By Glen C. Strathy
Writing tools are not nearly as mysterious and specialized as those used by a car mechanic or surgeon. Most of tools you need to write a book are common as dirt. Before the 20th century, all a writer needed was a pen, ink, paper, and a collection of great books to draw upon for information or inspiration. But the most important tool was the human brain.
The last hundred years have given us the typewriter, the computer, a few good software programs, and a few other technical gadgets. But it still all comes down to the brain.
That said, there are a few tools you should know about – not because you must use them, but only because you may find them helpful. Some are very low tech and have been around for generations. (They are consequently, very cheap.) Others are products of our current fascination for gadgets, but they're pretty inexpensive too.
Sometimes the best tools for creative work are games, because games stimulate the imagination. They give us a framework (rules) which we can fill with creative ideas. Since writing is often a solitary activity, writing tools are often games we can play by ourselves. The best ones are those that offer enough challenge to be stimulating, are easy enough that we feel confident we can always win, and are open-ended enough to fit whatever we want to write.
Here are a few tools and games we find useful...
This fun, easy to use set of plastic, dice-like cubes can help you generate an unlimited number of original story ideas. Can be played with children, adults, writer groups, etc. Functions a little bit like an alethiometer or golden compass.
Play this fun game to create surrealist poems or some unique imagery that can inspire your next story. Makes a great party game to play with your writer friends.
A low-tech, old-fashioned tool for writers that is still one of the most useful tools for working out the sequence of events for your story or simply recording ideas on the fly.
Coming soon to a refrigerator near you...
A low-tech but fairly modern tool for generating creative ideas for stories, poems, notes to your roommate, and even novels.
How useful are websites as promotional tools for new authors? Discuss the pros, cons, and secrets to making them work.
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