Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

5 Tools Everyone Writing Adventure Stories Should Be Using

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toolboxIt was suggested to me I do a list of five about adventure writing and about the sort of tools that can be a real life (or time1) saver when you are writing adventure tales.

Yes, of course, Wikipedia and Google Translate, these are quite useful. And Google maps.
And a good reference library does help, too.
But is there something more, or something more suited to writing, and adventure writing in particular?
These are of course my fave tools, and I am sure many out there are using other software/websites/services.
If you’d like to add to the list of suggestions, please do so in the comments sections.
It’s always nice discovering something we don’t know, and that might get handy.

As for me, here goes my list of five.

1 . Pinterest

English: Red Pinterest logoI wrote about this in the past – Pinterest is an excellent source of photo references (just type a few keywords and browse), and a great tool for organizing references and stuff related to a project. It has the added bonus of allowing both Public and Private boards – so you can collect your references in a private board, and once the project’s closed make the board Public, and use it as an online bonus for the readers. No topic seems too exotic – from costumes to period photographs to recipes to artwork, Pinterest seems to have it all.
And you can upload/link what it hasn’t yet.

2 . Marble

AA_PO-22230_Roberto-Saporito_123RF1_resized.png1_mediumMarble is a desktop globe for Linux. It has many of the functions of Google Maps, but works offline, which is quite useful; because I live in place where web connection is erratic at best, but also because when we are working we might want to go offline to avoid distractions. Marble allows the annotation and saving of maps, it calculates distances and itineraries. Extra libraries can be downloaded.
Indispensable for keeping geographical facts straight while writing – and to adventure, often geography is plot.

3 . Youtube

youtube_logo_stacked-vfl225ZTxAnother no brainer – Youtube is not just for movie trailers and JackAss reruns; it holds a huge collection of instructional videos. Need to get your facts straight about combats and violence? Check out one of the many EMA or historical weapons or re-enactment channels. Need to take a tour of some far off place? Check out vacation videos… the music is usually ghastly, but the places are there all right. You can also find historical footage, documentaries (the BBC!), get an idea of what a certain foreign language sounds like, and by checking out TEDTalks, you can get information on an infinity of topics.

4 . MOOCs

what_is_moocThe fastest way to acquire in-depth information on a subject is to follow a university level course on the subject. Free online platforms such as Futurelearn, Iversity or Coursera offer high-level, open corses through the web: from forensics to Medieval magic, from underwater archeology to internet security, the choice is enormous. The OpenCulture website maintains an updated list of all the courses available, on all the platforms.
And many courses also provide a certification, which may add a nice touch to your CV.

5 . Stellarium

Stellarium IconStellarium is a desktop planetary, a virtual sky viewer. It comes with a big set of features, including cultural star charts (curious about Egyptian constellations? The Aztec’s? The Tongan’s?) and the possibility of setting time and geographic position. The software is highly customizable, includes some nice informative texts and links to external articles. The night sky is a source of directions for travelers and of signs for the mystics, and features heavily in a lot of stories. Why not get some details straight?

And as an added bonus…

6 . Scrivener

scrivener-300x253You know I’m pretty enthusiastic about this writing software, and I already did a few posts on the subject. I find Scrivener highly adaptable, and well suited to my writing modus operandi. It allows me to handle all of the material (scenes, character sketches, links, research stuff, photos) in a single place. It features a distraction-free interface, if you are into that sort of things, and exports your work in a number of handy formats, including ebook. Backup is a breeze.
It helps – a lot.
Also, it’s damn cheap (and Linux users can get a fully functional free beta).


  1. when we are writing, time and life are one and the same. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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