my group constantly use three “telling” verbs, and I’m constantly harping for more specific verbs that will create an image in the readers’ heads. They are Gesture, Motion, and Head. My neophyte writers constantly “gesture” and “motion” to other characters before “heading” toward the bathroom.

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  49. Kate says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this amazing IP … so useful and a real blessing!!

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  57. Victoriah Lloyd says:

    Okay, that really did help me a great deal. Thanks again, so much for these great helpouts. Thank you even more for sharing.

  58. Victoriah Lloyd says:

    I have a question about the Character Target Tool. I have the Positive Trait Thesaurus, and I’m wondering if in the “target” tool, these are attributes that present conflict for the antagonist. I’m a bit confused on the term “target” if you could shed some light on it. Please.

    • Hi, Victoriah. The traits in this tool are ones that define the character. We call it a “target” tool because at the center of the target lies the character’s moral traits, which will determine or rule out many of his other attributes. The rest can really be added in any order. If you look at the Aragorn example, you see that his moral traits are honorable, honest, and just. His achievement, interactive, and identity traits all fall in line with his moral ones. All of the traits listed are traits that he embraces, that are true for him. This tool is just one way to create a snapshot of who your character is at his core—which traits are most important in defining who he/she is.

  59. T.K.Ware says:

    Wonderful Site!!! Very Informative! I have recommended it to others.

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  61. As a newbie indie author, I’ve found your downloads incredibly helpful. I often find myself stumped to find different words for the same condition that my character is going through. I went through this with my lastest short story, Sharpshooter. I found it difficult to describe the character’s injuries in new and different ways. I’d love to purchase the thesaurus, are they available in print format, I just find it irksome to keep turning on my Kindle when I want to check out something lol.
    Love the site, keep up the great work 🙂

    • Hi, Michael. I know what you mean. While I like digital books, for nonfiction, there’s something about being able to flip through a print copy and find what you’re looking for. The Emotion Thesaurus and The Character Trait Thesaurus (in two volumes) are all available in print. You can find links to each book at the various distributors on our Bookstore page. We’re currently working on turning The Setting Thesaurus into a book; that one will be out hopefully by the end of the year.

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  63. Micheal Shaw says:

    I have always found it difficult to add emotions to my writing, especiially due to the show and don’t tell rule. Your Emotion Thesaurus changed that and I am now expanding my descriptions, word count and the depth of my work. I just turned a rough draft of a oneshot into Short Story, mostly due to the added emotional depth. I have bought all three books and downloaded your PDF as well, which I hope will help me write my current WIP Novel. I just wish I knew about these books when I wrote my anthology submissions. Thank you.

    • Hi Michael,

      Thanks so much for stopping in–I am so glad that our books are helpful to you. Emotions are especially difficult, aren’t they? Keep at it – you will rock those stories! 🙂


  64. Alex Mandel says:

    Just a few dozen pages into your book on negative traits, and I knew I had to have your other guides. So now I have them all, and the free downloads. They are treasure chests filled to the brink with indispensable advice and ideas, from cover to cover. I’ve never seen writing guides this clearly presented, matter-of-fact, and completely unpretentious. Thank you for doing such a brilliant, thorough job. My writing has taken leaps in the right direction, and I am a better writer for reading this material.

    • Alex, thank you so much for taking the time to write us and let us know you’re finding our books so helpful! I am thrilled you are working so hard to improve your craft and find our material useful. There is a lot of stuff here on our website as well, so I hope you’ll stop in and poke around here and there. Happy writing–wishing you much success!

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  67. Ron Hope says:

    I’m starting my writing career (well–for about 20 years I have been hampered by re-writes, research, self-doubt and A LOT of other junk that got in the way) I absolutely LOVE the trio of thesarus’s (how does one refer to multiple thesaurus?) and I bought them up all-at-once from Amazon.
    One of my biggest struggles has been to create in-depth characters, ones that don’t seem like those ‘paper-doll’ cutouts of action heroes Indiana Jones or Han Solo. I have bought books on personality, adjusted astrology charts to match characteristics of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. While I have had some success in these experiments, I have found that simply adding some positive, negative and emotional traits from you trio of go-to books have really helped me improve overall depth to my characters, whether they be an Aries or a Gemini or no matter what 4-letter alphabet soup Myers-Briggs assigns them.
    I also have greedily downloaded your tool/helpsheets as they offer great advice and points on writing.
    I intend to finish my 1st book this year (and in no small-part due to the help these 3 AWESOME books have provided) and there is no greater feeling than to realize your lifetime goals. I would hope you both have felt this way, as I doubt even winning the lottery feels this good.
    Thank you, Angela & Becca for these truly great resources.

