If you’re an indie author, you’re always looking for writing tools which will help you to plan, plot, write, edit, and publish your books fast.
Every novelist is endlessly busy because today, productivity is vital. As the saying goes, you snooze, you lose.
Authors often tell me that their biggest challenge is getting organized. You can’t keep all the details of a novel in your head, and when you sit down to write, you want to get creative, and write.
So, let’s look at my favorite novel writing tools which help me to stay organized. You can use these tools for your other writing as well, of course.
Disclosure: you’ll find no affiliate links in this article, nor do I have any connection with the developers of any of the tools mentioned.
Writing tools for your novel
My favorite, indispensable writing tools include:
- Scrivener (of course, always)
- Trello (wonderful for plotting and blogging)
- Evernote (my traveling filing cabinet)
- iMindMap (currently my favorite mind mapping tool)
All four tools are available on your desktop machines (Windows and Mac), as well as on your devices.
Scrivener: bright and shiny and new — version 3 available for Mac, coming soon to Windows
I’ve been using Scrivener since 2005, when I made the switch from Windows to Macs. It’s helped me to become much more productive that I would have been without it.
Does it have a learning curve? Yes, and no. I’ve found that the learning curve arises when:
- Writers try to get Scrivener to behave like MS Word;
- Authors imagine that they need to “learn” the app before they can write with it.
Yes, Scrivener is powerful. And yes, you can make it behave like Word (sorta, kinda) but you don’t need to know everything there is to know about it, before you use it to write. Some features you may use occasionally, others you’ll never use.
For example, a few weeks ago, I started using Scrivener’s Scratch Pad — I thought it would help me to do something I wanted to do, and it did. Many Scrivener users never use Collections, but I rely on them totally.
Use Scrivener your way. Play with the app’s Tutorial (accessed via the Help menu) and write.
If you’ve never tried Scrivener to write a novel, and you know you need to get organized, give the app a try.
Hello Trello: lay your cards on the table
If you’re a visual person, you’ll love Trello. It’s like having endless boxes of digital index cards — which are much more powerful than paper cards.
I love Trello for plotting novels, and for writing blog posts. When I’m working with students, I create a new board for each course.
Evernote: take everything you need to write your novel with you
I think of Evernote as my traveling office. I stuff anything I think I may need when I’m out and about into Evernote, and I can write — or give presentations — anywhere.
I’ve been using Evernote since 2009; it’s an essential tool to store and organize my research. It works brilliantly with iMindMap. I create lots of mind maps, and at the end of a writing session, I save each map as an image, then I drag the images into one Evernote note.
By flicking through the maps in the note, I can plot and write novels anywhere.
iMindMap: out in a new version, better than ever
While there are dozens of mind mapping programs, iMindmap has become my favorite over the past couple of years; it just keeps getting better.
Mind maps help me to think, plan, and plot. By the time I’ve completed a novel, I have one master mind map for the novel, and anywhere from ten to 20 “child” maps, to handle the various stages of plotting:
- Set up — first 25%;
- Preparing for the midpoint;
- The midpoint;
- The big twist at 80%;
- The climax.
By looking at my mind map for any stage of the plotting process, I can see where I am at a glance: which scene, where the scene takes place, the time, the characters involved, and their conflict.
I also create mind maps for the main characters, and another mind map for secondary characters.
Good writing tools are essential: they make you a better writer
Think of writing a novel as if you’re building a house.
Not only do you have to create a blueprint for the structure, you also need to create the bricks, lay on the utilities, and decorate the house.
Whenever authors have problems with their novels, it’s usually because they’re trying to do several things at the same time. That doesn’t work. Use your writing tools. Do one thing at a time. Your creativity will thank you, and you’ll write more and better novels.
Have fun. 🙂
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