I’ve been pondering useful writing tools lately. The best one is to apply my posterior to a seat and get writing. However, there are a few others which I regularly make use of and which can sometimes be very useful.
The first is my WRITING LOG. This is a simple table showing each day of the week. In it I note down the number of words I’ve written that day and the cumulative total to date. It is wonderfully motivating and encouraging. In fact it’s a real carrot and stick. I would not write a novel without this. It’s done more to keep me on track and writing than anything else.
The second took is my COMBINED MASTER PLANNING DOCUMENT. In this I have combined elements of the Hero’s Journey, Propp’s Morphology of the Folk Tale and Aristotle’s Key Plot Elements. I then map my novel according to these and file it away. I rarely look at it again unless I get stuck. If I do chance to look at it I sometimes find I am keeping pretty much to the plan, other times hardly at all. Neither worries me. I find that the plotting is useful in itself as I never used to pay enough attention to this aspect of my writing.
CHRONOLOGY. This is the essential tool for my historical novels. I have four columns. One is for the date. The second is for the general events which took place that year. The third and fourth show what is happening to my protagonist and antagonist (and their followers) in that year.
CHARACTER LIST. This is my newest tool and I have found it invaluable. Again, it’s a simple table with the essential information about each character. It helps me keep track of who is who in the novel and important information about them. As many of my characters are historical figures I find it helps to put a picture of them, ideally as close to the date of the story as possible.
When I get stuck or find myself caught up with too many choices I resort to more lateral thinking devices such as using my subconscious.
None of these tools are essential and I don’t rely on any of them. But they are great aides when things go a little awry in my writing.
- Dan Harmon, “Community” and The Hero’s Journey (gointothestory.blcklst.com)
- Aristotle’s Timeless Advice for Writing Great Tragedy (kathleenlourde.wordpress.com)
- Plot templates and devices, Beware the Jabberwock, my son! (storybodyguard.com)
- Sticky Cobwebs of the Past (writeami.wordpress.com)