8+ of My Favorite Tools for the Aspiring Author
*Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase after clicking through, Prism Perfect may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Writing is probably one of my favorite pastimes (obviously, because here I am) and I can write almost any form of document with glee. Shopping list, blog post, journal entry, short story, or novel; you name it, I’ll write it. And my love for writing extends farther the older I get.
In fact, I help tutor and homeschool a family in their writing and can’t help but enjoy myself. We’re always building on vocabulary, covering the ideas of sentence structures, and learning to be more clear, concise, and descriptive. Going back to the basics can make a huge difference in moving forward with our writing projects.
Because writing can be a daunting but rewarding activity for those with the mindset to embark on that type of journey, we sometimes need tools to help us build on our abilities and talents. I’ve gathered up a list of some of the tools that have aided me in my journey as a writer and aspiring author for your own convenience.
Disclaimer: I am not published, I haven’t actually finished a novel or project, I really just like finding new tools to use to better myself and perfect my workflow! Like you, I’m aspiring to be more!
*sigh* Now that I’ve got my confession out of the way, let me introduce you to some of my favorite products for aspiring writers!
A writing platform is the most important beginning to any writing process. Scrivener is by far my favorite! Every step of the way is paved for you: your story outline can be mapped by files before even starting, or you can write everything COMPLETELY out of order if that is your style. There is a place for Character and Scene Sketches for those who aspire to the wonderful world of fiction. The program can help with manuscripts, paperback novels, and E-books. There are also options for essays, research proposals, screenplays, poems, recipe collections, and more! You can go into full screen mode with a picture backdrop to help you focus and avoid distraction. You can set a daily goal for yourself or a deadline and scrivener will keep you on task. Really, the possibilities are endless.
The best addition I’ve found with this software is the usefulness of setting a deadline and a word count requirement for yourself with the ability to personalize our schedules. This one tool has upped my word count and success in finishing project goals more than anything else. I went from 0 words to over 20,000 within a couple weeks. Even if it isn’t perfect, there are words on the page and a world is coming to life.
2. New Novelist
Okay, I also know not everyone is an Apple/Mac junkie like myself so my favorite alternative for PCs is NewNovelist I used this program before upgrading to a Mac where the program wouldn’t cross over. It has been a while since I’ve used it, but it’s worth taking a look at.
The software has an infinite number of useful tools, but I’m probably not the best reference for the tool in practice. There have been a number of updates since I used it.
3. Research, Research, Research
We know how important it is to research for a book. You should be researching EVERYTHING. Literally, almost every minute detail. But how much to we actually research how to write and produce a good novel. These books have been three of my favorite go-to instruction manuals through writing fiction novels.
Crafting Novels & Short Stories is by far one of my favorite resources for writing novels. I have reread this book multiple times to help with plotting my stories and building my characters. This book has probably been the best resource for me to overcome writers block. The disease that infects many a writer at one point or another.
Another is my Character Traits book. My mother-in-law actually borrowed my Character Traits book one day and was telling me later how interesting she had found it. If you’re having trouble pinning down the motives of your characters (we can’t base them all off of our own experiences, they’d be so boring!) this is a wonderful book. For example, I knew that I wanted to have one of my characters raised by a drunk father, but as it would happen I’ve spent no time around drunk people. This book gives many different explanations for how a drunk adult would act and how it would affect those related to them in different ways. In the end, you can learn a lot of interesting facts AND gain ideas and insights into your characters that you may have never considered before.
And of course, the scariest part of all: getting published. Writer’s Market’s “Guide to Getting Published” can help you take that last step to getting your book on people’s shelves. There are many different ways to go about publishing whether it is self-publishing or working through an agent, but this book covers all the bases.
For all of your research needs. Pinterest is essential and wonderful. Whenever I need to find pictures of characters, clothing ideas, hairstyles, places, etc. I look through random pictures on Pinterest and find a “mother image,” if you will, to base my descriptions off of. Are you in Paris? You better darn well know what Paris looks like. Enchanted Forest? Find a base image so that you aren’t inconsistent in your descriptions.
Once again, Pinterest is as much of an inspiration as your research and is actually a heavy form of research. A picture is worth 1000 words and when it comes to describing your characters, scenes, props, and predicaments these pictures can literally give you 1000 words of description.
5. Baby Names
I don’t know why, but for some reason coming up with names for my characters is the biggest struggle. The name has to sound good, mean something relevant to the story, and flow. I’m the pickiest with names and thus, my resource is an all-encompassing baby name website. You can search by gender, origin, and category. What happens when you find a name you like?
Let’s look at an example! I love the name “Aria” and I learned that is means “solo melody.” The name is of Italian origin and is the name of a nymph in Greek mythology. It is also an Eastern province of the ancient Persian empire. You can learn common nicknames that include Ari, R, and Ree.
Or National Novel Writing Month, as it were. This event comes up every November, where those who participate are encouraged to write 50,000 words before the end of the month. It is a huge feat, but well worth the effort when all is said and done.
I participated once last year, and although I was trying to invest some time myself, into my own story, most of my time was spent with my students and encouraging them to write a healthy number of words on the sister site for “Juniors.”
There are wonderful workbooks to take you step by step through the process of planning your novel. Then you can embark on your writing journey and discover new ways to approach your novel and your own perspective. There is a wonderful community of writers who team together to push each other to finish their word counts, and it can be extremely useful to someone who needs others to keep them on their toes.
This is the back to the basics step. I would not be recommending this product if I didn’t see firsthand its effects on my writing ability. Not only will you gain new writing knowledge and abilities, you will be reminded of patterns and ideas that help build your own voice and talent.
I recommend both Writeshop I and Writeshop II for the sake of building on correct grammar and detail, as well as breaking through the writers block debacle. The first focuses mainly on descriptive writing and the second moves on to informative writing. Both can be especially useful when writing long novels.
8. Read ...
BOOKS! I’m not kidding. What better way to prepare to write a book than to read a book. There is a reason some people get published and some don’t. What are your favorite books, and what about them makes them your favorite? That’s a challenge to give yourself. Read a book, but instead of reading purely for pleasure, keep notes on what works and what doesn’t. Do you like reading books in 1st or 3rd person? Do you prefer the trusting, comic-relief sidekick or the wise, old guide?
There are so many different factors that go into the planning phase of a book, but they all show through in the end product. What would you like your works to be known for? Some good references for novels include J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
BONUS: My Printable
If you are having trouble organizing your thoughts when you approach your book, then my printable is perfect for you! You can get it on my free resource page by subscribing below. It helps you illustrate your world and settings, give your characters more depth, break down your plot into bite-size pieces, and help you find symbols for your characters, and a theme for your novel.
With over 15 pages of fill-in-the-blank excitement, you can organize your ideas and kickstart your novel now, instead of later.
Writing is a hobby that can be both loved and hated within the same moment, but if you have a dream to publish a book, you will probably need a little help and encouragement along the way. These tools can give you the mindset and motivation to push you to finish and edit a budding idea into a finished novel.