Tag Archives: Scrivener

Distractions

I have to confess. I don’t have much written on my new story. I know that I said that I hoped that this one was going to go just as quickly as the last one, and it might actually happen that way, but first I have to start.

Instead, what I have been doing is archiving these blog posts. I have over 200 posts here, and I thought it would be a good idea to save them offline. So I have been copying them to Microsoft OneNote, along with some of my other writing notes.

While I normally write my stories in Scrivener, I like OneNote for this because it is searchable. It’s like a Wiki in that way. I can simply dump the info into the notebook, and then enter a search word or phrase later to find it again. I’m thinking that this might be a better way for me to organize my story notes as well, so I can quickly find details such as hair and eye color for my characters, as well as other minutiae that comes up as I write.

But all of this is a distraction from getting my words on the page. And that just won’t do.

I’m going to leave my book at home today and just take my netbook to work so I can concentrate on getting this story out. And tomorrow too, if I have to.

I’ll be back on Sunday. Hopefully with good news about finishing this story. See you then!

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Slow Going

I haven’t been able to do much in the last few days. Part of it is because I am still trying to figure out what I am doing. But to be honest, most of it is because I got sucked into another Facebook game, and that is what is taking up most of my time right now.

I glanced over at the side of my Facebook stream the other day and I noticed an ad for Farmville 2. I played Farmville for a while last year, and the year before that, but I stopped because it was interfering with my writing time. I quit playing all the Facebook games so I could make better use of my time. But when I saw the ad for the new version I got curious. I wanted to know what they had changed, so I decided to take a look.

So, of course, now I am spending a lot of my time planting, watering, harvesting, feeding, and crafting. It’s a big time suck, but I promise that I will stop cold turkey on November 1 for NaNoWriMo. Nothing will keep me from attempting to win for my third year in a row!

However, I still need to do a lot of planning for November. I have ideas, and I think they are coming together in my head, but what I really need to do is put them down on paper. Or at least, in my Scrivener file. I’m also using yWriter, because it lets me plan individual scenes.

On a political note, I am going to go to the Obama rally here in Madison on Thursday. This is the most important election of my life so far, and I am really looking forward to seeing the President. I managed to get the day off and I will be leaving the house early to make sure I get a good seat. I’ll try to do some planning while I wait, but I won’t be able to bring my netbook because of security, but I might be able to manage bringing my Kindle Fire instead. I can do some work on that while I wait. The problem is that it may also be raining and umbrellas aren’t allowed, so I’ll have to be careful about that. If it is raining, the pen and paper option wouldn’t be much better. But I’ll give it a shot, and we’ll see what happens.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I’ll be back on Sunday with another post. Hopefully I’ll be able to report that I have figured out how to manage my time so that I can play a little bit and then work on my book. Or maybe what I should do is make a commitment to do my planning before I let myself play. That would probably be a better idea….

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ROW80 Status – Day 34 (Feb 5)

Word counts:

  • 2/2 – 626
  • 2/3 – 604
  • 2/4 – 629
  • 2/5 – 858

Six Days To Sabbath is now up to 2,362 words total. Finding Valhalla is up to 60,038 words total and I am well into the finale. It’s very emotional, which means it’s REALLY hard to write. I’m typically a calm and reserved kind of guy so trying to write this climax is a real challenge for me. I’m sure I’ll be mucking about with it for months trying to get it right as I edit.

I have also started editing Dragons At Dawn. Right now what this means is that I have put the first draft into a new Scrivener project and have reorganized the files. I’m re-reading the draft, breaking it up into individual scenes, and making notes on what is happening in each scene. Once I finish that I will go through and figure out what parts I want to keep and which need to be replaced. Details about my editing plans are here. I’ll probably rewrite most of it, because I have a new vision of the story. One that is much darker and more dramatic than the original draft. But I don’t want to start the rewrites until I finish Finding Valhalla, which should probably be next week.

So that’s my progress for ROW80 this week. I’m meeting all my goals, and I’ve had several new story ideas in the last couple weeks that should keep me writing for a long time. I hope you are all doing well too. We’re all in this together!

