Tag Archives: tips

15 Free Tools For Cash-strapped Creatives

15 Free Tools For Cash-strapped Creatives

Being creative doesn’t have to cost a thing.

This is my latest post on Medium. Please feel free to join me there. I hope this list is of help to you all.

BLOGGING

I thought we might as well start with those platforms that have given so many people a voice on the internet. Blogging can offer community, pride to those who thought they’d never be heard, and perhaps most of all, place. Yet despite being the gateway to technology to those who have never experienced it, the big blogging platforms still remain free.

Medium (Multiple Platforms) For those who like a clean, quiet and thoughtful place to write.

WordPress.com (Multiple Platforms) The original noisy neighbour, WordPress powers most of the internet, and although harder to use than some, still remains accessible and highly customisable.

Blogger (Web) Google owns and administrates this platform. Easy to use and powered by internet royalty, Blogger is often the introduction to the world beyond our window.

Browsing the Internet

I think three browser recommendations is more than enough. All are free. All are very good, to lesser and greater degrees. And perhaps most of all these days, each can be made as safe as possible.

Google Chrome (Multiple Platforms)

Firefox (Multiple Platforms)

Opera (Multiple Platforms)

Organisation

WorkFlowy (Multiple Platforms) WorkFlowy is a place to write your thoughts, prep, or organise a whole project. Exceptionally easy to use, although let down a little by its mobile apps, WorkFlowy can soon become the go to place for creatives. Highly Recommended.

The Outliner of Giants (Web) To those familiar with using templates, this outliner will be a dream. Again, easy to use and available in any browser.

Google Keep (Multiple Platforms) Google Keep is a notebook, place for reminders, and a generally bright and visual place to store notes. A highly underrated part of the Google portfolio, you’ll be surprised by this one.

Information Capture

Pocket (Multiple Platforms) If you’ve ever wanted to stash, store, or explore information you find whilst browsing the net or even other apps, Pocket provides that place. Available as an app, extension and any number of other ways, Pocket is superb.

Instapaper (Multiple Platforms) As above, but more text orientated. Instapaper provides a good place to read those things you might not have had time for initially. Highly recommended.

Images

There is much beauty on the internet but it tends to be scattered around. Here are some wonderful sites that you might like to spend an hour or three perusing.

Pinterest (Multiple Platforms) Many peoples’ favourite image site. Pinterest has everything from photos to art and more. Beautiful in presentation and with the offer of community, a popular and easy to use wonder.

Deviant Art (Multiple Platforms) Deviant Art offers predominantly art of a fantasy nature although they would say far more. Some of the illustrations on there are breathtaking.

Pixabay (Multiple Platforms) Photography based, Pixabay offers free imagery to all and what staggering imagery it is.

Writing

There are many places to write without ever downloading a thing even though you could. Here are a few of the more reputable offerings.

Google Docs (Multiple Platforms) The premier online word processor that is now also available almost everywhere. Good for all types of writing it is hard to find any fault with Google Docs.

Celtx (Multiple Platforms) For the budding screenwriter. Celtx won’t be much good to anyone other than the next James Cameron, but if you are, knock yourself out.

LibreOffice (Multiple Platforms) For those who can’t afford Microsoft’s offerings, (which is a lot these days). Beloved of those who use it, LibreOffice is a great free option.

Hemingway (Web) A place to write and have that writing checked, this site offers something a little bit different. Well worth trying, and truly beneficial.

Often the only thing standing between us and our dreams is a little help. I hope some of the above websites and applications can offer just that.

Please note: As far as I am aware, all the above are either free or offer free structuring at the time of writing.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers / Author of The Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (Very Soon!)

Advertisements

Outlining Tips & Story Structuring

Outlining Tips & Story Structuring

Each To Their Own

This is my latest post to aid aspiring writers on my Medium site. I hope you find it useful.

Every writer has their own unique way of structuring/preparing for their next novel. Some people go into great detail mapping every minutiae from basics like character eye colour to what that individual did fifty years before the story was even being told. Others, usually equipped with greater memories or such speed of storytelling they’ve written the thing without having time to forget details, never touch a book plan in their lives. These methods are politely known as planning or pantsing, (flying by the seat of your pants). I fall more into the latter category but do try to take pertinent notes en route. Either way, I say each to their own.

If you are a planner, the only thing required is a good notebook and pen, or a digital notes/outlining program. If you are a pantser, all you need is some peace and quiet in which to write.

There are, however, a few tricks to help with either method and a few good pieces of software too. I hope the two following lists are some help on both scores. Note: I have omitted some of the big boys like Microsoft Word and Scrivener from this post. The reason for this, is I for one don’t like clutter. I often find having relevant information outside of the application you’re writing on frees your mind when using it. This is a personal thing, but it is true for me.

