Six Internet Tools for a Writer

The internet today is a wealth of information that makes an author’s life so much better. There are so many tools available and most of the time they’re readily available, free, and exactly what’s needed to help craft a winning story.

Here’s a list of Six Internet Tools for a Writer that I’ve found to be immeasurably helpful:

Pinterest

screen-shot-2019-02-06-at-8.54.41-am.png

If you have a hard time keeping physical settings to stay the same, or randomly have your character be blonde-haired and blue-eyed one day and dark-skinned with curly black hair the next… Well, then creating a board that reminds you exactly what everyone and everything looks like can be extremely helpful.

I personally skim over far too many details when I read, and therefore I don’t generally add enough setting and people-y details to my stories. Therefore, I’ve been working at figuring out exactly what everyone and everything looks like, and then sticking to it with pictures to keep me on track.

Note: Be careful what you search for especially when trying to find characters, to ensure you don’t come up with inappropriate pictures.

Grammarly

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 8.56.56 AM.png

My mom told me for months I should get Grammarly before I finally did the smart thing, paid attention to what she was saying, and downloaded the free version of Grammarly. The free version of Grammarly checks everything I write online, and among other things showed me how many typos and mistakes were slipping through my proofreading and into my blog posts. Y’all put up with a lot from me.

I have yet to check a whole book with Grammarly, and will probably buy the pro version before I do that, but I do check scenes, blog posts, emails, and many other little day-to-day writing-ish things. It’s fairly mindblowing to me how much Grammarly provides for free.

Go Teen Writers

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 9.00.29 AM.png

Yes. I’m really talking about this site again because I can’t hype it enough. It doesn’t matter what age you are if you want a website that’s clean, encouraging, helpful, and honest? Well, you don’t have to look any further.

An added plus for if you are a teen: They have a fantastic Facebook group for writers. I joined it when I was a teen and am really not sure where I’d be on my writing journey today if it wasn’t for the connections, encouragement, and feedback I received there. Also, they have contests and that’s pretty epic.

Book Reviews

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 9.14.11 AM.png

I’m not sure how many hundreds of hours I’ve spent over the years reading book reviews of books I know I’m never going to read, but the count is probably high. Amazon, Goodreads, and I are great friends. Often times when I’m sick, tired, or just need a breather, instead of pulling up a book to read I hop onto Amazon or Goodreads and browse book reviews. (Review blogs are also a great place to do this.)

Why?

There’s nothing like reading someone’s feedback on a book to help me figure out what’s popular in today’s society. This is especially helpful when it comes to popular books I know I’ll never read because of content they contain. (Although, there are a lot of books that I don’t even read reviews for if the content is bad enough.)

I also enjoy knowing what people do and don’t like in stories and then pondering what they said and figuring out if I should apply it to my books somehow. For instance, one day years ago I read in a review how the reader really enjoyed the food references the author made because, ya know, food is helpful for staying alive. This made me realize that I didn’t hardly ever mention food in my stories and I should remedy that.

This is also a great way to see what people are tired of reading. It doesn’t help to read a few reviews, but when you read dozens and then hundreds of them, you begin to see a pattern about what’s trending.

Sample Chapters

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 9.13.43 AM.png

There are far more books out there then any of us will ever be able to read. Therefore, sometimes instead of reading a book, I’ll go on a kick where I read sample chapters on Amazon.

This is something I generally do when I’m either really tired, sick, or in need of a good book. I’ll get on Amazon and start browsing. Amazon has this nifty little feature where it recommends similar books to you, so find one good story and a dozen others will pop up.

Sample chapters are incredibly interesting for a multitude of reasons, the main ones being:
1) You can learn what to do and not do to grip the reader from the first page
2) You invest ten minutes to get to know a new author and decide if they’re worth pursuing by requesting their book at the library or buying a copy
3) You’ll read new ideas that you never even thought of, but since you don’t know how it plays out you don’t have to worry about plagiarizing
4) You’ll get a broader idea of what’s on the market today
5) You’ll learn how to write better and more interesting characters
6) You begin to see what types of books and genres are intriguing to you

Google

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 9.23.39 AM.png

And of course, Google. Where’s a better place to find all the answers to writers dilemmas like How do you spell sesquipedalian? What are the signs of Scarlet Fever? When were the five greatest floods in the history of Montana? And all that type of jazz.

