The Writer’s Toolbox
This is the first year I’m actively participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s daunting, writing 50,000 words in a month, but it’s good to have deadlines.
So, I’ve been gearing up by reviewing three books I’ve read on the craft of writing novels and screenplays and creating a few tools to keep me organized. Really, it’s turned out to be one tool in one spreadsheet.
My Thoughts on Writing Tools
I don’t use tools that require a subscription or upfront chunk of change. This doesn’t mean I won’t in the future. For example, one tool has always intrigued me: Final Draft. It’s for scriptwriting and looks fantastic. One of these days I’ll sign up for the 30-day test-drive. Today is not that day.
For now, I prefer books and simply writing. I find that many of the tools out there are part of the whole resistance thing. What I mean is, there seems to be a propensity among writers to say something like, “I need this tool, or I can’t write.” Not true.
Yes, writers need tools to write: pen and paper; typewriter and paper; keyboard and computer. It’s a limited list I have there, and there’re other tools, but do we really need much more? Not really. And, with the amount of money most writers make, we can’t afford them.
So, onto what I’ve put together. And it’s free.
Craft Books to Read
Three books helped me devise the tool I have linked below. Here are those books:
- The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know, by Shawn Coyne
- Screenwriting Tricks for Authors: Stealing Hollywood: Story Structure Secrets for Writing Your Best Book, by Alexandra Sokoloff
- The Screenwriter’s Bible, by David Trottier
I’ve mentioned them before. However, what I may not have said is: Read them; you won’t regret it.
The Three-act Structure & Character Cards
This tool may seem a simple thing, but without going into too much detail, it’s the culmination of a lot of work.
I’ve posted my character cards before and wrote a post regarding them. Those were meant to be printed on cardstock. I usually link those together with a binder ring. For the three-act structure, I used these notecards for each scene in my novels and posted it on that same corkboard as in the image above of my workspace.
I’ve since made a spreadsheet that contains those character cards and the entire three-act structure I use for my own novels. I’ll still be using the hard-copy version of the character cards and the three-act structure, but I’ve found I think better through a keyboard when it comes to brainstorming: I type way faster than I handwrite.
Today, I’ll simply be posting a link to my Three-act Structure (Template) spreadsheet. Next week, I’ll go over how to use it and what everything means.
My Next Post
In my next post, well, as I said above, I’ll be going into greater detail related to the spreadsheet I posted. If you’re interested, download the spreadsheet, take a look at what’s in it, and next week I’ll clarify everything.
Feel free to ask questions below or send me an email.