February 8, 2017 by Valerie Ullmer
How I Learned to Write – February 8th, 2017
A Writer’s Best Tool – Scrivener
Before you start writing, you should know about the greatest writing tool available out there. I stumbled upon Scrivener, published by Literature and Latte, two years ago and I love it. It’s the biggest tool I use to help organize my writing before I start writing. Scrivener is easy to use, is available for Windows and Mac OS, and is less than $50 and the license lasts a lifetime. Below are screenshots that I’ve taken of Kai (A Dark Assassins Novel Book One) as examples of what the software can do for you.
Before I start writing, there is outlining. The picture above is the end result of my outline.
I start outlining by asking what if questions to figure out where I want my story to go. For instance: What if Kai who is a loner, falls for a human?
Each question leads to the next scene, which defines the conflict in my story, how the characters react to that conflict, and then what new conflict is introduced once the characters overcome the problems beforehand. Once I have the barebones of where I would like the story to go, I move on to strengthening my plot points. All of this is handwritten. I like to be able to write out and solidify my story before putting my notes into Scrivener.
Once I have the story planned out, the plot points solidified, and an ending in mind, I work on getting to know my characters, researching the setting, and finding any other information that I need to know for the story. For instance, I had to research what an immunologist does, the vampire mythos and what applied to my story and what I absorbed into my story and what I disregarded, and what abilities both vampires and shifters had that made them immortal and stronger than humans.
But other than aspects of my story that I have to know, I fill out a detailed character worksheet so I can understand my characters more than what’s on the surface. I research what their voices sound like, what they smell like, their body and face shape, their personality type and quirks, their motivations, their habits, fears, and needs/wants. Just like each person in the world is different, each character I write is different and I delve into everything I can find to shape them in my mind.
For the characters that I create, I do a character interview and select images from the Internet to get a visual of what they might look like. Above, those are the people that I pictured as my main characters, Kai and Olivia (Liv). I reference the pictures a lot when I write.
Once I have the story fleshed out and the characters are distinct in my mind, then I start writing. On the left, this is how I create my chapter folders and the scenes in the folder. Be careful when you label your chapters, because those are your chapter headings when you compile your e-book. That goes the same for the name of your manuscript. Whatever you name your entire manuscript is what the title will be when you compile your book.
This is an example of how you create a Kindle or .mobi file. You select the Compile button at the top (highlighted in teal). You select your specific chapters or scenes. Don’t select the folders. It will compile your book without a cover, if you choose.
Above are examples of what you can do with Scrivener. If you are unsure if Scrivener will suit your purposes, there is a 30-day trial that can be upgraded at any time. There are video tutorials and a blog that can help on the Literature and Latte website. There are also Scrivener tutorials on YouTube. To be honest, there are some features that the Windows version doesn’t have, but either version is completely worth the money. Please let me know if you have any questions.