Tools

I haven’t personally tried every piece of software listed below, but I’d wager you could make an informed decision about what suits your style if you do a few minutes of browsing.  Be sure to check for Reviews from those who have “taken them once around the block,” so you have a good idea concerning functionality.  And, as with the Resources, spend a little time getting to know the application before you commit to a long-term relationship.


dragon_naturally_speaking-580x263Dragon Naturally Speaking

You say you’re a great storyteller, but you simply refuse to sit down at a computer to bash away at the keys?  Then this is the app for you!  Dragon Naturally Speaking has been in my arsenal for quite a while, and I’ve used it for great success to draft sections of a story, flesh out an e-mail, and even run application commands from the MS Office suite.  Yes, it is that flexible and more!  Go to their website, peek in on the user forums, read the testimonials.  There are people out there who are so sold on this product they will never go back to being chained to a computer desk again.  And I’ve given it the ‘acid test.’  I’ve dictated while walking around my office, gesticulating and emoting, and the software has kept pace with me (with digesting and logging the words, anyway).  Imagine the freedom of just telling the story, then taking the time afterward to polish it up.  CAUTIONARY NOTE:  The software is ready to use right out of the box, but you must invest a little time ‘teaching’ it the way YOU talk.  It will, over time, learn your inflections, your pauses, your phrasing.  The corrections you give it are simply mouse clicks, a selection list of the word you ‘meant,’ and sometimes a few keystrokes to type a specialty word.  “Use it, you may; love it, you will.”


scrivener-logoScrivener

Ever wonder how the most notable modern movie directors have managed to crank out compelling and action-packed stories time and again?  In a word:  Story-boarding.  They know the scenes they want in the story, the “must have” content.  They envision the scenes and flesh them out, but what if the flow of the story doesn’t seem right?  They move the scenes around, perhaps breaking them into smaller sections and interspersing them.  With Scrivener, you have the same flexibility to move, resize, restructure the component blocks of your story.  And with each revision or change, the text / images / links / other info travels with the components.  The application keeps track of all the little details so you can concentrate on writing scenes in any order, to any degree of completion, then it integrates the tale at the push of a button.  Okay, that’s my simplistic version, but it’s close enough to the truth that Authors who depend on its versatility won’t use anything else.


Aeon Timeline logoAeon Timeline

When was the last time you had a character performing a critical action that affected the outcome of a story, only to realize he was still in another location, had been injured so badly he couldn’t have done so, or had been killed in a nasty way three chapters ago?  Aeon Timeline is your “continuity watchdog.”  The visual timeline displays will help you balance those tricky Time / Place relations so neither your characters (nor your Readers) end up scratching their heads and asking, “How could that happen?”  The coolest part of the software is it now integrates with Scrivener, updating the timings and flagging any conflicts.


Ulysses for Mac logoUlysses for Mac / iOS

Ulysses.  Not just a simple text editor; it’s a writing environment.  It provides a distraction-free canvass, though you can call up the interface to add some formatting or tuck in images.  It also has provisions for using Markdown, HTML, and even allows you to incorporate a publisher’s specialty mark-up language.  Its powerful organizational tools help you arrange ideas to suit your style, dragging in notes, links, images, and just about anything else to flesh out your story.  Once you’ve got your book written, you can export it as a PDF, ePUB, Rich Text, or in HTML.  That way, you can add all the little detail formatting you want the Reader to see when experiencing your world.


Storyist logoStoryist for Mac / iPad / iPhone

Storyist caters to the Apple crowd, too.  It produces submission-ready manuscripts and screenplays, gives you a high-level storyboard view of your work, keeps you organized your way, and allows access from anywhere you can reach the Cloud.  Awesome features: Plain vanilla document crafting canvas, that you can add formatting to whenever you like.  It’s loaded with templates and stylesheets, so you can kick out the product you want.  Add a few dashes of page layout, images, comments, and other content, and you can craft the framework like you imagined.  It comes with an outline function, has a repository for all your pictures and images, gives you a built-in word count tracker, and lets you prettify the background to suit your mood.  It’s more than capable of generating ePubs and Kindle eBooks, giving you the choice to import / export to Rich Text Format (.rtf), HTML (.html), Text Only (.txt), Open Office (.odt), Microsoft Word (.doc and .docx), Scrivener (.scriv), Final Draft (.fdx and .fcf), and Fountain (.fountain) for the final product.  Overall, an incredibly flexible, highly functional application.


evernote-logoEvernote

This application provides three key features designed for the “seat of the pants” type of writer.  A stash place for all your ideas; a single workspace shared by each piece of your writing technology; and an open forum for collaboration with trusted partners.  When inspiration strikes, you need to be able to capture the idea.  Evernote can snatch and sequester a webpage for later reference.  You can take a snapshot on your phone and add it to you character development file.  Is it your turn to add a paragraph to the story?  The application ensures your voice is added to the collaborative effort.  Having this “elephant in the room” is actually a good thing.


Free Software10 Free Programs to Unleash Your Creativity

TechRadar made this easy by providing a list with a short write-up on each of these helpers for your writing lifestyle.  Check ’em out!

FocusWriter / WriteMonkeyCeltxLibreOffice WriterSigilTrelby / Scribus / HemingwayEvernoteFreemind

Everything from an uncluttered writing environment, to screenwriting tools, to setting up impressive magazine articles, to a stash for all your ideas, to a visual mind-mapping app.  (Say that last one a few times real fast…)

 


square-partner-logo

You’ve seen folks who run a small business–or take their business on the road–checking out customers with a tiny white plug-in on their phone.  Square has revolutionized mini-mercantile by speeding up payment processing and accurately billing all major credit cards.  Revenue is typically posted to your business account on the same day, and their servers keep an on-going updated tally of all transactions.  As a small business owner (taking your stories to a book signing or convention), this little gadget is portable, accurate, secure, and the application (for phone or tablet) even allows you to set up inventory and draw payments directly for specific products with just the press of a few icons.  Ease and simplicity; security and revenue; inventory and transactions.  You have got to get one for yourself!


MS ExcelHave you wanted a quick and easy way to keep track of your NaNoWriMo Daily Word Count?  Tired of having to do the math of subtracting yesterday’s Word Count from today’s new total?  Want to view your progress in a graphical format, showing both a Pie Chart and a Bar Graph?  Well then, I’ve got an app for You!

NaNoWriMo – Daily Word Count Template

If you decide to use it on a monthly basis, simply copy to a New Tab within the spreadsheet, perhaps insert a different background image to differentiate it from the others, and rename the Tab to the appropriate month.

If you have a previously started story, simply input the Starting Word Count, so it will deduct that amount from the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words.  If you want to set a higher / lower total goal for any given month, adjust that number in the Target cell.

For each day you write, input the Word Count from your word processor on that date.  For days you don’t write, input the same Word Count of your last updated value, which will give you a “0” for that day.

The spreadsheet automatically updates your progress, telling you the number of words you added that session, gives you a Relative Percentage of completion as a numerical value, and it shows as a growing green Pie Chart.  A Bar Graph then populates on the days you write (with the Word Count value) and shows if you’re above or below the daily minimum to keep pace with your goals.

Let me know if this product is helpful.  You can also seek out other spreadsheets on the internet that incorporate Character Bio sheets, Event Info, and Timelines. Find what works best for you.


 

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