The Writer's Tool Chest

Patricia Davids here. Our WARA blog this month is about writing tools.
What's in my writer's toolbox?
Interesting question. I don't think of my writing corner as a toolbox, but I guess it is. I'm a creature of habit when it comes to my writing. I write on a computer at my desk. In fine weather I may move to the back porch to enjoy the fresh air, but I'm really only productive in my office space. I have a touch-screen desktop monitor by HP. I don't have a laptop, but I have often thought about investing in one. My desktop still has Window's 7 on it. I also use Office 2010. I'm not really computer literate. I only know my way around the things I use often. I don't like to learn new things on the computer. KISS. Keep it simple stupid. That's what works for me.
 I will write longhand in a pinch. Usually when I'm trying to put together a plot or gathering research. I like to scribble in notes and cross out things until the story makes sense to me. I also have to talk it out. Out loud. I may talk it out to myself, to the dogs, to my daughter or to my critique partners, but I always talk it out. I have to have a plot before I can move forward. It may change as the book goes along. I have to say that 99 % of the time, it changes when I uncover my character's true motivation. That is the magic moment. Does talking out loud make me a writing tool?
No, but it makes my Dragon a tool. I use Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate when I'm writing my drafts, but I revise by manual typing. (I do love the software and highly recommend it.) I also use Natural Reader 10 to read my work back to me when a chapter is finished. It helps me catch typos, echo words and poor sentences. The software comes with several voices, but I use Paul's voice. I like the sound of a guy reading my work.
Another tool I have developed is a plotting guide that I use to get each of my books started. I begin with a name and a physical description. Next, Goal, Motivation and Conflict for each character as well as the character's arc type. Then I follow a series of steps through 16 chapters that includes the stages of attraction for each character, the major turning points, the goal changes, the increasing conflict, Black moment and resolution. Not all of my books follow the same path. Some are 14 chapters, some are 22, but I make sure I have all the elements I've listed in order to create a complex and satisfying story. No matter how interesting a plot or setting, it's really about the emotion in the story. Never short-change a romance reader on the emotion in your story. 
While all these things are aids to keep me churning out books, they can't replace my most valuable tool.
Good old-fashioned BICHOK.
Butt In Chair Hand On Keyboard. (Thank you, Roxann for teaching me this.)
BICHOK is the only way I have managed to complete 28 books since I first joined WARA way back in 1996. It will be the way I reach my ultimate writing goal of 100 books before I retire. I think I'll be around 95 years old by then, but who cares. I like telling love stories.
Aside from writing, my favorite tool is my cordless drill. What's your favorite non-writing tool? Rolling pin, sewing machine, jackhammer? Tools are cool.


Joan Vincent said...

I love KISS--that was an acronym I lived by and didn't know it back in the 90's while building a computer lab! Right now I am fighting with Dragon--I know it says talking back to it doesn't work and they are right. Oh well, KISS is the operative word.
My favorite tool(s) other than a computer would be either my sewing machine or my stove. I still love to cook. If I make lunch for you will you help me train my Dragon?

Pat Davids said...

Yes, Joan, I'd love to help you train your Dragon.

Z. Minor said...

Thanks for the great blog.