Scrivener

Scrivener

Scrivener LogoI use Scrivener for all my writing.

My first experience with Scrivener was back in 2012, when I was getting ready to NaNoWriMo my first novel, Sudden Mission. I had recently moved from Windows to Mac and needed a solid writing tool. I didn’t want to spend the cash to get Microsoft Office for the Mac and I did just retire from more than 20 years of supporting, teaching, and hating MS Word. Yes, I hate MS Word. Sorry.

I digress. So, I’ll digress a bit more.

You see, I started playing around with word processors back in the early 1980’s. I had access at the time to a KayPro CP/M machine and learned to use Perfect Writer and WordStar. When I got my KayPro, I became an expert on WordStar, using the WordStar codes, and hacking the application to make it perform better. Back then, there were no spelling or grammar checkers, until some creative types figured out how to add those tools to  WordStar.

WordStar

That was just about the time I moved to a DOS-based Personal Computer (PC). WordStar tried to hang on but the company died. Then, WordPerfect showed up. A company out of Utah created it and it was a very decent word processor. Add-on grammar and spelling checkers started to show up in droves. I messed with a bunch of them and learned a lot in the process.

Then Microsoft created Word. By this point, many places had invested a lot of time and money into WordPerfect and scripting processes in that application. Legal shops led the charge here. I learned to script in WordPefect and created some pretty impressive tools this way. But, Microsoft owned the operating system (DOS at the time). Keep in mind that at this time, a hard drive was not a standard item on PCs. Most PCs in offices were dual floppy disk. So, you booted your PC and ran your programs with the disk in the A: drive, and saved you work on the B: drive floppy. WordPerfect did this for a couple of years when Word showed up. I rarely had to support anyone who lost all their work using WordPerfect. When Word showed up, disasters happened. Word would, arbitrarily hang or quit in the middle of a session. All the work to that point would be gone. Even, in some early versions and when someone saved often (that was like a six-keystroke operation then), the save file on the B: floppy would disappear. Microsoft did nothing about this issue until after about version 4.0.

Word

Somehow, Word began to dominate business word processing. Not because it was the best. WordPerfect was a better, more capable word processor. Then Windows showed up. Now, Microsoft owned Windows and Office. So, they made sure that all the support routines for Office products loaded into memory in Windows, so it seemed that Word and its fellow programs ran faster. But, Windows was slower because of it. Without office, Windows ran great and WordPerfect ran great. There were still times when Word would die in the middle of your work and your file would go away and that was a risk until Windows 95 and WordPerfect was seeing its last days.

We got networked and WordPerfect got sold to a couple different companies and then died out. So, now we have MS Office with Word as the sole word processor. Others tried to take the thunder, but failed. I converted most of my training and scripting processes to Word and that worked until a new version of Word came out and I had to change everything again. Nothing in Word ever seemed to stay put. In one version, Microsoft had the mail merge function flawless. In the next, it was a complete disaster. Things got moved around and much of the update training I did focused on showing users where Microsoft hid their favorite functions.

And, it never got better. For me, anyway.

Move to Mac

When I moved to the Mac after I retired, things changed for me. I used Pages. Gosh, is a very nice little word processor. A lot like the old Word Perfect, but with more page layout capability. I use Pages for letters and short documents. But, getting a large, complex document done in Pages wasn’t really practical. So, I went looking.

Scrivener was the best $50 I ever spent. I can import old projects into it and (with a little preparation) it will break it into chapters, scenes, and have it ready for work. For a new project, it makes me structure it and work in scenes. I really like this. When I want to work on a specific part of a project, I just go to that part. The work on that part does not affect the rest of the project. I can move things around. And best of all, I can compile the resulting project into a Word document or a PDF, or compile for upload to Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or print on demand. Compiling, especially for e-book or print publication, is probably the most complex part of using Scrivener. I spent days on Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers getting things just right.

Editing and Revisions

After you complete the first draft, Scrivener helps with spelling and grammar, if you want. But I find Scrivener makes the revision and editing process better because you don’t have to wade through the entire document to find a certain scene. You select the scene you want to work in and go for it. If you use the synopsis feature, you can quickly find a scene by checking the brief description in the synopsis.

Novel templates for Scrivener have reformatted scene and character sketch templates you can use. I find the character sketches are handy when I need to check my notes on a character to make sure he/she is behaving consistent to my description. The novel templates also automatically set up the front matter, cover and other folders so all you need to do is enter the information.

Other templates pre-format for short story/fiction, or even academic research papers. I wish I had Scrivener when I was in college.

So, now I use Scrivener for just about all my writing, except maybe a letter or something like that. It was well worth the time to learn and well worth the price. If you are serious about writing, you should check it out.

Keep writing.

 

Hi, 2017!

2017

Our gift from 2017 is snow.

Deep SnowLots and lots of snow. And cold. Yeah, we got some cold here. Both the weather cold and the virus cold. Not fun together. But, we’re getting past the virus cold.

I’ve cleared the drive and sidewalk on an almost daily basis. The back yard is about knee-deep in the white stuff. There are days I sit in the sun room and look out over the snow and see the beauty. Especially when there is a sun break and it glistens. As I’m writing this (Monday, Jan. 9, 2017), it is snowing again–okay, it was. it stopped again. But, I’ve already cleared the drive and walk twice. We got about four to five inches overnight, and a couple more during the day. The forecast calls for a bit more snow this afternoon and into tomorrow.

