The Tools and Books of my trade
As writers, we all use an army of things to help us create our epic tomes.
In my case, my most important item is my Mac. I write on it all the time. I use Scrivener for my manuscripts and Notes or Pages for anything else. Everything is saved in the cloud and on my Mac with Scrivener doing backups in Dropbox. You can never be too careful with your work.
Sometimes though, I need to use pen and paper to scribble down thoughts, ideas and other notes. For that, I would mostly use an app called Notepad+ Pro or Goodnotes on my iPad and use the Pencil to write down what I need. Occasionally, only a real pen and a good notebook or writing pad will do. Once a book is written, edited and ready to publish, I gather all my hand written notes and put them together in a file along with a paper copy of the manuscript. Again, you can’t be too careful with how many copies you have of your original work.
After my manuscript has gone through a few rounds of self editing, I print it out in a different font to the one I use on my laptop — often Comic Sans — as any typos or other mistakes are easier to spot that way. Then I break out my Papermate InkJoy pens and my highlighters and start the hunt for all those pesky little gremlins that need zapping. It’s tiring and a little tedious, but well worth the effort, and your editor will thank you.
After I’ve gone through my first draft several times, I put it through ProWriting Aid. It’s a very helpful piece of software if you use it carefully. It will pick up on grammar mistakes, overuse of adverbs, and when you start a sentence with the same word too many times, and a host of other things. It can, however, make suggestions to change words that are wrong in the context (e.g. by and buy),
and give suggestions to change from passive to active tense that make no sense whatsoever. And this is why I say to use it with caution. Look at what it comes up with, use what you know is right and fits with your sentences, and leave anything you’re unsure of to your editor who will be able to give you much better advice.
When I’m stuck for a word or need a synonym so my writing doesn’t get repetitive, I go to thesaurus.com which I have permanently open on my phone, or powerthesaurus.org. Both are helpful in finding that elusive word when your mind goes a complete blank or you find you’ve used the same expression ten times on the same page.
There is a myriad of books on the market to help writer’s hone their craft and weave their magic, and you have to find the ones that work best for you. We all have different writing styles, requirements, language, use of words, and our own unique voices. This is why there’s no one book that will cover everything for everyone. Take a look at those available, ask your writer friends which ones they use, and then find the ones that make the most sense to you.
Here is a list of my favorite ones.
The Emotion Thesaurus and all the other Ackerman-Puglisi Thesauruses
The Dialogue Thesaurus by Dahlia Evans
Emotional Beats by Nicholas C. Rossis
The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book by J. Kent
Naughty Words for Nice Writers by Cara Bristol
My tools of the trade:
Notebooks — lots of them
Notepad+ Pro/Goodnotes for iPad and the Apple Pencil
Papermate InkJoy pens — in all the colors
Highlighters — also in all the colors
Bullet Journal — To keep notes and track progress
ProWriting Aid — Used with caution