I hope you’ve been keeping your toolbox close at hand, and that you reach into it whenever you need a tool to help you breathe life into a character, build tension into a dramatic confrontation, pick up the pace of your story, or give the reader important background information. If you write novels or narrative nonfiction books, characterization, drama, pace, and backstory are all important tools.
I talked about the writer’s toolbox in my January 14, 2014 blog post. My point was that instead of looking at things like characterization and plot as elements in a story, you should view them as tools to be used in crafting your story. It’s more than semantics. When a carpenter arrives at a worksite, he has his own toolbox with things like hammers, saws, and drills. He doesn’t tote these tools around because he wants people to know he’s a carpenter, and he doesn’t wait for the tools to hop out of the toolbox and assert themselves. The carpenter is in charge. He selects the tool he needs for a particular job, and he uses it in the best way to accomplish what he needs to accomplish.
Think of your writer’s toolbox in the same way, as something you reach for when you need to accomplish a particular task.