Friday, August 19, 2011

Tools of the Trade

Rawich / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This list will probably look different for every writer, but here are some of the tools that I can't write without. Many of these are linked on the right side of my page. In this post I'll explain why these resources are invaluable to me.

Thesaurus.com and Dictionary.com
When I've been using a word excessively, or if I use a word but I'm not quite sure if it means what I think it means, or if there is a precise word that I know exists for what I'm trying to say but I can't seem to pull it out of the depths of my brain, I plug in variations until I find what I'm looking for.

Wikipedia
Probably not the most reliable source for information, but it gives me a starting point, a foundation, which I then build from. And actually, new scenes and plot twists have resulted from stuff I've read in Wikipedia articles.

Babynames.com
As I have mentioned before, I am abysmal at coming up with names. At my job, I see a lot of names, so I collect the ones I like, but sometimes I exhaust my list and need a fresh supply. I often use this site to find names based on what I want a character's name to mean, or if I know I want it to start with a particular letter. This site also has a brilliant section on Character Names, Tips for Writers, that I read through now and then to remind myself that not every one of my characters needs to have an exotic name.

Pandora
Sometimes I need mood music. And sometimes it's a nice distraction if it keeps playing crappy stuff I don't want - then I can spend time cultivating the perfect mood music station by disliking and skipping the stupid songs.

Goodreads
I include this because so much of what I write is influenced by what I read, and without Goodreads, I'd be lost in a sea of all the books I own, need to read, and have read.

Youtube
You can learn how to do anything on this site. Taught me how to pick a lock. I think I needed this information for a character once...honest!

Real life
No, that's not a website. Sometimes us writers get so wrapped up in the worlds that we are creating that we forget that there's a real one out there. When I step back and reflect, I realize how much material I can pull just from the experiences of one normal day. As I am writing, those things filter into what's going on in my story. Sometimes subconsciously. Sometimes very deliberately. On days that I get stuck, I go out into the world and pay just a little bit of extra of attention to the things going on around me. This always helps me find the piece I need to move the story along.

My People
Last but not least: my writing friends. All those blogs you see linked in the corner on the right? Yeah, them. And many more who don't have blogs. The Writing Buddy is especially wonderful to bounce ideas off of. Not just my writing friends, either. My brother and sister and my non-writing friends are great when it comes to talking through ideas.

I use a lot of other tools - anything from books about writing and editing to random  Google searches (the internet is a wonderful thing) - but these are the ones I consult the most often. This is my essential toolbox.

So, my writer-ly friends, what are your tools of the trade? Anyone have any other recommendations for good writer resources?

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