Writing tools

As mentioned in our YouTube video, How We Write Pt 2 (<- click the link to watch), we’d like to share with you the tools we used for a successful collaboration. Having two brains, two homes, two work and life schedules can seem daunting. Never fear! When you have a story within you, and a partner just as willing to tell that story, you’ll find the time – or make the time – and find the tools to get your manuscript finished.

Kristina’s Tools

Microsoft Office – It may seem obvious, but Word and Excel were my go-to programs. Word for all of our character bios, city/realm descriptions, etc. We even kept a flora/fauna guide in a table within Word. It wasn’t until the editing phase, when I started breaking down the frequency of our word choices, that I used Excel.

Dropbox – We both used this exclusively to share files. Being able to share our documents, and comment (with push notifications!) was a must. I could read and give feedback without editing the doc and Jonathan and I could keep our ‘chat’ in one place for future reference. We had folders and subfolders to organize our ideas, inspiration, and supplemental materials in addition to the chapters we wrote.

Mobile devices – I would write wherever and whenever I could. I used speech to text on my commute to document ideas before I lost them. I’d retire an hour early for bed and take my tablet ano Bluetooth keyboard with me to hurriedly cram in another session. I think I wrote the most when I had the smallest time (like a break at work) and was glad to have all my docs available on all my devices (via Dropbox) and editable with the free Microsoft Word app.

Images and art – from all sources. Also, experiencing nature and travel (using my own photography/experience as reference from time to time). A tool I use with photography and photo editing is PaintShop Pro X6. When I needed to explain what I was seeing in my head for the fighting outfit of a group of characters, I put together a visual style guide (ha) to show Jonathan. When we needed a temporary place holder for our book cover, I used this to create it with free photos from a stock provider on DeviantArt.

The library – I checked out a lot of books during our initial planning days, from titles about making my writing better to research on desert animals. And of course scifi and fantasy books – have to keep reading within our genre, too! Later I checked out books on publishing and querying agents.

TextSTAT A desktop program I used for its word frequency/density analysis and concordance, with easy output to Excel. I found words we used far too much and words we only used once. This was a big help in the editing phase.

Word count tools – An online site that helped me identify metrics such as word difficulty, reading level, and amount of words over or under certain syllable lengths. This was useful when determining if we hit the audiences we wanted to be able to read our book.

Jonathan’s Tools

Microsoft Office – I’ll echo Kristina in saying that Word undoubtedly was the go-to program for drafting and editing our manuscript.

Dropbox – This is the bomb dot com for file sharing.

iPad – Combined with a Bluetooth keyboard, my iPad made a handy laptop substitute. I was able to edit Word documents and also create a little concept artwork to help me visualize our characters and environments. Someday when we’re famous there may be a J&K auction of these fabulous sketches 😉

Post-It notes – My dining room wall was literally covered in Post-It notes (as you may have seen on our Instagram account). We color-coded them to correspond to character, plot, setting, and miscellaneous items as visual reminders of what we needed to check for consistency throughout our manuscript.

There you have it. There are plenty more we used, but this gives you an idea of our top ones. Hope they help! What do you use? Comment below!

By your compass stay true, seekers.


Why We Write

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