Happy New Year!
Is it me or is time speeding up? Here we are five days into the new year, and I haven’t figured out my goals yet. Heck, I haven’t even reflected on last year’s goals. Maybe it’s better that way. Last year I had three goals and fell short of them all.
Time to try again…
My goal for 2012 is to start and finish writing a new novel. Since I’m a contender for World’s Slowest Writer, handing my agent a new book before year-end will not be easy. But I think I can speed up productivity if I plot more precisely than I have done in the past. If I spend more time on the story arc, the characters’ goals, motivation and conflict, and the turning points upfront, I should have less fixing and rewriting later on. It can’t hurt, right?
So I download a free trial of the writing program Scrivener. This program seems like a great way to organize my story and keep everything, including research, in one file. I’m still going through the tutorial, but so far it seems pretty good, as long as I can remember how to use all the functions. Perhaps I should sign up for Gwen’s Scrivener class in February.
Well, at least I have one goal to work toward. I still need to determine my karate goals and personal goals (Note to self: include get more sleep on personal goals list). What about you? Do you make goals or resolutions for the New Year? If you’re a writer, do you use writing software? Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants?
I write romantic suspense, which means I have (at least) two plots running simultaneously through my books. Since I love to torture my characters by throwing them into dangerous situations, that ‘s a lot of action to track in an 80,000 word document. Scrolling through 350 pages of text to find a specific paragraph can be frustrating. And printing out all those pages for edits? Too overwhelming for me. I do all my revision on screen. I never print anything.
I use the Document Map feature of Microsoft Word (2007 version and previous). The document map is a separate window that can stay open on the left of the screen while I work on my manuscript. It lists all headers in the document. A click on a header in the document map takes you to the corresponding section of the main document. I format chapters as HEADER 1. Scenes within each chapter (sub-headers) are formatted as HEADER 2. To stay organized, I list abbreviated plot points and point of view for each scene. Also, I format the sub-headers as hidden text, I can show or not show them through the tools/options menu.
So, on the left of my open document, I have an outline of my entire book as I write it. An outline which can be printed if I ask Word to generate a “table of contents.” Not only does this make editing easier, but writing the synopsis is easier with an outline of all the plot points at my fingertips.
Does anyone have the 2010 version of Word? Does anyone have any other way to keep a mega document organized?
I’m starting off this post with a piece of blatant self-promotion. My first male/male romance coming is out through Lyrical Press in late February. I recently received the cover and I’m so excited. Here it is. What do you think?
Moving on to other topics.
Many writers have critique partners. We often try out many potential partners before finding the right fit. Sooner or later we find that person or people with complementary skill sets, who encourage you, but also let you know when you’ve gone in the wrong direction with a story. Still, at the end of the day the story you create is your own.
Have you ever tried writing with a partner? Tried blending your styles and voices so that the final product is a seamless conglomerate of the two. I always wondered how writing teams did it? Do the partners trade off scenes? Does one partner write from the hero’s point of the view the other the heroines? I know a lot of trust and compromise must go into it. I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the process. Until now.
I’ve recently started writing a story together with a good friend. So far everything is going well, and it’s been a really positive and interesting experience. We’re writing tag team, we alternate scenes as we go. Before we started writing we sat down and hammered out a general plot outline, naturally as the story takes shape the plot gets enhanced and changed. Fortunately neither of us is so married to a plot idea or the words on the page that we pitch a fit when they are changed. Stylistically we are different writers, but it’s been cool to reread a scene I’ve written after she’s taken a pass at it. I’m a layered writer. My first drafts are very skeletal, so I enjoy seeing what meat she’s added. All in all I’m having a great time and I think we’re creating something really strong.
If you’re going to try writing as a team you’ll want to make the sharing of the document as easy as possible. I’d consider using Google Documents. It’s Google’s free online word processing program. It’s not complicated, but it gives you the tools you need to get your draft work done before moving the final to a word document. I’ve been using it to write some of my other books because the documents stay online. I sometimes work on computers that don’t have Word loaded on them so this was the solution to my problem. All I have to do is log into my Google account online and I’m up and writing in no time. The other handy thing about his program is it allows you to grant permissions. In other words, I don’t have to give my writing partner, access to my account in order for her to access our story document. It’s still a private document, only she and I can log into it. The fun part is we can sign in simultaneously and both work on the document at the same time. It’s all done in real time so as your partner types the words magically appear on the screen. It’s awesome to see. Plus there is an in document chat function so that you can brainstorm as you go. It makes tandem writing so much easier, in my opinion, then having to email documents back and forth. No program compatibility issues or worrying that you’re working in the correct version, etc.
So going back to my original question – Have you ever tried writing with a partner? What method did you use to write the story? Finally, to appease my inner computer geek, what program did you use to write? Did you email word docs or is there another cool program out there that I need to know about?