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Scrivener Update

I’ve blogged before about my struggle on switching over to Scrivener.  I’ve always loved the idea of what I could do, but I was having a seemingly hard time embracing the reality.  Every project I started in Scrivener stalled and I wasn’t sure if it was the project…or Scrivener itself.

I finally drafted Lord Regret’s Price wholly in Scrivener.  It was a very slow project, taking me months longer than I wanted to finish.  But I don’t think it was wholly Scrivener’s fault.  I didn’t skip around with the plot but wrote mostly linearly all the way through.  I had the whole thing fairly well plotted out, using folders Act 1, Act 2, etc. to split things out and high-level scene notes for where I wanted to go.  I even used color-coded index cards to mark expected POV shifts.  It was great for holding all the research and worldbuilding notes in one place.

Drafting was very slow, though I think it was mostly a mental thing I just had to work through.  I would have had the same issue in Word.

I also drafted The Billionaire Submissive wholly in Scrivener – and it went lightning fast.  This time I didn’t have a plot at all and I did skip around a little.  I didn’t use any color coding, synopsis notes, or character/research notes.  But Scrivener makes skipping around VERY easy.  I could see my files at a glance and shift them around into a new order if I wanted.  Renaming them to agree with a new order (I named them 001, 002, etc.) was also very easy.  In this kind of writing, Scrivener definitely shines.

What I still haven’t been able to really get the hang of, though, is EDITING in Scrivener.  I can reread the previous scene easily, but I don’t get the overall “feel” of the piece as easily as when it’s a single Word file.  I think I probably need to use a different view if I’m trying to edit inside Scrivener, rather than a file by file view via the outline.  I’ll play with that next time.

For now, I use the compile feature to build the .doc file, and then I use Word to actually do the read through and edits.  Of course that means if I’m not completely done, I have to flip over to Scrivener, locate the individual file, and make the change there.  So editing is definitely much easier to do in one pass rather than daily.  Again, I’m sure there’s a view inside Scrivener that will create a seamless single “file” that would make this a lot easier.  I just need to play around with it.

In my free time.


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Conquering Scrivener

One of the contributing factors to my lack of progress with Lord Regret *might* be Scrivener.  I’ve yet to finish a project that I started there.

I love many aspects of it but I still get overwhelmed, or perhaps distracted is a better word.  There are so many cool things that may or may not help me plot and organize.  Instead of working, I end up exploring or fiddling or researching.

However, I really do believe that eventually it’ll be a lifesaver.  I love the corkboard and I think it will be huge in helping me plot future books.  I’ve just got to get over the initial shock-and-awe phase so I can actually, you know, WRITE.

To that end, I bought Scrivener for Dummies and I’ve been working through it this week.  Gwen Hernandez’s classes were recommended to me on Twitter, and so far, the book has been extremely helpful.  My only frustration is the difference between Mac and Windows commands.  I often find myself hunting through various menus to find what I need because the Windows alternative isn’t always included.  A few things are still missing from the Windows version, too, which makes me wonder if I’m wasting my time looking for something that’s not even there.

There’s a ton of functionality I don’t think I’ll ever use, even if it’s cool.  But it’s nice to know it’s there and have the book to fall back on if I decide I do need to learn more about it someday.

The biggest takeaway so far has been custom labels so I can keep track of POV.  I really love that feature.  Color coding for the win!

As August winds down, I’ll be learning everything I can and making sure my projects for Lord Regret’s Price are ready.  Yes I have two.  Sigh.  One is a plotting template I made that has just a few notes in it.  The other is more general with research and notes.  NEITHER has much in the Manuscript folder.  But it will, one way or the other, very soon!

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Frantic NaNoWriMo Prep

I’m throwing together as much plot, character background, and worldbuilding as possible on all my projects.

The shortest novella is fairly well plotted and I jotted notes all the way to the end.  I suspect I’ll have some research items to clear up after the draft is completed, but I’ll worry about that later.  I’d really like to submit this one by the end of the year, so the writing needs to be good and tight, not crap thrown on the wall.  This one and Vicki will be the main projects I work on during the beginning of the month.

The longer novella is still fairly vague.  I need to sit down and write up backstory — get the hero and heroine clear in my mind.  How did they meet (for space reasons, they need to know each other before the novella starts)?  I need this solid in my mind because I want the book to start out rather sultry and it just doesn’t make sense to me if they aren’t already intrigued by each other long before the story opens.  I have a loose action plot in mind, but the characters and the details that will make it a rich, deep story just aren’t there yet.

The post-apoc requires the most work and detail for many reasons.  The worldbuilding is more complex than the other two added together, and I intend it to be longer too.  I’ve already thrown out one supporting character and changed her to him, which had a huge impact on what the next book might be in that world.  Already the foundation had to shift in my mind.  I don’t have a title yet, which is a nagging problem.  I really like to have titles before I start too deep.  I’m also not sure of the story arc above the heroine’s.  I want to have a good feeling for what might need to happen later after her story is complete — and I have a feeling her story really isn’t the first story at all.  The commander has been speaking louder to me in the last twenty-four hours (not her hero), so I’ll be taking notes on his story at the same time.

I’m using Scrivener for Windows (beta) to plot the post-apoc and so far, it’s working pretty well.  Since I know several people are playing with it, I’ll share some details about how I’m using it so far.  I’d love to hear your ideas!

I created a character folder under Research and started throwing in a text doc for each character, even if I don’t know their names yet, pictures I find inspiring, snippets of backstory and traits.  In the main Draft folder, I created a “Block” folder and broke it down into 4 sub-folders:  Act I, Act II Part 1, Act II Part 2, and Act III.  I put text documents inside Act 1 (where I’m starting to plot) and just named them 001-010 to start.

Then I pulled out my notes and notecards I’ve been working on off and on for a few weeks.  It took me a minute to figure out how to name the text documents neatly in a way that let me get the “title” down, which is a short trigger to help me remember what that scene is supposed to do.  e.g. if I changed the title on the left-hand pane, then it was too longer and cumbersome.  I finally realized I could click on the notecard in the right-hand pane and add the title on the first line.  Now, when I view the corkboard for the Act I folder, I can see my neat little notecards and their titles.  I looove that.  This is my plot at a glance.

I have spare “notecards” left over (e.g. I didn’t use all 10 text docs I started with) but I know I’ll think of new scenes that are needed later when I actually start drafting.  So I’ll just leave them for now.  When I need one, I’ll rename it something like 002b and then figure out how to shuffle it up into the appropriate spot.

I’m not sure how I’ll actually draft yet — whether I’ll trust Scrivener beta not to crash in an inopportune time or if I’ll stick to Word for the actual draft.  We’ll see.  For now, I just want to get all my plot, inspiration, characters, etc. in one neat place and become more familiar with Scrivener.

Aside:  Scrivener has always been an object of lust for me, but as long as I have Windows laptops and try to trade back and forth across devices, it just never worked well for me.  I need something portable.  This new release is supposed to be portable between Mac and Windows.  I really hope so!  Then I won’t hesitate about investing in a Mac for my next writing computer (even though I have a Win netbook, etc.)

Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?  Any last minute advice you want to share?

P.S. You can still win the beautiful Pride & Prejudice handbag.  I received it in the mail and it’s sooo pretty!  The best gifts are the ones you’d rather keep for yourself!