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Creative Equipment

What is the best tech for writers? I've been told that you need special programs to help fact-check, plaigarize-check, etc. Is this true? And if so, does this tech really help? writing creative-writing author writer tech

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G. Mark’s Answer

In my own experience and in talking to writers, some have staff to fact check. Since most of us aren't that flush with money to hire people, most of us simply search to web and then do multiple searches for corroboration or simply talk to folks who are familiar with the source material. There are programs on the web that provide this sort of cross-checking. However, the source for these programs are still just folks who write stuff and put their own slant on it. The most thorough folks I've known simply put in a lot of work. As for the hardware itself, long ago I was convinced by others that you had to have custom programs to do what I wanted to do, and that was, at the time, write a screen play. Being miserly, I put in long hours writing my own custom formatting program. It was a valuable experience, but frankly, writing the program was an end in itself because it really didn't add much to the final product. Today there are lots of grammar and spelling checkers advertising all the time. Nice to polish up the final product, but in the end, the quality of the end product is more dependent on what you put into it. As far as hardware, I'd recommend a simple laptop. Pads are nice and convenient, but not for me. And non-exotic laptops are pretty cheap. A side benefit is that there is an incredible amount of software available for them. Most of your effort would be spent installing and testing stuff. I personally would poll as many folks who are writing around you as possible and get their feedback and make your own judgment as to whether their particular needs and observations meet yours. I use MS word and don't bother much with exotic stuff. It does the job for me. Or at least I think so -- readers may differ :-).

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Eve’s Answer

Fact checking is an issue when I'm writing in general. I don't use a specific software package to do this, but wherever possible search on Google to verify facts and sources that I'm using. When I'm doing research for creative writing, I search on Google for information (for instance, what models of station wagons were there in 1960). Everything's not available on the internet, however, so I also search for books on the topic that may have the information I need (for instance, a book on poisons for writing a mystery). Then I can try to get these out of the library or purchase them. If the book is out of print and not in a library, I can look for it through Abebooks, Powells, or other used book vendor.

Plagiarizing software is useful for teachers, professors, and publishing professionals who need to ensure that the piece their looking at doesn't include content that was plagiarized from some other source. As a writer, I don't use that type of software because I don't copy the writing of others.

The thing you probably will want is software to help with your writing. For creative writing, I love Scrivener. It allows me to link to and store pictures and research in the same project with my writing. It has tools for developing and tracking characters and settings and other project-related resources. And I can write in sections/chapters and choose the kind of output I want to create with it. And Scrivener has a number of training resources online.

But you don't need any special software to do creative writing. You can start with a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. If you have access to a computer, you can write with Notepad or Google Docs or Microsoft Word or virtually any word processing program--it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive.


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