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Aspiring Writers of Fiction Will Need These Tools of The Modern Writer

Updated on April 21, 2010

These usually mundane, often overlooked, items will enable fiction writers to pursue their craft effectively and efficiently as well as avoid a number of headaches they likely will not anticipate.

A computer (preferably a laptop).

  • If you use a laptop and don’t already have a shock resistant bag you need to get one.

A word Processor

  • Sadly notepad just isn’t going to cut it.
  • You’ll become horrifyingly familiar with it.

MS Office (at least MS Word 1997 or newer)

  • Even if you don’t use it as your word processor of choice most everyone else does. It’s a good idea to have a copy so that you can transfer your writings into a word document when others might need to interact with it.
  • Excel is also actually a useful note taking program.

Somewhere to backup and store documents online.

  • Google has a service, though they have a maximum file upload size.
  • You can make a yahoo group for yourself only. I’ve had one for 7 years and been quite pleased. Their maximum file size isn’t as miserly as Google’s.

MS word tabs (or tabs for your preferred word processor)

  • You can download an add-on for free.
  • You can get by without tabs but you don’t want to.

Antivirus software

  • Your computer and the data on it is your most valuable material asset, you MUST protect it.
  • AVG is a good choice and it’s free so us fiction writers can afford it.

Some form of computer hard drive backup.A notebook or some means of recording thoughts and ideas anywhere at any time.

  • Countless brilliant ideas die in vain every day because a writer didn’t have a way to write something down before they forgot it.
  • Also the best way to kill dead time in your daily routine.

Writer’s Market for the most recent year.

  • This giant tome is the holy grail of the unpleasant side of being a writer: getting published.
  • Be warned they are actually pretty expensive. You’ll likely try to convince yourself you can get by without it. You can’t.

Some sort of filing system however crude it starts out.

  • Helps prevent others from throwing invaluable notes away on accident
  • Someday you’ll want those ideas you need to at least know where to look
  • You may not have much to keep track of now but notes, hard copies, etc will begin appearing everywhere in ridiculous volumes and you have to be able to centralize them.

Document auto-backup on your word processor.

  • Word has this function though it has to be turned on.

The Internet

  • It allows you to access invaluable information such as this vital list of supplies.
  • It also represents the greatest temptation to procrastinate known to man; beware.

IRL library access

  • You will do research, and then more research. The internet is an incredible research tool but using it exclusively will leave massive gaps in your understanding of many things. Also all librarians like helping aspiring authors, one person willing to help you in the real world is worth a thousand forum contributors and email correspondents.

The Oxford English Dictionary

  • Until you can afford one Merriam Webster might have to do.

Grammar handbook

  • If you do get an editor it won’t be for a long time and even then they have bigger concerns than your disdain for the semicolon.


Any reference books you own are a plus, you have no idea how much research on countless different topics you will eventually need to do.

More blank paper and pens

  • Always at any given time or place you’ll probably need more blank paper and pens.

A flatbed scanner

  • The doodles of a fiction writer are invaluable and need to be recorded on something other than a napkin.

A clock with an alarm.

Thumb drives

  • More than one! They are incredibly handy but prone to theft, loss, and being sat on wrong.

Blank CDs or DVDs

  • Occasionally backup all documents on them for an additional safeguard.

Freeplane/mind mapping software

  • If you download Freeplane (it’s free) and get used to using it you’ll wonder how you got along without it. Trust me on this it’s worth it.

Access to an office grade printer with staying power.

  • Libraries are usually good for this.
  • Kinko’s will charge you an exorbitant amount.
  • Include page numbers before you print and save yourself inevitable aggravation. Including the date and filename in headings is a good idea as well.

Pens of multiple colors

  • You will not notice black marks made on printed copies and unless you make sure you have them in advance I guarantee you, you inexplicably won’t be able to find anything but black pens when you find a problem you need to mark.
  • Also taking notes in multiple colors makes more of a difference than you would expect. I’m nerdy enough I use the four color in one pens. I can honestly say I’m confident the multi-color pen has improved my writing.

Stapler with staples

Three hole punch

A good pair of scissors

  • You always end up needing them and either can’t find them or can’t use them.

White erase board and markers

  • They are basically just really useful.

A good chair/desk

  • You are going to end up spending long periods of time in the same place in the same position writing. Save yourself from carpel tunel and backache beforehand.
  • I have an extremely thick piece of cardboard that acts as a mobile desk, it has been invaluable.

Highly redundant data backups and at least a couple hard copies. Unfortunately, if you write novels printing becomes prohibitively expensive so carefully plan when you print a hard copy.

  • Your house could burn down on the same night Google burns down. If you don’t have backups you can bank on simultaneous house fire/Google implosions. Fate hates writers, except when its giving them inspiration.

Writers; how good is this list?

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    • profile image

      Hallidayed 5 years ago

      This is very helpful. Thank you.

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 6 years ago from United States

      That is really correct..Nice post

    • mysticalrose profile image

      mysticalrose 6 years ago

      Lol that was real nice read. I am sure your fictions are also as interesting as this piece.

    • Spindle profile image

      Spindle 7 years ago from Surrey

      Very interesting hub! Easy to read and digests thanks!!

    • Michael Jay profile image

      Michael Jay 7 years ago

      Wow! this is such a very informative and realistic hub. I admire your ideas. Thanks for sharing this great hub.