Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Little About Scrivener

There are a lot of software programs out there for writers. I selected Scrivener because I'd heard nothing but raves about the program. In fact, one of the primary reasons I stepped over to the dark side and became a Mac user was to get Scrivener. There is now a beta program available for Windows.

I use Scrivener to write novels, but it includes all kinds of writing assistance, including screenwriting.

I am hardly an expert on Scrivener, but here's a snapshot of what I work with:

On the left, the Binder reflects each scene, and the POV of that character's scene is color coded. I give each scene a description so I know what it's about.

Below the color-coded scenes, I have each of my character studies, and several other folders, including Places, Research (where you can import Internet pages with your information—but I'm old school enough I still print it out), and whatever other folder you want to create. I have three for this manuscript: NOTES/BLURB/PLOT; SOC (Stream of Consciousness) Plot Concept; and STEP OUTLINE which is more of a scene by scene synopsis I work with to get more detailed. By the way, the program also has a synopsis piece that can help.

The center area is where the magic happens, and all of the hard work to make sure it does.

On the right is what Scrivener calls Inspector. It's where I create cards for my cork board, and make any notes I want to make for that scene, or the project.

Scrivener has many more facets than I've figure out how to use. In fact, I have two books that supposedly will enlighten me and provide an even greater experience. As anal as I am, I don't have the patience (at least not yet) to work through them. BUT, their support team has been magnificent.

One thing I love is the easy way it works with Dropbox, so I can seamlessly transfer my work from my iMac to my MacBook Pro.

Here are the links:

For PC Users (remember, this is beta): http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivenerforwindows/

CR: The Halo Effect by M.J. Rose

It's all better with friends.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Bad

Okay, maybe writing out of sequence isn't all it's cracked up to be. At least all I cracked it up to be.

After making this big wahoo-discovery (last post) and thinking I'd latched on to something pretty spectacular, well . . . mea culpa.

To be honest, I find myself in a place where I need—desperately need—to know what happens next. And because I've not written sequentially, I'm all discombobulated about what has already happened. So now, I'm reading through the scenes that are linked. Scenes that are in order. Scenes I'd written before my Great Discovery.


I still think, when supremely stuck, or when a certain scene falls into your head fully formed, non-sequential writing is okay. But I took a good thing and, as I often do with chocolate and peanut butter, I overindulged, resulting in an upset stomach. For me, moderation is the key.

Some people may be able to put a jigsaw puzzle together willy-nilly. I need to frame it first.

CR: The Halo Effect by M.J. Rose

It's all better with friends.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Three Reasons to Cut the Chapter Cords That Bind You

I used to write chapter by chapter, scene by scene. A sequential recording of events. Chapter One was always followed by Chapter Two, followed by Chapter Three. It was unimaginable for me to write Chapter Eighteen because I wouldn't even know for sure it was Chapter Eighteen, and what about everything else?

And heaven help my mental state when I decided that Chapter Four and Chapter Twenty-Two needed to be switched.

I now write using Scrivener, and love it beyond reason. But the first manuscript I wrote using Scrivener, I wrote the same old way. Chapter by chapter, scene by scene. Scrivener makes it easy to move scenes around, but they still needed to be renumbered and it was tedious.

By not writing chapter by chapter, I am finally free!

  • I can moves scenes around and when they're moved, I'm done;
  • I can add scenes in between scenes, and when I do, I'm done;
  • When I'm not quite sure what comes next, I can write what comes later.

If you have a plot concept, you are wildly ahead of most other writers, and can fill the story in as you go. I have found it immensely freeing.

Today, I'm writing a scene and the only thing I know is that it's important to the story. Where it finally gets placed is irrelevant, and I love it.

What about you? Have you tried this?

CR: The Halo Effect by M.J. Rose.

It's all better with friends.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Perfection Perspective

We have all seen a perfectionist at work. Someone who dots and crosses all the right letters and always leaves a room tidier than when she walked in.

The psycho serial killer on television who always lines his pencils up just so on the desk and considers everything in his bizarre and whacked world to be squared and precise. In control. Perfect.

As a former Weight Watcher's Leader, I know that another form of perfectionism relates to body image. "If I can't be perfect, why bother?"

But none of these describe Peg Brantley. Even though I learned as a child that if I was going to do something, I'd better do it right. And even though I was told that while babysitting the neighbor's kids, I'd better clean the kitchen and dust and vacuum and do whatever else needed doing in the house (and do it right), I felt I had a good handle on the difference between doing something right and being a perfectionist.

So I thought.

When my friend, Kel, and I had lunch yesterday, I realized that releasing a book by the end of the year just wasn't possible. I mean, it's September. So I told her next spring.

And then, this morning, while writing my morning pages, it occurred to me that not only was I doubting myself, I was doubting God (who I love to believe is my partner and makes things go well) not to shoot for the end of the year.

Naturally, I felt bad, but that's an entirely different discussion.

I decided to challenge myself, wrote that I needed to finish the first draft of Rough Waters (the story I'm working on now) before I began editing Irrefutable Proof—just to make sure I had a handle on RW before setting it aside for a bit.

I decided I wanted to have the first draft finished by the end of the month. All systems were green. I got that goose-bumpy feeling we all get when we've made a decision and are ready to charge, full-steam ahead.

I wrote these thoughts down and then said something to the effect that it had become important to me that my first drafts not be, as Anne Lamott calls them, "shitty first drafts", because then it's almost like writing from scratch when I go back to edit. (It isn't of course, but hey . . . my rationalizatin is able to twist things up just as well as the next guy's.) I was telling myself that I needed to do it right, completely negating the fact that it is after all, a first draft.

Does "getting it right" mean it has to be perfect?

After writing this bold new plan down (and almost sabotaging it in the same breath) I opened up The Artist's Way (which I highly recommend) to read.

One of the things that TAW has taught me to be open to is the wonder of synchronicity. These are all from Week 7 (highlights are mine):

Perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right. It has nothing to do with fixing things. It has nothing to do with standards. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead.

We correct our originality into a uniformity that lacks passion and spontaneity. "Do not fear mistakes," Miles Davis told us. "There are none."

Instead of enjoying the process, the perfectionist is constantly grading the results.

To the perfectionist, there is always room for improvement. The perfectionist calls this humility. In reality, it is egotism.

Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough—that we should try again.

"A painting is never finished. It simply stops in interesting places," said Paul Gardner.

If you want to know how messed up I can get if I don't pay attention, my post for Friday on Crime Fiction Collective is about procrastination.

Go figure.

It's all better with friends.