I have long sung the praises of pantsing. Give me paper and an idea and let me go to town. It’s a beautiful thing, really. All kinds of bizarre things pour forth in those moments. When I can get the fingers to work and the brain to avoid vapor locking, that is.
Of course, the vapor locking brain does prove to be the enemy. And frequently, the thing that makes it sieze up the fastest is looking down at the word counter and all that white space, and rather than thinking about what I want to or should be writing to fill up that space and increase that word count, I end up lamenting about how much remains to be done.
Ultimately, of course, that means nothing gets done. Or very little does. Which is not really helpful to finishing a book. Now, short stories, on the other hand, I have no problem with. Give me a glimmer of an idea and two hours and I can churn something out. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’ll be there, it’ll be done, I will have something to hold in my hand and upload to Wattpad or whatever and say “I did this.” Or I’ll have something to hoard on my hard drive and tinker with until I’m at last satisfied (which, for the record, still looking for some critiques on Little Miss No Name, if anyone’s interested…)
Until last night, my screen looked something like this.
Admittedly, there’s nothing particularly wrong with it. And I decided to take the screencap with the screen full of wordiness, rather than where the cursor was actually resting, so you’re not getting the whole vast white space to conquer vibe out of it. But it’s still disheartening. Disorganized. Someplace I threw a couple hundred words at when I could find the motivation to do so and hoped it stuck and hoped it didn’t contradict what had come before too badly.
Amusingly, while porting the secret project over into its new home, I discovered two such errors. My preppy cheerleader bitch apparently got a name change between Chapter 2 and Chapter 8, and the little brother of one of my male leads just can’t seem to decide if his name is spelled with a “C” or a “K.” Maybe it’s a teenage rebellion thing. Or maybe I write about him so infrequently that even I forget how much of a hipster he was supposed to be when I named him, so sometimes I waver.
But after spending a couple of hours in my new environs, laboriously copy/pasting the secret project one chapter at a time and then adding blank chapters for the major plot points I had determined were going to be required in the near future, it looked a little different.
After wrestling Scrivener into submission and determining how to make it do what I wanted, it looked more like the picture here. And yes, I know it’s being a little self defeating of the available feature set to actually tag things “Chapter 1-15” when the work is as-yet unfinished, I can always change that later if I need to reshuffle. They got that way from the original manuscript. The one downside was that I lost all of my italics, which is going to be exciting to fix later, but it’s a small price to pay for what else happened.
You see, I’d already scribbled down most of the major plot points that I needed to hit. I knew the flow of the story. I’ve known it for months, almost since I conceived of the idea. But I just couldn’t sit down and do the bloody thing. But now I have those little empty chapter headings, each one of them with a handy synopsis note attached that says “Here’s what needs to go down in this slot.” And I discovered a wonderful thing.
This is freakin’ easy.
Because now I’m just taking a test, that’s all essay answers, and I already know them all! I just have to click on one of those chapters, double check that note, think of it as a question. “What happens between Dad and Danita when she gets home from her date with Dmitri?” (Sub question, that is sadly not in those notes but probably should be; why do I have such a surplus of “d”s?) Then I just start filling up the white space with the answer to that question. In essence, I write a short story about that question. Which we’ve already established I can do quite readily, so long as I am physically capable and there is nicotine and caffeine near at hand.
BAM, says Emeril-in-my-head.
So, yeah. It’s great. I think it will up productivity quite a bit. But at what cost? I actually have something planned. It burns inside. Just a bit.
Then of course there’s the issue of what the hell to do with it when it’s done. And that’s not Scrivener’s fault, that’s mine, for not having access to my computer. But I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.
The point of this rambling? Try Scrivener. You might like it. Even if you’re a pantser. You might find a new lease on life or at least a set of jumper cables for your creativity. It’s only $20 for iOS, and while I can’t remember how much the desktop version was, I seem to recall it being reasonably inexpensive as well as offering a 30 day trial. A real one, as in 30 days where you play with it, not 30 days from the download.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have that essay to write…
And since I mentioned it, if you’re interested in helping me rescue my computer before the deadline of October 11th hits and it – alongside all of my previous manuscripts, artwork and game code – evaporates, why not check out my GoFundMe? If I can get that little bar on there up to just $700, it can be placed atop my desk once more, and the secret project will actually get published instead of just rotting on my tablet’s memory. Pretty please? To those who’ve already helped, thanks a million. We’re getting there!