Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Online tools for writers

I can't remember if I've blogged about this before or not. But even if I have, these could all bear repeating. I'd like to list some of the tools I use when I'm writing.
#1 Spreadsheets
I like to list my characters across the top and the main events down the left side. I then freeze those columns so I can always see them because this spreadsheet gets big. I can glance at the little rectangles and see if I've been neglecting a character longer than I want to. Sometimes I put the main plot points down at the beginning (if I know them, and I do try to know them), then fill in the blanks between them.

This is a nifty free download. You don't need this, I'm told, if you have a Mac because this feature comes built in. But for those of us with PCs, this gives us a way to hear our own words without reading them ourselves. I cut and paste a chapter or so into the program, kick it off, then go back to the document itself. When I come to an egregious error (yes, this happens!), I pause the reader and fix my manuscript, then continue. I find lots of little typos and repeated words that I would never in a million years find any other way.

There's also a, but that just counts words and most programs do that already., though, will tell you which words you're repeating too much. I hate it when I see "little" listed 7 times in 6 pages. That happens, too!

Do you have any tools you like?

Spreadsheet by Everaldo Coelho and YellowIcon
Readplease logo is a registered trademark
Wordcounter logo appears on their page


  1. I make up a calendar as a Word table. So it's not a special tool, but it is SO useful. An entry for a Tuesday might read:

    Morning. On campus. Lauren's meeting with Dean goes badly.
    Afternoon. Raining. Takes Maisi for a run, finds phone.
    Evening. Thomas chases Lauren away from houseboat.

    Then as I read each scene to my writers group, I mark it R so I remember where I left off. The calendar has totally saved my ass and kept the timeline coherent.


  2. Oh yes! I use a calendar, too. I use it for a broad overview and to make sure I don't have people going to work 8 days in a row when they're supposed to get the weekend off.

    I hope Lauren can patch it up with Dean.

  3. It's actually the Dean of the college, and he's a bad guy. Maybe next book I'll have her getting even!

  4. Love AutoCrit:
    It not only counts repeated words, but lots of other stuff. You paste in your selection, and it crunches for awhile, then spits out all kinds of information. There's a free edition and paid edition with more features. Love it (and no, I don't work for the company--LOL)

  5. I just tried this out, Jan. I like it! Thanks for posting this.