With the writing I’ve been doing the past week I’ve gotten curious if there are ways to make, you know, the job easier. Word has been my tool of choice if for no other reason than it’s something I’ve used for 20 years. The biggest issue I’ve been having with my latest story is the amount of research I’ve done. Info on ghosts and other creatures in Indonesia, maps of Bali, keeping long character and village names straight in my head . . . it was a bit of work.
A few months back I found information linking me to a program known as Scrivener, a writing studio program originally developed for the Mac. Not so great for me, however, is I have a Devil Dell and Windows is my platform. But, what’s that you say? There’s a beta for Windows? Yeah, there is. And so I downloaded it.
Now, I didn’t really know what the hell to do with it. Write, yeah, but what else? With my current project, and the notes I’ve created, the research I’ve developed, I thought, “Hey, lets see what I can do with this.” So this morning I started loading everything over from my Word document to Scrivener–
Oh, man. It’s like having a Companion Cube and knowing you never have to burninate it.
You have everything right there at your fingertips, in an online binder, and when you need something do you a quick click and there is information on a character, and there is information on town, or link to a map, or a wiki entry . . . it lets you have everything you want in one place so you don’t have to start looking for a bunch of files to help you bring your story together.
The one function I love is the ability to work on your story scene by scene, which is something I’m doing now. You can develop and build each seen, put them in sections, and when you’re ready use the Compile tool to merge everything into a single document for submission or publication. So you can break your story down to the easiest levels, get them nice and tight without needing to scroll all over the place, then put them together in the end the way you like–or your editor likes.
It’s not going to make you a better writer–I mean, if you suck you’ll just be a sucky writer who’s better organized. But if you can walk the walk, then this is gonna help you enormously.
And if you find Scrivener isn’t your thing, The Lierature and Latte sites gives you a number of alternatives.