When I say toolbox I’m not referring to pens and paper, word processing software, or even dictionaries. I’m talking about tools and tricks I use to make writing easier or at least easier for me. Here is a list of some of my favorites.
The Emotion Thesaurus breaks down emotions into physical signals (what does a person do while experiencing the emotion); internal sensations (what does a person feel when experiencing the emotion or put another way what are the character’s visceral reactions); and mental responses (What is a person thinking while experiencing this emotion).The usefulness of this tool cannot be overstated and that is why it is my number one tool and I expect it will always remain my number one tool.
THE COMPLETE WRITER’S GUIDE TO HEROS AND HEROINES: Written by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders. I know that many of my fellow writers already use this, but it needs to be listed here. I may not always start out a book by thinking of hero or heroine archetypes but at some point, in my drafting processes I will. When I reach a point in the book where I need to understand motivation or conflict, this book will often lead me in the right direction. If you are struggling with romantic conflict, hero’s emotional journey, villain’s motivation, etc., chances are this book will help.
GOAL MOTIVATION AND CONFLICT: Or more importantly the chart that Deb Dixon uses in her book. For those of you who are not familiar with this book, it is a wonder and will help you on your goal to writing great conflict. I use the chart she employs not only in character development but all the way through drafting. I find that if a scene feels flat it is often because the P.O.V. character lacks a proper scene goal or the motivation falls flat. Mapping the scene using GMC helps me find a course that will make my work far more interesting.
SUDOKU: Yes, you heard me. This may seem like it comes out of the blue, but this book is almost as important to me as the emotion thesaurus in how often I use it. Some of you may be wondering how a time sink would be useful to a writer. Well the answer is distraction and mental exhaustion.
Yes, that’s right, mental exhaustion. I’m not sure about the rest of you but I battle my internal editor every time I write a new word. I can go for days without writing anything new because that darn editor (mixed with a healthy dose of self-doubt) won’t shut up. Enter Sudoku. It turns out that my internal editor and the logic part of my brain are the same. When I tire out one the other is too tired to speak up. I can write new words in blessed silence.
What are some of your favorite writer tools or tricks? Do you have ways to beat back irritating mental blocks or crazy internal editors? Do you have a craft book that you can’t believe every writer hasn’t read? Share them with the rest of us. Let’s learn from each other.
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