My neglected novel has been nagging me for the past few months. It got louder when I resumed doing more artwork. Exercising the creative centers of my brain in the graphic arena apparently stimulates the literary as well. Because I’ve also been experimenting with (and loving) new digital art programs, I toyed with the idea of telling the story graphically. But that consideration can be measured in minutes: It simply isn’t the right medium nor an efficient platform.
The neglect began with the convenient excuse of moving to a different state and starting a new job (my entire department was outsourced by my prior employer of 19 years). On the very heels of that upheaval came milestone events like kids entering college, my daughter getting married, and more recently the birth of the first grandchild. Before you know it you, the hiatus became a decade. Into that mix add the time vampire “Guild Wars,” my proclivity for addictions, and a need for an escape valve for family crises—my dereliction was complete.
The legitimate dread at a complex cleanup of the novel didn’t help either. The story is a mess because the “Writing into the Dark” approach allowed my characters to usurp control and for subplot ideas to replicate into a distracting tangle of threads. I was trying to leverage Stephen King’s advice to just get it all down and fix it later. But that doesn’t work for everybody and when it does work, it tends to favor seasoned and experienced authors. My paradigm needs better planning, and in greater detail, so I started the reboot yesterday.
I’m highly organized by nature and an advanced MS Word user. My technical proficiency also lets me create tools to assist my writing craft. I considered building my own plot planning spreadsheet, but I was worried that I would spend too much time on tool maintenance instead of writing. As I researched ways to organize—and untangle—my story I repeatedly heard high praise for Scrivener. Although I already had the skills and software to perform all the core functions of Scrivener, I was swayed into giving it a try based on:
- It’s power at compiling scenes into various document formats
- I can easily go back to Word if the experiment fails
- Low price
- Ability to sync between devices (in my case, laptop, desktop, and iPad).
Even as a novice Scrivener user, I’ve already encountered shortcomings (e.g., no internal linking in epubs for Windows, no project spelling dictionary import/export, and I’ve heard rumblings that it’s grammar engine is weak). But I believe I can work around them and look forward to this experiment.