where the writers are
My Writing Tools

I just wanted to talk a little about some of the tools I use to help me with my writing. Being a pretty new writer and wanting to start out right, I did quite a bit of research on what I would need in order to make my writing successful. I tried a bunch of them, and some didn't work well for me while others did and still are. So I figured I would describe some of the things I use to help me with my writing that other new writers may find helpful as well.

One of the tools I use that helps a ton is a word processing program specifically designed for writers. The one I use right now is yWriter because it's easy to use, has a lot of great features, and it's free! It allows me to easily organize my chapters as well as the scenes in each chapter. I can mark each scene in terms of its completion status (outline, draft, 1st edit, or 2nd edit). And I can make notes for myself for each scene in addition to rating it on different qualities I can define yourself. I can also mark each scene as part of the main plot or a subplot, action or reaction, the goals, conflict, and outcome of the scene, the date and time it starts and how long it lasts, the characters in the scene, the viewpoint it's being told from, and even any items that are in it. I can create character profiles with their name, description, biography, role (major or minor), tags, notes, goals, and even a picture. I can create locations and items with a name, description, tags, and a picture. I can also make notes on the project in general which helps me remember to write about something, remember to tie up a loose end in the plot, etc. You can find out more information about it and download it at: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html. Other programs I have heard about that are great for writers are New Novelist, Marshall Plan Novel Writing Software, and Scrivener - but none of them are free so I'm sticking with yWriter for now.

Another "tool" I use is to always keep a small notebook with me. Just like all of you I'm sure, ideas will hit me for one of the books I'm writing at the weirdest times. So as long as I have a notebook with me all of the time, I can jot the idea down so I won't forget it. Then each night, I look over my notebook for my new ideas and add them to my main notebook.

My main notebook is actually a "notebook" that I created using the Microsoft OneNote program. I already had it on my computer because it came with the version of Office that I bought a while ago so it was "free" to me. If you've never used this program before, it may be worth purchasing because I have to say it's pretty awesome. It's just like a real notebook, but it's on your computer. So I have a notebook for each of the books I'm working on. They each have a section (which shows up as a tab at the top) for Plot, Subplot, Settings, Editing, and References. Then I have a separate groups of tabs too which are like new sections of the notebook with tabs in each section. I have a sections for Characters (a tab for each one), one for Research, and one for my Scrapbook where I put random stuff that I think I might want to use somehow for that story/book. When I want to write something about a character I click on the Characters tab group, then on the tab for th specific character, and then there are smaller tabs down the right side for each new page that I create so I click on the appropriate page or make a new one and start typing! It's really convenient because I can keep all of my notes for all of my books in their own notebooks, each notebook only has what I've written in it (no extra blank pages), and it saves everything as I type so I never have to worry about losing anything.

The last main program I use is for brainstorming and outlining my books and stories. It's called MindRaider. It lets you create outlines which you can view as an outline or a mind-map, tag each note in it, and write details for each note as well. It takes a little bit of playing with to figure out how it works, but once you do it's awesome! You can get more info about this at: http://mindraider.sourceforge.net/. Before I found this, I used Freemind which is a pretty cool (but basic), free mind-mapping program available at: http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page.

I'm sure these tools will help you in your writing too if you take a little time to start using them! Let me know if this helps! And let me know if you use something that works well for you too! I'm always interested in trying new things!