Rebecca Day

Writing Software

Posted by rwday on February 25, 2009

I was surfing through Justine Larbalestier’s blog, looking at the entries she’s done for her January Writing Advice Month, and ran across her post on the writing software program Scrivener.  I’d tried Scrivener a year or so ago, just after I got my Mac, and as I remember, I liked it, but wasn’t writing enough to really make use of all the features. 

Based on Justine’s recommendation and the video they have on the site, I’ve decided to give it a second go and have downloaded the free trial.   My history with organization software hasn’t exactly been great.

 When I wrote Thaw and the other books I’ve completed but not sold, I used Microsoft’s OneNote to organize my resarch and wrote my drafts in Word.  That worked pretty well, but unfortunately, there’s no version of OneNote for Mac, and since I got the new laptop, I haven’t had a decent organization system.  I’ve tried Circus Ponies Notebook and at least two other products, but they just didn’t work for me like OneNote did.  And OneNote was far from perfect.

When I started this semester at school and was required to have Windows for the database software we were using, I loaded VMWare Fusion and Windows XP on my Mac and installed OneNote, but having XP on my machine is dragging it down into the depths of the Microsofty Muck, so as soon as the semester is over, I think it’s going to go.  That will leave me organizationless again.  I’m hoping Scrivener will pick up the slack.

Here’s how I organize my novels, using Out of the Ashes  as an example.  I have pages (currently in OneNote) for each character, for each setting, for each chapter, plus other pages as needed.  I dump notes, ideas, descriptions, etc., into each as I think of them.  If I use my digital audio recorder to talk through a scene, I’ll load the audio into the appropriate chapter’s page, or transcribe it there. When I run across research, maps, photographs, etc.  from web pages, I’ll copy and past those into the appropriate notebook page as well. 

All that needs to be open and available when I’m writing so I don’t have to be constantly trying to remember the name of Random Soldier #3, or what color hair the villain has.   A foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but having a character named Horace in one scene and Henry in another is generally Not Done.

It works, pretty much.  Though to be honest, my problems with writing have nothing to do with organization and everything to do with discipline.


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