The Ageless: A Milestone

Image of the Ageless Universe of books and short storiesThis week marks a milestone in writing The Ageless. So even though I know I said I wouldn’t blog much about my own writing habits, I want to record this for my own sake. If this isn’t your cup of tea, next week I’ll be back with interesting topics in the science fiction and fantasy genres, or you can follow me on Twitter or Google+ for cool SFF stuff in between blog posts.

Otherwise, forge ahead!

Three-Quarter Crisis

On Feb. 7, I hit the infamous three-quarter crisis. My outline fell apart, and although I still knew what the end of the story should be, I wasn’t sure how to get there. The more meat I put on the bones, the more obvious it became that the skeleton wasn’t quite right for this beast. But knowing that didn’t help me fix the outline or write the next scenes.

I’ve always been the type who outlines a story beforehand. Fly-by-the-seat writing has never gotten me very far. (e.g. my old projects End Word, Restoria, Natural Selection, etc.) So I knew I had to revise the outline before continuing. Recognizing that characters and conflict drive a story, I decided to reread my entire novel, start to finish, to rediscover those voices and deeper conflicts.

And it worked! As you can see from my writing calendar, I got back to writing last weekend. And this week I easily broke 4,000 words, which is definitely a good sign.

Writing With Scrivener

Like I did last month, anytime I’ve taken a step back to assess where I was with the story, I’d combine both storylines into one Word document and read from there. (Keeping the storylines separate makes it easier to glance at the last few scenes from that viewpoint and get back into the character’s voice.)

This got to be more and more tedious the longer the project got. Not to mention the fact that while rereading, I can’t keep my hands off… I change a word here and there. (There are different schools of thought on how much or how little you should change before you’ve completed your first draft. I don’t change much, but I don’t restrain myself from fixing typos, passive voice, etc. either.)

Excellent example of something I would rephrase if I happened across it in my own writing, because it would drive me crazy otherwise:

Disfigure

Disfigure by tim_d / Tim Duckett | Flickr

So after those changes, I would have to copy the slightly edited scenes back into the separate storyline documents — pretty time consuming. Then I would resume writing a scene or two on each storyline every night.

Enter Scrivener. This thing does everything I ever dreamed of and more:

  • Reordering scenes by note card
  • Saving snapshots (versions) of a project while editing so you don’t have to worry about making bad decisions and losing work
  • Being able to see part of a scene above (or beside) while continuing to write a later section of that chapter below
  • Tagging
  • Searching
  • Generating character names by gender, nationality, first letter
  • Auto-formatting for manuscript submission
  • Compiling several smaller documents into a larger document or combining storylines into one main document
  • Outlining before, during, or after writing
  • Linking between documents, showing which notes / photos / audio you referenced in certain scenes
  • Statistics on how much you’ve written over time
  • Setting target word counts with a little bar showing you how close you’re getting
  • Auto-replacing shorthand keystrokes with the full word or phrase

Warning: steep learning curve.

Scrivener is amazing. Best of all, you get 30 days to try it out before buying, and it’s a very reasonable price. If you’re a novel or screenwriter, check it out. I’m still in my trial period, but I was ready to buy from the moment I finished reading the tutorial.

So, long story short, I’m back on track. Hopefully still on target to finish this baby by June, or at least July. After that, The Ageless can take a nice long rest while I butcher ehhrm, begin draft two and revisions of The Century.