Tips

  1. Recurring Characters. I write hundreds of short stories ranging from about fifty to five-thousand words. I enjoy them. But I have found that incorporating recurring characters into short stories, set free from the confines of their individual novels, can really give you as the writer a taste for that person. You may never use the story: does it matter if you enjoyed writing it? You may really like it and wish to send it out on submission: just change the characters names so they don’t interfere with any long form work. You may really get your teeth into it and wish to add it into the novel you’re writing: great, good for you! All of these are beneficial.
  2. Names. Sometimes all a book or a character within it needs are appropriate names. The difference between being a ‘WOW!’ character and a ‘MEH!’ character can be the difference between being called Colin or Cornelius. There are hundreds of name reference sites on the internet with pertinent reasons for those names i.e. Oxford Reference. Make use of them. Even knowing why a child is named after an appropriate god/goddess etcetera can assist in a story’s roots and overall believability.
  3. Tags. I was introduced to the world of tagging by a friend. They said that if you use software where you can replace putting folders of information all over the place, which inevitably wastes time in wondering how and why you put something somewhere, and replace this with simple tagging i.e. #John, a character’s name, you will never forget it. She was right, too. I always do this now. You never forget a story title or the lead character, but you may well forget why you put work in a folder labelled ‘relevant information’ or ‘miscellaneous’.
  4. Lists. Instead of writing reams of information about whatever, list it. Lists are quick, to the point and easy to read. Even starting details off with a list can help. NB. Many notes applications now include list making facilities just like iA Writer which I’m using now). Just have a go. I think you’ll find it helps.
  5. Ask. Never be afraid to ask someone you trust of their opinion. Don’t stew and ponder for ages on if something works if someone else can take a five minute look at it and give you an immediate thumbs up or down. Most people would love to help someone whose writing they enjoy.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some wonderful outlining applications available to assist writers. Here is a personal list of ones I have used and can recommend.

Outlining Applications

iThoughtsX

iThoughtsX is a multi-platform outlining application. One of the crème de la crème pieces of software in this category, you can do everything from full-scale mind maps to notes, to ToDo lists, and so much more besides. There is a learning curve, but when the software has been around as long as this one, you know you’ve time to master it.

OmniOutliner

OmniOutliner is available on Mac and iOS and has a fourteen day free trial. It’s hard to list all the capabilities of this outliner — it does so much — so I’d suggest clicking the link and taking a look.

MindNode

MindNode is reminiscent of iThoughtsX. I would suggest it is easier to learn and cleaner in presentation but doesn’t do quite as much. This is not always such a bad thing.

Integrated Notebooks

An often forgotten tool for writers are the integrated notebooks that are preinstalled on computers i.e. Apple Notes and Microsoft OneNote. As well as being very capable notebooks, they often offer indenting, simple formatting and reliable syncing. They are also usually free.

I hope some of the above information is useful to you. Whether you like to plan your way through every scene or just get on with the writing, you will almost certainly end up taking some form of notes on your project. Treat these notes well and they will look after you from ‘pre’ to ‘post’ publication. As always, I wish you well with your writing.

Richard

Richard M. Ankers

Author of The Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (Very Soon!)

How Will You Know? (Editing, an Unfortunate Truth)

Here are my top ten tips for knowing when you may have been editing too long.

Everything is fine until dinner break and then this happens.

  1. You put your soup bowl in the microwave but forget to fill it with soup.
  2. You cut more finger than bread with your breadknife.
  3. You then butter said finger.
  4. You get angry when the television won’t turn on, but then remember you have to plug it in first.
  5. You then proceed to curse at the remote control for not working when, in fact, you’re holding your phone.
  6. You can’t understand why your spoon feels awkward in your hand and realise you’re still holding the damn phone. Addendum: You then realise you didn’t fetch a spoon.
  7. You give up and go to make a coffee almost blowing up the kettle as it contains no water.
  8. Storm to the sink and turn the tap on full blast saturating yourself in the process.
  9. Finally, relieved and happy, you sit back on the sofa with your coffee mug between your legs but lean back too far. You are also too tired to care that your crotch is now soaking and drink what’s left of your coffee.
  10. Last of all, in an effort to complete a task that should’ve been done with hours earlier, you regather your writing equipment: headphones; leads; thesaurus; phone (yes, him again) and sit down to realise but not really care, you’ve forgotten your laptop.

This was a public service announcement from the ‘What The Hell Am I Doing Party!’

PS on a lighter note, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who liked my Facebook Author page yesterday. I now have enough likes to customise its address which I shall be doing soon. (God Help Me!!!)