I talked about having a Writer's Toolbox on Monday. A Writer's Toolbox contains, well, everything we know and learn about the people and world around us as well as the books and other reference materials we can consult. It's where we go when we're stuck. When you dig deep, it's these tools you are relying on. So, on Monday I gave you a list of my top 10-6th items in it., and today I round out my top ten.
5. The Three Hs – humor, humility, and hope.
Writing challenges on many levels. You can hit a wall and fight with your characters. You can become despondent waiting for and receiving rejections. Just the opposite happens when you get an acceptance or someone leaves a positive review. You have to take the positive and negative in stride otherwise you’ll give up.
4. On Writing by Stephen King, Million Dollar Outlines by David Wolverton, and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
Of the writing books I’ve read, these three were the ones that spoke to me the most. On Writing is less about how to write than the writing life, but it should be a must read for everyone that wants to be a writer.
Million Dollar Outlinesand Save the Cat both focus on outlining to the “Hollywood Formula”. Between these two, I’m making the slow transition from discovery writer to outliner. Applying the structure to Falcon, one of my works in progress, during rewrite/ revision has made it a stronger story. I’m using the method to outline Nocebo Effect, an urban fantasy, and I’ll let you know how that process goes.
3. The Smithsonian Institute and the Library of Congress.
This is a resource I need to take better advantage of. I live a short distance outside Washington, DC. If I want to learn more about ancient Egyptian culture, I can take a trip to the museum. If I’m willing to put the time in, I could probably arrange to interview an Egyptologist.
2. My camera and photo albums.
I’m pretty visual and often have trouble making up features without a template to work from – see tool # 7 from Monday's post. One of the things I’ve done in the past is flip through my photos of people I know, and don’t know and assemble a new character from bits of many real ones. I’ve taken candid shots of strangers with interesting faces. By having this photo library, I’ve been able to add depth and detail to my characters.
1. My friends and family.
I couldn’t do half of what I do without the support of my family and friends. They’ve been sounding boards, alpha or beta readers, and my cheer leading team. Contrary to popular belief, not all of writing is a solitary exercise. To quote the Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
So, that’s some of the items in my writer’s toolbox. What’s in yours?