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Armed for Nano

October 26, 2012

Unlike last year, I am 100% prepped and ready to get underway on my NaNoWriMo novel.  I have a number of great tools and toys to use in my quest for 50,000 words.  Let’s talk about them, in no particular order.

  • WikidPad – I’m using this wiki-style tool to organize my story world.  It would be equally great for organizing research.  The whole idea is about linking topics together in as quick and painless a way as possible.  If I’m writing about Flynn and I need to know what type of gun his mechanized battle suit uses, I can track it down: CharactersBook1>FlyNN>FlynnsMech>WeaPons, each linked to the other in sequence. (Ye, the weird capitalization is part of it.)  Cross-reference heaven.  If I want to look up other members of Willow’s tribe: CharactersBook1>WilloW>SoFari>NotableCitizens.  I confess, building it has been fun and there are a lot of avenues I haven’t developed yet.  If I get to something I haven’t fleshed out, I’ll know that too and can add as needed.  More than anything, this will help prevent those pesky inconsistencies that are so hard to drum out after the fact.
  • Scrivener – I bought this word processing program last year during NaNo, but I really didn’t know how to use it then.  I’m still no expert, but I’ve been using the index card/corkboard to organize my outline.  This is different from my world organization, which is pretty much facts, statistics, relationships.  This is a model for the order of my plot and a bit about what happens in each section.  It’s a pretty detailed outline, I must say: a chapter-by-chapter array with each chapter broken into 3-6 sub-sections.  It’s only though about 66% of the novel so far, but that should be fixed before Halloween.  The way Scrivener works is there’s effectively a separate little document for each of my sub-sections where I write as much or as little as the section requires.  It’s designed for these sub-sections to be scenes, but it doesn’t work out that way in my outline.  Anyway, these all compile into a single document in the end.  It’s got my plot poised and ready for battle.  Wat’s more, I can skip around the story pretty easily if I need to.  Perhaps I’m on a roll writing one character and I want to stay with him/her through writing another chapter despite the next chapter switching to a different scene.  I can do it without worrying about losing my place.  Also a good idea when faced with the opposite — writer’s block.
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking – Okay, I won’t get to use it as much as I might want due to weird words and names, but I fully expect to have stretches of the novel I speak into the computer instead of type.  I’m a really slow typist, so I may go so far as to whip out the headset for a word war at the local write-in, but I doubt it.  Mostly it’ll relieve me when typing gets too rough to bear.  And it’s a toy, which can make the more tedious sections (descriptions, character foreshadowing, etc.) a little easier to power through.
  • Flip Dictionary – This is one of my favorite writing books.  It doesn’t always give me the word I’m after, but it tends to help.  Yes, it’s a glorified thesaurus, but it’s layout is virtually a wiki in itself.  I’m notoriously finding myself stuck on a single word and finding it impossible to think of anything else but that word that’s on he tip of my brain but won’t come.  Flip Dictionary tends to help me get the word (or a better one) and move on.  WARNING: This is not to be used to replace perfectly good words with fancier words, just to get a word down that conveys a meaning that no cluster of wods is quite getting across.  If I need someone to “saunter” and can’t think of the word, I’ll just type “walked slowly and casually” and fix it on edit.  But when I can’t quite get into the same zip code as the word I’m after, FD gets me closer with a few cross-references.  I like it.
  • USB Keyboard – How simple can I get?  Well, sometimes this stupid laptop keyboard is hard to work with.  The computer gets hot or the keys don’t all register well (I’ve had to correct about 20 non-registered keystrokes in this post alone) and I like to have a little more freedom.  Yes, a Bluetooth keyboard would be even more freedom, but I’m cheap and I have a USB keyboard sitting around the house, so I just toss it into the computer bag and have it with me for any excursion-writing I might do.  Trust me, this makes a difference when you’re after 50k.  It’s like having comfortable shoes for a marathon.
  • Sick Day on the 1st – I’ve already put in for November 1st off work.  Let’s face it, I’ll be in no condition to work that day.  So I’ll go to the midnight write-in my local NaNo is having and get a good head start.

That’s about all the tools that come to mind.  Five days and change to go.  Good luck NaNo-ers!

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