Home » Creativity » Station to Variable Station

Station to Variable Station

Saturday morning, having my coffee at the local Panera, listening to Station to Station, an album that I enjoyed in my youth, and which continued to set me apart from those friends who were still into Top 40 AM pop.  I know I have some work ahead of me today:  a bit of editing, maybe some article writing, a little beta reading . . . we’ll see.  I also have somewhere I need to be at noon, and that’s going to keep me busy for a couple of hours.

Oh, I also have my final cover for Her Demonic Majesty.  Yeah, it’s a good day, even if it is rainy.

While I haven’t figured out my Phantom Pages issue for mobi and epub compiles, Scrivener reveled itself to me while I was trying to figure out why some of my text files wouldn’t page break when I was compiling my novel into a Word document.  After some playing with the document, I went into Scrivener mode . . .

Let me explain.NaNo Day One

Within Scrivener, you can examine your story in one of three ways.  There is the Corkboard, which is my favorite.  The visual for this is as you’d expect:  it’s like a corkboard you hang on the wall and tack up note cards.  As you can see on the right, the corkboard is an easy way to lay out your story, tell you where you are as far as what you’re doing with each section, and give you a little metadata so when you look at Chapter Ten, you know that’s the chapter where your characters get together and flog each other with chicken legs they bought an hour before at KFC.

Then there’s the Outline, which gives you a top to bottom review of each section you’ve created, and you can show as little or as much meta data as you’d like.  One of the nice things you can show in Outline mode is the word count for each chapter, as well as target word counts, and your progress towards reaching those counts.  If you have your metadata set up correctly, you can see if your story is progressing as you expect, or if you’re way the hell off the rails.

Lastly, we have Scrivener mode, which lets you see the whole store in one long scrolling document that also shows you where each section starts and end.  If you’ve set your metadata to break for each new text file, then those dashed lines indicate where your story is going to start at the top of another page, just as it would in a novel.  Also, if you show the hidden characters, you’ll see where every space is, and each carriage return, aka your Return/Enter key.

I went into Scrivener mode and started looking for hidden characters that could be causing my “not page breaking” problems in Word.  Didn’t see anything, so I went back into the corkboard and started moving cards around–which are, in reality, my chapters and part titles–and ran off another compile to check.  I didn’t see anything, at least not right away . . . but an idea started to form, because the more I looked at my troublesome sections, the more I saw they were different than my chapters–

I was using two carriage returns to drop the “Part” titles from the top of the page.  I removed those returns, and–ta da!  Problem solved!  Really, it was that simple.  After I figured that out, I went into the compile formatting, told the compile to drop the titles six lines from the top of a page break–and just like that, when I looked at the word document, everything was as I wanted.

With that out of the way, I looked for the “very” word, because it’s a weak word, and it looks stupid when you see it in the story.  Still in Scrivener mode, I set up the Find, located all my verys, then hit the Replace to remove them from the story.  When I was finished I’d removed sixty-eight “very” from the story, either deleting them, or putting another adverb or adjective in its place.  In an eighty-six thousand word novel, finding the word “very” sixty-eight times may not sound like a big deal, but in the year and a half since I wrote Demonic Majesty I’ve learned a bit, and using “very” is one of the things I’ve learned not to do.

Today I’ll look for my “suddenly” words, and superscript those suffixes that require the format, then start on a read through, because I believe the story is formatted well, and all I’m checking for are errors right now.  This may take a couple of weeks, but with everything else in place, there’s no need to hurry.

It’s all coming together faster than I thought.

And you know what they say about a plan coming together . . .


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