April 30, 2006

Wordsmithing tools of the trade

I am in the process of setting up a new notebook computer and so have had to re-install all of the software tools that I use on a day to day basis. In hte process, I came to realize just how many tools that I use quite frequently for writing :)

If we take things sequentially, I started the morning yesterday by using Blog, one of my own apps, to write this blog. Then, I received a rejection for a query that I’d sent out via e-mail (let’s not even get into e-mail and web browsers in the writing process :p) and so had to fire up another one of my apps, WriteTrack, to enter the rejection into my tracking database. I then installed MindManager since all of my story ideas are mind mapped so that I can keep track of the connections between different stories and also keep different sections of a single story – such as characters, locations, history etc. – connected.

Towards mid-day, I started installing Office 2003 since I needed to start working on again on my latest short story and all my works in progress are in Word format. There was a time I used my own editor (which saved everything in RTF format) for my writing but overall, I prefer Word since it has all the features I want and it gives me more time to write since I don’t have to spend my time coding a new feature in to my editor :p

After work, I did some editing and realized that some of my other writing tools were missing :) So I installed WordWeb and Visual Thesaurus. I’ve been using both of these tools for a long time now. They are great for looking up words and for making associations between different words. I have WordWeb running from my system tray and since it will give you the definition for any word highlighted in the current windows with a simple hotkey combination, I use it to check my spelling (or to see which variation of spelling is correct if I’m confused as to if I’m using American or British spelling) and to play all those scrambled word games :) Visual Thesaurus comes out when I need to do $more heavy duty work – such as find a non-adverb replacement for a word or find a suitable alternative for an oft used word.

The above are just the day to day tools that I use all the time. There are others which are not so often used (and which I have not yet installed on my computer). There’s PlotCraft, another one of my own creations, which I use to keep track of story ideas and quotations. Then there’s TheSage – another interesting dictionary and thesaurus which is absolutely free! Sequence Publishing, the people who developed TheSage, also have a couple of other writing tools which are worth taking a look at too!

This is just the tip of the ice berg. There are a lot more tools out there (both free and for a fee) which can help you write better or to organize your writing process. Sometimes, I feel that I spend more time looking at tools than actually writing :p However, it is undeniable that the correct combination of tools does help you, if writing is your craft :)

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Tags: Software, Writing
Posted by Fahim at 6:32 am   Comments (2)