Here’s the update on my current work-in-progress (WIP)… I have a pretty good outline for the first couple of chapters and I am working on a rough outline for the rest. With any luck I will actually get some writing done this weekend.
Here are some ‘tools’ I have been using to help me along the way.
On my laptop…
Writing software –
One of the prizes for reaching your word count goal for National Novel Writing Month was a 50% off coupon code for a software program for writers called Scrivener. I actually used my code from Camp NaNo over the summer and I just recently began using Scrivener for the revision process. I transferred my WIP into Scrivener and I am enjoying many of the features. I’ve used the outliner and virtual corkboard to create a good overview. Chapters and scenes are written separately, allowing the ability to navigate easily or even to move elements around as needed. Images, notes, web pages and other research can be imported and can be viewed right next to the chapter or scene.
Back in May, I wrote a post about using Mural.ly, a web app that can be used for what they describe as visual collaboration. It’s an interesting concept in that it allows for any number of people to access the board to add input and make changes. This would have been a great thing to have when I was in college. I could have avoided long nights at Denny’s, rearranging my work schedule to accommodate other people’s schedules and roaming around campus finding places to meet to deal with those annoying group projects.
I’ve been using it as a virtual bulletin board, I’ve added images, notes, mind maps, floor plans and few other miscellaneous items. You can see more, including a sample board, at my previous post – Bulletin…
Family Tree –
When I wrote my first NaNo book I had no idea that I’d turn it into a series. I had some scribbled notes about peripheral characters and how they were related. My notes consisted of a lot of names underlined or with boxes around them, arrows snaking around the page, not so easy to follow. When I started the second book that essentially ended up being a prequel, I realized I needed to get everything straightened out. My first solution was to write everything out, I tried lined paper, blank paper and graph paper. It was driving me nuts because no matter what I did I’d still have a name crammed in because there wasn’t room to add it where it belonged. I also started mapping it out in Excel but that took forever formatting everything and then I’d have to move things around to add someone and then more formatting.
Finally I decided to look around online and found a free family tree site, MyHeritage: Free Family Tree, Genealogy and Family History. I was able to download it to my laptop and easily create a no nonsense family tree so I could keep most of the people straight. The free version is somewhat limited in what can be printed but it really helped get everything set. After that I was able to work on the Excel version, now I have a hard copy so I can add notes as I am writing, or even scribble something on a sticky note to add later without having to stop what I am doing to go digging for it.
Floor Plans –
In my second NaNo project, the prequel, the main character has to pack up her house and move and then subsequently has to search another house for something. Like with the family tree, my notes about the houses were hard to read and all around difficult to follow. I found a free floor planning website. Floor Planner from smallblueprinter.com has been really helpful, it took a little playing around with the features but it’s pretty user friendly.
The rewrites I am doing now will be the first time that I’ll be able to use all of these tools in the same project. The family trees and floor plans took some time and although I am sure it looks like a way a time sink or a way to avoid writing, I think they’ll be helpful. When I worked on the family tree I found it to be a good way to expand on the character’s back story. That information may never make it into my writing but it’s helpful to me. The floorplans were equally helpful with setting up scenes that called for multiple characters and a lot of movement.
There are a lot of different tools out there and different people are going to find different options out there that will help their writing process. I hope these will help me but I know that the most important thing is to get my booty in a chair and actually write.