When I first started writing the Walk With Me series in 2006, I did a lot of jumping around. A scene would come to me, and I would watch it playing out in my head like a movie… so I’d write it down. Some weeks or months later, I would get another inspiration and then write that down. Whatever I saw, I’d write, and it continued this way all the way up until 2015 when I realized that I couldn’t write any more chapters because I was no longer entirely sure how to connect my scenes. Also, I had scenes with repeated information, sometimes liking the way a conversation played out in one place better than another.
So, when I got serious about writing, I grabbed all of my chapters (either printed or handwritten) and stretched them out across the floor. I then inserted blank pieces of paper in between chapters that needed to be connected, and then proceeded to write down a quick summary of what needed to still be written to get from point A to point B in my story. This was a very exciting process for me, because that’s when I realized I needed over 100 chapters to complete my story, which of course meant multiple books. I was nearly jumping out of my skin. But as mentioned before, I hadn’t done any research to this point so all those scenes and chapters were basically just dialogue. I hadn’t put any work into the setting yet.
It was around this time that I reconnected with one of my best friends from high school. Back then we had both written several stories, though I remember that she had also been big into poetry. It was the mid 90s and grunge was the thing, so they were all very emo. I’d always admired her talent, so when we reconnected I was quick to ask her if she was still writing, and was very pleased to hear that she was. We went to a self-publishing lecture of sorts at our local library together and it was there that we were introduced to Scrivener.
Scrivener is a writing program, with all the bells and whistles of something amazing that I will never fully use, but with just enough simplicity and usefulness that I would never want to write without it. It’s not free, but neither will it break the bank, and it’s completely worth it. One of the greatest needs that I had, it easily met. Scrivener allows you to break up your project into independent chapters that you can work in and move around if necessary. So, once I rewrote my handwritten chapters in and cut and pasted from my online documents, I was able to work chapter by chapter in any order I wanted, rather than scrolling down through one long word document trying to find where I was or wanted to be. Scrivener also gives me the ability to take a snap shot of my work as I edit, so later if I feel that I have totally butchered my re-edit, I can go back to my old one and start over fresh, or relook at a sentence I preferred before I changed it.
It also allows you to view things in story board form or line up two different chapters side by side to compare material if need be. It has a great search option, which I used multiple times whenever I changed a characters name and had to make sure there was none of the old name left over, as well as a place to download research and photos for quick reference. Then, when I was finished with my project and was ready to start the editing process with my publisher, Scrivener compiled all of my chapters into a WORD document (or a PDF if you’d like). I think there were a few other options too, but those were the only two I needed.
Eventually, WORD is really what you need for editing back and forth with someone, but during the process of writing (especially for someone who tends towards writing out of order), Scrivener has been invaluable to me. Book one in my series is published, book two is being edited, but I have all of my chapters for books three and four of my series still in Scrivener. I know exactly how many chapters I need for each book, and at any time I can click on any one of them at random and see the little summary I placed in each, thus telling me what I need to write (so far I have 7-10 chapters in each book accomplished). Sometimes I try for a more linear approach and go chronologically from one chapter to the next, but if I get stumped, I just click on one further down the line and pick it up there. Not everyone writes like this, but whatever your bent (linear or random), I think that Scrivener is an amazing tool to have working for you 🙂