Thursday, January 23, 2014
Leverage and Magic
How would you like to have a system for your writing that freed you to concentrate on your brilliant ideas and render them consistently in that magnificent prose you hear in your dreams and in the shower?
How would you like to have a system for your writing where you could easily and consistently and instantly make reference to any and all of your research, including videos and pdf’s and website url’s, and hang any of them, so to speak, right by your manuscript as you work, inspiring you and keeping you on track effortlessly? (Okay, nothing is really effortless, but hang in there!)
How would you like a system where you could integrate as detailed a planning outline or index card view right into your manuscript and yet see it only when needed?
How would you like a system where you could easily break your manuscript into as many, or as few, pieces as you like—major parts, chapters, or even scenes within chapters—and where you could easily and instantly shift the order of those chapters or scenes, along with their place in your outline, to see how that progression might strengthen your masterpiece?
How would you like a system where you could pull together your chapters from each character’s point of view to see how their story arc worked independently? Or all the scenes set in a certain locale? Or a specific time frame?
How would you like a system where you could then compile your finished masterpiece and format it for hardback, paperback, or even eBook with the click of a button? (Okay, maybe a few buttons)
How would you like to automatically track your progress in terms of word count and overall goals for the full ms, parts, and even chapters, not to mention day to day goals, all right within that system?
How would you like to be able to make a note like a sticky as you work on your drafting or revision, something like “Need setting details here, research Boston Common” or “Wally needs to be more of an asshole here” or whatever, so it will remind you to do it yet not accidently end up in your ms and perhaps be forgotten when you submit your brilliance to an agent! Ooops.
And how would you like to type away at your trusty laptop and have absolutely nothing else on the screen to distract you? Ahhhhhh. And to be comforted knowing your work was automatically saved if you didn’t type for a couple seconds? Oh, yes, and to be able to compare your current draft with any previous ones and see at a glance exactly what you’ve changed—sorry, improved!?
Sound like magic? I’m sure, to some folks, not so much. And they can enjoy their simple tools—even a pad and pencil—and turn out their share of brilliances, no doubt. But more and more folks are discovering this not-quite-magic system in a piece of software called Scrivener.
I jumped into Scrivner a couple years ago, but have only recently started to do that hard work any excellent tool requires if we’re to make use of it’s full leverage: that investment of time to dig in and understand and practice and attain this fairly complex and detailed software, just like anything else we want to master. Golf, anyone? (Well, not me, certainly!)
As a guide for my journey into Scrivener, I’ve discovered a solid little ebook, Writing a Novel with Scrivener, by David Hewson. The book does a great job of walking one through the thickets of everything the software can do, and of helping the novelist focus on only what is needed and best serves the creative process without turning the writer into a programmer. Give it a look.
So, I’m just scratching the glistening surface of Scrivener’s siren call, (BTW, it doesn’t help with badly mixed metaphors) and I’ll keep you posted on how I’m doing in leveraging all these tools.