Today, there are different kinds of tools that you could use to write your stories, poetry, prose, etc. The most obvious one would be pen and paper, but if you’re one of those who suffers arthritis or just happens to love using the latest technology, there are various writing software that you could use, from your standard Notepad to your MS Word to a lot more elaborate ones such as Scrivener.
There are also various online writing communities that you can join. You just need to search for them if you want to join one. Some are for free, some are for a fee. They help become your peer critiques with your story, as well as you have a chance to share your stories to the masses with the help of the internet.
The following on the list are the tools that I use to write my rough drafts. You can take the time to check them out and try them out. I am using a Windows OS-based system, so everything listed here is compatible with Windows. 1
A little tip – Join and Participate in NaNoWriMo!
If you haven’t participated in a NaNoWriMo event of any kind (Camp NaNoWriMo, etc.), then I highly recommend that you do. If you do complete the challenge of writing a novel with the word count of 50K+ (or in some cases, just participating in it), not only you will get a winner’s certificate, but you also get plenty of goodies and discounts to various writing-related software and services that you can use to continue on with your novel-writing journeys (even if you’re doing it as a hobby like me). I was able to acquire the tools and software mentioned below from all the winnings that I received from NaNoWriMo.
Many of the tools listed here aren’t exactly cheap. However, the discounts that you win for completing the challenge really do help you a lot!
Research, Project/Time Management, and Note-Taking
- Scapple – This is a software that simulates our brainstorming techniques that we used to do whenever we write research papers and essays back in school. You can create trees and charts of any notes or ideas that you can come up with from out on a whim. Best of all, this software is developed by Literature and Latte, the same folks behind the popular literature writing program called Scrivener, and because of that, you can integrate Scapple with Scrivener and be able to import your notes and charts to your Scrivener writing project.
- Aeon Timeline – By far my favorite software to use for research, brainstorming, and note-taking. The software name should tell you straight out what it does: create timelines for the events happening in your story’s rough draft. This software has helped me immensely with all of the compiled events and scenes, what happens next after this scene just ended, etc. It also helps you make connections with different events and the causes and effects afterward, which will truly help you write a genius, compelling story. Normally, I would just write and write things out on a whim and just go with whatever flow it may take me, but the Aeon Timeline is very, very useful with writing mystery/detective stories 2.
- Microsoft OneNote – Since neither Scapple nor Aeon Timeline has mobile apps, I use Microsoft OneNote to jot down some ideal drafts, ideas, etc. on this app, so that when I get home, I can open up Scapple or Aeon Timeline to do my work.
- Freeter – This is a general project management software for all of your creative projects, from writing stories to making art to even code programs or build websites. I usually use Freeter for my coding projects, but I also found this useful for scheduling (to-do lists) when to write, what to research, etc. This can also be helpful also for scheduling when to write during all of NaNoWriMo events.
- RescueTime – RescueTime is a unique time management tool that gives you alarms and alerts regarding your most important activities that you need to do at that certain period (such as studying or other important activities) and prevent you from getting too distracted with other unrelated extracurricular activities. I use this a lot for my online coding classes because I admit that I do get distracted a lot by non-coding/project related activities (social media, YouTube, etc.), and this really helped me immensely.
Drafting and Writing
- OpenOffice and LibreOffice – Before I started using MS Office through my brother’s account, I relied a lot on both OpenOffice and LibreOffice when it came to drafting and writing my stories. These two office suites support the
.odt3 file format, and most of the fiction/fanfiction hosting services such as Fanfiction.net and Wattpad, highly recommend you save all your document files in ODT format, rather than the more familiar
.docxMS Office formats. MS Word 2016 does support the ODT format, but why pay for that software when you can get either OpenOffice or LibreOffice for free? 4
- Scrivener – Today, Scrivener is the ultimate writing tool. This is a very heavily functioned software that pretty much does everything for you, whether if you’re writing a huge novel project or if you’re writing an essay. It contains various templates that you can use from drafting your characters to adding in notes like you would do with Scapple. Scrivener is such a powerful program that it can also be integrated with a number of related software. Lucky for me, both Scapple and Aeon Timeline can be integrated with Scrivener, and you can import anything you draft from both Scapple and Aeon Timeline into your Scrivener project file, so you can only go back and forth with your notes in one place. Highly recommended. It costs $45 for a standard license, but you can purchase it for half the price of the regular if you win your NaNoWriMo goodies. That’s how I got my software copy in the first place.
- JotterPad – Like Scapple and Aeon Timeline, Scrivener doesn’t have a mobile app version. However, there is JotterPad, a mini-mobile app version of Scrivener, pretty much. When you’re on the go, this is the app you want to use to write your mini-stories out on a whim. The thing is, JotterPad is only available for Android OS-powered devices and Amazon Kindle (in which the Kindle OS is also based on Android). Its minimalism and simplicity of the app give a lot of breathing room for aspiring writers to write out all their ideas. The app is free, however, they also have a pro version in which you can save all your work automatically in the cloud via Dropbox. I’ll write more about JotterPad in an upcoming entry, in which you can use its cloud/Dropbox feature to sync all your work with Scrivener.
I suggest joining some writing communities, whether you’re writing original fiction or fanfiction. There are plenty that exist out there. There are also communities that also guide you to becoming a serious, published author, earning royalties for your work. But here are the following that I’ve joined.
- Archive of Our Own (A3O) – fanfiction community
- Fanfiction.net – the first fanfiction community launched on the internet.
- FictionPress – partner of Fanfiction.net, FictionPress is a huge community of original fiction and prose writing.
- Wattpad – today, the largest, most popular writing community on the internet. Both fiction and fanfiction writers are accepted here.
- Figment Fiction – YA/young adult-specific original writing community. All ages welcome. Unfortunately, Figment Fiction will be closing by the end of the year (2017), therefore, I’m signing up for the new community Figment is transferring to, and that would be the next item on the list.
- Underlined – Underlined is basically a new brand for the near-ending Figment Fiction. Still a YA-specific writing community, it has expanded into something more than just a writing community. The community is owned and operated by one of the world’s most established book publishers, Penguin Random House.
- Scribophile – a very comprehensive writing community that also includes critiques and tips on how to get an agent and get published.
- NaNoWriMo – never forget to join this! When you win, you will be able to discover a lot of hidden gems to aspiring writers throughout the internet and be able to take advantage of them. The links I listed here are mostly discovered through my winnings at NaNoWriMo.