Poet Posing on Prose Platform

Creative Writing

Beyond the pen and pencil: best tools for crafting novels

Finding that which suits both the writer and the writer’s times.  

Writing a novel? Trial and many errors while fumbling round to source those writing tools which best suit the way my fingers and mind works – therefore the following are no more than my personal preferences. For the now, my flow chart will be going with each in turn. One day, there may be a program which incorporates the best of each, but until then …

This works for me

or – should I say – these work for me

Novel Factory forces one to think the novel through to the end. Synopsis, extended synopsis, generate scenes.

WriteItNow with the scenes generated by Novel Factory, it is a breeze to create a timeline of events and detailed relationships between characters. At this stage, all the general outline and some details to pantser one’s way and have a bit of fun.

Atomic Scribbler lightweight, simple, uncluttered, handy bits with a friendly feel such that I find I can have some fun when writing.

 Then import into Scrivener  for this is where I get serious! Take a snapshot of each scene/section and ponder improvements.

When that as good as it is going to get, compile into a Word document

 to run it through SmartEdit then Stylewriter then PerfectIt.

I know this sounds convoluted but it seems to be working for me (at the moment?) The beauty of several approaches somehow leaves me able to think of several potential stories/novels whatevers, taking ideas from the back  burner of my mind/memory into a form I can later shape into something. One month away from my 78th birthday, my main regret is that, when 18 and wanting to be a writer, I thought writer’s needed to draw on Life experiences so I went out to get some. For some reason, I never imagined using imagination! 

NOTE: Over the years I have purchased the above linked programs after having first used the free trials. I don’t think I have any recommendations from this site linked to a reward for anyone to purchase. If so, it was from a different site and any reward would not outweigh the distraction of sorting out referrals.

I am reconciled to never making money from my writing – enough if I can cover any outlay and continue to convince the ATO I am deserving of my ABN for the site http://izabellazbooks.com/

 

Belated

With Facebook nagging me for not having posted for so long a time, I feel I must ask forgiveness from those 115 viewers in the last week who may not have found something more recent to read than than their last look.

Excuse? Excuses? None. Unless you count forgetting to turn off the kitchen tap until the whole apartment was flooded, and, finding it so, looked out into the hallway to see if that was also affected. Yes. with door still open, came into bathroom to collect towels to begin to soak up, closed the door and locked myself out.  7:15am. Property manager’s office unattended until 8:00. She alone and me in my nightdress in neighbour’s apartment – neither able to see way clear to getting a taxi for the spare key. Evidently I sounded frazzled enough for the lass in the property manager’s office to have her send an ambulance! Reassured by their prompt – unwarranted – arrival – nice to know they can access the building and enter the secured lift to my floor.  Last resort was calling in a locksmith who had some difficulty but eventually repaired with some thingymgbob which reached under the door, snared the handle and opened from the inside.

Days spend drying rugs on the patio – had intended lifting them for the summer – now most stored in storage cage in garage level. Every piece of furniture pulled out and floor mopped till dry. All clean. Behind the fridge not as bad as I would have expected.

While waiting in my neighbour’s apartment I was able to take in a differing furniture arrangement which gave me ideas for shifting around my own. Only needed the purchase of far longer aerial cable for TV so it can be moved to the other side of the room. Now able to fall asleep in front of TV from either bed or recliner. and falling asleep often is my main ‘excuse’. Seems my mojo is taking a long time to recharge. Nevertheless have made some progress on new novel using both Novel Factory and WriteItNow. Playing about with both, having recently acquired NF and having had WiN on my computer for years without ever having fully explored. Within an NF forum, read that WriteItNow is regarded as the top writing assist program. Novel Factory forced me to fully think and create a complete plot line from the start. and now I have it all time-lined in WriteItNow is about as far as I have managed so far.

On waking these days, I surface with either a whole new idea OR find myself ‘reading’ a story which has me captivated – trouble being when the ‘page’ turns the earlier stages disappear. Am having so much fun entertaining myself to a point of total self-indulgence.

Forgive me?

That done! On with the next project.

Now to find a blank template to unpick and place my thinking for BREAKING HEARTS – now researching transplants. This now possible as I pressed he SUBMIT button to send MIXED FORTUNES off to a literary competition; results out in February.

