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Toby Litt
Toby Litt

Toby Litt is a senior lecturer in creative writing at Birkbeck College, London. He has published three collections of stories and eight novels and also writes the comic Dead Boy Detectives.

Photo: Katie Cooke

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Journey Into Space
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I Play the Drums in a Band Called Okay
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King Death
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Toby's Ten

1. Urban Dictionary

This is one of my favourite sites for losing a quarter of an hour. You couldn’t exactly call it self-improvement – like Jonathan Green’s Dictionary of Slang, it takes you by the hand and leads you through the darker back streets of the English language.


2. Wordcounter

I like sites that have a little box on them where you can enter your own text and get some dodgy readout back. (See below.) This one is interesting for catching yourself out, finding what your verbal tics are. Try it with a short story. Or your diary.


3. The Gender Genie

See if you can trick it with some Hemingway or Angela Carter. Go on.


4. Fantasy Name Generator

I love this. I used it to make up one of the character names in Hospital. Trouble is, I can’t remember which one it was.


5. Lulu Titlescorer

I don’t take this at all seriously – but it’s fun putting other people’s titles in. You have to adjust the other inputs below, or it always scores 10.2%.


6. Brendan’s On-Line Anagram Generator

I’m not sure why this fascinates me, but it does. I like how primitive it looks.


7. The Hundred Commonest English Words

Disappointingly, this doesn’t have a box to fill in, but it’s suggestive – particularly when remembered alongside the Wordcounter.


8. Think Baby Names

I like to know the meaning of the character names I use. There are dozens of similar sites, most of them in bright pink and blue. If you can find one that cuts to the chase faster, and doesn’t advertise, let me know.


9. List of most common surnames of most common surnames

Combined with Think Baby Names, you should be able to name a character from anywhere in the world. I was going to type ‘christen’ there, but that’s clearly missing the point.


10. TV Tropes

I’ve only just found this. But I’ve been looking for it all my life. That’s how the internet’s meant to feel, isn’t it?



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