So there you have it, folks, Six Internet Tools for a Writer.

One more pro tip that I’ve been realizing is ever so true when it comes to writing and the internet: Have Internet Times and Non-Internet Times. This is essential for staying focused, orderly, and productive. If you sprinkle Googling, Pintersting, and the like throughout your dedicated work time then you’ll lose precious time and efficiency. Instead, what you can do is separate your writing times, editing times, and plotting times.  It really does make a difference.

Currently
Setting: Walking on the treadmill (I walked almost two and a half miles while writing this)
Listening to: Spotify on shuffle 
Random Fact: As a kid, I had to write a book report every week – it was good practice to becoming a book reviewer
Question of the Day: Do you ever read book reviews for books you don’t want to read? 

Tried and True Process For Writing a Great Book

My writing process generally looks something like this:

  1. Muse over a story idea for endless hours while cutting grass, cooking, driving, sleeping (or trying to, anyway), walking, brushing teeth, reading other books, and pretty much anything else that involves breathing
  2. Sit down to write it, then freak out because I remember that plots are delightfully confusing things to put on to paper (Because apparently saying “And then the main character somehow solves the mystery and is heralded by her brothers as being brilliant” isn’t considered a proper plotline)
  3. Frantically pull out my plot-writing books, read them, then Google “how to write a plot for ___________ type of book.” Make decaf coffee to sip (aka gulp) while reading (aka zoning out and eyes glazing over) the articles that pop up
  4. Realize that the step I’m really supposed to be on is Brainstorming
  5. Light my candle, then chew the matchstick to splinters as I jot down bunches of random ideas (on computer and paper, cause I’m amazing like that)
    PicMonkey Sample-7
  6. Decide to have a go at the plot again – this time following Angela Hunt’s The Plot Skeleton (for simplicities sake). Because I’m cool, I use my small whiteboard to jot down the various elements of what the plot’s supposed to look like
    PicMonkey Sample-6
  7. Begin plotting like a pro, and maybe do a happy dance when I come up with the perfect villain
  8. Discover the bottom of my coffee cup looks like the sediment of a swamp, and that the texture of coffee grounds is actually enjoyable to chew, although I do begin to wonder about my coffee making skills
  9. Realize that you need to brainstorm some more, and cutting grass is legit the perfect place to brainstorm. Sigh over the fact that you’ve already cut a lot of the grass, but head out anyway, scrap paper and pen in hand
  10. Get great ideas, return to the writing table raring to go… to Pinterest where I find the perfect picture for each of my main characters (and maybe some of the non-main-characters, too – we really don’t want to leave anyone out)
  11. Type out several more plot points, then the perfect opening line pops into my mind, so I slip over and begin writing the actual book #finally #yay #LookIReallyAmAWriter
  12. Get so excited about being a pro at this whole writing business that I decide to tweet a pic of my writing setup. Only, after I take the picture I freak out because as it turns out, my writing table is a grand disaster
    PicMonkey Sample-4
  13. Spend ten minutes frantically cleaning my writing table (which mostly involves stacking everything just out of the camera’s view), looking through my camera every two minutes to see what else needs to be moved. (Optional: Add stars and rays of light to the picture to make it look like something utterly amazing)
    PicMonkey Sample-5
  14. Take picture, get two likes, feel like a legit pro
  15. Realize it’s time to go make supper, consider taking my computer with me since I’m in such a good writing rhythm
  16. Write frantically for twenty minutes after supper and text a couple of friends about the great progress I’ve made
  17. Fall into bed (well, I actually sleep on the floor, but saying “fall onto the floor” just doesn’t have the same ring to it), ready to begin the process all over again the next day

And there you have it, folks. A fool-proof way to write a fantastic book.