Dawn Montgomery

Software for Plotting

In Uncategorized on January 19, 2011 at 2:06 am

Lately I’ve received a few comments related to plotting here, on twitter, and through the contact form on my website. I thought I would take a few minutes to explain how I do it. Warning, potential rambling post ahead…

Let me begin by saying…I’m not an outliner. If you hand me an outline form and tell me to fill in all plot points I will stare at the page until the world ends. My brain explodes at the combination of outlines and fiction. I blame the ten billion research papers I’ve had to complete in my lifetime. It pushes my mind into linear thoughts and requires extensive research, citations, etc. Not very helpful and definitely not conducive to my writing happiness/production.

So Lynn Viehl had this amazing link on how to plot under pressure (courtesy of Holly Lisle’s website).

I began notecarding my plots and holy toledo it worked! It was organic enough that I didn’t have to feel trapped and it involved tactile interaction, which is also verra nice.

There were, however, two little problems:

  1. I kept losing my notecards. I have a four year old who gets into everything. Index cards are his new favorite tool of destruction. If I didn’t lose part of them, I’d lose the entire set. Definitely frustrating.
  2. I lost most of the feeling in my left hand due to an injury. I may be right handed, but I have to tell you, there are a LOT of things you do with your non-dom hand…like hold index cards, keep a binder stable as a temporary table, etc.

I was getting frustrated.

So my husband reminded me of this really cool software I’d used one year for nanowrimo: Scrivener. I did a little screenshot to show you what it can do, layout-wise. Note that the left column can be as many chapters (broken down into scenes if you like) as you want. I can add images I use as inspiration, coverart, a promo folder, everything I need for this project from start to finish.

What’s also fabulous…I can set the index cards up to organic which allows me to move them around on the board where I want. So I can still plot that book using the index card method!

I have done it for several novellas, two novels, and a series plan with four books. What an amazing place to keep everything together AND I don’t have to worry about my hand not doing what it’s supposed to…I just use one hand to type when I have to.

I really can’t wait to get my dictation software in…

Have a great writing day, all!

Dawn

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