On this cold day I am going to blog about my most recent NaNo story — and how much I love Scrivener — while I sip my cappuccino from my CS Lewis mug, which has a quote on the side: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough, or a book long enough to suit me.” How true is that….
Since finishing NaNoWriMo of 2011, I continued to go to my new favorite hangout with my fellow writers to edit my work. In the last six weeks (plus four if you want to include NaNo itself) I have learned a lot in regards to writing and being a writer:
- It is better to surround oneself with writers than to be locked away in a room, hoping to reach word count and goals.
- The environment of Aroma’s, a local coffee shop, is essential. For example, how many people have come and gone for a cup of coffee, a snack, or a meal? How many people are regulars there, as well? Taking these things into account, one can never be bored with a character — and if you are, just look up and watch someone for a while. Without them noticing.
- Hanging out with fellow writers is educational. How often do you learn the meaning of gobsmacked? Or the differences between an em dash and an en dash? Or its and it’s? (Other than college.) Or what about those evil characters that seep into your story? You are given a flat declaration that an evil stepmother had made her appearance, even though you were trying hard not to let that happen.
- There is support in a group of writers, or even if it’s just you and another writer, compared to being alone or in a group of non-writers.
- Taking time off and going somewhere to purposefully write is relaxing. It is harder to sit down at home and write because of distractions. Setting a regular day, or a couple of days, aside to write will keep the novel fresh and moving.
There seems to be so much benefit to writing with others and getting out of the house to a local coffee shop. If you’re trying to write on a regular basis, these things are essential.
So, that is my rant on how NaNo has helped my writing career take off again. Well, short of publishing. Now what about Scrivener?
Scrivener is an app that NaNoWriMo was supporting this past year — maybe they advertised it before, I don’t know. Anyway, Scrivener is, in my opinion, tons better than Microsoft Word or OpenOffice. I worked with both over my “years of writing” and they provided a good starting point. I worked with Microsoft when I was much younger and realizing how much a simple computer could do. When I got my first laptop I downloaded OpenOffice, which, basically, was a copy of Word. I got along with it just fine.
I’ve been using OpenOffice for years, and honestly, I didn’t know what I was missing until a friend began showing me what Scrivener was. My eyes saw candy — outline formats, chapter sections, character/place sketches, research formats, synopsis, document notes; the list can go on and on. And it wasn’t just for novels, but for college papers, nonfiction templates, scriptwriting, poetry, or just blank templates for regular essays and such.
Getting started was difficult, but that was because I had decided to skip the last half of the tutorial so I could just begin. Granted, I am still learning all the tools and amazing things I can do with my work, but it is worth every shiny penny I paid for it. Right now I have my novel plugged into Scrivener, and I have begun using it for my papers in college. So far it is very handy and organizes everything. I simply LOVE it.
So that is my plug for Scrivener — if you are a writer and need organization, this is what you need!!
Now, onto my novel. This story, inspired by, honestly, a dream I had a few weeks before NaNo started, has evolved into something that I have come to love. Usually I view my NaNo novels as work that is not worth publication, but I had utilized some key tools to help me create a good story. One tool was simple creating an outline.
“Ew!” you might declare. Well, outlining my story was the best thing for it. It helped me stay on track in the beginning so that I would not get distracted by a character’s life or problem and decide to focus on them for five chapters, and then realize that my main character had become a “has been”. About halfway through the novel I had stopped using my outline mainly because there was an extra plot twist that I found did not go with the direction I wanted. But because I had stayed on track in the beginning I was able to stay focused throughout the rest of the book.
I was able to finish this novel, but I did the same thing I did last NaNo. My last chapter, which should have been a few thousand words, happened in just one thousand. I had to go back and prolong it, which actually caused me to go overboard on wrapping up. Another reason to begin thinking of a sequel. *wink*
The past six weeks have been focused on editing. I have added almost ten more thousand words to the novel (that includes the editing for the final chapter) and I have only gone as far as the third chapter. This first revision process will be long, but worth it.
And, as another plug for Scrivener, the program allows me to change the color of the font for a first revision, and later a second revision, and so on. This serves no purpose for me except that I can see what I am keeping and what I am adding.
OK, so this is getting to be a long post. I will stop at this, though I can easily go on and on about writing. It is my passion.
Oh, and if you want to like another Facebook page, here is a link to one my brother set up for me awhile back! https://www.facebook.com/groups/273991706032/
(This post has breached one thousand words. Before NaNo I thought a thousand words was a lot to write — not anymore!)