I can’t even begin to imagine the task of writing an entire novel by hand. I can hardly fathom writing a novel in Microsoft Word (though I have done that — once).
Fortunately, I don’t have to imagine either of those things because there are far better tools available to help us write our novels. In this category, I’ll be sharing with you the tools that I use and, occasionally, other tools that I’ve heard of. The tools are mostly technological because I’m assuming you’re not working with a pen and paper.
For now, I want to give you an overview of my writing process and the tools I use at each stage. My process has changed over the course of working on several different novels as a ghostwriter, but this is what I use right now.
Ideas – OneNote
OneNote is just about the only Microsoft product that I don’t utterly despise. I use it as my primary digital notebook and, as such, it’s the place where my ideas first get recorded. If you don’t know. OneNote allows you to create different notebooks. Within those notebooks, you have sections, and within those sections, you have pages. I love this hierarchical structure. It works far better for me than the more flexible format of services like Evernote.
I have one notebook called “Creative,” where I keep various things related music and writing. One section in that notebook is for new story ideas. That’s where the “seeds” of my stories get stored. Whether it’s an interesting science fact that has the potential to make science fiction, a stray idea, a character, anything that can lead to a story. Those seeds will typically grow and develop a bit in OneNote before moving on to the next, and biggest, tool.
Planning and Writing – Scrivener
If you’re serious about your writing, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t pay the $40 required to download Scrivener and put in the time to learn the software. It’s a word processor designed for large writing projects that allows you to outline your story, move around scenes and chapters, maintain character descriptions, and setting details all in one place. I can’t possibly say enough good things about Scrivener.
Once I’m ready to take one of those seeds from OneNote and make it into a story, I move over to Scrivener. I write out a synopsis, start working on character profiles, add detail to the synopsis, add more characters, describe places, write backstory, and, eventually, outline the novel. Then I write it from that outline. Obviously, that’s a huge process that I just crammed into a few sentences, but this about broad strokes. I’ll give you more detail about using Scrivener in future posts.
Next week, we’ll pick up at editing and revision to see how I wrap up the process of writing a book.