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–

Storytime Three Way

You can get your mind out of the gutter, because you’re not reading smut here today–that’s next Wednesday, because we know we need a little something to get us through the middle of the work week.  No, today I’m going to show off, because I’m in the mood, you know?

Talking about the editing and formatting process of Her Demonic Majesty, I’ve talked up how I’m using Scrivener, and in yesterday’s post I discussed how I was using all three views to find a problem, flipping from the Cork Board  to Outline to Scrivener views.

I understand, though, that a lot of people I know are visual, and they just can’t get their minds to see something they don’t know.  I make shit up in my head all the time, but I have known a few people who don’t see what I’m seeing when I describe what’s in my mind.  Sometimes I have to draw a floor plan–not that I mind, ’cause something even I need that.

Lets look at the story, and see how it presents itself to me.Part One Corkboard

First, I have Part One of Demonic Majesty up on the cork board.  I use the cork board a lot:  this is usually how I plot out a story, with each text card representing a chapter.  I set up my chapter numbers, enter my metadata, set up when the scene is happening–I’ve done this for a number of stories–and then I define what each part is, and the status of each section.  The little bit of color in the upper right hand corner tells me what the section is, and I have the status plastered across the the card itself.

As you can see, I have one “Novel Part”, which is the Part One title card, two chapters are “Formatted”, and the remainder of the part is “Done”.  Sure, I know this, but when I’m back into a story I haven’t played with in six months, I might need a little mental refreshing.

Every little bit helps, right?Part One Outline

Now we roll over to the Outline, which is something I’ve only played with and not used much until this point.  There are two things I like about this display, however.  One, you see the story in a top-to-bottom representation, so if you have your metadata set up correctly, it should be easier to see if your chapters are following you plot.  Also, if you need to insert a chapter, it’s a bit easier to see where it should go.

There’s another nice feature in this mode:  you can customize your metadata.  Here, I’m showing my total word count, and that is being displayed for not only each chapters, but each part.  I knew Part Two was big, but I didn’t realize the words differences between Part One and the other novel parts.

The other thing I can view here is a word count goal, and how much of that goal I’ve completed.  This can be a good thing for someone who’s broken their story into scenes, and they’re trying to reach specific word counts.  Pull up the Outline and you’ll see where you’re at in seconds.

Now, onto the last . . .Part One Scrivener

The Scrivener view gives you the whole story in one big bunch.  In this picture I’m showing the beginning of my novel:  the end of the Table of Contents, the blank space that is the folder for Part One, the Part One title card, and Chapter One.  I used this mode to do group searches for words and phrases, so I could change them all somewhat quickly.

If you look closely you’ll see I’m showing the hidden characters, so I can see carriage returns and spaces between words.  It was by staring at the story in this format that I realized that having a few returns before “Part One” was the thing that was screwing up my page break on a compile of the story to Word.  Now it’s much better.

That’s my journey up to now.  I may actually run this story through the Smashwords meat grinder in a few weeks, and see what pops out.  If it comes out clean, then I can upload the cover, and send the same document up to Kindle Direct.

It’s so close, I can almost smell it.

Which is a neat trick, you have to admit.