Friday, December 13, 2013

12 Christmas Gift Ideas for Writers under $40

Christmas is fast approaching.  Not sure what gift to buy a writer?  Well,  why not check out some of these unique, writer-focused items? 

The following gift ideas suit all budgets, as items range in price from as little as $7 up to $40, so I'm sure you might find something suitable.

1. Thoth Candle Holder 
In mythology, Thoth is accredited as being the God of Wisdom, Writing and Invention, so this candle holder is perfect as a desk-weight and candle holder for the busy, dedicated writer / novelist.

2. Warning Sign
This one is more for the family and friends of a novelist hard at work to caution against interrupting the Writer while their Muse is present. I WANT one of these for my office!

Let's face it, writer's need to know a lot of words in order to be successful. So what better gift than to give a writer a book with no-so-common words that might be just what the writer is after!  I know, I love websites that list unusual words, and have occasionally come across a word that has been just what I needed!

It seems that a lot of writer's love to drink alcohol as they write their manuscripts, because of the advice to 'write drunk, edit sober' gaining plenty of comments to the effect that the person can't stop drinking long enough to edit.  So if this is true - I know I don't mind writing with a glass of wine to sip on! - then your writer family member or friend is sure to love this little book.

This book is a serious gift.  Many writer's seem to become stuck for ideas and how to develop them - I know I have!  Even more aspiring novelist never start writing the book they would love to write simply because they don't know how or where to start.  This gift idea becomes a highly treasured writer's resource!  You could end up with the next J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, Stefanie Meyer, Anne Rice, or Stephen King on your hands, all because you got the person writing!

Writer's spend a lot of time honing their writing skills and go through many, many notebooks.  Why not buy your writer family member or friend a notebook which they will really treasure!  My own children bought me something similar, and although it is now filled, it is still my favourite.

When writing a novel, the novelist needs to create unique characters.  Why not have a bit of fun with this Identikit software and make different characters?

Another serious writing resource for the writer's of all levels - amateurs through to professional. The Writer's Devotional contains inspiring motivations, ideas and writing exercises to get the Muse not just visiting, but staying around.  I've let my children know that if they are stuck for what to buy me as a gift, I would be more than happy to receive this!

Writing Inspiration is so important that I would also be happy to receive this writing resource as well. A writer can never have enough good resources to help keep them on track with their writing goals!

More writing inspiration and exercises to get the writer going.

One of the greatest challenges for many writer's is getting all the different ideas in their head to turn into a chronological storyline with all the right suspense, tension and conflict while ensuring the reader doesn't fall into a dirty big plot hole or suffer from a drooping middle.  Novel software can really help. 

Finally, no writer should ever be without a pen to write with, EVER! But not just any old pen though; it has to be easy to write with, so good grip and free-flowing ink are a must!

So there you have it. Twelve ideas, and only twelve days left until Christmas.

Have a lovely Christmas!


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

yWriter to my rescue!

Almost a week ago, I rediscovered the free novel writing program, yWriter, and decided to try and piece together all the jigsaw like story notes that are littered throughout my hard drive, to bring my novel storyline into a cohesive whole.

Of the probably two hundred thousand words recorded in my scenes and notes, so much as changed since I originally came up with the story's premise, so I have been busily copying rescueable text from all those files, and pasting them across into yWriter's manuscript pages, or its easily accessible project, story, character, location, or item notes, and then re-arranging the electronic scenes into chronological order.

This has really helped get the story clearer in my head.  I've been able to add pictures to character files and locations and items, and my project is starting to take good shape.

But I haven't abandoned Microsoft Word completely.  Although you can type your manuscript directly into yWriter, it is missing too many of Microsofts good word features and tools that I cannot live without.

So the way I am using it is:
- I copy the text from yWriter and paste it to a blank word document.  I write my scene, and then copy and paste it to both yWriter and my master word document, and then discard the blank working document.
- If I need to go back and make changes, I repeat the above - and that way, yWriter and my master manuscript document are always completely up to date and in sync with each other.

I'm doing it this way because the benefit of yWriter is that you write in small scenes, so you get more of your manuscript written because the task isn't too big, you can work out of (story) order, and you aren't wasting time flipping through a big long word document - and, if an idea strikes while you are in the flow, you can just flip to the notes section, record the details then get back to what you were doing and then work out where that new idea fits later when the words aren't flowing as smoothly.  But, having a Word document allows you to read your story that you have so far from start to finish, which allows you to get into the flow of your story and to feel when it is stilted or dragging; and, Word picks up on spelling and grammar problems as you work, which yWriter doesn't (you can run spell check later, but I like to fix up as I am going).  So, I'm using the programs to complement each other, to help me reach an eventual writing 'The End'.

Inspired by the success I've been having because of yWriter though, wondering if there is an even better program that might be more suitable now that I've discovered how useful novel writing programs can be, I headed back online and looked at some of the commercial novel writing software, and I have to say, nothing is comparing to yWriter so far... and yWriter was free and fully functional and doesn't bombard me with ads or annoying popups, AND it has helps you visually manage a lengthy writing project so much better than the commercial ones I've looked at so far - which are falling way short of the strengths of yWriter.

Wow... I really can't express how appreciative I am in having found yWriter all over again. I'm just so glad I tried it out properly this time to work out how useful a resource it is to me!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

NaNoWriMo: Final Word Count result

I got off to a great start for NaNoWriMo - around 16,000 written over the first fifteen days - but then I faltered.

I got distracted from adding to my word count when I spent four days making a story collage to help me get the storyline straight in my head.  And then my daughter moved overseas, and I lost a few days, helping her with final preparations, taking her to the airport, and then bawling my eyes out over her having gone (the loss and the pride).

But, I am pleased, that I successfully now have a final word count of 23, 908 words!  That's the first three or four chapters done.  Trying really hard not to bore (eventual) readers with too much backstory or scene set up, I've laid down the basics: I'm only a hundred or so words away from writing 'the inciting incident' that really gets the story kicking at a slightly higher level.

Next year, I think I might try officially enrolling in NaNo.

I've had great fun being lost in my story world, conversing with my characters and discovering the things sometimes mere seconds before they discover it.