Avon Van Hassel

Building Worlds and Filling Them With Magic

The process of telling a story has survived largely unchanged since the beginning. The basic premise is always the same: you have an idea that you think people would enjoy (or need to hear), you write it down, you refine it, and then you deliver it. The tools, however, have changed a lot. Oh, I could go on and on AND ON about cuneiform and the advent of writing and what it has done to the human experience, talk about the evolution of the pen, or the history of various methods of storytelling, but there are people who have spent their lives studying it, and I only have one little blog post.

So I’m going to narrow it down to the writing programmes that I use, and why.

Back through the mists of time to the dim and distant days of Jr High, I used to write all of my stories on Microsoft Word, colour-coding new material because I had ‘writing buddies’ (early beta readers) who would read my new stuff, and I’d read theirs. In fact, I believe my first NaNo novel was written that way as well. My god, it’s shocking to think I was still using Word that recently. Because once I discovered…

Scrivener
…I never looked back. Yeah, you have to pay for it, but it’s worth it.

There are so many features to Scrivener that it comes with a tutorial, people run seminars on it, there are YouTube videos for it, it’s insane whatall it can do. I like The colour coding folders and pages, the Inspector tab taht acts as margins for notes, the Research Folder, and the Projects menu.

It keeps all your notes in one place, you can make notes on individual pages or folders, and track pretty much everything. There are even keywords, reference, tags, you can take screenshots so that you can return to earlier versions.

They just rolled out a version for iOS, and I’m crossing everything that an Android version won’t be far behind.

Here’s what my current page looks like:

scrivenerblurAnd if you’re snooping on my taskbar, yes, I play the Sims. Don’t you dare judge me.

Now, if you can’t afford Scrivener right now, they sometimes sponsor NaNoWriMo, and they offer a substantial discount to the winners. Not to hint too heavily, but it would make an awesome Christmas present for the starving, penniless writer in your life. (Or business person or student. Anyone who needs to organise what they write, basically)

But if you still can’t afford it and want something similar right now,

yWriter

is not a bad option. It’s free and it has a similar structure to Scrivener. It even has some functions that Scrivener doesn’t (that I’ve found). I like that each scene can be classified according to type, importance, you can rate them, and track the timeline. You can also track goals. Scrivener is an overall writing tool, yWriter is specifically for fiction writers.

ywritercap

My next most important programme is Evernote.

I have so many notes to keep track of, it’s insane. The free version gives you more space than you’ll ever need, even if you use the Web Clipper extension for Chrome. You can multiple notebooks that stack, you can use tags and keywords, and it syncs automatically across all devices you have Evernote. I even wrote this post on Evernote.

evernoteblurHowever, and it is a big however if you’re on the road a lot like I am, the free subscription does not have offline capability. The first run of paid subscription does, but only for phones. My phone has crap battery life, so it’s not ideal. But hey ho, we use what we have.

I also use Kindle. Most of my Amazon purchases are books about refining my technique (because I’m a nerd). So I always have it open to one book or another. I do occasionally use Nook, but the app can be annoying.

So that’s apps and programmes. But I also have internet pages up all the time.

The one I use the most is thesaurus.com, but there’s also 16personalities, Google, Wikipedia, and all of my social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,  and Tumblr. But the most important is

Scribophile

Scribophile, or Scrib, as we Scribbers/Scribos call it (why we’re not called ‘Scribblers’ or ‘Scribes’ is a missed opportunity I’ll never forgive) is a critique exchange community for writers. The way it works is that giving a crit over a certain length (usually 125 words) earns you roughly 1 karma point, plus a percentage of however many words more you write. The incentive is, the more in-depth you go, the better the critique is assumed to be, the better the karma. It costs 5 karma points to post a work for critique, so you have to give crits to get crits. There is a free membership, but you’re only allowed two works posted at a time and your formatting options are limited. But the paid membership isn’t too expensive and my skill has improved exponentially. So I consider it a worthwhile investment.

If Scrib is the most important, the next is

NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is an event in November where creative masochists get together and try to write a whole 50k-word novel in 30 days. There are events in April and July, called Camp NaNo. the rules are a bit more lax and it’s set up a bit differently. The very first project I ever finished was because of NaNo, and I haven’t missed a NaNo or Camp NaNo event since, nor lost

I also use Pinterest, which I consider to be less social media and more research. I like to make ‘inspiration boards’ for my stories and characters, and other aspects of my life, obviously. But I mostly use it for writing.

Ok, so we’ve talked writing programmes and helpful websites. Now onto pens.

There are two types I use: ballpoint and fountain.

Just kidding! I’ll totally talk about pens, but in a different post.

I hope this post has helped give you some ideas on what to try and where to go when you start your project, or help with the current one!

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