For my birthday I treated myself to Scriverner after an author friend raved about it. For those who don’t know it, it’s software for writers. I’m still a newbie, but I can already see that Scriverner and I are going to be great friends.
In the past I’d find photos to represent my characters and write profiles on them which included their education, what they believed in, who they see as their perfect partner, who they fantasise about, their backstory and finally, one sentence that would be their catchphrase. The latter wasn’t necessarily used in the story but at a quick glance, reminded me what that character was all about.
My old way of combining my character notes.
Then I’d work on the chapter by chapter breakdown. You see, I’m a plotter, and having the skeleton of my novel is important to me. I can’t just dream it up on the run.
In Scriverner, my character pics, profiles and research are all just a click away on the sidebar. What I like even more is I have these folders to the left, my manuscript in the middle, and my ‘chapter by chapter’ plot to the right. I can add anything to the plot as I go along, and am using a colour code system to tell me how much drama is in each proposed scene. For example, red is for heightened tension, blue for average (usually with comic relief), green for somewhere in between. I also have a drop-down menu for each scene that indicates what draft it’s at.
Scriverner also prints out your novel in various forms including a version to submit to your publisher, or readily formatted for your indie project.
How my current manuscript looks on my screen
My new work is about an unhappy relationship where one of the men, Mark, meets Asher, a younger guy who helps him retrace moments in his life so he can reexamine them, deal with them, and finally mature. But Asher is found only in one place, Mark’s dreams. A Facebook friend came up with the title The Midnight Man for the novel. It’s my favourite suggestion and has settled in as the official title.
This is the first book I am writing in third person which at times I find challenging. I don’t want the narrative voice to be too domineering or negative and am trying to focus on the point of view of the characters when I’m writing. With Scriverner, I can jot down where I think I may be too heavy handed next to my plot breakdown for that scene.
On another unpublished project (not written in Scriverner) a surprise unplanned character decided she was staying in the novel and turned out to be a good match. Another featured extra also decided to hang around for a couple more chapters, but in the end I had to archive those wayward scenes. If he stayed, I would’ve had to change the ending, and unless I can come up with something better, my ending is often the first thing I know about a book and doesn’t change.
Image courtesy of Unsplash, Pixabay
The Midnight Man is a book I’ve only half plotted but as usual, I know how it ends. Having started writing the first two chapters in Scriverner, I feel confident that the rest of it will come to me somewhere down the track. I have the safety net of clearly seeing my breakdown on my screen at all times, so as I come up with random ideas away from the computer, I can play with those thoughts when I’m back on Scriverner and see how they fit in the plot. It truly is a work in progress. One that is making me part plotter, part pantser.