Berley Kerr’s Tools of the Trade

Hello everyone! I’m back and quicker than usual. Why? Unlike previous months, I have more to tell you. I’ve now hit the editing process of my path to publication. 


Don’t get me wrong, editing can be fun. In my experience, after finishing a draft, ANY draft, I leave it alone for a few weeks, maybe even a few months. When enough time has passed, I come back to it and see if you see just a little differently. That is definitely the case now.

Believe it or not I’ve avoided reading Guild Assassin simply because I thought I was finished editing it, due to the publication from my last publisher. Oh well. Despite my obvious annoyance with the situation, my current editor made me realize that I should see this as an opportunity. One more chance to enhance the world of the story, add things I didn’t get to add, improve lines and even add certain details. So now I’m back to rereading and reediting, but this time I’m seeing it from a brand new point of view. And it’s exciting! So if all goes well, I’ll be done and I can move on to the next step.

And it was during this editing process that I realized I haven’t yet shared my tools of this writing trade. So allow me to share with you: Berley’s Tools of the Trade.

Spoiler Alert: They’re not real tools. Just very useful ones.



The Lab – A blank Word Processer Document dedicated exclusively to free thought and only free thought.

Think of a notepad. Now think of a note pad on your desktop or laptop. Pocket notepads are fine, that is to say they’re fine padding down notes that can fit in your pocket. But an actual blank document on your computer gives more freedom of thought.

Let’s just say that I’m on the streets and a story idea pops into my head. I’m away from my computer, so I simply jot it down in my notepad (my iPhone). If it’s a really good idea I come back to it almost immediately but for the others those ideas get sort of lost in the shuffle. (I take a lot of notes).

However, when I’m near my laptop and I get an idea, not only can I write it down, I can write it down and type up a few sample paragraphs to see if this story has any promise. And it doesn’t just work for stories. If there are chapters that I’m having trouble with, I copy and paste it to the Lab and tweak it as many ways as possible while leaving the actual document alone. If I want to remember a joke I want to tell, or an alien animal who I want to describe in detail or write a paragraph giving very vivid details of some city, if I’m having troubles of any kind, I take it to the Lab.

Other authors tend to open up a new Word Document every time they have an idea. I used to do the same thing. The next thing I knew, I had a folder filled with random crap. There was no way I was going to open and close all those windows. With the Lab all my ideas are in one place and I give them all titles so I can find them quick.

And here’s the best news. You don’t even have to call it “The Lab” like I do. You can call it whatever the hell you want.


Word Counter – Excel Spreadsheet or any Spreadsheet used to Daily Word Count




Real writers write every day. And I’ve found one of the best ways to keep up with that discipline is to do as sci-fi writer David Gerrold had suggest. A spread sheet like the one I’ve pasted above. (For you Trekkies/Trekkers out there, David Gerrold is the guy who wrote the Troubles with Tribbles episode of Star Trek in the Original Series).

It’s really cool I can set up my target word count as well as my daily word count. I even give myself a percentage and an estimate to when I’ll be done. And to further hammer the daily thing, I even added a “Last Update” column to remind if have or haven’t been writing every day. Here are formulas I used, in case you’re interested. Try to fill in the spreadsheet as best you can and input the following formulas in the corresponding locations.

Total Percent – Location: B6 – Formula: =SUM(B4/B5)

Words Added – Location: B8 – Formula: =SUM(B7/B4)

Target Word Count – Location: B9 – Formula: =SUM(B4+D5)

Word’s Left – Location: D4 – Formula: =SUM(D5-B8)

Daily Percent – Location: D6 – Formula: =SUM(B8/D5)

Days Typed – Location: D7 – Formula: =SUM(B4/D5)

Novel Finished – Location: D8 – Formula: =(B5/D5)

Days Left – Location: D9 – Formula: =SUM(D8-D7)

In case you were wondering. The cells that aren’t listed above, those you fill in with your own info.


Youtube – Yes, that Youtube

I am currently subscribed to the following channels: Vsauce, Vsauce 2, Vsauce 3, Vlogbrothers, Crash Course, Scischow, Machinima, Happy Hour, HeadSqueeze, Minute Physics, Minute Earth, ASAP Science, CGP Grey, Yankee999 aka Steampunk Reviews, Veritasium, Abney Park, Earth Unplugged, Documentary World HD, Educational TV, Ted Ed, Stuff to Blow Your Mind, WondersoftheStars, Smarter Every Day, Alltime10s, List 25 and more than a few others.

Youtube is more than a place for you to be rick-rolled, watch keyboard cat, movie trailers, “free” music, music videos, very old music videos, fake trailers and montages of random people getting hit in the nuts. I mean, those are fun, but there’s so much more to life and Youtube than watching guys get hit in the nuts.

As a writer I’m always doing research to see if certain events in my book hold up to scrutiny. Plus it’s a wonderful place to learn and get ideas. When I was researching my novel, I quickly realized that I needed to relearn a lot of world history. I did the usual college thing, and Google-d, and Wikipedia-d my ass off. Those things gave me a lot of information, but it wasn’t really getting me anywhere. Plus it didn’t seem interesting enough.

Then, purely on a whim, I Google-d “Crash Course in World History”. And what popped up was the Crash Course Youtube Channel, Crash Course World History. The first episode I saw was about the Mongols and I was hooked. I’ve every single Crash Course video in World History, US History (so far), Biology, Literature, and Chemistry. I’ve seen every World History video at least three times. John Green and his brother Hank Green, the Vlogbrothers, hosts the shows with John doing History and Literature while his Hank focuses on Science. Both shows are well made, interesting, informative and both brothers speak really, really fast so you have to pay attention. It also helps to watch the videos more than once. Lord knows I do.

The other channels such as Scishow and Headsqueeze teach me interesting things like what is fire? What is the Higgs Boson? And true invisibility. Vsauce taught me what would happen if I jumped into a black hole. Vsauce 2 showed me a glow in the dark bunny as well as a laser popping balloons. Vsauce 3 showed me cool apps like Duolingo which teaches you any language for free in a really fun way. The more you learn, the richer your writing will be. Explore those channels and learn for yourself.


A Dictionary – Specifically an iPhone Dictionary App, iPhone Notes app, internet access or a pocket dictionary, if you wanna be old school

I have a dictionary app on my iPhone along with the Notes app that comes standard. If you’re too cheap to get a free app you can always type the word you want to look anywhere in the Notes app, select/highlight the word, tap the arrow pointing right, and hit define. Not only will it give you the definition, it’ll also give you its history. A pretty cool way to learn Latin. Plus they also come with a thesaurus.

Dictionaries are a necessity if you’re a writer. You don’t want to sound like an “oxymoron,” do you? Of course not! Oxymorons are pretty ugly and they’re old news.


Thanks for reading. Hopefully I’ll see you soon.


About berleykerr

A Steampunk Author from Los Angeles.
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