Hand Me the Wrench: A Writer’s Tool Box


Writing fiction is like building a house.

Pour a sturdy foundation (strong plot line/character arcs).
Make sure walls are straight and level (each scene moves story forward).
Set a roof with tight, protective shingles (track details and avoid holes in plot).
Choose attractive accents and hardware (interesting yet subtle language/syntax).
Don’t forget landscaping for curb appeal (good secondary characters, setting, etc.).

You’ve seen the title, so I will spare you the drum-roll set up of metaphor. In order to construct a proper story, a writer needs a well-stocked box of tools she can call upon to get the job done.

Tool: Basics

Of course, we writers need our hammer and screwdrivers. The basics.

A computer or laptop (my MacBook is my best friend).
A word processing software (Word, Pages, Scrivner, etc.).
Place to keep notes (index cards, Post-Its, some use Scrivner).
Another basic for me is COFFEE.

Because, let’s be real. Behind every successful author is a good mug of roasted goodness. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it!

What basics can you not write without?

Tool: Instructions

Anyone out there think of the instructions as a necessary and useful tool? Some of my favorite “instruction manuals” to have around when I write include:

Say What? The Fiction Writer’s Handy Guide to Grammar, Punctuation, and Word Usage by C.S. Lakin
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Steven King

There are some really excellent blogs out there that offer writers priceless tips, tricks, and encouragement. Some of my favorite are:

Between the Lines (Books & Such Literary Agency)
The Writer’s Alley
The Write Practice

Tool: Partners

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I would not be the writer I am today without an entire TEAM of people I’ve met along the way. Those agent Wendy Lawton calls those you’ve “come alongside.” When you partner with other authors, editors, agents, and teachers, your skills will undoubtedly sharpen, grow, become more effective. For me, these partners include my critique group, the editor who first read through my novel, those I’ve met on the social media and the Books & Such Blog, and the ACFW community.

These partners help sand off the rough edges of a draft, replace a stripped screw with a shiny new sharp adjective, rewire a mixed POV, shed light on a faulty scene, and make sure I’m wearing my safety goggles at all times (taking breaks, breathing through stressful days, recovering from rejection, etc.).

Who are your partners? Family? Friends? Former professors? It takes a village!

Tool: Inspiration

For me, this is one of my favorite tools to use and the one I’d be lost without. Writers must have inspiration. No matter your genre, without it, your story simply does not exist. Where do we cultivate inspiration? We’ve talked about that before here and here. When I’m feeling like the blade of my inspiration tool is dull, I look to nature, music, and even my own experiences with relationships, travelling, etc.

What other tools do you keep in your writer’s bag? What can’t you live without?



Hand Me the Wrench: A Writer’s Tool Box — TWEET THIS!

What’s in your Writer’s Tool Box? — TWEET THIS!

In order to construct a proper story, a writer needs a well-stocked box of tools she can call upon to get the job done. — TWEET THIS!


Published by Teresa Tysinger

Author of Contemporary Christian Fiction. Wife, mother, creative, and professional communicator.

5 thoughts on “Hand Me the Wrench: A Writer’s Tool Box

  1. Interesting and useful entry. I always write alone – but have a reading group that meets weekly. There are a great help – both in terms of feedback and as a motivation to make sure I have something written every week.

    Thanks for sharing.


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