The first novel I wrote using Scrivener was Her Demonic Majesty, my 2011 NaNo Novel. It was really the first thing I ever started from scratch in Scrivener, and it was a great experiment for me, because I was learning the software as well as learning how to lay out a story.
The thing I loved most about Scrivener then was the Corkboard, which was a virtual way of taking note cards that represent the chapters and pinning them up in a sensible order. This was an easy way to outline a story, to set up metadata to keep track of when things were suppose to happen. I spent two weeks getting the novel outlined, getting pictures set up for characters, developed small bios on characters, even laid out pictures within the binder of places where chapters took place.
A year and a few hundred thousand words later, I was ready for my 2012 NaNo Novel, Kolor Ijo. It wasn’t as large as Her Demonic Majesty–it was about seventy-two thousand words, compared to eighty-six thousand for Demonic Majesty–but in a lot of ways it was a far bigger story. It was one of my Indonesia horror stories, which meant it took place in another country. There was research on weapons and people and creatures, and I needed to get a good idea about the look of the city of Makassar. It also covered a much larger time frame: almost a month of time, where as her Demonic Majesty took place over a three-day period. The one thing I learned how to use this time around were embedded websites that accessible from inside Scrivener. I hooked up Google Maps to a text file, and when I needed to look streets in the city of Makassar, I’d do a split screen and start looking about in the other side of the world.
My meta information was getting a bit more detailed: I was keeping track of time frames within each chapter. There was more happening, more action and interaction. In short, there was a lot more story even if it wasn’t as long as my last NaNo Novel.
By the end of May, 2013, I’d already decided I was going to write The Foundation Chronicles: A for Advanced, but there were thinking I knew I’d need to work out before I started working on the story. It was going to end up a big story, with a large cast of characters. I was also going to move away from the idea of doing a single card and writing information under it as a chapter; I was going to break up my chapters into different scenes, something I’d done with my novel Transporting.
But Transporting was a retro-fitted novel: I’d begun writing that in Word about twenty years before, and never tried writing something like that from scratch. I needed some practice to get my new NaNo Novel in shape without having to learn while writing. I was going to write something before hand, do it as part of The Foundation Series, and play with characters I already knew. I could write about a part of school history that was never thought out in detail.
This is where I stepped away from the Corkboard and moved into Outline mode in Scrivener. One of the advantages of Outline mode is being able to see your story laid out, top to bottom, and that allows for a lot more precision when trying to plot out things. When I did The Foundation Chronicles: The Scouring, I wasn’t using time line software: it had the time line within my outline, laid out on each chapter/scene card. I was also able to laid out a lot more information on each section and chapter/scene, and see it all at once should I require.
There is a lot of information there: dates, times, people, even weather conditions. When it was all over my Camp story, The Foundation Chronicles: The Scouring–which was meant to be about twenty thousand words total–ended up a fifty-three thousand, one hundred word lead-in novel. I love what I wrote, though I had one person tell me I need to cut the first two sections of the story because it didn’t “move fast enough” for her, and she wasn’t interested in hearing that if I cut all the information, the rest of the story wouldn’t make any sense, and another person told me the battle was “too long” and “they’d never read any batter sequence of twenty-five thousand words”. But those are stories for another time . . .
This is what helped me reach the point where I could write my current work in progress. And by the time I was ready for NaNoWriMo 2013, I had other software I could use as well to get work my story into shape–