There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Tools for the Busy Fantasy Writer April 16, 2014

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 10:23 pm
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Finding time to write in the middle of everyday life can be almost impossible sometimes. I have two little boys that take up the majority of my time, and every writer I know has just as much or more demanding their time every single day. So I wanted to share with you a couple of ways I cheat time — when I’m in the car, standing in line at a cash register, watching the kids in the tub, or trying to get them to nap, I need multiple ways to get my creative thoughts down so that I can maximize the 1-2 free hours I get to write per day (if I’m lucky!).

Notebooks — Of course! We writers tend to be notebook addicts. I usually have a separate notebook for everything. One for every novel that’s about 5×7, small enough to tuck in a purse but big enough to write outlines and entire scenes if I want to; a 6×9 that I keep in my car in case I get stranded somewhere and need to write about ten pages of brain vomit because the scene just won’t wait; and a little 2×4 to remain permanently in my purse for any random thoughts.

Evernote App — This is perfect for all of the above, only it fits in my pocket no matter where I am, because it’s an app. But not just any app, Evernote actually syncs with your computer, your tablet, your Kindle, whatever you need! so that you can write outlines, scenes, dialogue, anything, and then simply copy/paste it into your doc or Scrivener when you get home. It’s too easy, and all you need is an internet connection and an Android device because it’s FREE.

 

Dropbox App — Dropbox is, in my experience, the best way ever to back up your stuff online. I can’t tell you how many times it’s saved my butt to have a backup on the internet when my files get mixed up on my flash drives (always a good idea to backup things on a physical drive as well, of course). Dropbox is also free, and you can get it for Apple and Android and choose which files sync where so that you can always have your most important documents with you. It’s awesome (although, it also scares me because what if someone stole my phone?! So I don’t keep more than my current work in my Dropbox).

Scrivener App — I know some people love Scrivener, and some people hate it, but I happen to love it so I’ve got to mention it. Dude, the way you can organize and color code everything on the side? I don’t know how I’d write a four-part series without being able to give each scene a million identifiers. They get shifted around so many times, sometimes from book to book, that I need the outline-within-an-outline-within-a-binder-within-a…that Scrivener offers. It’s positively lovely to just click “compile” when you’re done and get it shuffled into a nice, shiny Word doc. It does cost money, but it is so worth it. Available for both Windows and Mac.

What are some of your time-stealing devices? How do you catch and save all your thoughts and get them shuffled neatly into a manuscript?

Rachel O’Laughlin

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Writerly Tools: Storyboard Edition January 17, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 2:43 am
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Annnnnddd we’re back with another special edition of Writerly Tools! On today’s agenda, we’ll be talking about how to organize all of those crazy thoughts and plots in your head.

Now, before you scoff and say “I’m a pantser! I write as it comes to me!”…well, for starters, don’t say that. And then take a step back and think about the complexities and intricacies of the story you are developing. For me, it is near impossible to keep it all straight in my head without some sort of reminder. I tend to pants it and then plot to make sure everything makes sense. Which is how these tools come in handy.

The first one I am going to talk about is one I, admittedly, know very little about as a non-Mac user. But I did see a friend use it and it looked awesome! I am referring to the Storyboard program for the Mac. I saw my friend use it as essentially a plot map with lines drawn to subplots and repercussions of scenes, etc. I was insanely jealous and for the first time in my life wanted to get a Mac just for the purpose of this program. So if you are a Mac user, I suggest checking it out.

If you are not a Mac user (or if you are since this program is now available for the Mac), I would suggest a program I do know a little something about called Scrivener. It is AMAZEBALLS. I have no real words as to why, so first I am going to show you as I gather my thoughts.

win-screens-cork

That’s right folks. Your very own virtual corkboard. The best part? You can layer. These pins can be folders which contain scenes. For me, my folders are always chapters and then I have individual scenes within those chapters. You can keep notes on each item, which can say as little as “Chapter Three” to as much as describing your scene briefly. This is the perfect outlining tool AND it is pretty cheap too. Right now it is $40 (US) but if you win NaNoWriMo or CampNaNo, then you can get a discount. They offer a free 30 day trial where the days are not consecutive but instead are days of usage. So if you only use it twice a week, the free trial will last you 15 weeks. Awesomesauce, right?

It gets even better. You know those character journals and story bibles people are always talking about? Well, Scrivener essentially acts as one giant notebook for you. So there are areas for characters and research.

Of course, programs aren’t for everyone, which I completely understand. Why do I understand that?

SAMSUNG

Because sometimes a good ole fashioned piece of posterboard and some sticky notes will do the trick.

Whatever your preference, I would definitely make organizing your plot elements a priority. This will help you avoid inconsistencies with characters and plot and also help you to really map your story to a timeline. What are you favorite plotting tools? Sound off in the comments below and be sure to check back next month for the Editing Edition of Writerly Tools!

-Mara Valderran