You may recall that I recently switched from PCs to Macs. Much cursing and hair pulling ensued, but I’m now to the point where I’m enjoying my iMac and Macbook Air. Still some cursing, but it’s much better. I just ordered a Kinesis ergonomic keyboard and I think that will ease the physical pain. The psychological might take a little longer, but I’m getting there.
Now it’s on to Scrivener, a software program for writers that many of my friends use and rave about. I thought the Mac came with a steep learning curve, but mastering Scrivener is like trying to climb a mountain in roller skates. The interactive tutorial claims it will take you an hour to work through. It took me about five. If you simply read through the tutorial, I could see how it might take you an hour, but I had to play with every little doodad until I (thought I) understood it. Then I felt ready to start working on the outline for my 2013 book, tentatively titled Saving Ivy Hart. As soon as I began, I realized how little I’d learned in the tutorial. I then needed to turn to the manual, and finally to an e-book by David Hewson called Writing the Novel with Scrivener. Between the three resources, I’ve been able to figure out most of the basic features of Scrivener, and I’ve reached the point where–occasionally–a big grin spreads across my face as I realize how very cool this program is.
You might ask why, after writing twenty-one novels, I feel the need for a new process. Good question. Part of the answer is my love of fooling around with the organizational aspect of my work. I am definitely a “plotter” and not a “pantser” when it comes to writing and Scrivener puts all my plotting tools right at my fingertips. Gone are my post-it notes (well, most of them). Gone are the zillions of folders all over my computer screen–research, character biographies, pictures of settings and clothing styles and houses, etcetera. With Scrivener, everything’s in one place.
The image above is my entire iMac screen as I work with the corkboard in Scrivener. I made the image low resolution on purpose, because I don’t want to share my very rough outline with the world, so I’ll have to describe what you’re looking at. The corkboard view is only one little element in Scrivener, but I know it’s going to be a favorite of mine because I love me my index cards! If you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you know that index cards and I really get along. So I’ve jotted down scenes on the cards above. The upper left hand corner of each card has a colored icon to let me know whose point of view I’m in. The colored rectangles tell me who’s central to the scene. I haven’t started moving the cards around yet because I have a few more to write, but I’ll be able to organize them to my liking very soon.
Running down the left side is the title of each index card. I can rearrange them there or on the board or in a few other ways, whatever meets my needs at the time.
Also on the left side is a place for Characters, Settings, and best of all–Research. I have all my research in one place for the first time ever. That folder can hold pdfs, web pages, images–just about anything. I’ve also set up a few other folders, such as “possible scenes” and “title ideas”.
On the right side of the corkboard, I have project notes and a few other things to help me out. Any time I want, I can switch from this cork board view to the full manuscript–Scrivener automatically turns the index cards into a manuscript for me. (No, it doesn’t write the book for me. I hope we never come to that.)
I didn’t set out to make this post an advertisement for Scrivener. It won’t be for everyone. Pantsers (those people who just sit down and write a book without an outline; how do they do it??) would have no use for this program. But for obsessive compulsive organizers like me, it’s perfect.