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Two Great Free Resources for Novel Writers–Holly Lisle and BasKet Note Pads

As I begin my probably fourth foray into attempting to write a novel, and this being the time that I swear I’ma finish this fucken thing or I’ll never try again chop off my face, I have two really great free resources I’d like to share with anyone thinking about writing a book. One is an author named Holly Lisle, who publishes a shit-ton of excellent writing advice, and the other is a piece of note-organizing software. Actually, I’m recommending two pieces: one for Windows users, and one for Linux users like myself.

Holly LisleA photo of Holly Lisle smiling

Writing fiction is a fire that burns inside of you, and burns you from the inside out. It sears away the lies you tell yourself, it sears away the masks you hide behind, and in the end it refines you the way fire refines gold. What you put into your writing you get back a hundred-fold. Your characters teach you how to live, how to love, sometimes how to say goodbye. –Holly Lisle

Aside from having an established career as a writer, Holly Lisle is awesome because she is a real human being. This is unusual because the majority of lesser-known writers offering workshops seem to fall into two categories: charlatan and ego-maniacal hack. Holly manages to escape these labels by endorsing one trait, one value, one passion above all: honesty. She’s as real as it gets when she writes about writing. I don’t always agree with her, and that’s natural–find me two writers who agree on everything and I’ll eat my left shoe. No I won’t, and you’re gross for suggesting that.

Holly offers everything from humble advice to free writing courses on her website. She also sells writing courses and other stuff, but that doesn’t mean she just offers half-assed shit in an effort to get you to buy something. She offers complete and sound advice, and though her word may not be the be-all, end-all of writing tips and experience, she has a hell of a way of inspiring people and bringing a fresh clarity and perspective to writing advice. I enjoy reading her advice and her interesting viewpoint for its humor and down-to-earth, but skillful prose. I read her free e-book last year, Mugging the Muse, and I was totally inspired by it.

Now I have to make a confession: I have only read excerpts from her books! I’m not really into most fantasy stuff. So I can only judge her expertise by the good that it has done me and my writing. So far, I rate her advice a solid A. That’s just me. Mosey over to hollylisle.com if you could use some help mugging your muse.

AllMyNotes Organizer for Windows or BasKet Note Pads for Linux.

AllMyNotes Organizer

AllMyNotes Organizer

BasKet Note Pads

BasKet Note Pads

I’ve posted screenshots of both programs, but pay attention to what I did in the BasKet Note Pads screenshot: the setup of the basket tree on the left gives you a good idea of what these programs can be used for in terms of writing. You can even write your entire novel in these programs.

I’m currently using BasKet Note Pads as the example here because I use Ubuntu, but AllMyNotes Organizer can be used the same way. These programs are excellent for writing organization, even if you are a linear writer–having a way to file and keep track of your characters, plot development and mechanics, settings and themes and all that other shit is invaluable. It takes so much work out of it because you don’t have to fumble to remember why your character David always gets in fights at the bar–just look up the character history to see how he got beat by his alcoholic stepmother when he was growing up. Or when you’re trying to remember any of the other thousands of choices, turns and histories in your novel, the information is a click away!

I don’t know if AllMyNotes has this feature (I haven’t used it since December 2010), but in BasKet you can drag and drop any link, text file or image file into a basket. This means that I just open BasKet and everything is right there–the text files of the manuscript, pictures I keep for inspiration, links to useful writing sites, and all the notes I need to organize the novel. Both programs are password protectable, save constantly, create backup files automatically, can create exportable/importable HTML or .txt files, and are encrypted with the options of a public or private encryption key.

These type of programs make writing a story way fucken easier. Give em a shot. They’re fucken free. (On Ubuntu, BasKet is available in the Software Center. Easy peazy.)

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