Where would I be without my computer? It’s hard to imagine writing without it! It’s where I create, revise, submit, and network. Although my computer takes center stage, I have several other tools in my writing belt that make writing just downright easier. Here are a few of my favorite writing tools that you might want to add to your writing arsenal.
Rhyming Dictionary – In the prehistoric age of rhyming, people used to have to sit there and think of rhymes. Boy, did that take a lot of time. (Ahem . . . not that I would know about rhyming in the prehistoric age!) However, I was thrilled when I discovered the hard-copy rhyming dictionary. I spent hours thumbing through it, but it was still took a ton of time to plow through alphabetical listings and sound/spelling combinations.Then—ta da! (Can you hear the music??) I discovered an online rhyming dictionary at http://www.rhymezone.com . (Crescendo!) I’m sure there are others out there, but this is my favorite. When I’m working on a rhyming manuscript, I pull up my document page on one side, and the rhyming dictionary on the other and go back and forth to my heart’s content. Which brings me to my next useful tool--the double wide computer screen
Double Wide Screen – . I was happy with my standard computer screen for years and years, but my computer engineer husband said I would really like a double screen. “No, I won’t,” I insisted. I thought his repeated suggestion was just the rantings of a guy who thought more computer anything was the answer to all of life’s problems. Then, he got me one for Christmas. Wow! It was cool! I could pull up two documents at the same time, side by side. It was like the time my son told me we should get a DVR. I resisted for years. But when I finally got one, it was so cool. Suddenly, I had the giddy power of pausing, recording, and scheduling in my hands! In both instances, I thought—I should have done this sooner!
Binder of text – When first began writing, I went to the library and checked out a ton of picture books each month. When I read ones I liked, I typed the text, printed it out, and kept it in a binder. I categorized them into rhyme and prose. It’s been a great reference tool. When I search through it, I can see how certain stories are structured and it gives me ideas about how I might structure mine. I not only see different types of rhyming patterns within a stanza, can see the larger structure of repeating rhyming choruses, different types of wordplay, and how the author created pace and timing. It took time to make, but it’s been a valuable reference tool.
Book of Baby Names – This is available online too, but I still have two books of baby names that I refer to. One is a small, alphabetical book with common baby names, and the other is a big book categorized by country. When I’m looking for a specific type of name, especially for educational projects that specify diversity, it’s a handy research tool for coming up with the right character names.
Children’s Writer’s Word Book – This is a handy book as well. In addition to providing word lists for grades K through 6th, it has dictionary-like entries with alternatives for different grade levels. This has been a great tool when I needed to find the right grade level word for projects for educational publishers.
What are your favorite writing tools?
Lori Mortensen is an award-winning children’s book author of more than three dozen fiction and nonfiction books. A writing instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature for seven years, Lori is a frequent speaker at schools and SCBWI conferences and is represented by Eden Street Literary in New York. Recent picture book titles include Cowpoke Clyde & Dirty Dawg (Clarion), named one of Amazon's Best Picture Books of the Year, Cindy Moo (HarperCollins, 2012), Come See the Earth Turn – The Story of Léon Foucault (Random House, 2010), and In the Trees, Honey Bees! (Dawn, 2009). Learn more about Lori and her books at www.lorimortensen.com.
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