Tools of the Trade

by on 12.22.2008

in material girl, writing

These picture posts are becoming commonplace.  Next thing you know, I’ll be uploading illustrations I’ve made in photoshop, like how to connect your printer.

Yes, that was an awesome segue, thank you.  For Material Girl Monday, I’m going to talk to you about some of the tools I use to make my brand of magic.  So, picture the first:

workarea2

That’s my big comfy chair.  I’ve been alternately drawing and describing homes and writing character sketches (the big binder on the bottom, with the sheet protectors, the legal pad, the top notebook, and for good measure GMC) and line editing (another black binder and old reliable, a large notebook with ginormous rings and hardcovers on both front and back that my daughter wrote on).   I will probably keep that notebook forever, because that’s where I wrote my first novel.  The words may have gone on a document, but all of the ideas were fleshed out in that notebook.  So, tool of the trade?  Paper. Fancy journal, legal pad, graph paper, steno notebook–whatever makes you feel good.  We’re writers, and if you want to be a smart writer, you will write everything down somewhere.  Might as well make it a central place.  And believe me when I tell you, when that paper is full of your story, of your imagination, your muse at work… you’ll know why you write, if only for a moment.

Pens, pencils, highlighters–you know the deal.  You need colored ones for line edits.  You need highlighters for… well, I’ve used them to highlight places on my map, to analyze a book I love into how much a favorite writer spent on dialogue, exposition, narrative, description, and to mark things I need to change.  It may be the technical age, but in the end, your work will be on paper.

A binder, preferably one-and-a-half inch, sheet protectors, and a hole punch.  When I wrote that first story in that notebook I love, I came to hate it (the notebook, not the story–not for that or not then) because there was no organization.  It was just everywhere, as if my brain had vomited it out.  Believe me, learn from what limited experience I do have, organize your work in a binder in a way that makes sense to you.  If you are using a map, a blueprint–protect it from little girls who like to draw on things.  And those blargs of character sketches and what-if-this-happened brainstorms and writing out your turning points and GMC, hole punch it and put them there, too.  This way, if you need to put it with something you write three months later, you’ll be able to do so.

I highly recommend the big comfy chair.  The pink laptop from Barbie isn’t really a necessity.

Picture the second:

printer

An All-in-One Printer.  First of all, they’re just not that expensive anymore.  I saw mine on sale for somewhere in the sixties a few days ago.  You don’t want to buy the cheap printer, then, when you’re imaginary agent becomes you’re real agent and wants to fax you an imaginary real contract, you don’t have to be a total noob and say, “I don’t have a fax machine.  Can you mail it?”  Second, copies are your friend.  This one makes copies just like a normal copier.  It even feeds several pages through.  Trust me, spend the extra thirty bucks and buy one of these.  (Oh, and my black ink cartridge at Walmart?  $16 bucks.)

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