Poet Posing on Prose Platform

My thoughts on

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/

 

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.

 

 

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?

 

This is what is missing – explaining recent MIA

Recently diagnosed as deficient in B12. One injection and several things changed for the much better – but only for short while – need another hit! Doc’s appointment not until next week so have – on chemist’s recommendation – started spray under my tongue. Doesn’t take much to get me back on board – as witnessed by my catch-ups this morning – but really looking forward to getting this sorted even when it means a monthly injection for the rest of my life. As with both eyes now – not monthly but each depending on how well it is behaving – four to six weeks apart. Next time both eyes. Might just treat myself to a taxi home.

Would be interested to find out how long  ago the B12 situation started as I have been sent off to specialists for symptoms differently diagnosed. As with macular degeneration, the earlier it is identified the better. When one injection can go toward relieving three separate symptoms I could end up being a bit cranky about B12 lack not being picked up sooner.

TAKE A HINT. Check it out with your GP.

Writing, had a weep, tidied up files to find this


I am closer to 76 (78) than 75 (77).

My first experience of serious depression was at age18 after two people I knew were killed in motor vehicle accidents. My suicidal impulse at the time was held in check on two grounds. If I was not successful I could be prosecuted (attempted suicide against the law). If I was successful I could not know whether the In Memoriam notices in the West Australian would number something between that of one friend (1) and the other (column after column). By the time I stopped worrying, the suicidal mood had passed.

And this is the trick! The mood passes.

Just sit it out. When feeling a danger to myself, I used to go to the nearest hospital and ask to be allowed to just sit in safety. That was all I needed. It also helped when I had a circle of friends who did not need telling, but somehow knew we should sit up all night, putting the world to rights till the sun came up. Also, even when it feels as if alone enough to successfully suicide, my experience was that there was Something Out There which ensured a close, but failed attempt.

But for ordinary, non-suicidal depression, I found the best, the quickest way out of it was to surrender, play some really, really sad music, make yourself as miserable as possible as quickly as possible because, once down there in the pits, the only way is UP. For me, that became the creative writing time.

The death of friends, of a child, of parents. These are all reactive depressions and normal. Hormonal upheavals either monthly or after birth, again part of normal living. Loss of jobs, partners by either death or divorce and all those other events which tally up. Most of us will have experienced same or similar. Top this off with bipolar, genetic predisposition, lying dormant until triggered by stress and then crash and burn and phoenix-like rise again knowing that you know the secret of the Meaning of Life, where it came from and where it is going! Oh, boy. Fun, fun, fun. (But not for those around who strive to make sense I(there is none) of it all.)

My saving grace, inner strength, whatever you want to call it, stemmed from an incident when I was nearly five years old. (Please do NOT visualise). The head of our neighbour’s son was sliced apart by the flying blade of a broken circular saw. His mother came over to our place in great distress. My mother told me to look after the distressed woman, my 23 month old sister and my 8 week old brother. She told me to be a brave little girl while she pedalled off to the post office to call the doctor and police. I know that is what she told me as, when 55, I woke one morning sobbing my heart out with relief that I no longer had to be a brave little girl. (She forgot to stand me down!) So, for fifty years I went through Life with girded loins prepared to take on anything Life threw at me.

Computer Quirks and Conundrums

We all have those days.

Lately mine have been at two extremes.

First things not working = not much gets done.

Second, working so well, I find stuff I had forgotten and get lost in reading or viewing something which caught my attention way back when = not much gets done.

What particularly did not get done was immaculate cleaning of all surfaces prior to inspection yesterday. Must budget for some help = cleaner and window cleaner before next time OR change a habit of a lifetime and look more closely.

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