Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Writer’s Fantasy Tool Box

Sharon Wildwind

Last week I had a wonderful time at a non-writing-related conference. Saw old friends and acquired new ideas.

One of the speakers talked about tool boxes. About how we all start our careers with a basic tool kit (the equivalent of having only a hammer, screwdriver, and pliers) and how, over the decades, we both acquire new tools and toss out what no longer works.

That got me thinking about a useful toolbox for writers. Not the mundane one filled with grammar, spelling, writing dos and don’ts, or even marketing tools. What I want is more akin to Dr. McCoy’s medical tricorders or Batman’s utility belt. I want a writers’ tool box filled with impossibly useful tools that fly in the face of the way the world works.

The first thing I want is a Digital Plot Generator with optional Plot Analyzer. Come across a great fact or piece of information? Enter it in the machine. When you’re ready to write, ask the machine to combine mini-ideas at random to form the plot for your next story. Or, if you’ve got a plot, feed it into the machine for analysis. It scans millions of stories stored in its memory and gives a readout of how often individual elements have been used before.

Next, I want a Sexy Spellchecker, something with a silky masculine voice, who says, “Love, you’ve misspelled that word the same wrong way five times in a row. Let me lead you through the correct spelling. I have a reward for you if you learn to spell this word correctly.” I’m sure I’d learn spelling a lot better if there was a lascivious component to it.

Speaking of spelling, how about a Homophone Head’s Up? This would be a grammar checking that can tell when I type in their for there or brakes when I really mean breaks. That would be a mighty useful tool.

So would a Literary Trend Identifier, a tool that could peak into the future and predict what stories will be hot, say, five years from now. That way I could hit the market with a winner every time.

The ultimate fantasy tool would have to be an Automated Manuscript Distribution Coordinator. All the writer has to do is polish the finished manuscript and the tool does the rest. Researches the markets. Picks a likely list of agents and editors. Writes and sends a dynamite query letter. Packages up the manuscripts and mails them out. Keeps track of how many manuscripts are out, whose got them, how long they’ve had them, etc. It would have a little bell that would ring when I get an offer to purchase. Meanwhile, I’ll be writing the next book down the line — with a lot of misspellings, of course. Got to keep that Sexy Spellchecker busy, don’t I?


Quote for the week
The art of an artist must be his own art. It is... always a continuous chain of little inventions, little technical discoveries of one's own, in one's relation to the tool, the material and the colors.
~Emil Nolde, (1867 – 1956), German painter and printmaker


Sandra Parshall said...

I could use all of those tools, Sharon. (sigh)

Anonymous said...

Those tools are so fabulous...I would buy them!

Anonymous said...

If I find them on line, I'll send you gals the address so you can have them, too.