Author Tools to Keep A Story Together

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Share how you keep your characters, storylines, etc., organized. Do you use an outline? Notecards? Post-its all over your walls?

I am back, everyone. I’ve missed writing for this blog hop, but I was slammed…hard…with a number of illnesses and was laid out for weeks.

Yeah, it took a while, but I am better now and ready to go!

Okay. How I keep track of everything needed to write a cohesive novel, novella or short story. What fun! And how convenient that I recently wrote articles about high and low-tech productivity for the awesome Haute Hijab blog. Below are some tools I use to keep things in check while story writing, even rebellious characters like Quinn Ang and Raad Khouri.

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High-Tech Tools

Digital Tools for Writing & Editing

  • Google Docs (free)  – Good for writing and sharing documents.
  • WordPress (some versions are free) Great self-explanatory site for creating and contributing to a blog.
  • ProWritingAid (some free) An editing tool to polish content
  • Natural Readers (some free) – This text-to-speech software that helps with editing by listening to text while reviewing.
  • Speechnotes (free) – This is a speech-to-text that converts voice notes to text

Low-Tech Tools

Index Cards

I use 3×5 index cards to map out a three-act plot structure for a story.  With a method taught to me by Sandra Barkevich of WriteType Editorial Services, I have one card each to write the: 1) Inciting Event, 2) Act One Problem 3) Act Two Choice 4) Midpoint Reversal 5) Act Two Disaster 6) Climax and 7) The Wrap-up.

The limited space of an index card encourages me to hone the plot down to the essentials and trajectory I want a story to take. It helps solidify the beginning, middle and end in my mind and keeps the overarching themes and messages stable while everything else in the story may shift and change.

I clip and keep the cards for a story in a bright green recipe box, pulling them out while I “cook” at my keyboard.

Mis Quince Años (25)Composition Notebooks

No, I do not do spiral notebooks. I have a number of composition notebooks on my desk. Three important ones are my “Character Names,” “WIP” and “Editing” notebooks, where I keep track of novel writing building blocks and the process to polish a story. 

Sticky Notes

In addition to writing notes in a notebook, I often use sticky notes as ideas come up about a story beyond the foundations. Characters’ names and plot nuances (settings, clothing, professions) do not always manifest with ease, and an author may change it while drafting.  I stick them on the pages of a story in my WIP notebook, flipping the up to read what is written on the page underneath, replacing or removing them as needed. Sticky notes offer a quick and changeable means to outline a story.


After the story is done and the book published, an author must then focus on promoting it. Creating interesting content to capture readers’ interest is important and requires a variety of tools. Below are some of my favorites.

Mis Quince Años (22)Promotional (to Create Promotional Content and Art)

  • Canva  (some free) – Book cover designer and graphic design to create images for social media and marketing purposes.
  • PhotoLayers (free) – This is a photo editor that allows adding layers to your images.
  • Lingojam (free) – Online text generator that makes fancy words with designs for posting on social media and grab attention.
  • Sticker Mule Trace (free) background removal.
  • Vimage (some free) image animator.
  • Ripl (some free) slideshows and video clips.
  • Adobe Spark Post (some free) – Also great for graphic design.
  • Adobe Photoshop (fee) – You can’t go wrong with Adobe Photoshop. It’s fantastic for graphic design, background removal, layering, and so much more.
  • Adobe Audition (fee) – This audio editor to make audio content and for podcasting.
* Note: I have Adobe Creative Cloud (mother of an art student) and get all Adobe products for one monthly fee. Anyone who wants to streamline the apps can use Adobe. Some of the Adobe apps are complex and require training, but a content creator proficient with using new technology may find that it’s worth it.  

Mis Quince Años (18)Stock Images and Audio (to Find Images to Use for Your Content)

Book Mockups (from designed covers)

  • DIY Book Designs (Free) 3D book mockups without background 
  • AllAuthor (Free with Membership) 3D book mockups with and without background
  • BookBrush (Some free) 3D and 2D book mockup templates

Let’s keep those keyboards clicking!


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4 thoughts on “Author Tools to Keep A Story Together

Add yours

  1. I broke down and got a lifetime subscription to prowritingaid. The joy of not being limited in my word count has been well-worth the price. It’s made editing easier and more comprehensive.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for the list of resources, it’s great to see how others approach the job of keeping track too, I guess I’m rebelling against all the paperwork I had to keep up in my old job but not doing any now.

    Liked by 1 person

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