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Enhancing a novel – which software program makes the ultimate minimize?

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It’s been a very long time since I final reported on my novel’s progress, however it’s nonetheless coming alongside and presenting new challenges to be solved by {hardware}, software program and scented candles.

I wrote my complete first draft – the block of clay to be carved, squished and crushed right into a sculpture – utilizing the distraction-free phrase processor FocusWriter. The consequence was a 90,000-word plain textual content doc that’s filled with concepts, however large and unwieldy. I wished a extra holistic view – a approach to see and tune chapters with out dropping sight of the general construction (similar to it’s).

Scrivener isn’t low-cost, however its organizing instruments and numerous pinboards meant it appeared like one of the best software program for the job. It’s a disgrace that the newest model is just obtainable for Mac, however Home windows customers can’t be choosers.

On the chopping block

Dividing the uncooked textual content into chapters was a lot simpler than I’d anticipated; Scrivener enables you to import a large file, then cut up it into chunks with a few clicks. You don’t have to repeat and paste every scene individually, thank goodness. I’ve already worn out one laptop computer – I don’t wish to destroy the C, V and Ctrl keys on this one.

I chopped my novel into scenes, then made a folder for every chapter and felt terribly happy with myself – till I noticed what number of issues wanted rearranging. Now I’ve about 30 empty chapter folders and all my scenes in a single lengthy record. It was like sorting your trash for recycling, then discovering out it’s all entering into the identical incinerator. Nonetheless, even destruction is a type of progress – or so I hold telling myself.

It hasn’t fairly come to this, however I’ve damaged one laptop computer keyboard with enthusiastic typing

Enhancing is a much more technical course of than writing, and never as enjoyable as simply letting all of your concepts explode onto a clean web page. It’s simple to really feel like I’m treading water, and typically I positively am. After spending a very very long time rewriting one early scene, I re-read the unique and noticed that I hadn’t made it higher in any goal manner – simply otherwise unhealthy.

I’ve additionally deleted about 18,000 phrases (I bought significantly carried away with describing a few places), leaving large gaps that want filling with recent, attention-grabbing new materials. I do know what must go in these holes, however after I’m not working in  chronological order, one chapter to the subsequent, it may be laborious to search out my stream.

Outdated software program, new concepts

Though Scrivener affords its personal little no-frills writing app, FocusWriter nonetheless looks like one of the best place to be artistic. Once I see its acquainted, barely tacky faux-wood background (I by no means modified it from the default), the concepts instantly begin to come rather more simply.

The Evernote app is sensible too. The perfect ideas usually bubble up after I’m not in search of them, and it means I can shortly jot them down on my telephone earlier than they burst. Any note-taking app would do, however I am additionally keen on Evernote’s browser extension, which helps you to clip attention-grabbing internet pages (or screenshots) for future reference with a single click on.

The muse may go to me much more readily if I gentle the Oscar Wilde candle once more. Alternatively, it’d simply make the room odor like natural aftershave, and my novel will find yourself being set in a dystopian barbershop. Both manner, it will be one thing novel.

  • Cat Ellis has turned to expertise to assist write her first novel. Comply with her progress in her Sculpt Fiction column.