Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Novel-Writing Software

Photo: Codex Sinaiticus

This is why I'm going to download a free version of a novel-writing software.  I feel a little badly about this, as if I were selling out or something, but I feel strongly about my reasons, though I feel...older and insecure because of them, too.

I can only speak for myself. I wrote my first novel longhand in a college notebook and I had a blast with it. It was hard for me to visualize what I was doing, and moving scenes and chapters around...I had to re-write everything. But I found that I wrote better.

When my hands and wrists hurt, I used my Epson Expert 2000. Yes, we're going back aways. This baby had a tiny horizontal screen that was a breakthrough back in the day. Used these tiny disks; it took 13 of them to hold a novel. This was a little better, but you could only see 16 lines at a time, and if you moved anything around, you had to change the order you saved your chapters in on those disks, and if you printed anything, you had to print it all over again. Misery. But I loved--and very much miss now--the typewriter sound effects, as the thing was a typewriter, too. Much easier to make shipping labels on!

Then time passed, the dinosaurs died off, and I got a computer. I wrote Cursing on this, which was a breeze compared to everything else, but I had problems. Moving chapters around was a pain. Storyboarding was hard. Visualizing it in my head wasn't enough anymore, as the plot got complex, and the characters, etc. I needed notecards, which I wrote out, but not well, and then I lost some of those. It was still hard to move things around. And now...

I find that I am a much better writer if I can visualize everything, including said notecards, storyboards, etc. And if they're on the computer, and I save as incessantly as I do, I won't lose them. And the best thing, the thing that's making me choose the free Scrivener over the free yWriter, is that Scrivener lets you download pictures into the thing that you're working on. So I can "see" my character (such as the guard mentioned in one of my blog posts) in a picture in the same screen that I'm writing on. This is cool for me.

The bottom line now is that I've become more of a visual learner and writer, and I need stuff on the screen to keep me focused. (I've a touch of ADHD, or I'm just incessantly hyper.) I need things to change a bit from my current way because I've stalled a little. The ideas are coming fast and furious, but the writing time has greatly diminished, and I need to become much more organized. This is how I'll do all that. I don't doubt that there'll come a time when I'll shut it off and go back to the notebooks (I already have a little), and I'm looking on my PC for a typewriter sound effect for the keyboard--Is there one?

I'm doing what I can to write with the time and the attention span (and the money, which is why I'm downloading free stuff) that I've got at my disposal. Tryin' somethin' new. Greasing the wheels. Anything to keep writing productively, right?


  1. Suggestion 1: when mentioning something you have written about in the past (such as the guard post), hyperlink the post back to your current post, so new readers (or old readers who forgot the post and want to check it out again) can easily click on it and read more without having to do much "searching work." Kind of like wikipedia :) I went back to find your guard post, but as you have more and more posts it will take longer to do so.

    Suggestion 2: Can you write a future post on storyboarding? I'd be interested in hearing more about that.

  2. Seeing as though you have been writing about World War II, I thought you might find this post interesting: http://americanepali.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/world-war-ii-indian-spy-princess/

  3. I'll do that. Good idea about re-linking to past info. And I'll definitely write about storyboarding. Thanks for the link!