You’ve thought of an idea for a story, but how do you put it all together? Today I’ll be talking about different helpful programs you can use to solidify your manuscript and keep your notes in order.

SCRIVENER-      For about $50, you can own this useful writing program which replaces Word by meeting the author’s needs. It sets goals and targets, such as daily word count, and monthly deadlines, and can be used for scriptwriting as well.  Scrivener uses templates for term papers, dissertations, and essays.  It helps you research a topic, organizes that research into files, and uses a cork board for story building. It also has a special feature that adjusts for formatting for self-publishing needs.

AMAZON STORYBUILDER AND STORY WRITER- Amazon is similar to Scrivener, as it uses a corkboard and a text box for each chapter. It is a free program, and fairly simple to use.  Storywriter is a scriptwriting program that sets up a page exactly the same way it would look as a script, including dialogue, scene breaks,  and act structure.

GOOGLE DOCS-A stripped down version of  Word you can only use online. It is a free writing program that saves all your files online, avoiding the nasty habit of not saving your work.

GRAMMARLY- A  $30 a month editing program that corrects grammar, punctuation, spelling, and word usage. A useful program for a self-published author who has limited editing sources.                                                                                                                                                                                Which ones do I prefer? I’m partial to Grammarly and use Amazon story builder for my cork board.  They are both simple to use and can be accessed anywhere that has internet.  It might be helpful to mention that you should use whatever best suits your needs; if you like to keep a large database for your characters; their history, family backgrounds, and the such, even a program like Excel or Access could be useful. I mostly use Excel to track my sales, expenses, and upcoming shows, but it can just as easily be used as a database of characters.

The above programs are just a few useful products for writers, but they aren’t the only ones. There are several good programs for organizing your story out there, so make sure you do your homework to make sure they are legitimate and not some site trying to scam you.

In my next post, I’ll be talking about the next step: should you or shouldn’t you hire an editor, and what type of qualifications should they have.




Welcome to the first of a series I will be displaying on my blog for the next few weeks. I will be breaking down my steps to self-publishing, for all those would be authors out there. The process is really not as complicated and daunting as it may seem, and anybody with a little practice, (and a lot of imagination), can become an author.  I, of course, am not a best selling author by any means, and this series is merely my process and my advice.    The first step is perhaps the most important, and the hardest:

      1. Creating the idea-

For any book to be a success, you must first have an idea for the story, and it has to be a damn good one if you want to beat the competition. For every author out there, there are ten who will probably sell more books than he or she will, simply because their idea is better. It all depends on your personal goal; are you selling books for your main income, or just as a hobby or personal goal?

Your idea will, of course, depend on what genre(category) you decide to write in, and what type of story you want to write. Ideas are as varied as the stories themselves.

2. Research and Background-

Even in fiction, you must know your characters; where they’re from, their family history, their childhood and past, their likes and dislikes, their passions and goals.  As an author, you will get to know your characters as well as your self. A good author lets the characters direct the story, not the other way around.

Research is also very important if there is a great detail of description within your book. Historical dates, places, and events all must be researched in order to be accurate. In one of my books, I wrote about the ISS space station. I downloaded a layout of the operating systems and modules to be as accurate as I could be.

In my fantasy novels, a great deal of nautical knowledge was needed. Growing up summers in the St. Lawrence, I already had some, but I researched old clipper ships and terms related to the sea.

3. The First Draft: Getting It Down on Paper-

All I can say about this area is just to write, whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent.  It’s more important that you write the story than to correct every little mistake as you go. You’ll have plenty of time to edit later, and you may end up throwing half of what you wrote out anyway.

Too many writers fail in this area, believing their work isn’t good enough, or they have trouble piecing together a story because of writer’s block. I’ve found it’s best to write through the block, and change bad decisions later in the editing process.

Many stories can be structured in different formats and outlines to help the creative process.  In my next blog,  I’ll present some online tools and techniques to structure your ideas for stories.