How My Writing Is Done

In the old days, you never really wondered about how someone wrote their books. Tolkien probably wrote his books longhand into notebooks. Heinlein no doubt used a typewriter. Clarke and Asimov the same.

AS it moved into the 60’s, most novelists no doubt moved into electric typewriters, of which the IBM Selectric was king.

Then the late 80’s- early 90’s, authors moved into word processors.

Then computers became affordable.

When I first started writing as a boy, it was Star Trek stories, and I started them in notebooks. All very bad, and long gone.

Then I got a Commodore 64, and some writing program, probably “Easy Word Processor”. Can’t remember. I had entire diskettes set aside for writing. I had about six novels in the works, all long gone. I do remember I included a sample chapter of a Star Trek novel to my college, and they promptly gave me an A in the English course instead of making me take a single class.

Still had to pay for it, though.

I’ll say this: Microsoft really doesn’t make anything inspiring. I’ve done dozens of searches on writing software, and a lot of people say, “Microsoft word is the best.”

You know, my hat’s off to you. It just doesn’t inspire me. Word feels perfect for writing term papers or business letters. Libre Office and Open Office about the same. Even WordPerfect wasn’t conducive to writing.

I mean, you open it, stare at the interface, and you want to write, “Dear sir or madam…”

If my short story was a series of business letters, then I’m all set. But to write a 150,000 word novel in THAT? It’s not happening.

So, I chose Ywriter at first. It actually is really good, in some respects. You open it and…

at first, it looks like a spreadsheet. “Viewpoint, words, scene, status, a/r (I still don’t know what that is!), filename, letters, characters, locations, items, date/time.

Right away, you see that you can track who is what, where, with what. Okay. I’m challenged. Inspired.

I wrote my first three novels in Ywriter. It’s free. I could make chapters, scenes. I got the hang of it very quickly. I was kind of surprised how quickly I could write a book.

But I wasn’t satisfied. YWriter is very good. it’ll tell you what words are misspelled. But it won’t fix them. And I was getting a little… um… frustrated with the lack of writing tools inside it.

So I tried Scrivener. I didn’t like it at first. Switched laptops. Tried Scrivener again. Dismissed it.

But so many people raved about it. So I decided poking at it won’t show me anything. I’m getting a thousand words a day average in Ywriter. If I try Scrivener and can get over 30,000 words, it;s worth it, I’ll just have to find a different way to track locations.

So, when I got the Dell Inspiron (which blows the HP laptops I’ve been using out of the water), I decided… okay! Let’s try Scrivener again. And see how far I get. If I can’t get 10,000 words right way, there’s issues, and go back to Ywriter, and hope that he updates that program.

I had 10,000 words the first week. That’s one-fifth of the average sized book. I’m a little long-winded, so it’s about 7% of one of my novels.

But I got that in a week. That means the writing interface gives me enough polish to inspire me. Okay. Let’s see if I can get 1667 words a day.

I had 46,000 words at that pace by the time I decided to buy Scrivener. I wanted to try some other programs, so I tried many of them, and was unsatisfied. So, I bought Scrivener.

Now, I had to configure it. i wanted to show who was in what scene. Who’s point of view the scene was from. sometimes I write from a different person’s point of view. I mean, Star Wars, you’re going back and forth from Luke, to Obi-Wan, to Darth Vader, to Han Solo, to c-3PO. I mean, you start the movie from 3PO’s POV (point of view). So, 3PO should be the hero, but he’s not.

I found with Scrivener, all I had to do was enter custom tags. “location” “Character” “POV”. Then go into Scrivening mode and make sure those tags are checked, and lo! You can see everything I was keeping track of in YWriter.

Now I’m playing with the full screen mode for writing. Still haven’t changed screen colors.

So, we’re caught up to date. Tomorrow, I’ll explain my process.


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