Tag Archives: writing tools

Plot Your Novel: My Favorite Novel Writing Tools

Plot Your Novel: My Favorite Novel Writing Tools

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

Scrivener writing tool

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

Trello writing tool

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

Evernote writing tool

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

mind mapping

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. 🙂

124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today

124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today

eBook: $5.99

You want to write fiction. Perhaps you're a self-publishing author — or perhaps you're a ghostwriter, and want to offer fiction writing services to clients.

Whatever your needs and dreams, this book, 124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today, will help.

More info →
Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

Heart To Heart: Romance Writing For Beginners

eBook: $5.99
Series: Romance Writing, Book 1
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction

Love makes the world go round, and of all the genres in fiction, romance, with its many sub-genres, is the most popular.

More info →
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Writing Fiction: Get Inspired With Pinterest and Trello

Writing Fiction: Get Inspired With Pinterest and Trello

Writing fiction, especially if you’re writing more than one short story, or novel, gets complicated. You’ve got notes, outlines, character and plot ideas everywhere, both on paper, and in various digital storage places. When I asked my romance writing class for their biggest challenge they responded: organization.

I’ve been writing in Scrivener for years, and it’s an amazing tool, but I’ve found two easy and free tools especially useful for fiction. Pinterest for inspiration, and Trello to keep my scenes straight. Pinterest has wonderful “secret” boards, which I use to collect characters, plot ideas, and settings. Trello is especially useful because I work on several projects at a time.

Get Inspired With Pinterest

I start my fiction with images. As I said:

… an image has built-in emotion – if you choose the right image. Fiction is all about emotion. No emotion? You’ve got nothing. Your idea, no matter how wonderful, will fizzle out. Or you’ll have a bunch of weird emotions tumbling around, which you can’t get a handle on… and the novel or short story fizzles out.

Pinterest for fiction

Whenever I find an image which arouses an emotion in me, I save it to one of my secret Pinterest boards. I have boards for each projects, as well as general boards for character traits, clothes and settings.

Try creating your own boards. You’ll find that once your boards are populated with pins, they kickstart your inspiration. Not only will you develop great characters, you’ll also come up with wonderful plot twists.

I like to browse a novel or short story’s board before I start writing each day.

The Charm of Trello: From Chaos to Organization.

Like Pinterest, Trello is perfect for visual thinkers. Yes, Scrivener has its cork board mode, which is very useful, and do use it to organize scenes. But for some reason, I find Trello more relaxing. I use it for planning scenes, plot points, and character arcs. I also keep track of my word counts.

If you use Evernote, as I do, to manage clients, blogging, and everything to do with your daily life, you’ll love Trello. You can copy a note link in Evernote, and attach the link to a Trello card. This is useful to keep track of research, and ideas for current or future projects.

If you’re writing fiction, and working on several projects at a time, try using Pinterest and Trello to not only get inspired, but also to keep everything straight. I’ve found that these two tools make me more productive.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Writing Tools: Create Your Own Templates in Scrivener


You use Scrivener don’t you? If you don’t — start today. Scrivener helps you to write. When I made the switch back to Macs from PCs way back in 2005 it was the best decision I ever made, because of apps like Scrivener. Scrivener’s now available on Windows too, so you have no excuse. 🙂

Learning how to create your own custom project templates in Scrivener saves you time and energy. Thaddeus Hunt’s excellent article shows you how it’s done.