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Editing

It’s time for me to start editing my NaNoWriMo project, Dragons At Dawn. I have put it off until now on purpose, because I wanted to get some distance from the first draft. It has been two months now since I wrote it so hopefully I’ll be able to look at it more objectively. I have also been thinking about it a bit over the last two months, and I think I know how the story can be improved. It is also one of my ROW80 goals and we’re already past day 30 so I had better get started.

This is my first attempt at editing. I’m not really sure what to do, so I’m kind of making it up as I go along. Here are some of the things that I have done or am planning to do.

  • Ask other people to read the story and critique it. Done. I have given the story to most of my family as well as four friends. Most of them liked the story, and at least one of them had some worthwhile criticism that I can use to improve certain scenes. Other comments were on my writing style, and will be useful to help me improve my craft.
  • Break down the story. In process. I have started a new Scrivener project and copied the first draft into it. I had previously broken down the story into chapters. They are now organized into individual days and I will go from there to break out each individual scene.
  • Describe the scenes. To do. Once the scenes are sorted I will go through each one and make notes about what each scene is about, what characters are involved, and the setting.
  • Break down the plot and subplots. To do. Once I have a better picture of the individual scenes I should be able to examine the main plot and fill any holes. The same applies for any subplots.
  • Trim the fat and fill the gaps. To do. After I dissect the scenes and plots I should be able to identify which scenes aren’t needed and what holes need to be plugged. I can cut the scenes that don’t work and plan new scenes where necessary.
  • Flesh out the characters. To do. Once I have identified all the characters in the story I want to go through and make detailed notes about each of the characters, describing not only their physical traits but their personalities as well. This will make it easier for me to bring them to life for the reader.
  • Detail the settings. To do. As with the characters, I need to bring more detail to the settings. Once again, this will make it easier for the reader to lose themselves in my world.
  • Edit each scene. To do. I will need to go over every scene individually and rewrite it as needed. I will use the notes I have made on the plots, characters, and settings to add detail and description to each scene. I am guessing that I should add at least 20,000 words before I finish. Possibly more.

So that’s what I have planned. Please comment with any tips you have on editing. I am especially interested in knowing if you have any books on the subject that you recommend. Wish me luck!

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Research

As I have been writing I keep finding the need to research. When I was writing my NaNoWriMo project Dragons at Dawn I relied heavily on my old Dungeons and Dragons books as inspiration for spells that the wizard hero was casting, as well as for the demons he was fighting. For my current project Finding Valhalla I checked out several books on Norse mythology as inspiration and reference material. For example, I am currently re-reading the legend of Ragnarok to see how I might fit at least pieces of the mythos into my story. As you might expect, an apocalyptic theme like Ragnarok isn’t something that should be covered in a single book, so this research will help me determine what parts to reveal now and which parts will be included in future books.

The Internet is also useful for research. You can find all sorts of stuff out there if you know how to look. Let me give you a list of some of the ways I have used the Internet to help me with my books:

  • Character description: I had a basic idea of how I wanted my main characters to look. I took one simple feature, the hair color, and did a Google image search. Then I went through the images found and picked a few that I thought best represented my mental image of the character. These pictures (copied into Scrivener for easy reference) have helped me focus on the characters as I write.
  • Setting description: Like with the character images, I figured it would be a good idea to have pictures of some of the primary locations in my book. For example, my heroine works in a bookstore/coffeeshop. So I did a Google search for similar locations and found a few that I liked. My heroine’s house is based on a house for sale in my neighborhood that caught my eye. I went to the realtor’s website and downloaded pictures of the house, inside and out, that I can use to help me as I write each scene. I did a similar thing for a condo owned by one of her friends. Google Maps also helps when finding directions to places or interesting locations in an area.
  • Other descriptions: Characters and settings aren’t the only things that need to be described. My heroine has a magical sword that needed an image. I also needed to find the right car for her rich friend to drive. Each of these things were found after a short Google search.
  • Names: My heroine told me her name was Miranda when she first grabbed me and demanded that I tell her story. The rest of the club didn’t come as easily. My hero is named George after the legend of Saint George and the Dragon, but then I realized I didn’t really know the legend, so I used Wikipedia to find out more. Miranda’s mother was named Amanda because it rhymed. I named some of the smaller characters only after some research on websites that showed the meanings of the names. For example, I found Kari’s name only after searching for popular Norwegian names and finding one with a meaning that seemed to fit the character in my head. The name of the bookstore was based on Norse mythology, and the name of Miranda’s sword was from an English to Norwegian translation through Google Translate.

