Scrivening

Jaine Fenn’s blog about Scrivener over at http://www.jainefenn.com/2014/03/scrive/ has prompted me to do a blog post about editing with Scrivener.

I love Scrivener with a deep love. Karen Traviss recommended it at the beginning of last year and I thought I’d give it a try – after all there was a thirty day free trial and – hell – it’s cheap enough to take a chance on.

So I pasted my trial novel into it and proceeded to split it down into scenes. This was Empire of Dust before its sale to DAW. (It’s due out on 4th November 2014.)

Examining the full manuscript on a scene by scene basis – and being able to see all the scenes laid out in the binder was a revelation. Empire is multiple viewpoint novel – each VP in tight third person. So in Scrivener I allocated colours to VP characters and could instantly see where I’d clumped too much from one individual too close together, or had too long a gap between  a particular VP character’s scenes.

Editing to move scenes around in the narrative is easy – just drag and drop in the binder. And you don’t break things if you get it wrong because it’s easy to reverse any decision. There’s also a cork board which enables you to view your scenes as individual record cards (and move them at will). It’s great for plotting as well as editing, but more about that in another post.

The other brilliant feature of Scrivener is that by selecting specific scenes you can view all of one person’s VP scenes as a continuous narrative, so you can see whether the story is logical from one character’s point of view. I have one secondary character whose VP is important but limited and I realised that I’d not given him a very good character arc because some of the things that drove his segment of the plot were happening off the page. Adding in very short scenes that were pivotal for him gave him a complete arc and added less than 1000 words to the total word count.

Similarly I had chosen to limit the viewpoint scenes from my three antagonists. (Sigh… yes a story with three villains… I know… but I think it works and only one of them is pure eeeevil.) When I viewed their arcs as a continuous narrative I could see there were gaps that shouldn’t be there. I was trying to be mysterious, but I’d actually reduced the tension because my readers didn’t know there was a great plot bunny emerging from its bunny-hole unbeknownst to my main protagonists.

So I was able to swap scenes around, try them out, and return them to their original place or try them somewhere else. I’d never have been able to keep track of all that if I’d been using a straightforward word processor.

More random posts about different aspects of Scrivener to follow.

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About Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford maintains this blog. She is a writer of science fiction and fantasy (www.jaceybedford.co.uk), the secretary of Milford SF Writers (www.milfordSF.co.uk), a singer (www.artisan-harmony.com) and a music agent booking UK tours and concerts for folk performers (www.jacey-bedford.com). She's also a Home Office / Border Agency licensed sponsor processing UK work permits (Certificate of Sponsorship).
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One Response to Scrivening

  1. Pingback: Two More Scrivener Posts | Deirdre Saoirse Moen

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