Sunday, November 25, 2012

Writing a novel, piece by piece

This is a Scrivener Corkboard being used to its full power—mine has few elements on it.

Apparently I am a NaNoWriMo Rebel—one of the hundreds who don't follow the typical rules set forth by NaNoWriMo. I am a Rebel simply by not aspiring to write 50,000 words during the month of November. But I'm also a Rebel since I'm not really writing a novel but a set of inter-related stories, many of which are no more than a few vignettes and descriptions right now, which I am collecting in separate electronic folders.

It has been liberating to write like this. I am not trying to create a long, linear narrative and can choose to write a little bit in each story without having to connect any new writing directly to what has already been written—I can write about a past occurrence without bothering to present it as a flashback, or can write about a future event without worrying about having first to describe what has happened between times.

I have only been able to write this way because I am using Scrivener, a software package that promises to help writers "create order out of chaos" (though, right now, I'm embracing the chaos more than the order). Scrivener describes itself as "a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents." So far I've only been using it  in an elementary way, to move text  around on its "Corkboard"and keep track of the word count for the entire manuscript, which is composed of seven half-finished stories. You can download it for free and give it a try (and then pay later if you decide it works for you).

I have yet to tap Scrivener's full power since I am too impatient to sit through all of its tutorials—but I intend to after NaNoWriMo 2012 is over (and I have reached my personal, 25,000-word count goal).

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