Writing Fiction or Nonfiction can be a lot of fun and inspiring.
But there always comes a time when what we are writing starts to get big. Sometimes, really big.
In fact so big and broad that we can’t see the central idea any more.
That’s when things start to get out of hand and panic sets in.
It always happens after that brilliant idea for a story arises. That kernel idea that seems so tight and so whole. It presents itself to you like a gem floating around in the mind, but where ever it goes it doesn’t lose its solidity; that’s when you think, “great, I know I should start writing this idea down.“
And that’s when it starts to breed new ideas.
Those new ideas spread out like threads reeling away from a ball of wool. Wonderful, you think, and they are so connected and so full of surprises.
Then when you stand back, after several hours work, you begin to see that it’s getting scary.
You didn’t do anything about organising things – you just let it flow.
And now you have some brilliant ideas that are all piled up and difficult to find.
Organising your writing and keeping all of those notes and character sheets close by is important to the success of your story. That’s the time when you begin to think that you should have bought a bigger desk.
We can’t all be like John Steinbeck who could visualise his story and focus on theme and details of who, what, where, put them all together in his mind and see a map of the way before he started writing. He did this by writing a lot of notes about why he wanted to write a novel.
John Steinbeck had two ideas about life ; “Work and Women”. So I’m sure he would’ve been considered a workaholic by today’s standards.
Index Cards to Organise streams of Ideas
People like us still have to learn how to organise. Index cards is an idea that has been tried and tested by the best, it seems to work for a lot of people so long as the notes are short and concise. If you use index cards to write down your ideas and discover that there isn’t enough space on the card, it’s a good sign that you prefer to explore your ideas in-depth.
Exploring an idea or aspect of your writing is how you get to the point where you can Pitch your idea. To be able to simply say what your story is about in one sentence is the first step in knowing you are organised.
Index cards are like this. You write small pitches for a scene or simply write a spontaneous idea.
It’s ‘pitch-like’ sentences that you use index cards for. Being able to jot-down a few ideas on cards and then keep them handy to make references to points in the story. Short , sharp and concise.
As your index cards build up into piles of colour-coded blocks, you can begin to lay them out and see a pattern of threads that suggest the flow of the story. It’s a good way to test plotting ideas by shuffling the cards back and forth and saves a lot of time in writing stuff that might end up having to be rewritten.
I find index card system are okay, but not for me. I need to write a lot. Let things spread into the atmosphere and develop without being limited to a physical 4×3 universe.
Making your Writing life easier
I tried many different ideas, including some free software that you can find on the web. Much of it seemed too complicated or time-consuming to set-up and memorize how to use. Today, everything we use in software seems to expect us to go on a learning curve to et to the happy point of easy use.
One day, I decided to fork out a few Euros for Scrivener. It cost me about 38 Euros for lifetime use. It’s updated when needed and I can use it, the one-time buy, on both of my computers, my laptop and my desktop.
After buying Scrivener, I’m happy as a bee that I did. It’s all I need to be organised with my writing. I write both fiction and non-fiction and it works for me. I hear the same shout-out from a lot of other authors and bloggers who have stepped over to Scrivener.
My experience of Scrivener and the company is that they like to keep it small and keep in touch with customers. It makes me feel safe that I’m not just a customer with a giant corporate presence that shifts about in the darkness counting money.
The objective of Scrivener is to help the writer organise his or her writing work and be in the position to reference parts of the work without wasting time. Just keep writing.
In other words, Scrivener allows the writer to keep writing without interruptions. And it does, that’s why I really like it. And, I’m not surprised that it’s good because Keith Blount, the developer of Scrivener, developed the idea of Scrivener while attempting to write a book and his thesis.
What He did
1.He needed to get his work organised so he began to develop a simple programme that turned into a really cool organiser for anybody contemplating writing a lengthy piece of work. As it developed into a company, based in Cornwall, England, he called it Literature & latte. They like coffee.
2.Today there are about six people running the day-to-days of the business. They are communicating between England, USA and Australia to make things work and run smoothly for users.
3.They still think it’s a cool idea that he discovered while sorting a problem of his own.
4.So they share it with other writers.
It doesn’t matter what type of writer you are, it doesn’t matter what you’re organising techniques are to this point you will find that Scrivener will help you organise in the most satisfactory way.
Getting Organised with Scrivener
For example; a writer who likes to double-check details of character aspects regularly finds that sifting through paper notes or index cards can lead to loss of train of thought. Scrivener will allow a writer to quickly click a button and find that the character notes pop up on the right side of the screen. The writing itself is still in view and the train of thought is not taken away from the main work. You are just seeing the information needed and carrying on writing.
Beginning a new Project with Scrivener
When I begin a project I focus on the left side of the Scrivener screen and set-up my working files in the Folder. I can create a folder and then click, click, click opening new text documents to work my magic on when I’m writing. I tend to know roughly how many chapters I’ll want so I’ll open that many text documents for that folder.
At the bottom of the binder I can start organising files and folders to hold space to write character backgrounds, scenes, locations and settings and any other notes that I think I personally want to work with, or will help me organise myself.
When you open a new project you are given a choice of template styles. “Short-Story” – “Novel” – “Non-Fiction” etc. You can also add your own template styles to suit your own organisation of things.
When you view your work there are three buttons at the top of the page which allow you to look at “outline” form, “Index cards” or straight text in the form of your main writing, the story or piece you are working on.
NO big Learning Curve to go through
I found that the basics of Scrivener are easy. There is no heavy learning curve and you can begin to use it immediately without reading a ton of instructions. Really, it’s easy.
After using the software for a year or so, I decided to see what other writers have to say about it. I found that the opinion is similar to mine – they like it and use it all of the time. They’re hooked on something that makes writing easier than before. All that flapping about with note papers and booklets or cards was a pain in the neck. Scrivener helps, a lot.
Your first hour working in Scrivener will be about recognising the meanings f various buttons. Like which one opens the Outline style, or which one makes a certain chapter pop up on the right side of the screen, so that I can do a back reference to a scene two chapters earlier. You begin to get it quickly and things turn out easier.
There are a lot of features on Scrivener that are straight forward common sense benefits to the writer. For you, some of them may lie dormant and for a different writer they are important. The first action is to just get on with the writing without having to deal with a new problem – like complicated software – that’s what was important to me. I didn’t want to get involved in mucking around with understanding how to make something work, and find that I’d wasted hours poncing around trying to figure it out. I want to write as much as possible. Scrivener lets me do that.
I’m glad I bought Scrivener because it’s simply miles ahead of using Microsoft which thinks it knows what I want, when it doesn’t. It always thinks I want to write a business document. So I get headers and formatting forced on me that drive me up the wall.
Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)
If you’ve tried index cards and find them useful but not good enough to do the whole organising job, then Scrivener should offer you a good solution to being a writer who writes in an organised way.
The software has an index card system, too. It has ready-made templates for common types of writing and an easy to understand system to organise the complicated mind of a writer.
Pantser or Outliner, you’ll probably find Scrivener will be your new writing friend when you have it.