"You can make anything by writing." C.S. Lewis
Ever wonder how your favourite author creates their book? I would love to share the tools I use to help get my story from an idea to a polished manuscript ready for my editor to work her magic.
At the moment, I’m working on three writing projects. I’m self-editing my first novel, polishing it to get it to my editor. I’m also revising the edits for my short story anthology and I’m about to start drafting the first book in a contemporary romance series.
As an Indie Author, I rely on several tools to assist me when I plan, plot, draft and edit my manuscripts. We live in an exciting time for Indie authors who choose to take the reins and publish their own books. Technological advances have developed some effective and time-saving tools. To help, I use a wide range of software tools to take my story from an idea to a finished manuscript.
I thought I’d share some of these tools with you.
PLOTTING and PLANNING
Plottr allows me to visually plot out my scenes. I also use it to plan my writing and publishing schedule. The chart allows me to work in colours. This helps me with my story outline and publishing goals. Plottr also provides plotting templates. As a romance writer, I love the Romancing the Beat template. I have started saving more time when initially plotting out my next story. There is also a section that holds important information on my characters.
Currently, I use notebooks to hold all my notes. As a writer, I need to write by hand first. Having a notebook allows me to flip to the specific information I need while drafting and editing.
You can find more information on Plottr here.
After I’ve completed an outline on Plottr, I go to Trello to continue with my outlining. Trello allows me to expand on my scenes and build scene cards. I can move these around during my edits and can colour code my scenes at the stage they’re at: To Write (red); Needs Work (yellow); To Revise (orange); Completed (green). I love using Trello when I’m editing. I can add To-Do Lists for each stage of the editing process: Story Level, Scene Level, and Page Level. Each card allows me to add images and links to web pages. Trello is my go-to list for planning out my Romance short stories. The timeline contains all my notes and pictures in a neat and accessible place.
You can find more information on Trello here.
I always start my drafts in Microsoft Word. This allows me to use the ‘Find’ feature if I need to search back over my manuscript. When I write my first draft, I don’t stop. I push forward. I don’t go back to revise, and I don’t do any more research. All my research is always undertaken during the plotting and planning stage. Microsoft Word is great for leaving comments when I can’t stop to check. I refer to these when I’m at the editing stage.
You can find more information on Microsoft Word here.
I’m a fan of Scrivener. I’ve been using it for three years. It is a complex program, and I still haven’t accessed all its capabilities. I use it to hold my Story Bible, where all my character profiles and research, on all aspects of my novel, are housed. When I write a scene in Word, I cut and paste it into Scrivener. Scrivener is like a ring binder where I can organise everything in pages within specific folders. I can colour coordinate the folders. For example, I separate the contemporary plot from the historical one, allocating a unique colour to each narrative arc. I use this categorising often since my stories all have historical subplots. But I can also label them at the stages the scene is at: drafted, revised, or completed. I set the parameters and colours. The Scrivener corkboard feature allows me to visually see my scenes. This enables me to move the scene card around to help me find the best narrative structure for my story.
You can find more information on Scrivener here.
I cannot live without this program. ProWritingAid is a grammar and speller checker, and I believe it’s the best editing program for a writer. I can set the tone of my work to allow for differences in grammatical rules. What I can do in fiction is not always acceptable in an article or business report. ProWritingAid helps me iron out most grammar and spelling faux pas so my editor can spend her time on valuable, deeper editing.
You can find more information on ProWritingAid here.
I discovered Fictionary when I first competed in The National Novel Writing Month, also known as Nanowrimo, in 2018. I reached the 50,000-word goal and was rewarded with a discount. Soon after, I snatched up a special lifetime offer. This program helps me to look at the big picture issues of my manuscript. This includes the narrative arc, characters in a scene, pacing and the structure of scenes. The list goes on. Once I’ve polished my manuscript, I run it through Fictionaryto tighten it up and iron out any issues. Fictionary delivers information in graphs, and if you’re a visual learner like me, this helps to determine where things are working and where improvements are still required.
At the time of writing this article, I’m training to be a Story Coach with Fictionary.
You can find more information on Fictionary here.
The final stage is when I run the manuscript in Autocrit. This program helps me edit the manuscript at a line-by-line level. It assists me to see repeated words and unnecessary filler words. Shows me how my sentences are affecting the pace and rhythm of the story.
You can find more information on Autocrit here.
There you go. It’s an extensive job writing and editing a novel, but I love it. These programs I use, make the experience even more enjoyable. The best thing is that I’m developing my digital literacy. Working with these platforms are helping me to improve on essential skills in using technology.
My goal is to honour our contract when you purchase my books. You promise me your precious time; I promise to give you a high-quality story that will engage you and allow you to escape in a different world. These programs help me to do this for you.
Valerie G. 🌼
Image courtesy of Jakub Dvorak @ Dreamstime.com