Friday, February 18, 2011

Unexpected Writing Tools

After I heard about the cool site WriteWords (thanks to follower Susan Kaye Quinn), where you can paste in blocks of text to check for repeated phrases, it got me thinking about what tools I use when I'm writing. I've already told you about my indispensible notebook, but here are a few more:

1. Sticky notes. I like them small and colourful (thank you dollar store), for writing plot points and sticking them onto my plot charts. They're also helpful for jotting ideas and sticking into my notebook. I used to put sticky notes around the edges of my computer monitor (and not just to annoy my husband). But my new computer has sticky notes for my desktop that appear everytime I turn it on. Of course, they don't eliminate the ones on my desk, but at least I can find some of my notes!

2. Baby name book. I still have this book from 15 years ago when I was picking out names for my first daughter. It's a little out of date (but I can always check popular name lists on line). It gives suggestions for certain types of names, names that are good alternatives for a popular name I don't want to use, etc.

3. Online alarm clock. This is a great tool for when I'm doing those writing exercises I was talking about last week. Even though I write longhand in my notebook, I'm at my desk where my computer is, so I use this handy alarm clock.

Do you have any interesting writing tools?


  1. Those are great. My biggest tools I find online. Well, using Scrivener is amazing, then Wordle, and I just found a site last night - cliche finder where you can paste in a block of text and it will point out the cliches!

  2. These are great tools. As a technological dinosaur, I have yet to discover them. I have a question, though, Andrea. I'm interested in your plot charts. I have a terrible time plotting!!!!! Would you ever be willing to post some actual specific examples that show your plot charts and how you go from idea to execution of scene and plot? I feel like if I could see examples of how other people do it, I might be able to figure out a way that works for me...

  3. Laura,I'll have to look for that cliche finder! Sounds cool. I've never used Scrivener, but I hear it's useful.

    Susanna, plotting is one of the biggest challenges for me, too! Lately I've been reading "Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder, and that seemed to help me a bit. But I will give some thought to a post (or two) about plotting. I think my process is improving a little...

  4. I've tried using Sticky Notes, but my two-year-old takes them all :) The Baby Name book is an awesome suggestion--thanks!

  5. I like to print out my notes and put them in a binder. It makes me feel organized!

  6. EditMinion is my new favourite online toy - put in text and it shows too many modifiers, sentences ending in participles etc. Also like the onelook reverse dictionary, a good addendum to a thesaurus.

  7. Ah, I still have my baby book too! :) Thanks for the link to Susan's blog, I'll have to check it out.

  8. Diet Pepsi with Lime. It helps when it's really late. I'm also thinking about investing in an eye patch for my twitchy eye after long stretches of writing.

    I'll have to dig out my baby name book (naming characters is a huge problem for me) and EditMinion. Thanks for the tips.

  9. I love the baby names book idea. I think the clock might stress me a bit too much, but I may try to do something to time myself which in general is a good tip.

    New follower

  10. Save The Cat is about screenwriting... how does that help with novel plotting?

  11. I have a baby name book that belonged to my mother! It's close to 30 years old, but it has some cool, obscure names in it.

  12. Lydia K., given the current state of my desk, a binder would come in really handy!

    Thanks for the tips, GirlFriday. I'm going to check out EditMinion.

    Jade, that's interesting! It seems like baby name books are a popular tool for writers.

    Susanna, I found that Save the Cat was helpful in helping me to think about key points in the plot. It's interesting too, that the length of a MG novel is not so different from the length of the script he mentions for his plot structure. Plus, it's always neat to get a different perspective on plotting.

    Welcome, Shopgirl! The bell of the online alarm clock was gentle and non-threatening (and is so easy to change if you want more time).


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