Friday, March 29, 2013

Writing Programs: Help A Writer, Win an eBook!

Spring is all about new beginnings, and I love it. I’m a spring baby – born on March 21st, the date many people consider to be the first day of spring, after the Spring Solstice. But it gets more confusing – the solstice can occur on either the 20th or more rarely, on the 21st, depending on time zone and year. And then there’s the differences between the Gregorian and the Julian calendars, oh my! Small wonder I get easily confused J
Here in the Great White North (rural Ontario, Canada) Spring is all about planning while waiting for the snow to melt. Yep, we still have plenty of the white stuff. So we browse magazines and catalogues to plan spring wardrobes, pore over seed catalogues and plan for fresh veggies and a riot of flowers.
The seed catalogues contain positively pornographic photos of gorgeous exotic new types of flowers, shrubs, and vegetables, plenty to keep a gardener warm in her dreams until the weather warms up!

Yes, I love the new beginnings Spring offers. But some new beginnings are there all year round. New novel ideas are waiting like gifts to be unwrapped. The secret is to know when the time for the great unwrapping has arrived!
With four new releases in the past four months: The No Sex Clause, Saving Maggie, Judgement By Fire, and Winters & Somers – I’ve been feeling exhausted and a bit jaded. The excitement that goes with a new release involves lots of exhausting promoting and talking about the books – at least, once the editing, formatting, and waiting are over – and all I could think about in the last couple of weeks was NOT writing. My DH and I went out a lot, visiting, shopping, exploring. Planning. I did a lot of catching up with friends who thought I’d fallen off the face of the earth. Reading. Housecleaning. Paperwork. Taxes. But most of all, playing and replenishing the creative well.
And daydreaming.

Then it happened. An idea popped into my head and held out its arms like a newborn to several other ideas that were languishing in a file on the computer. Every writer has a file like this – mine is named IDEAS – not very poetic but gee, it serves the purpose.
So, with ideas linking, characters began to step out of the shadows of my mind and introduce themselves. Considering I write romantic suspense, mystery, and comedy, I sometimes worry about what – or who – exactly is lurking in the shadows of my mind. But let’s not dwell on that!
Anyhow, during my ‘recovery’ time, I’ve been reading a terrific book on getting more written. It’s called 2kTo 10k: Writing Faster,WritingBetter,And Writing More ofWhat You Love. It’s by Rachel Aaron, a prolific writer herself, and well worth reading if you want to – well, if you want to do what it says on the cover!

So now I have a dilemma. I have this terrific idea for a contemporary mystery series leavened with humor, set in a country house in England. My fingers are itching to hit the keys without even an outline – chapter one is already done.
Then I took Ms. Aaron’s advice and downloaded a trial version of Scrivener (click the link for a trial copy). It’s a marvelous program that helps you keep track of, and easily access, everything in your manuscript.
Now I’m torn. Do I plunge into the writing , knowing I’ll face blocks when the plot or characters don’t gel and I’ll have to rework, revamp, or edit like crazy. Or do I take the time out and explore this new program and figure out if it really will work for me?  I know I’ve had problems sometimes (who hasn't?) with having to go back and edit for mistakes in simple details such as character descriptions and names, or chronology. This is a real pain that usually occurs if you have to stop writing for a few days and then try to get back into your manuscript.

So, learn the new program or fly by the seat of my pants into the writing? Any thoughts? Do you use a writing program like Scrivener? Do you outline? Are you a planner or a pantser when it comes to writing? There’s the gift of an ecopy of Saving Maggie from Amazon for the most helpful comment!

 Glenys O’Connell writes romance and mysteries laced with humor. You can read some of her first chapters at Romance Can Be Murder!


Margo Hoornstra said...


I'm a pantser all the way!! Love how you likened your ideas to the outstretched arms of a newborn. With an overflowing TBR list - your titles included - and multiple 'newborns' of my own, I'm not one to give advice. Except to say, just keep doing what you're doing. It seems to be working. Best of luck!

Jannine Gallant said...

I don't use a program, but I do scribble down notes about characters and settings as I write. Critical when writing a series because I guarantee by book two, you'll have forgotten what you named the restaurant your h&h ate at in book one and whether the park was on the right or left side of the road. So, my advise is to jump in but take notes. The program sounds like fun, though. Good luck with your new project!

Colleen Connally said...

Without a doubt, I'm a pantser! Wish I could be more organized, but nine times out of ten, once I start a story it takes me. But I will admit, there are times, I need to straighten the whole of my plot out to make sure everything is answered.

Barbara Edwards said...

I write from the beginning to the end. when I've tried all the wonderful ideas to improve my output, I have gotten bogged down by the process. I still read the suggestions, but I'm sticking with what works for me.

glenys said...

Thank you for your comments! I think we're all agreed that we're pantsers here :-) I like the concept of Scrivener, but I just don't think I'm organised enough to use it - at least, not yet! I, too, scribble notes as I go along, and I go where the story (or the characters) take me. Yep, it works so far, although I was so envious of Rachel Aarons' 10000 words a day. Ah, well, maybe some day