As I write, I use Internet reference tools to gather correct spelling/grammar usage, synonyms, antonyms, “Word Mining” for lack of a better term, fact-check, and fact-gather.
Having access to these tools on my mobile phone makes it convenient enough to get quick answers to things without compelling me to click and read another article about what Steve Jobs had for dinner last night. And, the small touch screen isn’t nearly as engrossing as my PC monitor.
I simply turn the Internet off on my PC and regress it to a simple Word processor, and use my EVO for these references. This keeps my mind on the important stuff and focuses my attention on my writing.
Awesome App: Dropbox
Benefit: You will never lose your stuff, you can access it from both PC and any Android mobile device, and you can pretty much store anything you want.
How I’m Using it: I usually write on either my Laptop and Desktop. The biggest annoyance of working on things in multiple places at once is a surefire way to overwrite something important, or in the least make your files out-of-date or confusing.
The worst nightmare of all is losing all of your content if any of those devices crash. (Yes, it has happened.)
With Dropbox my files are safe, yet I can access them on any PC or my Mobile phone. This enables me to carry my work with me wherever I go.
The Dropbox “cloud” is free to set up (or paid, if you want more than 2 gigs of storage), and is very simple: On your PC, it creates a folder you can drag and drop files into. On your mobile device, you can save data to the same folder, open any valid document types, etc.
You can also share documents with other people by making folders in your Dropbox account “Public” and inviting them to share it with you.
Sign up for Dropbox free here. (Which by the way, the referral helps me out as well!)
Awesome App 2: Catch
I recently discovered Catch Notes through a fellow storywriter. Catch is mobile note-taking on steroids. Not to mention, it is also free. And freakin’ awesome.
Purpose: Taking notes, be it text, image, or voice recording.
Benefit: Collection and organization of pretty much anything you can think of, when you think of it.
How I’m Using It: At any time, I can touch the Catch icon on my screen and write text, snap a photo, or collect voice notes. When I’m done, I can add searchable hash tags to keep track of these ideas and what I was thinking about at the time. There are so many elements to storywriting, this helps keep these thoughts organized. Depending on what my notes are, I may use search-able hash tags like #charactername #philosophy #conversation, #act3, etc. so if I search for that topic I’ll find all of my notes I’ve placed for it.
This tool is free, yet so darn useful I’d have paid $10 bucks for it. Find it here.
Awesome App 2: Dictionary.com
Benefit: It’s on your phone, which doesn’t weigh 2.3 pounds. Oh, and you can search.
How I’m Using It: Pretty much as you would ever use a dictionary or thesaurus. As I write, sometimes I’m not sure of the spelling or usage of a word. Or, I want a word that explains a little more precisely what I’m trying to convey. As I write, I’ll do quick spot-checks on these words and phrases.
Oh, and this app is free.
Awesome App 3: Wolfram Alpha
Benefit: Make your writing more realistic with facts, measurements, and data.
How I’m Using It: I’m writing a science fiction book, so yeah, it’s fantasy fiction, which means my characters can say whatever they please. My favorite fantasy fiction is embedded with useful trivia and facts, things that are grounded in reality and have some hidden truths within, no matter how trivial, and as long as they’re interesting and help move the story along.
The sci-fi universe I’ve constructed in my mind parallels our own in many respects. We’re not flying around in space or traveling in time, but we do have a lot of kick-ass technology. Because my story is told with a timeline of progression, I still need some sense of grounding in reality to create the atmosphere I want.
There are situations like this in my book, where I want to have realistic measurements or calculations of things. You can use it online for free, but for a buck or two, this mobile app is well worth it.
Illustrating Concepts to Be Descriptive
One method I’ve been using lately to develop the details of my story settings and technology is by making (rather crude) illustrations of them.
Drawing forces me to consider the details about the physical appearance of things. By drawing out their shapes, I am forced to consider the minute details that I may have never other considered. My book isn’t illustrated, but this activity is far from a waste of time. Visually seeing it makes it more real to me, and with that knowledge I can in turn make my writing far more realistic and descriptive.
I will draw in a sketchbook or even on a napkin if that is all I have. But I most prefer drawing on the gigantic whiteboard wall in my bedroom. I will sometimes pull out a D marker and go crazy, making drawings, diagrams, charts, pictures, etc…. to try to visualize my concepts. When I run out of space, I take a series of quick snapshot with my Mobile phone, save it to Catch. Rinse and repeat.
Do you use your mobile device as a reference and/or notetaking tool? Do you have any other cool uses? Please add them to your comments below!