Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Get ready for NaNoMo

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NaNoMo (National Novel Writing Month) will upon us before you know it—NaNoMostarts on 1 November and runs for the full month: a month of frenzied daily writing to complete a novel (of whatever quality) of 50,000-words (or more). It sounds easy, given that the measure is quantity rather than quality, but your internal censor and judge will demand some consistency and sense, and will not allow you to be satisfied with, for example, page after page of “for the”.

So: do you have the chops to write like those pulp writers of the 40’s or the softcover fiction writers of the 50’s? It’s not easy if you sweat it, but I’m told it’s fun if you relax and grind out 50,000/30 (1667) words a day—make it 2000 words a day so you have a little time to revise.

And to get you ready, download yWriter 4, an excellent freeware program specifically designed for writing novels. Or get Liquid Story Binder XE, a not-free program for writing novels—it has more capability than yWriter 4 but also a steeper learning curve. (Read Dustin Wax’s review and the comments that follow his review.)

Spend the summer learning the package you get and writing character profiles and plot notes for your novel.

That’s allowed, provided you don’t use any of the text in the novel—check the rules:

Outlines and plot notes are very much encouraged, and can be started months ahead of the actual novel-writing adventure. Previously written prose, though, is punishable by death.

Then, on 1 November, you know the software you’re using, you have a clear idea of the characters, structure, and direction of the novel, and writing it will be a piece of cake. Right?

More about yWriter 4, from the link above:

What’s so special about yWriter?
I really struggled over my first novel because I wrote whole slabs of text into a great big word processor file and tried to make sense of the whole thing at once. I then tried saving each chapter to individual files with great long descriptive filenames, but moving scenes around was a nuisance and I couldn’t get an overview of the whole thing (or easily search for one word amongst 32 files)

However, as a programmer I’m used to dealing with projects broken into source files and modules, and I never lose track of my code. I decided to apply the same working method to my novels … and it was just what I needed.

A scene is a pleasant chunk to work on – small and well-defined, you can slot them into your novel, dragging and dropping them from one chapter to another as you interleave strands from different viewpoint characters and work out the overall flow of your book. You can also drop a scene completely if you’ve written yourself into a dead end, without feeling you’ve ground to a complete halt.

Of course, you can’t just write a bunch of unrelated scenes. You need an overall design goal … your plot. yWriter will generate a number of different reports from your scene and chapter summaries, from a brief scene list to a comprehensive synopsis. If you update the ‘readiness’ setting for each scene it will even generate a work schedule showing what you have to do to meet your deadline for the outline, first draft, first edit and second edit.

yWriter also allows you to add scenes with no content – just type a brief description and you can pretend you’ve written it. This is great for the parts you’re not ready to write yet, or for when you get blocked. Skip over that part and come back later! Unfinished scenes, rough ideas … it’s so much harder to keep track of them when they’re all pasted into one long word processing document.

yWriter may look simple, but as the author of four books written with this tool I can guarantee it has everything needed to get a first draft together.

Best of all, yWriter is free.

Organise your novel using a ‘project’.
Add chapters to the project.
Add scenes, characters, items and locations.
Display the word count for every file in the project, along with a total.
Saves a log file every day, showing words per file and the total. (Tracks your progress)
Saves automatic backups at user-specified intervals.
Allows multiple scenes within chapters
Viewpoint character, goal, conflict and outcome fields for each scene.
Multiple characters per scene.
Storyboard view, a visual layout of your work.
Re-order scenes within chapters.
Drag and drop of chapters, scenes, characters, items and locations.
Automatic chapter renumbering.

By the way, if you want to get published you might like to read some of my articles on writing

All scenes are stored in RTF files, and these can be edited with regular word processors if you wish (assuming yWriter isn’t running at the same time). The editor also allows setting of font style and size, plus bold, italics and underline.

yWriter now contains an importer. Just save your work-in-progress as an RTF file with chapter headings (e.g. Chapter 1, Chapter 2) and scene breaks (* * *), and you can import it as a fully-laid-out project split into chapters and scenes.

Note that I used yWriter to write my own novels, but I can’t guarantee that it’s bug-free. If you decide to use it, as with all my programs, the risk is all yours.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2008 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software, Writing

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