Tips & Tricks: Writing Tools

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Tips & Tricks is an original meme by me where I provide (hopefully helpful) tips about writing fiction. Remember not all my advice will help all writers, so make sure to mold my tips and tricks to fit your personality, pace, and writing style.

Today, we are going to talk about writing tools, where to get them, and how helpful they can be to you and your writing process.

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Scrivener is a writing software you can download at Literature and Latte of the Mac App Store. They offer this program for both PC and Mac. It is as valuable as gold to a writer. As of right now, it's $45 but students, educators, and scholars get a $7 discount. I know some of you are probably cringing at that price if you are a poor college student that spends too much on books like I am, but I swear, it's well worth the money. If you are still not sure, there is a free one-month trial that I would suggest you try out.

This program is for screenwriters, novelists, poets, and research paper writers. It works much better (and more efficiently) than Microsoft Office's Word. This program allows you to contain your entire project in one file. So you can include multiple revisions, research, character bios, and setting templates. It has an organization to it that is very clear and easy to use after watching a couple tutorial videos--the good thing is Scrivener provides very thorough tutorials for you, which you can check out here.

I have personally used Scrivener for over four or five years now, and I have written three and a half novels using this program. I will never go back. I suggest you at least check it out.
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This is the sister writing program to Scrivener. It's sole purpose is brainstorming. You can also find this at Literature and Latte or in the Mac App Store. This software is $15 and it also has a discount for students, educators, and scholars.

This is an extremely simple program, all you need to know to use it is keyboard shortcuts which you can learn easily using a short tutorial on their website.

Scapple is a great program for any kind of brainstorming: listing, mind-mapping, webs, everything (you can also add photos to your brainstorm... it's as easy as dragging and dropping). It just recently came out about a year and a half ago, but despite it's relative newness, it is a wonderful program, easy to use, and quite helpful to someone who is plotting a novel.

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This is for you screenwriters out there. This is probably the easiest, cheapest, and best screenwriting software out there. You can download it here for a 15-day free trial or you can download it for roughly $10 a month or $100 for a year.

As most of you screenwriters know, there is a very particular format to it, and if you're using programs like Word, it can be ultra time consuming to actually tab everything and format all of it just right. Well, Celtx does it all for you, and it makes your life sooooo much simpler.

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On Writing by Stephen King. As a person who really doesn't generally like Stephen King's works (I know, what blasphemy!), but his memoir on writing is very helpful in various ways. It's basically an autobiography of his writing career. It lends insight, experiences, and a few tips on the writing trade. Good stuff.

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No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty is probably the best foundational writing book out there. Chris Baty is the founder of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and sets up a great way to write a novel in 30 days. However, you can use this to write a novel in general. It's a fantastic book and I advise all writers to read it.

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Neil Gaiman's Commencement Speech is GLORIOUS! Even for those of you who don't really like Neil Gaiman's writing, you will still appreciate his words. The speech is 20 minutes long, but please take the time to watch all of it. It's wonderful and beautiful and full of truth. It's all about making good art despite your situation or circumstances.
What it. Soak it up. Believe it.

Lesson 3: Writing tools are an author's best friend, and there are plenty of them. Take advantage of them and use them to make good art.

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