What is in my Writer’s Toolbox? (Z. Minor)

Currently my writing office is equipped with a desk-top computer and a laptop, both computers have Microsoft 2013 and I use both of them. The desk top for writing my novels and the lap-top for tracking what I’m writing. Confusing - not to me, let me explain.

I use the lap-top to keep a timeline of my story as well as a master list of names and important events taking place throughout the story. This stops me from having to relook up the information I already used. An Excel spread sheet keeps track of chapter numbers, page count, and which characters are in the scene. This keeps me having to remember the who, what, and where as I write – especially important in rewrites - so I don’t forget some little detail; like eye or hair color, and names - especially spelling of names and places.

I use the Internet for my go to place for gathering historical information which I weave into my stories. Even for contemporary novels I find the Internet most helpful. Because I enjoy doing research I have found over the years I can spend way too much time on this portion of my writing process. Add the fact, I use only a small portion of any material I gather, otherwise my story would become nothing more than a history lesson. As I write I use the research I have collected as a backdrop for a scene or some tidbit to enhance the time period of the story. I actually do most of my research while I’m in the process of writing my first draft. If I find I need more information to help me paint a better word picture or to give more clarity when I am working on a second or third draft of the story – it’s back to the Internet and a little more research.

My favorite writing tool is a software program called Dragon. I speak into a microphone and my words are put on the page. This is most helpful when my hands get sore from typing. Sometimes the program and my voice come up with some interesting words, especially if it is not a very common word. The program updates after a voice session and there are ways to put favorite or special words into the program’s vocabulary. But when the same word has two different spellings and/or two different meanings it can get very interesting. One example – I said the word flower and Dragon printed flour.

What I really like about this program is when Dragon reads the story back to me. I catch a lot of mistakes, misspelled or missing words – my mind many times is ahead of what I am typing. I have found sentences with either too much punctuation or none at all. Many times I hear a sentence and think that is not what I meant to say or this needs to be reworded because it is confusing. It was the best investment I made to improve my writing.

I have a great imagination but thinking up characters, scenes, dialogue, and settings, and writing it down are very different tasks. So I write, rewrite and, rewrite until I have a solid story.

Z. Minor

Author of Historical Romantic & Contemporary Suspense Novels.