Had a wonderful day yesterday when my eagle-eyed friend and her mother called in on their way home to Norseman from Sydney via catching up with me in Adelaide.  Huge event – the return of a printout with lots and lots of red marks! Many picking up on proof reading, others on content and rescue from an enormous plot hole. Checked, double and triple checked every skerricking mark and correction.

No point in worrying about cover design until being informed of the result of the competition. Either the publisher, if I am successful, or myself next year if not.

Meanwhile, on with BREAKING HEARTS.

Sourcing new project

The only thing I can do about MIXED FORTUNES just now is WAIT. Leaves my mind in limbo and coming up with snippets of ideas for another project – but what?

I use the array of hexagons as tool for plotting, but what to plot?

Wandering about the internet in the last few days and came across a post* with links to Novel Factory and Kindle Writer.

Although I am a huge fan of Scrivener I decided to take a free peek at these.

 

The person posting the recommendation also uses Scrivener on a second screen when using Novel Factory. And I can see why. Switching between screens far more preferable than switching within a program’s internal links. Novel Factory is well up on my list of intended purchases. So far, this morning, I have created a file for three potential novels. Will let them sit on my mind’s back-burner then tease out onto the hexagonal array – who, what, where, when, why and how.

Kindle Writer also has much going for it, but more for playing around with ideas for book covers and general tinkering.

In trying to locate the link to share I am confronted with the humongous number of sites bookmarked within several folders. Sorting those out will keep me busy for a while! Filling in the waiting time – proof-reader’s report, whether one competition has been won – if not by me then everything set to go to enter another which will mean more waiting until February, by which time I should (hopefully) be putting flesh on the bones of another book.

Roll on October to find out what kind of country the High Court has us living in.

Roll on November to find out what kind of country Australians want to be living in.

  • If I can find the post I will share in comments.

Activating the Passive Voice

The more I attend to this, the more cheerful I find myself. Leads me to wonder if, when most if not all, instances of passive voice is changed to reflect the active voice whether I will internalise the feeling as a permanent feature? I find it difficult these days to type the word ‘just’ when that used to be just about the most frequent and unnecessary word used.

 

When amended over 1,000 passives to actives and uncovered about sixty hidden verbs will I self-edit out the passive voice in future?

Watch out World!

A more positive Isabel is possibly about to poke her head over the horizon.
One tenth of the total manuscript attended today.
There may be those of you who think “What the heck is all the excitement about?” I was about ten years old when given the last grammar lessons in school before leaving school at barely fourteen. When Stylewriter kept pulling me up with ‘prefer active verb’ my reaction was “What the!” I have read how to recognise the rule – chased by a zombie – but it was only when making an individual note on paper the notion finally took hold. It was a fat notepad anyway and I wondered if ever I would fill its pages.


Feeling chipper and cheerful.

Needless Panic.

There is light at the end after all. My earlier assessment on the number of pages was based on my cack-handed efforts to emulate a copy on printed page BUT Google had the answer – wipe brow with relief.
Aim to complete editing by the middle of September so I can hand it over to a pair of eagle eyes in the head of my Norseman friend, Laurene.
End of September will likely come with the result of not winning one competition and that will be in time to enter another, the answer to which will be known in early February. Leaves time to obtain professionally designed cover and interior design before the April release.
Huge sigh.

Back to Square One

THIS IS ME TODAY.
Set page size, font size, etc as it would appear in actual printed copy. FAR, FAR TOO MANY PAGES.

Back to the drawing board.

 

One book, severely pruned? Two thirds of original

OR

Three very skinny books?

 OR

Expand to create a decent sized trilogy?

While I think this all through, my present plan is to save a copy of the most already edited version in Google Drive, Dropbox and on a USB. That done will revert this laptop to factory settings and load and reinstall only those programs I find really useful. I have a tendency to try out interesting looking things which, even when uninstalled, can leave their little footprints.

If I don’t pop-up in Facebook, Google Plus or emails you will know why. Not Missing in Action, but transferred to Rehab.