The picture on the right shows that our Santa and Baby Jesus decoration is about buried. I shot this photo a few days ago. This morning, the snow completely buried Baby Jesus and you can just see Santa’s hands.

If you followed this blog through the fall, you know I completed a first draft of the third novel in the Spirit Missions series during November. Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers are doing well. I’ll dive into this first draft now and do some rewriting. I know I left some things out in the mad rush of NaNoWriMo to hit the 50,000 word mark, and I know I need to work more on the main character’s internal dialog. So, I have my work cut out for me for the next month or so.

Then there is the ending. That’s the part I need to clean up between where I left off at the end of November, and the Epilogue I wrote to kind of wrap up the series. If you read Amy’s Lesson or The Gift, the related short stories I posted here, you’ll get some hints about some of the things that happen in this third installment.

So, here’s hoping for a productive 2017. Let’s all stay healthy, happy, and warm.

Keep writing.

(PS: Yeah, it snowed last night. Two more inches. I gotta have faith that it will stop sometime soon. 😉

Holidays

Holidays

NaNoWriMo 2016 is over, the end of the year holidays are here. I’m working through the last of the chapters of my “work in progress” and revising the story. This has been an interesting project and North Carolina will never be the same.

This work, with the working title of Alien Alliance, will be the last in the Spirit Missions series, so I have to make certain that I wrap up all the little nuanced loose ends I left in Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers.

All the action in this new book takes place in North Carolina and a little in Virginia. Zombies in Asheville, aliens in Raleigh, and the end of humanity as we know it just hours away. Jealousy, anger, love, joy, pain, and desperation, all play out in the story. So, I’ll soon have to write the cover blurb and include all that in just a few sentences.

Merry Christmas

I will probably not post again until after Christmas. I’m working on the book, getting some other projects done, and spending time with the family.

I also selected a new site theme. As I tweak this and get it working, let me know what you think of it. Getting a theme, with colors, font, layout, and widgets, all organized takes a little time. The basic theme is in place and most of my standard widgets are there. I just need to make sure it is all working and set up correctly.

So, if something isn’t behaving correctly, post a note and I’ll get right on it.

Thanks for your support this year and following along on this blog. It has been an interesting year.

I hope you and yours have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Keep writing.

 

Winner

Winner!

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner

Winner!

Today I passed the 50,000 word mark and am now an official NaNoWriMo 2016 winner! My word count for November 29 is 1,816. My daily average was 1,751. The total word count uploaded for the win today: 50,793.

The first draft is not finished, though. There are a couple of chapters yet to write as there is still one more problem/conflict to manage.

My personal goal for this project was about 60,000 words. I suspect I’ll meet that–or, be close–in the next few days. I’ll finish this draft soon, as this last bit will not need tons of writing.

I even have an epilogue.

This process was fun. There were days where it was difficult to get any words written, but I kept at it. That’s where the value of NaNoWriMo is. It gives me a structure, a deadline, to work in. I have daily goals to meet. I get support from friends on Twitter and Facebook.

Best of all, I get a first draft at the end.

Believe me, this is a very rough first draft. I’ve already gone back over several chapters and rewritten or added some material. You’re not supposed to do that in NaNoWriMo, but I did. You’re supposed to just keep charging ahead. I did keep charging ahead, but I found I kept forgetting something and had to go back and add it. Or, maybe I thought of something new and different for a particular place.

In any case, it all worked and I’m a day ahead of the 30-day schedule. I’m a winner. I don’t get anything for it other than improved self-esteem, congratulations from friends, and that all-important first draft.

Soon, the rest of the work begins. Editing, revision, rewriting. I want to get this ready for a good editor to look at. I think it’s a good story and I’ve learned a lot in the three NaNoWriMos I’ve participated in. A good editor will help make it a better read and a stronger story.

I hope you followed along this month. If you didn’t take part in NaNoWriMo, think about doing it next year. If you’ve wanted to write something, or you’ve been struggling to write something, this is a great way to get the first draft done.

I’ll be posting more information on the progress of this project as it moves through the process to publication. Thanks for your support and encouragement, those of you on Twitter and Facebook.

Keep writing.

 

 

Day Twenty-Two

Home Stretch

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant-200This is Day Twenty-two. My word count is at 39,707 words. I wrote 3,047 words today, and I’m averaging 1,804 word per day now.

By this time next week, I should have passed the 50,000 word mark for NaNoWriMo-2016 and be well on the way to my personal goal of 60,000. Or, I’ll be done with the first draft.

Things are going along very well. I’ve done my best to lay waste to much of North Carolina (the setting), and develop my main character, Amy. I’m pretty excited about how this is working out.

Some of my writing friends on Twitter are doing well, too. I do my best to encourage and support them as we make our way through this month of writing.

It isn’t as hard as folks might think. And it is. The key is getting started. Once you start, it isn’t hard to keep going. There is the struggle each day to pull up the application and open the document and pick up where you left off. But, that just takes about a half-cup of coffee.

The other day I had this great idea for an epilogue. Yesterday I wrote the epilogue as part of my work. It gave me a finishing framework within which I’ll work the rest of the novel.

So, things are going well, even with a little travel and some interruptions. I’m on track and making progress, and within about 15,000 words of a finish.

Keep writing!