While you can’t be successful without skill, good tools certainly make things easier! Following are various everyday tools and software programs with brief rundowns of their benefits and the best way to use them. Some of these tools are writing specific, others are more general, but all of them have proven immensely useful.
Allow me to introduce you to the best creation since birthday cake: Scrivener from Literature & Latte. Congratulations, your life as an author will never be the same again.
I first started using Scrivener years ago. I’m not going to pretend it was love at first type, but it was darn close. This program is all about taking massive writing projects and breaking them down into as many pieces as you need while still retaining easy access to all of it. I was converted the moment I realized I could take my 20+ word documents on my magic system and move them all into a single Scrivener project.
Scrivener offers a wide range of functions, allowing you to customize it to match your own writing style and organization needs. The number of options is staggering and there are plenty of resources to help you get the most from the software.
Be ye a discovery-writer struggling to sort out your storyline after that first, frenetic draft, or an outliner that needs to understand everything’s place before moving forward, Aeon Timeline is a useful tool to have.
Aeon Timeline is, unsurprisingly, a timeline editor. I don’t use it as much as Scrivener, but when I need it, I need it. Whenever the storyline gets complex, or things just don’t feel quite right, mapping out the timeline is immensely helpful.
While not necessary for writers everywhere, you should definitely consider it. It can even be set up to sync with Scrivener if you needed any further convincing.
Mind Mapping Tools
Another tidbit about me: I’m a wee bit obsessed with organizational systems. That means lots of planning, lots of thinking, and lots of lists. It wasn’t uncommon for me to end up with a multi-page bullet list that was about as easy to wield as a twelve-pound tether-ball on a twenty-foot pole.
Mind mapping has changed how way I work through my ideas; now that I’ve started, I can’t seem to stop.
I use it for planning short stories, generating characters, developing blog posts, and even planning my networking process. There’s just something about the combination of structure, color, and use of 2-Dimensional space that makes both the artist and engineer in my brain very, very happy.
There are plenty of mind mapping programs out there, but I highly recommend Mind Node (Mac and iOS only) or iThoughts.
Want to build as many worlds as you like, in seconds? Then you need Fractal Terrains 3. With this software, you can tweak a couple of settings and then begin randomly generating worlds.
Let that sink in. With a few clicks you can generate the geography of entire planets! You may not need Fractal Terrains every day, but when you want to, there is absolutely nothing else like it.
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good map in the front of their fantasy novel? Even if you don’t write novels, hundreds of creators use this software to build maps for games, stories, and RPG battlemaps.
The software comes with a number of map styles allowing you to build beautiful maps quickly. If you’ve ever wanted to build a map of your own, you should give Campaign Cartographer a look.
It takes a little bit of getting used to, but Campaign Cartographer is the most powerful and widely used software of its kind. Beyond the software itself, the developers (ProFantasy) have a terrific guide called the Tome of Ultimate Mapping and there is a thriving and accepting community of digital cartographers out there.
Honestly, my biggest issue with this software is that I don’t have more time to use it. And that should tell you all you need to know.