Tag Archives: journals

Fiction Writing Tools: Two to Love (Mac)

Fiction Writing Tools: Two to Love (Mac)

I’ve been asked about fiction writing tools, so I’ll make this quick, and tell you what I use. Keep in mind that I’m a full time writer, and have been for years. I need tools which help me to get organized, and stay organized. If you’re a brand new writer, start off with Scrivener. You can do almost everything in Scrivener; you can get other tools as you need them.

Not a Mac person? If you need Windows alternatives, you could consider WikidPad as an alternative to VoodooPad, and Microsoft OneNote as an alternative to Curio.

1. VoodooPad: Magic for Organization and Creativity.

VoodooPad is a wiki, like Wikipedia in a sense, but instead of living on the Web, it’s an app on your Mac. Only you get to use it. You can create as many VoodooPad documents as you like, and each VoodooPad document is made up of pages. Initially, I worried about file size for VoodooPad docs, but some of my documents are several gigs in size. They’re still as speedy as they ever were.

Like a wiki, you create links in a document, leading to other pages. Type two words together like “MustDo” and VoodooPad makes the combo word a link. Click on the link, and VoodooPad creates a MustDo page for you. In that page, you can create other links leading to other pages. Although it sounds complicated, talking about it takes more time than doing it.

Don’t worry about organization. You have a “home” page, which is your index. However, most of my index pages in VoodPad documents only contain a few references to links. You can locate other material via the Search function, the Pages drawer, and via Collections.

I love VoodooPad for fiction. I create a new VoodooPad document for each series and serial part-work I create, to act as the “Bible” for that line of books. I dump everything in the document: notes about plot, character, settings, a daily writing journal (for weeping and wailing and counting words)…

Previously, I kept all this material in the Research section of the book’s, or series’, Scrivener document, but I prefer VoodooPad for all extraneous material.

2. Curio: Helps You to Think.

Although you can keep images and PDFs in both Scrivener and VoodooPad, I prefer Curio as a visual organizer. I use it to store book cover images, Amazon descriptions and keywords, and brainstorms. A couple of series I’m ghostwriting are historical, so I keep images of character dress, houses of the time, and reference notes to books that I want to borrow from the library or buy.

If you’re an Evernote user, Curio integrates beautifully with it. I make notes and draw in my paper journals, and on cards. I photograph them into Evernote with my phone. Then I drag the images into Curio. Sounds convoluted, but it works.

As we’ve said, if you’re just starting on your writing journey, start with Scrivener. (You can thank me later.) Once your needs extend beyond that, because you’re working on several book projects at a time, explore other tools.

VoodooPad and Curio are two tools I love. I’d be lost without them.

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You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Write Your Novel: Character Journals

You’ve started writing a novel. You’ve written ten or 100 pages, and it’s painful, because your characters refuse to come alive. You feel like a puppet master, jerking strings on lumps of wood.

I’ve had that happen on a couple of novels, and it wasn’t pleasant.

Marjory, my editor at the time, suggested that I create character journals. Why not let my story people speak for themselves?

Create a Character Journal, Right Within Your Novel

When you create a character’s journal, create it right within the flow of your novel. I suggest that the first journal you create is your lead character’s — your lead character is usually the primary point of view character.

Write, using the first person — “I”.

Kick off the journal by asking your lead a question:

* “Tell me about your childhood…”

* “What did you do when you stumbled upon the corpse on the beach?”

* “Why do you hate Jamie?”

Then, simply write, as the character. Write as quickly as you can, without censoring. Allow the character to say anything she/ he wants.

As we’ve said, write the journal within your novel. You’re writing a first draft. In your second draft, you can remove the character journals if you wish. However, you may find that you keep much of the material, as scene sequels.

I’m not a fan of creating character dossiers before you write your novel. I tend to forget what was in the dossiers, because I never go back to reread them, so for me writing them is a waste of time.

After you complete the first draft of your book, you can create character dossiers so a character doesn’t suddenly change eye color, or even personality, without a clear reason for the personality change.

Character journals bring your novel to life. Try writing a journal for one or two of your characters today.