Some tools for writers

I don't post many stories or tips on the process of writing. This evening I'd like to take a small step to address that deficiency.

I do 99% of my writing in one of two places - in my office at home, or in my corner at Robison Service. I seem to write better material in the morning, but I write stuff at night too and hope it's acceptable.

I don't use outlines or any tools to prepare a book.

Most of my writing is done on Gateway computers with Microsoft Word. I back my stuff up online.

None of that is very novel or interesting, but I'll bet you have not seen this nifty gadget:

That thing is called Cliche Cleaner, and that's pretty much what it does. It's a program that analyses your words to find repeated phrases or tired cliches (it has an inventory of thousands)which it then lists for your perusal and alteration.

It picks up both trite stock phrases, like "fit as a fiddle," and repeated phrases of your own making, like, "and then the Klingons killed him."

I used it for the first time on the initial version of this newest manuscript. Till I ran it, I had no idea how many repeated phrases and such I had. Quite useful, and only $12.

The next useful tool is a drink. Some of you drink bourbon or wine; I drink tea.

This fellow has a company in upstate New York that specializes in the blending of teas:

I got to know owner Paul Harney because he has Land Rovers, my favorite vehicles.

They sell bottled tea, but what I really like are the fruit flavored bad teas. Flavored tea that you buy is usually full of sweeteners and other bad stuff. The Harney teas are just straight bags of tea and fruit essences and spice.

I also like their bottled organic juices.

Harney teas are sold in the coffee shops of many of my favorite bookstores, including Northshire in Manchester, Vermont.

When I am doing reseach for a story I like to copy materials and take photos. I own several cameras but the one that gives the best bang for the buck is my Canon G10

For $500 this little camera runs circles around the competition. It has image stabilization, which reduces blur. You can hold it over a book or catalog and take photos that print as nicely as photocopies. Its image quality is remarkable. It's small and portable, and reasonably rugged.

Some of you have asked where I get ideas. I think they develop over time. Something comes to me, and I talk to friends about it, and the idea of a story germinates.

I get some ideas from what people write me on the blog or Facebook, and I get more from talking to people in person. At some point, it pops into place and I write it down. I do a lot of formulating and thinking while walking. Here is an image from my local woodlands:

That particular photo was taken with my Leica camera, and processed in photoshop with the Photomatrix HDR plugin. HDR processing compresses the color range in the scene to render more of the subtle shades visible. All the colors you see are natural but the HDR processor brings them out in ways you would not otherwise see.


That cliche catcher sounds interesting! I'm definitely going to look into one. My beta reader tends to catch my repeaters, and I his, but help is always good. Have you tried Dr. Wicked's Write or Die tool online? He's working on a low-priced version for sale, as well.

Great post! And I always love your pictures. :)
cath c said…
who me, use cliches? not on you life. (hee-hee)
cath c said…
of course the humor would work better without the dropped r.
Michelle S. said…
They need the cliche catcher on blogger. I realized I said "out of the box" way too many times on my most recent post. I enjoy your posts very much. We are very in sync. I have been researching cameras lately. I have bookmarked your suggestion. I was hoping to get one before our eastern trek...I hope I can swing it! Thanks
Michelle O'Neil said…
Beautiful phot John, and the cliche cleaner sounds like a good investment!
The River Otter said…
"Runs circles around (the competition)" is a cliche.

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