I am a list-maker. I’ve embraced it. And I had so much fun listing my top 5 middle grade books last week that I was itching to make another one. Today’s list: the top tools in my writing toolbox.
I’m not talking about the obvious things, like a computer and chocolate, but the things that it took me a while to discover, and that I really hope other writers know about. Every once in a while, I’m writing and I think to myself, “I love this so much I could marry it.” (Yes, that’s cliche, but all of my creative juices are flowing into my writing when this happens.)
The object of my affection varies, but here the top 3 things I’ve been enamoured with while writing lately:
1. The Gaming Mouse. This little guy is absolutely essential when I’m revising. I actually take it with me if I’m revising on another computer. (I think any gaming mouse would do, but I have this one.) The scrolling is so fast, so sensitive, so easy! If you’ve ever thought your finger or wrist was going to seize up from all the scrolling (or relentless “Page Up” or “Page Down” tapping), do yourself a favor and buy a gaming mouse. You won’t regret it.
2. The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. We all know that we should show not tell, including when it comes to emotion. But how can I show that my MC is happy? I’ve already said that he smiled 347 times! Fire up The Emotion Thesaurus and its long list of emotions, each with their own lists of physical signals, internal sensations, and mental responses. (I told you I love lists!) I rarely use anything directly from the lists, but they are an amazing springboard to think of your own way to show your characters’ emotions. I think a paper copy would be fine, but I am a little bit in love with my ecopy. It’s so easy and quick to navigate and find exactly what you need. (And thanks to Tasha for recommending this book!)
3. Google Earth. If your book has a definite setting anywhere beyond the range of vision when you’re sitting at the keyboard, Google Earth is an amazing writing tool. It’s probably most helpful if you’re writing contemporary fiction, but I can see the value of it in grounding genre writing as well. When I decided to give my books a definite setting, Google Earth was absolutely indispensable. (Are there trees in that part of town? How far is Page from Flagstaff, and what exactly does the drive look like? What part of town has the big fancy houses? The high school? The university? The golf courses?) Google Earth is a great tool for establishing a sense of place.
Those are my top three, but tell me: What am I missing? What are the essentials in your writing toolbox?