Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Creative Writing 101: Tools of the Trade aka Rome wasn't built in a day!

     Rome wasn’t built in a day. Heck, it would’ve have been built at all without the rights tools and materials. Minus the stone, wood, manpower and hammers, what would have been made? A rough circle in the dirt?

     Writing is very much the same. You’re going to need plot lines, characters, scenes, landscapes, etc. etc. But today’s journal is going back to the foundation of writing. Imagine settling down to write…you pick up your pen – it’s run out of ink. You fetch a new pen, but the clicker is broken on this one. Fine, settle for a pencil, but there’s no paper and the lead is broken anyway. You’re reduced to scratching chalk on slate until it rains and washes away your epic, bestselling, genre-breaking novel.

     Take your seats class. Today we’re going back to basics. We’re going to discuss what a writer needs in this day and age to craft his/her masterpiece. Now, you might have differing opinions to mine here, and please feel free to share them below, but this is more of an ‘ingredients list’ for the writer, rather than the story.

     Firstly, you’re going to need a way of ‘rough writing’. This to me is first drafting, word-for-word, raw and unedited story-goodness. I prefer to write this in a notebook as I like the feel of paper and pen, but feel free to use whatever you life. Some write straight onto PC/Laptop, others use sheets of paper – whatever your fancy!

     I’ve just mentioned the old pc/laptop – and you’re going to need it. With it, you’ll need a good word processing program (MS word being the most popular). It may seem like I’m teaching you to suck eggs here, but, it’ll spot typos for you, and it’s a MUST for ease of editing. Try to type up your work as often and as soon as possible, as hard copies (stuff written in notepads) have a habit of getting lost, damaged, or in my case used as kindling when out on exercise with the Army.

     Now, you’ve got the materials to record your story, but what about the little ideas that pop up here and there? I carry a small notebook on me at all times. AND if all else fails? I use my phone. The iPhone has a handy ‘Notepad’ app that I populate with more story ideas than contacts in my phone. Back in the day, when all I had was one of those trusty Nokia’s that would’ve sustained a gunshot, I was known to text myself to save ideas for later.

     Right, it’s all falling into place! You’ve got hard and soft copies of your work, and a collection of notebooks strewn about the place to keep your writing going. Last, but definitely not least, you’re going to need a BACK UP! HUGELY important. I have several, and I implore you to do the same.

     Personally, for my backups I have: multiple folder structures on my laptop, emailed documents on several accounts, and a ‘Cloud’ (online storage – a must have). I also have a USB, which may not be all that reliable because I leave it in my pocket at all times (and it’s not as if I have a regular office job), but I do plan to invest in an external Hard Drive to keep the rest of the digitals safe. As with copying up from rough to good, your backups should be kept up to date.

     Other things that are useful to have to hand:
A pen…ok, I’ll take this more seriously!
Sketch paper – I find drawing diagrams helps me picture certain scenes, or the layout of a room.
Squared paper – for maps (oh, and for playing noughts and crosses with whoever’s about).
Music – for me it helps get the creative mindset in gear.
Internet connection – don’t let it distract you, but this is crucial for research.

     There we go. Very billy basics, but I thought this would be a fitting return to my ‘Creative Writing 101’ journal entries after a short break. If you have anything to add to this list, feel free to do so below in the comments section. Thank you all for stopping by, and next week we’ll continue as per usual.

1 comment:

  1. You forgot dictionary and thesaurus. Every writer should have one in their main workspace, and learn how to use them. Thesaurus raping is more common than people know, and it's obvious.