 

 

Uplifting

Something more cheerful than the pic on my last post. funnily enough the content of the previous post – about nightmares – was, I thought, very positive. Never mind.
Have finished writing and now into (a) taking a break, (b) editing, (c) thinking about cover which means I must sometime decide on the title. Have been feeding alternatives into Lulu’s titlescorer ans so far the highest is 41.4% for MIXED FORTUNES as against next highest 31.7% for TRUST. All other permutations lower.
Had a good clear out of paper and notes no longer needed. Have yet to clean up my hard drive, Dropbox and Google Drive.
Weather is not encouraging walking or going on bike to swimming pool.
But for this very instant, more paper to sort then coffee and Fay Weldon.
Be well.

The Value of Nightmares

An eye, very like this, seen first in the film “Spiral Staircase”, used to wake me to sitting in terror.  The eye (through a hole) filled the screen prior to each murder of women in boarding house, each with a different disability. Later in life while enjoying/enduring a psychotic episode, I reassured myself by believing there is always someone watching over me. Or Someone.

Another series of nightmares had me in a lift/elevator shaft, jumping from side to side above the lift, grabbing onto wrought iron walls,  my parents in pursuit as the lift rose up and down, but never squashing me. Have read this as no matter how high or low the bipolar takes me, I am safe from being crushed. Rising above and outside the moving box.

For me, the most valuable nightmare is/was the one that came true in real life as I followed my dreams on waking.  I use it now to reassure myself that I am on track – the dirt running track in the following poem – and with the cheering from friends responding to David Collins-Rivera review of MIXED FORTUNES as posted on tumblr (see below) leads me to the comfort that I am on the final stretch. (For how this worked out in real life one would have to read “Life Before Lithium” on Smashwords. ) Now I am applying it to my writing life.

A witch used to chase me

through a three dimensioned maze

always found an opening

but not the way out

before the maze disappeared

and the witch

turned into a tribe of gypsies

in full cry behind me

as I sped

from village hall

up the main road

between disused railway tracks

to the field

where pig-lilies grew.

Up the bank

across the recreation ground

up clay-slip slope

and stony path

dirt running track

gravel road

pine trees

by gate of school

to disappear.

 

But one night,

the night they went

forever,

I made it.

Fell into the arms

of the waiting headmaster

deafened by the cheering school

the witch and the gypsies

demons of my night

let me sleep

undisturbed.

http://wordacrosstime.tumblr.com/post/162945342034/mixed-fortunes-work-in-progress

Edit, Shred it, Read it, Merit

Such a buzz with that wonderful feedback. And my strange reaction. It seems while I WANT praise, even need it, when it is given I curl up as if embarrassed to be exposed. (But I did manage one boast through a bcc email. If you did not receive, please let me add you to my list?)

How do you respond to praise?

Woke this morning thrown off kilter. Head full of new ideas for new stories, new books, wondering if I can weave them into MIXED FORTUNES all the while knowing that would be stupidity. Same as taking pieces from another jigsaw and forcing into this rather than let the pieces fall aside for another day.

After giving myself a good talking to, back to bed for a minute or two of meditation, reading emails, Facebook and reprimanding my absence from Google + for some time, washing some marble chips for the pot plants on the patio- FINALLY got down to some editing. The way I edit works for me on several levels. My eyesight requires this Low Vision keyboard, my fingers are either at times fat or too light or doubling up on keys which means I have to keep a very close eye on the screen. I read the last section written, take a snapshot in Scrivener, control a to copy into Word (on second screen) then run the text through Stylewriter. I cannot speak too highly of Scrivener and Stylewriter. When Stylewriter marks a passage with Excellent or Good on its Bog Index and/or Style Index I move on. When both or either Indexes show any combination of Fair, Poor, Bad or Dreadful I work on that piece until it ranks as Good or Excellent. Overall there are few instances of passive writing and often I see no way of avoiding that  without tipping and messing about with tenses. Usually when I am in someone’s head.

Do you think your thoughts in active or passive mode?

How often do you have your eyes checked? The first instance of macular degeneration can sneak up and be on its way to being so advanced that treatment (eye injections) can halt the worsening but not improve the vision. Were I to rely on my left eye alone I could not write, read or type and watching TV would be a pain.  Knowing the very first sign when my  right eye began to be affected enabled immediate treatment.  Dr Durkin is set on saving my writing eye with four weekly injections in the right and keeping the left on hold by an injection every six weeks.

I cannot emphasise enough a recommendation to download an Amsler grid from  the internet – or get a chart from your optician and CHECK, CHECK, CHECK. Particularly if you are 55 and over.

That’s all folks?

 

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