Over the years I’ve used loads of programs to try and organise my thoughts into something that resembles coherence. I thought it would be a good idea to give a list of the ones that I found to be the most useful to me and the ones I now live by. For novel-writing I used Scrivner. It’s a brilliant program and not only the best value but one that has the very best features when compiling all your research, chapters, photos, scenes, characters and plot ideas into one indispensable sandbox. One of the great aspects of Scrivner is its corkboard feature which allows you to rearrange scenes and grab chapters and plot points in a really easy to use visual interface.
I have friends of mine who still, to this day, hand write their novels out in their entirety on paper before transcribing them into a word processor. While I have huge admiration for anyone who has the ability to do this, my handwriting looks like a bad blend of a doctor’s trying to write a prescription and that of a small child. As part of my BA in Journalism, back in the Jurassic age, I spend the better part of a year learning to speed type. A valuable skill that I’m glad was drummed into us. I have a friend of mine who recently told me he was worried about how fast I write. We disagree somewhat on how novels should be written. I’ve always been a firm believer in banging out the first draft as fast as you can. “Just get the damn thing down on paper”. Most of what’s there is inevitably torn to shreds anyway but what’s left always leaves you with a solid foundation. I don’t ruminate on sentences or individual words. When I decide to go at it it’s 1000 to 1500 words every morning until I hit 100,000 or die trying. If there isn’t the first draft in 3 months than there’s something wrong. Writing is hard enough without sitting around for years wondering what the colour of someone shoes is, but I digress. That’s a conversation for another day.
Scrivner is a brilliant writing program with really easy to use tutorials online and after a few weeks, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Another really handy program I use is called Scapple. www.literatureandlatte.com/scapple/overview
It’s a great little program that you can have open on your desktop which allows you to throw notes wherever you want to and link them to each other, move them around etc. I’m quite a visual person by nature so seeing ideas and scenes linked together on a virtual notepad is great, although sometimes seemingly messy way, to keep certain random thoughts linked to one another. While probably not the best way to visualise a novel, given the depth you have to go into, I highly recommend giving it a go. If you’re like me, with random notepads all over the house and scraps of paper in different pockets than this could be a valuable tool to dump ideas onto.
Forward we go