A lot of thought and creativity goes into writing a book, but there are also all of the other digital apps that help get the job done. Now, I know some people who handwrite their first drafts, and I salute them. I could never do that. I haven't written more than a greeting card's worth of text in years. I am a fully digital person, even down to my planner! So let's take a look at what I use in order to get the job done.
Evernote is pretty much my brain now. If I need to remember anything, it goes into Evernote. So I use it for both personal and professional parts of my life. In Evernote, I have a Writing Stack full of notebooks that I create for each series. Inside each series notebook, I create notes that belong to whatever I'm working on. For example, in the Kimura Sisters Notebook, I started a new note the other day for Ean's Rare Gift. In the note, I'm writing down what I want to happen in the plot, character astrology, and anything else I can think of. I make it a habit to put actionable items at the top of the note so that I always know what to do next.
In each writing notebook I store important details about the books I'm writing, blurbs for those books, running character lists, etc. Then I also have a notebook for Story Ideas, and I just dump ideas there as I get them. In other notebooks, I store things like ASINs and ISBNs for all of my books, links to my books on retailers, website information, marketing ideas and snippets, etc. For personal stuff, I store shopping lists, recipes, kid or dog information, etc. There's a lot to remember in life! I keep it all in Evernote.
Como Bujo is a bullet journal style app that I use for planning days when I will write and days when I will edit.
This was my editing schedule for The Fate of Shin-Osaka
I have written every single book for the last 12 years in Scrivener and nothing else. I'm not even sure I could write a book in Word. I hate Word so much that just opening the program kills my creativity. It's Scrivener or bust for me. I have a Scrivener template I've built over the years that has everything built-in that I need to get started including Tags and Statuses. I use tags to organize my chapters into 4 acts, and I use Statuses to show where I am in the writing/editing process. I do all drafts directly in Scrivener.
Sudowrite has been a godsend! The part of drafting I always struggle with is descriptions and they can really slow me down. But with Sudowrite, I plug my writing into their tool, and the AI helps guide me to better, more descriptive text. Once I have some examples, I copy and paste to my work and then rewrite it to fit my style. It's made the work go so much faster because I'm best at dialogue and action. Sudowrite helps me pick up the slack.
I keep Power Thesaurus open while I write. Sometimes, I just cannot remember a word! But I remember a synonym, so I will query Power Thesaurus and see if it can remember something. I like this thesaurus the best out of all of them online.
I used to use a program called AutoCrit to edit my books, but now I use ProWritingAid (PWA) instead since it can open Scrivener documents. PWA is a critical part of editing for me. It helps me identify passive voice, grammar and spelling errors, overused and repetitive words. Did I really use the word “just” 100 times in this chapter? Yes, I probably did. PWA identifies them and I delete as needed. Every book I write gets a PWA pass after the drafting and story work is complete.
A lot of authors will tell you to choose between PWA and Grammarly, and that they do the same thing. I have found that's not the case. I always do a Grammarly pass as well before my work goes off to other editors/proofreaders. Grammarly will often catch missing or misplaced commas that PWA does not. It has a more robust engine for rewording for sentence clarity, and it will find more compound word problems. It will also catch potentially ableist and outdated cliches and phrases. Using both PWA and Grammarly together is essential for my work.
Text to Speech
Finally, before my book goes to a proofreader, I re-read the whole thing while listening to it being read to me by my computer. On Macs, this is built-in to the OS. I have a voice I like picked in the System Preferences and there's a button right in Scrivener to “Listen.” The computer reads the text and I follow along, stopping it and editing along the way. Text to speech is incredibly important. It helps catch missing words that my brain filled in and neither PWA nor Grammarly caught. It also helps me make different word choices because I can hear word sound similarities that I didn't pick up sight reading. Sometimes too many words sound similar, even if they aren't the same word. Stairs, prepare, compare, bear — they all have a similar sound but different spellings. So if I were to find a lot in the same paragraph, I may change a few words to synonyms.
Once the book is ready to go, I format it using Vellum. I used to just format with Scrivener, and that is still possible, but Vellum is soooooo much better. I have styles set up for every series and I keep all of the extras like copyright statements, back matter, and about pages all in Vellum for easy drag-and-drop access to each book. Vellum is Mac only, so it's not available to everyone, but I will never go without it now. (That's fine because I only use Macs.) Vellum makes both my ebooks and paperbacks. From there, I just have to upload and I'm ready to sell the book!
Beside all of those things, I use plenty of online resources to help me research my books. Lots of googling or Wikipedia and its sources, and I buy books to help along the way. Sometimes I reference trope or emotional thesauri to help me. Other times, I may ask questions on Facebook or my blog here if I need specialized information. But otherwise, these tools here are all I use to write and format my books.
If you have any questions about my process, I'm always happy to answer them!