One Step Closer to Publishing a Novel, and Thoughts on Scrivener

*puts on Mel Dunay hat*

Just finished rewriting/editing book 1 in my paranormal romance series. I’m going to let it “rest” for a week or two while I continue writing book 2, then give it another look over and start formatting it for print and kindle. I’ve rough-drafted, I don’t know, maybe seven or eight short novels in my life, but this is only the second time I’ve tried to clean one up for publication, and the first time was ten years ago, using Microsoft Word in conjunction with some kind of early cloud storage, like Google Docs.

I have to say that working with Scrivener took some getting used to. I imported the rough draft of book 1 into a new project, started a folder in the project called “First Draft” and then used the “split at selection” tool to break it apart into scenes. That was all I did for several months; just read through the draft a little bit at a time in the mornings before going to work or coming home from work, split the pieces into scenes and use the synopsis tool under “Information” to create brief descriptions of each scene. I had a separate folder where I put ideas for revision: renaming places or people, adding new supporting characters, tightening up continuity. Basically I would take notes about things I felt like I needed to change and put them in that folder.

Once I was done splitting out the scenes, I left it alone for a while, wrote a few missing scenes to introduce a new supporting character, then created two subfolders for the “First Draft” folder. I had noticed that I got sloppier and more confused towards the end of the novel, and so the “Easy” subfolder collected the ones that needed less work, and the “Hard” subfolder” collected the later scenes that needed more reworking. I also added two more folders: “Second Draft” for the scenes that I had finished reworking, and “Fragments” for odds and ends that I deleted (or partially wrote and discard) in the process of working on the second draft.

Writing book 2 with Scrivener’s help is a lot more straightforward. I outlined book 2 on a scene by scene basis in Microsoft Excel over the course of a week’s worth of break time at work, and emailed it home (my employer is not terribly okay with cloud storage sites or memory sticks, for security reasons). I copied each cell’s worth of information from the spreadsheet into its own scene (piece of text) in a folder called “Outline” in the Scrivener project for book 2. It was a royal pain to set up, and I don’t think my wrists and fingers worked right for a day or two afterwards, but it’s made the actual writing process a lot less painful. I glance at the book 2 project file in the morning to see where I’m at, go to work, write the next scene as I have time (or feel like it), email the rough draft home, copy the latest scene written into the corresponding slot in the Outline folder, make some changes to the tags under “Information” (hero or heroine pov, thriller-oriented scene or romantic) and then move that piece to another folder, “Already Written,” within the Scrivener project for book 2.

Probably none of that makes any sense unless you already use Scrivener, and I’m the wrong person to explain the inner workings. I will say that Scrivener comes with a kind of “workbook” that uses the basic structure of a Scrivener project to walk you through its functions, and I found that once I worked through that workbook/tutorial thingie (which took most of a weekend where I didn’t have any social commitments) I had a much better idea of what the program could do, and more importantly, how I could make it do what I needed it to. It’s not a magic “make novel” toy, but as someone with a disorganized mind that tends to spin off in six different directions at once, I’ve found it really helpful for corralling my thoughts in some kind of format that I can refer back to and find what I need fairly easily.

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