A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
The whole point of having money is to be able to buy the things that are most important – things like warmth and food and drink, presents for loved ones (and for marginally liked ones, depending on how you structure your gifting). If you gave me all the money in the world, I’d sponsor a literary prize (the Prize Pratt Award sounds great, right?), run a nationwide not-for-profit library service and buy myself a Degas bronze of a racehorse. (Also possibly a racehorse – I’ve read Dick Francis, I have the credentials.)
But there are some things money can’t buy, because they don’t exist. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to receive these gifts for Christmas…
For the author who writes ten chapters of a first-person narrative and then wonders whether it might not be better in third.
A drop down menu to check what tense has been used in each scene, for those first drafts where no one really knows what time it is. Is it now? Was it then? Would it have been yesterday? (Complete with a handy little explanation of what those tenses are, because frankly, I still don’t know.)
Dead Word Killer
Removing those dead words before they even make it to the page – type ‘just’ or ‘a little’ or ‘suddenly’ or ‘very’ all you like, the keyboard’s going to ignore every instance.
Verbal Tick Alert
Auto-highlighting words or phrases in yellow-amber-red depending on how frequently you use them in your work, so that eventually your computer becomes sentient and reaches out to slap your wrist every time one of your characters ‘realises’ something.
An Off Switch
The second you hit send on anything – the first draft, the last, whatever – your consciousness walks out of that little room marked ‘Book’, turns the light off and locks the door. Party all you like in the rest of the house, but you’re not allowed back through that door until someone else unlocks it.
Screen turns black if you try to read anything less than a four star review of one of your books. In fact, you have to click through several different pages before you’re allowed to even read those, like when you have to go through the rigmarole of proving you’re not a robot.
Reader Reaction Cookie Jars
These operate a bit like the House Point Hourglasses in Hogwarts. Any reader anywhere has a positive reaction to something you’ve written and a cookie appears in your jar. The cookies have no calorific value – consuming them nourishes your soul, not your body. (Unlike the House Point Hourglasses, there will be no deduction of cookies for negative reactions. This is my imaginary Cookie Jar and I’ll fill how I like.)
No, not literally. (Unless you have a penchant for circus skills, in which case go for it! I will stand here on the nice safe ground and admire your dubious life choices.) I think all of us could do with lessons in how to navigate those treacherously thin lines between confidence and arrogance; humility and insecurity; admiration and intimidation – exposing a bit of your soul makes everyone unbalanced.
Spending so much time with fictional humans who suck all your time and attention can make you a little greedy with the non-fictional ones, who sit patiently and listen to you word vomit your life into their lap. This internal alarm reminds you to stop talking and start listening, ensuring your priorities are kept in line: irl friends should not get less attention than the ones in your head.
Oh, what… you mean this is something other people just have? Gift it to a writer this Christmas. They’ll thank you for it in the acknowledgements.
Love this blog. Please add a cookie to your jar.
Reblogged this on Misha Herwin and commented:
What a great list.
Dear Santa, can I have a box set of these writing tools, and the rest if you’ve got room in your sack. Thx.
I *need* the Narcissism Alarm!
Thanx for this, Non.