Friday, October 11, 2013

Writing clutter

My writing took a dip when I discovered a logic flaw in the story. At the same time, words of writing experts finally penetrated this thick skull and caused me to step back, examine shortcomings, and re-evaluate the entire manuscript.

Now I find myself with a clutter, a writing mess with files all over the hard drive. I have notes on stickies and in notebooks and hard copies. Bookmarked web pages and misfiled PDFs abound. I’ve resorted to printing hard copies and holding them in folders and now the folders are getting to be a mess.

And my story is cluttered. I’ve been through a learning process and now my characters are weak and the plot line is flawed. I’ve had flits of new ideas and now need to sit down and organize them all.

Others posting on this site have mentioned e-tools for organizing writing. They have mentioned yWriter, a Windows program. As an Apple user, I purchased Scrivener. Since my writing is in disarray, now is good time to learn a new device.

Word processors work in a linear form, starting at the beginning and finishing a few hundred pages later with “the end.” Few of us write this way. Perhaps we save chapters as separate files that must later be copied and pasted into a final document. I’ve done both, as a complete book and as chapters. I also try to maintain an on-going chapter summary and have used an Excel spreadsheet to track crucial details and character notes.

Scrivener is an open-ended writing tool. They base their philosophy on a passage written by Hilary Mantel in which she describes the process of “growing a book rather than writing one.” During the early stages of writing, one may jot down ideas on index cards, which would then be pinned to a corkboard (or an electronic equivalent). Eventually ideas are added and the index cards are rearranged into an organized manner. Scrivener does that for you. This non-linear writer tool provides the writer with the text editing features of a word processor along with the functionality of organically “growing” your work within the program. That is according to Scrivener’s users’ manual.

If it can clean up my clutter, I’m fine with that.

(This article also posted at

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