Scrivening a Novel

Scrivener for OS X For my NaNo novel I used a program I hadn’t tried before – Scrivener.

I have always used Word, making each chapter a new document, copying them to create new revised versions, sorting each version’s chapters into separate folders — first draft, revision 1, etc. When I’m revising, I may want to look at several chapters at once. That means multiple windows, each needing to have changes saved.

Using Scrivener is like having all your documents – scenes, chapters, notes, research, pictures — all of it on your desk in front of you. The screen has three parts- the Binder, where you can see all your documents organized and easily clickable; the Editing Pane, where your writing appears, and the Inspector, which holds a place for notes, status, key words, research citations, etc. The Binder and the Inspector can be closed, leaving you with just the Editing Pane, which can be split to show more than one document at a time.

The thing I like best is the index cards. I have always used index cards for everything – writing, notes to self, contacts, etc. The contents of every folder in Scrivener can be displayed as index cards pinned to a corkboard. The cards can be easily grabbed and moved around, even into other folders. I make a folder for each chapter, then individual documents for each scene. When I look at the corkboard, I can easily move scenes around. So much easier than scrolling through a document looking for the scene you want.

Another feature I love is Snapshots. As I’m editing my NaNo, I can take a Snapshot of each scene I’m changing, preserving the original version. If I don’t like my changes, I can revert to the Snapshot. It’s like time travel — with index cards.

Every day when I sat down to write, I could view a live bar graph showing my progress towards the final goal (50,000 words) and the session goal (1700 a day). I could easily view my total word count without going through every chapter. Some days, just seeing that bar fill up as I typed was all the motivation I needed. I really think it helped me finish.

When I got ready to upload my novel to the NaNoWriMo web site, I clicked “Edit Scrivenings” and was able to view the entire thing. Then I exported it into Word, one of the acceptable formats, though I could have chosen several other formats.

My days of folders and subfolders are over. I don’t have to remember what folder my notes are in or what I named them. I don’t have to think about what to name each chapter document so I can find it again. Scrivener is my new brain.

Piano Lessons

The prompt said, “Describe a person who has influenced your life.” For some reason Alice kept thinking about her piano teacher’s dog, a large setter named Clancy.

She aspired to play piano, but rarely practiced. It was hard to play with her mother calling out from the kitchen, “That was lovely, Alice — but isn’t it supposed to be allegro? Are you using the metronome?”

Her lesson was on Monday. While she waited, Clancy placed his head on her knee and stared at her, wagging his tail. You are wonderful, his eyes said.

She wrote: Clancy Walton taught me many things…


Edaxicon Makes Bid to Acquire Dutch

Nobody’s been using Latin much — at least not for a couple hundred years — so the British have taken possession of it.

Americans could never own Latin. For one thing, the Romans never even visited New York. And the Brits had already beaten them to it. By the time America was breaking free of England, Latin was already a wholly-owned subsidiary of English. This is ironic, because if the Romans had kept their empire intact a bit longer, English would have been an obscure Germanic dialect.

The Brits own Latin. They write all the textbooks. The definitive texts of Roman authors are the Oxford editions. In movies, Romans almost always speak with a British accent. Even Russell Crowe, who is Australian, followed this rule.

If America wants to take over any language, it should be Dutch. After all, New York used to be called Nieuw Amsterdam. It was the capital of Nieuw Nederland, which took up a good part of what is now New England. There are all sorts of Dutch names on maps of New York: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Coney Island, the Bowery, Yonkers. Like the Romans, the Dutch once ruled a mighty empire. And they make great chocolate, something the Romans never mastered, since they never got around to conquering Mexico. More


There are only sixteen of us, if you believe the Myers-Briggsians. Or nine, if you’re a numerologist (not including 11 and 22). Or twelve, for those who subscribe to astrology. There are many other ways to count, but this writer is not familiar with all of them.

The sad sum of all this is that no matter how desperately we want to believe we’re unique, we’re not.

It has been said that there are three types of mathematicians: those who can count, and those who can’t. I am the third type. I can count, but I distrust the answer.

License plates, room numbers, book numbers, dates, tickets — all of these things are small peeks into the great infinity. Most of the time, though, I don’t understand how they add up, or what I ought to do about them. So far I have never based any major decisions on those random numerical occurrences, but it gives me something to think about when things aren’t going well.

Our house number reduces to the number seven, an auspicious number for mystics and hermits. Our last house was eight, the number of success. We were poor while living in that house. In our present home, we are far from mystical. Perhaps we are not obeying the vibrations the universe is sending out to us.

While not mystical myself, I have respect for things that don’t easily tally up. The basic physical laws of the universe could be summarized on a few index cards and neatly filed in a drawer. But there must be more cards out there waiting to be catalogued, more drawers waiting to be filled.

The universe must vibrate. There are infinite ways to count it.

Nano 50002

I did it. At 6:13 this morning, I typed word # 50,002.
I am most pleased with the ending, which just dropped out of nowhere. As I was thinking that it would take a couple thousand more words to bring it all to a conclusion, I suddenly saw the end. I may add a short epilogue, just to clarify a couple things, but I am happy with the way it turned out.
The writing needs tons of revision.
The plot is fine, and with some re-working, will make a good story.
The characters are okay. Now that I have a better idea who they all are, it will be easier to go back and look at their dialog and actions and fix inconsistencies.
But it’s done.
It’s not five chapters, meticulously honed to perfection and nowhere near completion. It is a complete novel. I have no pretensions about it being a great work of literature, but it has potential.
Now what?
I have several unfinished projects that might benefit from some of the discipline I’ve taught myself in the last 19 days.
As far as the Nano goes, January is National Novel Revision Month, I think. By then I may be ready to look at it again.
Till then… ?


I’ve passed 44000 words — I’m not ready to call this the homestretch, but it feels good to have just 6000 to go and 15 days to write them.
What I’ve been thinking about is this: What next?
Writing withdrawal is a definite possibility. After spending every day figuring out my 2000+ words, I will need something to keep me busy. I could do another NaNo, but I’m not sure the intensity of this month can be duplicated without the external structure of a competition.
Bad Habits: I had bad habits before I started NaNo, and they haven’t gone away. Using too many words to say things, abusing adverbs, dialog tags — all these are things I am aware of. I wonder what new flaws I will observe as I re-write this novel?
Good habits: I have disciplined myself, found time in every day to do this task. I have learned to view writing as a task, not waiting for the mood or inspiration to strike. I am my own muse.
Where does this all leave me?
I have a novel that will be finished by Friday, and in need of much revision.
I have a couple of novels in process which can benefit from some disciplined focus and organization.
To be a writer, you have to write. It’s a job. A really great job that hardly pays anything but makes me happy.

Previous Older Entries

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 14 other followers