    • Congrats, Ron, on realizing the dream of writing your first book! Angela and I have both been there, in the finishing of our personal fiction books as well as the publishing of our thesaurus books. I’m so incredibly glad that they’ve helped you with your writing. We’ve been where you are as a new writer, and we just wanted to share the information that helped us get a grasp on characterization and showing instead of telling. Thank YOU for your kind words of encouragement this Saturday morning. Shoot me an email when you type THE END and I’ll celebrate with you 🙂

      • Ron Hope says:

        That will definitely be a red-letter date on my calendar. And I will certainly let you both know when it is done. Again, thanks for all your help.

    • I’ll echo Becca–we are so happy our resources help, and that you are getting full use out of what we provide! Another great resource for building characters is K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors. It is well worth checking out!

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  69. Celia Lewis says:

    I kept seeing great tips from Angela on the NaNo column in my TweetDeck… and finally, today, I poked into this website!
    Okay, I’ve bought the Emotions Thesaurus, and am digging through it today.
    Wish you had your “Weather” tips as a pdf as well. I’ve bookmarked and will be back again!
    Thanks for your very helpful tips.

    • HI Celia, very glad you found your way here! Apologies there’s no PDF yet – Becca and I are slowly transforming these blog entries into book sized entities, but because we continually strive to offer value, we greatly expand on the content found here for the books. This requires a lot of time to do right, but we think it’s worth it! Happy Nanoing! 🙂

  70. Kathleen Ruth says:

    Do you ladies have a fan club? As the proud owner of all three thesauri and having recommended them to dozens and purchased them for my critique partners, it is fitting that I start such a group.
    I’m slogging through my first full-length manuscript, learning as I go. Having just discovered your website with all its cool resources, I have taken a breather to do some planning with the tools you offer. Just the thing to get me jumpstarted again, and this time, with more of a true sense of my protagonist. Yippee!!!

    • I am SO happy to hear this, Kathleen! Angela and I started our writing journeys at about the same time, and I remember both of us being really confused and overwhelmed at certain points, needing direction. It makes me glad to think that our resources might be offering you the kind of answers that other writers were kind enough to share with us along the way. Best of luck with your writing!

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  73. Heather says:

    I just bought three books (positive traits, negative traits and emotion thesaurus) and could not have found better tools for writing my first screenplay! It has all been an amazing learning experience, especially with writing to show instead of to tell. These books have really helped in finding my character’s driving force and how they look and what they do when they are “mad”, or “upset” instead of just blatantly saying that they are mad or upset.
    I have to admit, my favorite part is the list of conflicting traits for secondary characters to help in creating the drama.

  74. houda says:

    just starting to write my first book, those tools will help me for sure. thank you for sharing.

    • Congrats, Houda! That’s such a big step, starting to write the first one. We’ve blogged about so many aspects of writing over the years. As questions come up, feel free to use the search engine to see related content that we may have shared in the past. Best of luck!

  75. A.K. Leigh says:

    Love all of these tools. Great for the new and more experienced writer. Thank you Angela and Becca!

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  77. Sia McKye says:

    Very well thought out tool box, Angela! I do use a few of these and do have a toolbox but these must be added.

    Good reminders too, since my writing group has decided that next *fun* contest is trying your hand at writing a Sci-Fi story. I’ve always enjoyed reading Sci-fi but never really written it. My brain is running through ideas and also kicking me for saying sure, lol! One of the cool things with my Wombats is they get you into trying new genres.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

    • I think that’s awesome! What a great way to encourage writers to stretch themselves. You never know–you might just find you enjoy writing in that genre! Glad the toolbox goodies will be a help. Good luck on your submission!

  78. Ladies, you have built a book that I keep wearing OUT as I’m writing. I couldn’t live without my Emotions Thesaurus & highly recommend it to ALL of my writerly people. When my next birthday &/or Christmas come around, I’m going to be getting the rest of your lovely collection.

