I’m not one on things nor shopping, but tools … I LOVE tools!
By tools I mean useful things, items needed to build, create, and refine. And for writing, there are so many out there. Actually, probably too many. If you are looking to improve your grammar, you can spend hours debating books versus editing programs or taking a course.
So I thought I’d offer a roundup of things I’ve found useful and would recommend. And what better day to give it to you than Black Friday when most have a discount! So whether you are shopping for a writer in your life or just want to make sure you get what you want for the holidays, be sure to check these out!
Grammarly is popular, but expensive. And it isn’t the only editing program out there. I use and really like ProWriting Aid. It allows you to modify the type of editing from web copy to creative and more. And it has 12 problems it checks for!
I use it directly in Google Drive, which works brilliantly. I knew there was a way to use it in Word as well, but I didn’t realize until I was writing this that they expanded that to Open Office AND Scrivener. I write in Scrivener! 😀
Today they are selling a lifetime license for half off, which is only $70! That is less than one year of Grammarly Premium (by half!).
Grab the discount here.
The old standby is writing books that will help improve the craft. There are soooo many books on writing! I’ve received so many over the years and I appreciate the thought but a writing book is totally different from a engaging and well written writing book! The good ones never have dust on their spines.
So what are some good ones?
Stephen King’s On Writing is the ultimate writing book. Part memoir, part help guide, and completely useful as well as entertaining! I used it in my Improve Your Writing Giveaway a year ago and it is my go to book for recommendation today.
Say What? A fiction writer’s guide to grammar, punctuation, and word use by fantasy author C.S. Lakin is on my list for this year. I love to learn from someone who writes in my genre and C.S. Lakin is an awesome and accomplished fantasy writer.
Guide to Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy by fantasy author Philip Athans is another one on my list as well. I read Phil’s blog a Fantasy Author’s Handbook, so I know he can teach information well. I love how often he uses examples, awesome fantasy writing examples, to illustrate his points. So yeah, I recommend his book!
Part of the Improve Your Writing Giveaway I hosted a year ago included two books by James Scott Bell: Dazzling Dialoge and Fight Scenes. These are great books partially because they are focused. So many authors get books on writing. HUGE books on lengthy explanations of grammar and rules and … sorry, was I snoring? I love these focused books full of energy and great tips to help you with one thing. One thing isn’t overwhelming. It is achievable and fun, a challenge that isn’t Mt. Everest. Make your writer happy with something achievable that doesn’t feel like “I know you write and you tell me about it all the time, but I can’t remember what you were talking about specifically. So I found this book all about writing in every genre in the discount section and thought you’d like it.” Just don’t.
Another great and specific book for the fantasy writer in your life is Writing Fantasy Heroes. This book is a collection of articles written by different fantasy authors covering everything from military tactics to how to march with an army and everything in between. Help bring battle scenes to life with true detail and create heroes that know their stuff while rising above the rabble!
I love creatures! I’ve always wanted a grimoire, one of those old leather bound ones written in the middle ages. Well I may never have that, but I do have an Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures. This book is thick, full of illustrations, and lists descriptions of a massive variety of mythical, fantastical, and completely magical creatures. If the writer in your life loves, loves, loves creating new fantasy races and creatures or is in need of ideas for obscure ones, this book will make them giddy.
One last book that is fairly unique and very helpful is Fantasy Map Making by Jesper Schmidt. It was only released this summer and remains one of the few books out there to help authors world build through the development of realistic maps. This is how I write and I was delighted to help Jesper with his release. Check out the book and see if it will interest the writer in your life!
Free Writing Courses
What changed my writing career was Nick Stephenson’s course YourFirst10kReaders. Seriously. I barely sold any books before taking his course and even though I finished it ages ago, he is still giving out bonus material. Of course, that was the paid course, but it all start with a great FREE video series PACKED with useful information. Take it. Watch it. Learn.
Of course, I have a short free writing course too! I’m actually going to be tweaking it soon and adding a lot more content! It’ll stay free, but if you want to make sure you get the new content first, join now!
I switched from writing in Pages this spring to purchasing Scrivener. Oh my gosh, I LOVE this program! It is unbelievably easy to write in (okay, the formatting part is tricky, but completely doable). If you are or know an epic fantasy writer, this program will enhance the development, plotting, and writing of your books. It is designed to allow you to keep track of scenes, subplots, research, characters … all those little bits that can get so muddled when you write a 120,000+ word novel over the course of months. And for all the massive power this program delivers, it is unbelievably cheap! $45 for Mac users, $40 for PC. And I’ve seen coupons for less. I didn’t see anything listed for Black Friday, but hey, I bet there is a coupon out there somewhere!
Have you heard the writer in your life complain about formatting ebooks, especially for the myriad of different platforms and formats? Get them Vellum. For as little as $29.99, you can purchase the formatting of one title. Talk about a cheap gift that will let a writer just see how great of a gift Vellum is. Of course if you are feeling generous and never want to hear another complaint about book formatting, go for the unlimited license of $199.99. Curse words will forever be saved for writing problems and not formatting. 🙂
You really want to spoil someone, like a writer? Buy them a Macbook Air. I finally replaced my ancient Macbook this summer (using funds from my book sales! Yay!). I went from writing on my iPad and fussing with word on my old Macbook to my Macbook Air. I haven’t touched my iPad in months. I love this computer!!! It is so light that I think it weighs less than my iPad. The keyboard is great and backlit, perfect for nightime writing sessions. And power… oh my goodness the power. Build websites? Yup. Create covers? No problem. Long battery life for epic writing sessions with no power outlets? Got it covered. This is the ultimate spoil your loved one gift!
If the writer in your life likes to play with images and covers or make really stand out media pictures, I recommend getting them Photoshop through Creative Cloud. Photoshop used to be one of the most pirated software programs because it was so incredibly expensive, costing thousands to purchase. No more. Amazingly, you can now use Photoshop for as little as $9.99 per month. This is revolutionary. Don’t worry if you think the program is difficult. There are LOTS of free videos and tutorials on Youtube, plus Lynda has some really inexpensive courses too. But for $10 a month, it is cheap enough to purchase and just play with. AND they have a special package for 20% on Black Friday!
Now if you get someone Photoshop, I highly recommend adding a little something to the purchase by picking up a Wacom Pro Drawing Tablet. I used to have an old DigiPro drawing tablet along with the most archaic version of Photoshop on my ancient MacBook. I can’t believe how much my artistic and writing life improved with the new Macbook Air, Creative Cloud with the newest version of Photoshop, and a Wacom Tablet. I look for excuses to play with this!
That is my list to make the writer in your life happy. I know these things have or would make me VERY happy! What about you? Do you have any favorites or recommendations that I missed? Or do you need me to forward the list to your significant other? 😉 Let me know in the comments!