A New Process - Using Scapple and Scrivener

I posted earlier about the Scapple for Windows pubic beta, and wanted to use it so I can do a proper writeup on it. In order to do that though, I need a project. I've decided to use The Ship of the Unforgotten as my guinea pig. I've been working through editing that for some time, doing little touch edits for the Wattpad version I've been posting.

I figured that would make a pretty good project to play with in Scapple because it's the longest work I've written to date, and so it's been giving me some issues even with the advantage of using Scrivener. I've been longing for a way to separate out the sections of the story by storyline to get a real idea of how things flow and connect together, and to help me possibly add new sub-plots where necessary to flesh things out a bit or add to areas that are a little light right now.

Scrivener is a great organizational tool, but it doesn't have anything that REALLY fills that need. Scapple looks just about ideal for it. Thankfully, being products of the same developer, they seem to work pretty well together.

I was able to take the contents of my Scrivener binder for the book and just drag it whole into Scapple, and it took all of the "index card" data for every chapter and put it into Scapple as a note. 

Scapple for Windows Beta 1.png

Clearly my Scrivener file isn't set up ideally for this kind of import, so that's my next step; going through chapter by chapter and making sure the index card data for each is useful. Once that's done, I'll drag it all over again, and then I'll be able to work with each chapter as its own note, and rearrange it all, reconnect it all, and really visually see what's happening when with each character or group in the story.  

I figured I'd make this a bit of a behind-the-scenes series as I go, documenting the development of this new process, so stay tuned for more! 



Scapple for Windows Beta Available

Literature & Latte, the makers of Scrivener, have announced as of just a few minutes ago that Scapple for Windows is available in beta form. 


Scapple is almost a mind-mapping application, but rather than forcing you into a radial spread out from a central node configuration, Scapple is freeform notetaking with connections you define. 

I'm downloading the beta as I write this, and will post again with my thoughts and impressions. 

You can get the details and the Scapple for Windows beta itself at L&L's site


NaNoWriMo Scrivener Tips: Annotations & Dump Files

Hello! Last time I wrote about NaNoWriMo Scrivener tips, I mostly talked about dividing your work up and defeating the psychological feeling of defeat that comes when facing a hefty word count goal.

This time I have a different target in my sights. We're going to shoot at that pesky inner editor person that's constantly putting your work down.

There are two approaches to dealing with the inner editor, and we'll have a look at both of them.

First, it's long been a NaNoWriMo tradition to squelch the inner editor; to lock him or her up deep inside you for a month and not let them have a say in anything you do. Scrivener's inline annotations feature can help you accomplish this.


In-Line Annotations

If you're the type of writer who hates having imperfect text and you fear leaving it in your work, it can help a lot to specially mark the text in some way, especially a way that's easy to find again later. Inline annotations can be a big help. They're bold and colorful (red, in the image above; I believe Mac versions of Scrivener allow you to change the color,) and so they stand out from the rest of your text.

You don't have to actually hunt them down manually just by color though. Scrivener's Find command has a Find by Format option, and one of the supported formats is specifically for locating inline annotations.

And best still, when you're done your piece, inline annotations are optional when you compile your work into a text file! This means when you do your final compilation to feed to NaNoWriMo.org's word count at the end of the month, all of those annotations count toward your score, but change that option, and you can compile without them.


Dump Folders

Dump folders aren't so much a feature as a way of working I've developed. A lot of other people do it too, in my experience. You basically set up a folder at the bottom of your main Manuscript folder, and when you want to get rid of stuff like annotations because it's driving you crazy having them remain visible throughout your text, you just cut them out and paste them into the dump folder.

The advantage of having one of these is that it keeps your text clean and organized; this is the solution for those who can't completely ignore their Inner Editors. Because the "deleted" text stays in the dump folder, and the dump folder is a part of your project manuscript, it has the same advantage as inline annotations; they do get included in your final NaNoWriMo word count. And because they're all clustered together at the very end of the file, they're pretty easy to remove afterward, too.

That's all for now; back to writing! Good luck everyone.

Scrivener Tips for NaNoWriMo

Scrivener for Windows

I love NaNoWriMo. I also love Scrivener. It should come, then, as little surprise that I use the latter when taking part in the former.

As I like to do, I've come up with a small collection of tips to help people out during NaNoWriMo. It can be a pretty stressful time of year for those who are participating, and every little bit helps. Here are my top tips for using Scrivener to organize yourself for meeting your daily word goals and winning at the end of the month.

Set Up a Structure

I've got pre-set chapter templates, with each chapter earmarked for roughly 2,000 words. Within these chapters, I set up "session" documents. This is where I do the bulk of my writing. Each session is short; how short, I'll get to in a moment. But because they're short, I can tear through them with almost no effort.

Set Up Word Count Targets

I wrote about these last year. I've refined my approach in the year since though, and so I think they're worth revisiting in a big way. The core of what I wrote then still applies - setting small goals that you can finish easily is still a big part of my strategy.

Each of the sessions in my chapters are targeted to 250 words. 250 words is nothing; anyone should be able to write 250 words in 10 minutes, 20 if you're slow. 5 if you're really fast or on a roll.

In order to hit the minimum daily target of 1,667 words, I have to finish 7 of these session documents, but man, 250 words is such an easy target to hit! I've had absolutely no problem doing it this time around.

Don't Be Afraid to Stray

You might be looking at all those structure documents in those chapters up there and be thinking to yourself, "Wow, that looks awkward. Do I really have to stop writing and skip down to the next file to keep going?"

Of course not, it would be crazy to say that you must do it that way. I actually do exactly that though, because it keeps the session files looking small and harmless, but if you prefer to just keep writing in the same continuous file, go for it. Like I said, my session files often end up longer than 250 words. 350-450 isn't uncommon.

Color-Code Sections

Scrivener lets you color-code by label. In the image above, I've set chapters to be green (for now) and sessions to be yellow. For the moment, that's of limited value to me. Later on when I'm further into the book it can become indispensable.

If you followed along as I wrote The Ship of the Unforgotten for June's Camp NaNoWriMo, you may remember that I had one group of characters that split off into protagonists and antagonist, and then the protagonists further divided into sub-groups as well.

I used color-coded sections to keep track of who was active in what part of the story in Scrivener's section list (what they call the Binder), which made it much easier to ensure that I was giving sufficient coverage to all the parts of the story that needed it.

I think that's good for this year; I do have to get back to my NaNoWriMo project, after all. Good luck with yours, if you decide to participate!