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Archive for the tag “writing help”

Tools of the Trade: Random Tools

In the past I told you about 4theWords and Habitica–role playing “games” that keep me motivated; ScrivenerLiquid Story Binder and Aeon Timeline that I use to keep projects organized; and sites for white noise to help with distractions.

Today, I’m going to highlight ten other programs and sites I like to use to keep myself organized.

  1. wordcounter.net
    counter1WordCounter is my go-to site for counting words in my writing. Everyone knows the counter in Word is highly inaccurate and every program has its own algorithm. Some count words separated by em dashes as one word and another didn’t count words if they were followed by a curly end-quote (WTF is that about?).

    counter2I tested out a bunch of online counters and found wordcounter to be the most accurate. What’s even better is that it offers a whole slew of features to help you evaluate your writing.

    As you can see from the screencap, you can keep track of not only the number of words but the number of sentences, paragraphs, and pages. There are other stats it tracks like reading level, average lengths of sentences, shortest and longest sentences and words, unique words, and syllables (I’m guessing for poetry).

    The keyword density feature is great to check how many times you say “and” in a story (way too many times in my case).

  2. wordkeeperalpha.com
    wka1WordKeeperAlpha is the site I use to make those colorful monthly charts on my round-up posts.wka2

    It’s a simple site that lets you keep track of your daily word count with the ability to break things down by project. wka3

    There is also a graph representing the entire year and a pie chart that breaks your cumulative words down by project. It’s not a super important site if you use other spreadsheets to track words, but those graphs sure are pretty.

  3. LibreOffice
    LibreOffice is a freeware alternative to Microsoft Word. It takes a little getting used to, and I find some of the functions clunky, but it does everything Word does–sometimes better.
    Besides using it as a word processor, I take full advantage of the spreadsheet file type. I use it to keep track of every story I write. The example above is from my “storylist” file. It lists title (or working title), fandom, main characters, ships, summary, start/finish dates, word count, rating, warnings, prompts, LJ community (if written for a prompt/challenge), dedication, beta, series, and which sites the story is posted to. That’s a lot of info. And as you can see, it goes back to when I first started writing fanfic in 2005.
  4. thesaurus.com
    Thesaurus.com and dictionary.com are an easy given. They are my favorite places to look when I’m in need of that perfect word. There are other dictionary and thesaurus sites out there, but why would you go anywhere else?
  5. songfacts.com
    songfactsThis might seem like a completely random site, but I use Songfacts to find song titles to use as titles for my fanfic. You can search by theme or word. There are also random categories to look through, and they all link to the lyrics of the song. It’s a great place to get inspiration as well (song titles and lyrics always breed plot bunnies for me).
  6. Scapple
    scapple2Scapple is a “mind mapping” tool from the makers of Scrivener, and it’s one of my favorite programs to play around with.

    scapple1Mind mapping is when you place the topic of your project in the center then connect it to sub-topics (arcs, characters, and plot points in the case of stories) around it. You then connect details to each of those points. So on and so forth. It was probably my favorite writing exercise as a kid. You can get really fancy on paper with drawings, colors, and notes. Digital mind, though, mapping often lacks that flexibility.

    scapple3Scapple is fairly basic. Topics/ideas are placed anywhere and connected by arrows or lines. Different box styles and colors help organize. They can also be used to set apart notes that aren’t connected to the diagram. There are limitless ways to use the program. I’ve used it to track plots, relationships between characters, family trees, and even used it to break down supplies needed to finish quests at 4theWords.

  7. random.org
    Random.org is the site I use to randomize my prompt lists. The site offers other randomizers, like numbers and dice, that can be useful.
  8. shutterstock.com and other stock photo sites
    No, you don’t need to buy a subscription or pay for rights to use these sites. Because you are only looking for inspiration. It’s helpful to be able to picture your characters, so I use the sites to find photos of people that look like the characters I have in mind. And sometimes photos I find inspire the look of new characters (or even entire plots).
  9. houseplans.com and other sites like it
    In the same vein as the stock photo sites, sites that offer house plans help visualize the living spaces of your characters so you don’t accidentally move the bathroom to the opposite side of the house five chapters down the line. That is if you don’t get sucked into finding your dream home.
  10. Pinterest
    Pinterest isn’t just for over-achieving super moms and bored housewives to find elaborate and pointless DIY projects to attempt. It’s also great for keeping track of those stock photos and house plans you find using different boards for each project. BEWARE: this site is a total timesuck. Enter at your own risk.

There are a multitude of other sites and tools out there–word processing software, inspiration and prompt sites, and motivational tools to name a few. These ten are the ones I use most often.

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