Please leave a comment on ways you do research for your writing.

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Outlining

This is a hard topic to cover. On the one hand, having an outline completed before you start writing can give you direction and keep your story moving in the direction you want it to go. On the other hand, sometimes no matter how detailed your outline is your characters will say “NO. I’m going over here instead.” Since I’m just starting out my life as a writer, I haven’t decided yet which way works best for me. However, I can tell you my experiences with outlining so far.

For my NaNoWriMo project, Dragons at Dawn, I didn’t make a detailed outline before I started, but I did plan some basic plot scenes for the beginning of the story. I never actually developed an outline for the project, as the story just kind of developed a life of its own. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know how it was going to end until two days before I finished. At that point, everything just seemed to fall into place and before I knew it I was done.

For my current project, Finding Valhalla, I started without an outline, but by the time I had written 25,000 words I had decided how the story was going to end. With that in mind, I decided the best way to make sure I got there was with an outline. I am using a beta copy of Scrivener for Windows for my writing, which made it really easy to move my scenes around and plan for new scenes to cover the rest of the story. The problem was that by the time I had finished I had to edit at least four scenes that I had already finished because they had moved to a new point in the story. As a matter of fact, I just finished getting them back in right before I started working on this blog post. But even with my planning, during the writing process my story has drifted away from the outline and now I need to take some time to edit it for the changes.

I have read books in the past that say the best way to be a successful, prolific writer is to use some form of outline. Sometimes this is a detailed plan. Sometimes it’s just Post-It Notes on a bulletin board. Scrivener has a virtual corkboard that I like that replicates this style of planning. I have also heard stories about successful authors that don’t use any kind of outline at all. In the end you have to use whatever works best for you. I’m going to try outlining the whole plot before I start writing my next project and see how that goes.

What is your experience with outlines? Do you outline everything before you start, or do you just write whatever comes to you? If you use an outline, how difficult is it for you to stick to it? What do you do when you get off track?

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Using Twitter

To continue the Social Networking discussion I thought I would expand on each of the options listed in the prior post. We’ll start with Twitter. I’ll list some of the people and groups that I follow to give you an idea of how you can use it in a way that suits you.

People

Besides my friends and family, I follow several authors. Not all of them write in the same genres that I do. I follow them for several reasons. First, because they are authors so their tweets often give good advice or encouragement to me when I am struggling. Second, because a lot of them are independents I can get advice from them on self publishing. Third, just like in the job market, it helps to know people. If you can build a relationship with other published authors they will often help you when you are ready to promote your own book. And finally, several of them are local authors. We get together once in a while for write-ins and to discuss our work.

Local Authors

  • Zombie_Joe
  • Jesilea
  • Jamwes
  • WillRaboin

Genre  and Independent Authors

  • WickedLPixie
  • susan_bischoff
  • Momjeans1975
  • CristynWest
  • mercedesmy
  • CarolHoladay
  • andrewmocete
  • MichelleRowen
  • jenniferjoseph_
  • EllenMeister

Favorite Authors

  • jayewells
  • longshotauthor
  • ShannonKButcher
  • StaciaKane
  • kaitnolan

Organizations

I follow several groups and businesses related to the writing field. Some are related to the genres I write, some are support networks for authors, and some are professional publishers or editors.

  • ParaYourNormal
  • NaNoWriMo
  • ScrivenerApp
  • awfulagent
  • AdviceToWriters
  • Style_Matters
  • byrcecullen
  • WritingSpirit

So my advice to you is to check the websites of your favorite authors and see if they have a Twitter feed (mine is @BSRPG). Do the same with some publishing companies. And post tweets about your own writing. The Twitter bots will use your content and soon authors and businesses will start following you!

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