From Demons to the Scoured

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.

You were a great learning experience, love.  I'll never forget you.

You were a great learning experience, love. I’ll never forget you.

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.

This is what happens when you start dealing with demons on the other side of the world.

This is what happens when you deal with demons on the other side of the world.

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.

This is what testing looks like when you're writing.

Some call this testing–some call it a bit of insanity.

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–

Preparatory School

Well, I’m off to a late start, aren’t I?

Day off for me, and after a little breakfast and a quick read here and there, I finally pop onto the blog to leave my thoughts–whatever they may be.  Given what I was pondering while having my omelet, it’s a pretty easy guess that I’m on about writing again.

I performed a great deal of plotting yesterday for my soon-to-be novel.  There is a lot to do, let me tell you:  at the moment I’m up to Part Ten and Chapter Twenty-seven, and if I say I have an average of four scenes per chapters–ah, screw it, let me count . . . Ninety-four scenes mapped, dated, and time stamped.  And since I did Parts Eight, Nine, and Ten yesterday, that means I did a sizable chunk of the story while I had The Walking Dead Apocalypse Marathon playing in the corner of the room.  (And if you notice–I never say The Zed Word.)

Now, I know some people will look at the preceding paragraph and say, “Damn, why you put that much work into your work?  Can’t you just write?  You plotted out too much, it’s gonna suck, you hack!”  That last has actually been said to me, by the way, but it came from a person who couldn’t come up with a name for a town, so like I’m worried, right?

But it helps me figure out what I’m suppose to say, and where.  It’s the clue that tells me, “Oh, yeah, here the teacher is going to explain why she can cook much better meth than Walter White because magic!”  (Which, by the way, is a real scene in the novel.)  I’ve used this before, though only once to the extent I have it now.

What does now look like?  Glad Big Time Layoutyou asked:

With the combination of the Outline view and the left-side Binder, one gets the idea of where this is going, with scenes within chapters within parts.  I did this with my Transporting novel, but that was something that I’d begun in MS Word with dozens of chapters already created, and I reversed engineered it for Scrivener.  Here, I’m starting from scratch, and there are times when I get lost in my complexity.

Because this morning I realized I left out a couple of scenes, and in looking over the document while doing this post I realized I’d mis-numbered the chapters.  That may have been due in part to laughing as Micheal Rooker was stabbed in the face over and over, but it was probably due more to my mind leaving my body to look for snacks.  Or maybe I was tempted away from the computer by a succubus . . . or maybe this little thing who’s now perched upon my Little Weeping Angellaptop.  As you can see, the Second Doctor is not impressed, ’cause after you’ve played Yetis and The Great Intelligence, statues that only move when you’re not looking at them are minor things–

Then again, if he hadn’t told The Great Intelligence about the London Underground, circa 1970, some forty-five years later, then he wouldn’t have had to fight them before . . . or is that a paradox if he doesn’t?

More work today, with the expectation that I’ll finish this insane piloting by the end of the week.  Since I have today off, who knows what kind of madness I’ll achieve?

The good kind, I hope.