In my writing, organistion has been one of the biggest challenges I've had to face. When I first started writing articles it was easy to find what I was looking for in the one to three thousand word documents. However, when it came to writing an 80,000 word novel I had to rethink the way I wrote and organised my notes and research.
When I started writing novels I used to just write and continue until the work was done. However, half way through I'd lose track of where I was heading with the work. I'd get sidetracked and then confused as I realised the work wasn't coming together.
To remedy this I decided to plan my novel by doing a short outline and build this outline like Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method of writing. This was terrific until I'd become lost once again and have to find a thread I needed to develop way back in chapter two or when I was at the end of the work I needed to look back in the middle of the work to find where the action took place. The frustration was overwhelming!
I prayed for patience! Wrong move, now God brings me situations to be patient with in my work every day. This is good for me, I need to learn patience! In the end I arranged my manuscript on the floor and with a marking pen went through and wrote the major turning points on the top of the pages. I prayed, 'Lord, this is more than I can handle, please give me discipline to get the work organised from the beginning of the project or give me a tool to keep me organised.'
God is good! He answered my prayer and I thank Him every time I sit down to write. The tool he gave me was Scrivener, a program that was once only designed for Mac users. However, in the last couple of months Scrivener has come out in PC form and it has been the best $37 I've ever spent.
Scrivener has the ability to save your research including links to the web pages you used for your research. This would have been invaluable when I wrote African Hearts. I had two binders of reasearch for that novel.
With Scrivener, the binder down the left hand side has a short description of each scene of your draft so that you can find the scene you want to add to or refer back to to find what the character was doing then. Character profiles and settings are easily referred to by clicking the profile on the binder to check you are consistent with the eye and hair colour etc. Also the order of the scenes can be shuffled and re-shuffled to any order you want.
If you're the kind of person who likes to arrange your ideas more visually, there's a cork board feature, too. Another great feature is the ability to complete a short synopsis of each scene and make notes for follow up in a later scene. There's a general data area that enables you to state whether it's a scene or sequel and what draft number it is. You can change these status headings to whatever you like as well. There's also the ability to easily retrieve work you've deleted, eg., if you write a scene in one character's point of view and decide it might be stronger written in another's point of view, the first draft can be saved to be retrieved later if you change your mind.
At the end of the project the work is compiled to make a full document in Microsoft Word so that the final editing can be done to the work as a whole. I've imported my latest project into Scrivener and am merrily working away, so I haven't gotten to the compilation stage.
Already I can see my productivity has increased and my creativity flows more freely because I'm not wondering where in the manuscript Dusty had that argument with Alex. Instead I'm focussed on the interaction and motivation of my characters.
Download time for the program was only a few minutes and it took me an afternoon to learn the basics of this program. As I become more familiar with the program I'm finding more useful tips to make my writing life easier. It's been worth the investment of time and money.
So if you've been like me, lost in the organisation of your mansucript take a look at Scrivener and see if it will help you manage your work and take the tyranny of organisation out of your day.