I have been using Scrivener for a couple of days now to work on my mystery novel set in an English village. Scrivener works for me because I am a visual learner and I tend to think diagramatically. I am all about images and mind maps. In the old days, I used to have stacks of index cards and post-it notes. Now, I have a corkboard and a lot of index cards on my screen. It works for me.
I started out with the basic plot of a story – young woman comes to visit her aunt and uncle in a
not so sleepy English village. I created the main village characters for a short story a few months ago, so I feel I know them and the village quite well. I also knew that having a newcomer visit would create some tension in the village. Something had to scrivener plot cardsThe plot of my novel on index cardshappen connected with the visit. Then I began thinking about this character. Why was she visiting the village? What was she running away from? How long was she planning staying? What was she going to do there?
I had some scribbled notes and the first 10,000 words written but I knew I had to pay close attention to the plot, especially the dramatic action. I spent a whole day filling out the onscreen index cards for the plot. Now, the great thing about Scrivener is that you can move the cards around. So, I shuffled cards, created new ones and deleted a few in the course of the day. By the time I was done I had 33 events happening in my novel. Some of these are big events and some small, but all contribute to the flow and to the story. The whole process was made easier by the software.
I like to put a lot of information on the cards because the physical act of writing helps me think and plan better.
I went through a simlar process in creating the characters. I already had images of my main village characters in my head since I had created them for a short story. I need to populate the village with other characters, so I thought back to a village I used to visit when I lived in Essex. I added a few more images to my mental picture and adjusted street names a little but the end result is reasonably similar. I then thought about the different kinds of shops there were in the orginal village and the ones which would need to feature in my story. Bit by bit the village appeared. I think I could now draw the village on a piece of paper.
Working from the shops and the role they would play in village life I started outlining the characters and connecting them to the action. I created more character index cards. The characters began to come alive. I could then hear them talking and image what they dressed like. The next stage, when I have a few more hours spare, will be to really flesh out the information on the characters and the shops. This will be useful if, as I think I will, I write some more novels and stories based in the village.
I am writing the actual story in Pages on my iPad because it works for me. I did transfer it over into the Scrivener Manuscript but I didn’t like the layout. I use Calibre to convert to ePub or Mobi so I can keep on writing in Pages and then upload it onto my PC as a Word doc.
For the moment using both Scrivener and Pages is working for me, so I will keep at it. Having now done all the plotting and fleshing out of characters continuing to write the novel is much easier. When I am done I plan to go back to my Estonian cybercrime novel to see if plotting on Scrivener will help me to finish it up.