    This collection should be on a list somewhere of writer’s tools you MUST have if you’d like to succeed in writing. 😀

    Thank you ever so much for doing this. The writerly community is so much more the richer for having the two of you in it. I’m in absolute platonic love with the two of you! *mwah*

    • Oh my gosh, what a tremendously kind thing to say! Thank you so much, Monica, both for taking the time to write to us and for letting us know we’re on the right path. The next time doubt hits, I am going to re-read this. It means the world–you rock!

  79. Anna Dobritt says:

    The one about crutch words is a great one. One word I noticed I use a lot is ‘thought’. Currently doing a line by line edit of my manuscript.

  80. Sue Frye says:

    Angela, I was so excited to find this page! Thanks so much for sharing all of these fantastic, time-saving writing tools. Sometimes it becomes very stressful trying to write, rewrite, and then do endless edits. I bookmarked your website!

    Cheers, Sue

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  82. G. Velez says:

    I just want to say, thank you so much for actually having this site to help other writers. Personally, this is a huge benefit for me because I now have a great resource I can turn to when in doubt. I will keep checking as often as I can on anything that you post.

    • Thank you so much! I’m elated that you are finding the help you need here. 🙂 We love producing content others will use, and it’s very satisfying to aid others in their writerly pursuits!

  83. Meg says:

    I have all your three books and they are awesome tools for me as a writer.

    Thanks a lot for giving us these extra writing tools. They are wonderful too! (it is, for example, really handy to have a PDf version of some appendices of the books)

    Thanks a lot!
    And I hope you continue the great work you are doing helping writers 😉

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  88. Isso says:

    Thank you so much Angela and Becca for the in-depth resources you guys provide. I just bought the Negative trait thesaurus and saw the link to more resources at the latter parts of the book.
    Unfortunately, some of the PDF files…
    (Character Target Tool (PDF),
    Character Profile Questionnaire (PDF),
    Reverse Backstory Tool (PDF),
    Weak Verb Converter (PDF) and
    Emotion Amplifiers (PDF)),
    I could not open with three different pdf viewers. The applications either tell me it’s an error or the files are not pdf formats.
    I would really, really appreciate it i can get access to them.
    Believe me, having seen all the files here was in itself almost sufficient to convince me ‘to help’ was a huge factor why you provided The emotion thesaurus in the first place.

  89. Deb says:

    Well now…as I delve into some serious writing this April can I just say…thanks! What a great list. Bookmarked and ready to us. As are all three of your books, of course.

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  98. Yamile says:

    Thank ytou for putting together such wonderful advice! This is great!

  99. Lisa Buie-Collard says:

    This site always amazes me with its depth of information. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Wish I’d won the ET, but guess I’ll have to look into buying it now!

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  102. msv says:

    thanks so much for giving these items for free

  103. cubsat says:

    This is an absolute treasure! Thanks a lot for this 🙂

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  106. Lynn says:

    I really don’t know how to compliment you enough – I haven’t had enough time, clearly, with your WONDERFUL books!! 🙂

    I have bought all three “Thesauruses” and loved them so much I bought all three for my Kindle too so I can have them on the move.

    Added to which you have all these great downloads and extras which add up to another fabulous book on their own.

    I will be writing an excellent review on Amazon once I have read and used your amazing books a little more.

    Thank you so much!

    • Wow Lynn, what a kind thing to say! We’re glad you’re exploring all these tools and hope they help you in all your writing projects. And thank you as well for saying such great things about our books. Becca and I love to help writers and try to do so in a way that allows them to get what they need so they can get right back into writing.

      Have a wonderful day, and thanks for reviewing. Those really help others discover our work. Appreciate it so much!

    • Thanks so much, Lynn. Reviews are hugely important, especially for self-published works, so thank you for doing that. And I’m very glad you’re finding the books and tools useful :).

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  108. Jonathan Phoenix says:

    Not only did you create awesome reference books, but you included a host of goodies!!! All for the unbelievable price for what I’d pay for a cheap lunch. Thank you so much. I received a wealth of rich and detailed information from your books which I will embed in my own book, and all my future books that have yet to write. Special thanks once again!

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  110. Pat Sibley says:

    Just a note to say thanks. Although I’ve been writing for years, I’ve only just recently published my first novel (on Amazon.com). Other websites haven’t been quite as welcoming or generous with their resources. I appreciate all that you’ve done here.

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