Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hello, Shiny New Idea! You are so purty ...

I want to write a new novel.

Go ahead, laugh. Never mind that I just completed Draft3 of my YA paranormal novel, which will require substantial revisions in the new year before it is ready for querying. Ignore that I have another MG novel that probably needs to have the first 10k completely rewritten before I query further with that one.

The shiny New MG novel beckons to me. My kids don't help either. "Mom, when are you writing the Evil Fairy book??"

Questions for you lovely ladies:

1) Has anyone tried Scrivener? How about the beta version of Scrivener for Windows? I'm a PC girl, but if I'm going to start a new novel, it's a good time to consider a software change.

2) Who has a process for outlining that they would suggest? Sure, I have a process. But with this novel, I promised myself I would outline in earnest. I highly value pantsing, but I'm trying to bring a little more backbone to my creative pantsing routine. There are pros and cons to the Snowflake method. The Three Act Structure has always been hopelessly vague to me, eventhough my stories usually end up fitting nicely into that pattern. I'm going to dig into this 49 page free PDF from Jordan McCollum on plotting as well, but I thought I'd ask the lovely Cove members what is your favorite method (if you have one)?

And a Merry Christmas to everyone!


  1. I tried Scrivener for Windows beta and I LOVE it. It is incredibly easy to use, and I love having the organizational ability to do things with all my content in one place. I'd say it's worth a shot!

    I use this outline method: http://shalleemcarthur.blogspot.com/2010/05/plotting-tool-for-pantsers.html

    It's easy to use, and you can be as detailed or flexible as you want. Sometimes I even input specific parts of the three-act structure as sub-sections. Of course, it can be vague, like you mentioned, so if you're looking for something more structured it might not be the best method for you.

    Just my 2 cents, and good luck!

  2. @Shallee I'm so glad to hear Scrivener is working for you - I am seriously tempted to give it a go. And Freemind looks like an amazingly cool tool. Now, once you get all plotted up in Freemind, do you transfer your plot/outline to Scrivener? (I'm not sure how Scrivener works, so maybe it's easier to leave it in Freemind and write in Scrivener?)

    Thanks so much for the tips!! :)

  3. Sue, I'm watching the starting gate, waiting for the bell, eager to see you race away with this new idea!

    I'm superstitiously suspicious of any kind of outlining or writing organizational software. It might leave some kind of stamp on my work. Never tried it. Don't even know what you're talking about.

    I've got a composition book lying around the house someplace, and when I get an idea for my book I go jot it down.

    I took a big piece of paper and drew a plot diagram. I also wrote a synopsis, which really helped me to focus the story and to decide what the climax needed to be.

    There's a big tack board over my writing desk. Every now and then I spend a few hours tacking up note-cards with short scene descriptions, character names and descriptions, random ideas, maps, charts, whatever. This is new for me. I like it because I can sit in my chair and gaze over the whole thing.

    Last of all, there's a file on my computer called OUTLINE, which starts out with an orderly list of scenes, then breaks up into "things that have to happen in the order they should happen" and trails off somewhere before the climax.

    That's okay. By now I've got it all outlined in my head.

  4. @Rebecca I was like, "Writing software? Isn't that, like, Word?" Until I wrote Open Minds using Liquid Story Binder. It was simply a massive improvement in organizing my research over Byrne Risk (the research for which resides in a hideously long Word document). Only on the second draft of OM did I start to use LSB for organizing the story proper (like your tack board only in ones and zeroes). It was so helpful, I'm considering starting with that for ShinyNewIdea - also because I think SNI will be even more complicated and benefit from outlining even more.

    I think whatever works, works! For me, I think I'll be more efficient with my writing time if I get a bit more organized with it. :) Then again, if it's a disaster, I may revert to pantsing all the way!

  5. Susan, I think the only thing about as good as a shiny new idea is shiny new software. Oh, it's wicked, wondering if the next one is better than the one I have. I love Snowflake, but I'm very much into outlining and I love being able to access all my details in an instant as I'm writing. They've just added a bunch of upgrades, which I plan to try out on my next shiny new idea (which I'm dying to start as soon as I finish up my current WIP final edits). Best of luck! I'm eager to hear what you end up with and it's pros and cons. Will you do a follow up?

  6. @Jonene So you use the Snowflake software? I wonder how that compares to Scrivener ... hm... I might have to put some thought into this which might hurt my brain. :)

    But I will def do a follow up, once I get my ducks, er, software all in a row. :)

  7. Yes, I love Snowflake. I've used it on two books now. I haven't even tried researching Scrivener. I look forward to your follow up. Thanks!

  8. I've heard people talking about writing tools and how much they enjoy using them. Everything I try (electronic or non-electronic) seems to give me a little more insight into the story in some way. So this is a good thing.

    Still, I like my notecards on the tackboard because I can walk into my writing room and see it without having to turn anything on.

  9. Charity used the beta version of Scrivener for Nano, and I think she plans to buy the Windows version for her Netbook when it comes out. She liked it, and I know I heard a LOT of authors singing its praises at the conference we attended last year, but I haven't tried it.
    I use a complex system of nesting folders and documents.
    Maybe the next fresh start, or after I publish my first manuscript I'll invest in some awesome software.
    As far as organization goes, I use Angela Hunt's plot skeleton. Life changingly helpful. There's a whole chapter on it in the book "A Novel Idea." You can read most of it for free here: http://files.tyndale.com/thpdata/FirstChapters/978-1-4143-2994-9.pdf

    Or see my notes on it from the class I attended.

  10. @Erynn - Thanks for the reminder! I'll get on the (other) Coven files and check it out! I may just have to get Scrivener (beta) for Shiny New Idea. And you are right - it's best to start new software with a new project. Just works out better.

  11. I tried Scrivener for windows when the free beta came out, and I liked the layout and features. The editing window, though, had very few formatting options, and since I was used to WORD I missed them. Like double spacing.

    I wrote my first book with yWriter5 (http://www.spacejock.com/) which is free, and I liked it... kind of similar to Scrivener... but it didn't work on my new netbook (Windows 7) and in fact blew away the contents of any yWriter file opened on said machine. Good thing I'm big on backups! I'm not sure if they've fixed the Windows 7 issue, but be careful if you want to try it and that's what you're running.

    I think it is nice to be able to easily jump from scene to scene or chapter to chapter, as well as store metadata like summaries, character sketches, etc. All in the same file. Those are the advantages of writer's software.

  12. @Amber Now that I've installed Scrivener for Windows and am going through the tutorials, I see what you mean - not a powerful word processor, more a powerful story planner. I think I will definitely use it to plan out and research my story, and possibly write the first draft, but I think I may transfer to Word after that.

    Good to know about yWriter5 (I'm on Windows 7 now) - thanks!

  13. A Shiny New Idea? How exciting!

    I did use Scrivener Beta for NaNo and here's what I liked--being able to have my research, pictures, outlines, and chapter document open at the same time. It's easy to navigate between files. I can storyboard well. It is a great planning tool. That being said, it is weak on the word processor side and can run a little slow. But I know the Mac version doesn't have these problems, so this may have a lot to do with the fact that it's a Beta version. Also, the Mac version has a read aloud option that I was uber-excited about; it's not an option in the Windows version, so far. I can let you know about the final version when I purchase it if that would help.

  14. @Charity Please do stop back and let us know your experiences with it! I've been playing around with the beta version of Scrivener for Windows, and agree with everything you say. I think I may use it primarily for planning, maybe a first draft, then transfer to Word. We'll see...


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