Scrivener Series: Timelines & Outlines

Scrivener-LogoThis is the third installment in my Scrivener Series, which showcases how I use Scrivener to write help me write entire novel series. Be sure to check out the previous installments (Bible, Wallowing) or check out my writing process post for a preview of what I’m going to cover next.

By now I’ve been writing up a storm in the universe of my novel. It’s still a very random storm but it’s starting to coalesce into something nice and terrifying, a molten doom planet of madness.

I’ve started writing actual scenes for the upcoming novel, maybe the one after that or the one after that, I’ve had tea with my antagonist, put my main character on a psychiatrist’s couch and the story is starting to sit on chest in the night, restricting my breath and stealing my nightmares.

It’s time to let all that awesome out in a focused direction.

Timelines

Every important character in my novels gets one, the antagonist, protagonist and recurring side characters with specific weighty roles to play. These can start at different points in the character’s history, Buddy Jenkins starts around about his birth but Helen Raymond’s outline starts when her mother first met Pan, while playing in the woods with Helen the first.

When the outline starts depends on the character and how important or convoluted their history actually is. I find putting it in the form of a timeline allows for the important points to be quickly roughed out so you know when they happened but keeps me from getting too hung up on ‘worthless’ backstory. Without pages upon pages from each character’s past already written out, I find it’s easier to drop the important information in little bites that are easier for the reader to digest and keep them interested, without getting the main story side tracked with long bits of exposition that can really distract from the original novel.

Still, some characters you really need to work their backstories out in depth. Almost everyone in the Eldritch Elysium series has one hell of a convoluted past, Mitei’s history could probably cover a city mile and Ananke’s is so twisty the Gordian Knot was probably less convoluted but – a person is the sum of everything that’s happened to them, filtered through the lenses of their personality, so all that information helps create more interesting characters and infinitely more interesting series.

Outlines

Slightly different from timelines though each character can get one of their own as well, depending on the needs of the series. The Four Horsemen series has alternating perspectives from all four lead characters and Leslie Roth, it helps – a lot – to have separate outlines for each character’s perspective within the novel.

Each outline focuses on what they’re doing but also on what they’re thinking and feeling within each scene, whether it’s happening on camera or off. I find that this helps me to make sure I allow the characters to be themselves and don’t skew their actions just because I want such and such to happen by page 245.

Once I’ve got timelines for any new characters that need one as well as outlines completed up to the end of the novel I start incorporating the outlines into a single whole – which is often easier said than done. Individual outlines follow individual timelines that don’t necessarily lend themselves quickly to a single whole. Some scenes or chapters will need serious restructuring to get everything where it needs to go.

So the very first rewrite will likely happen before you’ve written the first chapter. Yippie!

Don’t forget if you want to skip the extra blather about my writing process and just go to the next book release, you can always sign up for email notification!

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Draft2Digital

By now if you’re an indie publisher, author or hoping to pursue independent publishing in one way or another – you’ve probably heard of Draft2Digital. But just in case you haven’t, Draft2Digital.com is a publishing platform like Smashwords’ infamous meat grinder in that Draft2Digital (D2D) lets you take your unpublished manuscript, format it for various stores.

What makes D2D different from all the other publishing platforms? You get access to all the markets at once! That means you can publish on the Kindle, Apple devices, Nook, various other ebook readers and even Createspace from one simple website. Not even Smashwords allows you to publish paperback books at the same time as your ebook and Smashwords’ method of taking your carefully crafted manuscript and placing it on all those platforms is, to be horribly frank, nothing short of putting your work in a mangler and hoping it comes out the other end in a legible format.

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As a Reader or a Writer, does Genre sometimes confuse you?

I’m feeling under the weather today but luckily we have a guest post from thriller author Faith Mortimer discussing genres. Floor’s all yours Faith!

Good day!

Over the years I’ve found the subject of genre to be rather puzzling, especially as nowadays the line between genre often appears to ‘bleed’ between two, three or even four different genre. Genre is a French term and although it can be used as a “kind” or “sort” of virtually anything, the most common usage is of course for categorizing stories by television, film, theatre and prose and applies to both fiction and nonfiction books.

But because genre is nothing more than a loose, fuzzy logic way of categorizing these things I often find it difficult to place a certain book or film in one category and if you’re honest I’m sure there are many people who feel the same way.
A book genre is a particular class or type of book. Books can be divided into a broad assortment of genres, and people often use genre as a criterion when selecting a book to read and because of this, if you’re an author, ensuring your book is correctly listed is most important.

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The 3R’s: Writing, Reading and Arithmetic Part 2 of 2

Reading

Remember reading? The joys of curling up with a good book, transported to lands and times beyond yourself, in the company of heroes and villains that thrilled and confounded you at every turn? Sometimes I miss it. I’m not entirely sure when it happened but the way I read changed over time. Worlds become depthless repetitions of a more capable writer’s work. Heroes and villains become predictable, indeed whole plots are spoiled within the first chapter. The joy remains in the line, the craft of the words, how well the writer manages to wrench me from my own writer brain and stick me all unwilling and wary directly into the moment. There is still joy in being lost in the words.

Now my reading includes, texts on style, grammar and technique. I go to bed with a dog eared copy of a grammar book on the bedside table instead of Stephen King (not true, there’s always his “On Writing”) dreaming of syntax. Still, a writer stagnates and dies that does not continue to consume and to grow. Reading is a must, a valuable staple in the writing lifestyle though the joys it once brought are a lot harder won.

Arithmetic

Did that just make you cringe? Remembering hours poured over dingy ill treated text books a bitten and battered pencil clutched in sweaty fingers, the eraser worn down to such a nib it’s been replaced with another already dingy and deformed? Sure as hell made me cringe and the thing is it never gets any better.

Now Arithmetic encompasses taxes, financial planning, bank accounts, budgets – it’s the hallmark of all that money you don’t have and where exactly it’s draining away. Reminds you of all the places you would like to be spending it. Of all the places you really SHOULD be spending your hard earned cash.

It can’t be neglected of course. Somehow you have to find the money for your daily expenses, your writing career and perhaps just enough fun to keep you from going insane at the Outlook Inn. Somethings simply can’t be skimped or skipped, and it’s all in the realm of arithmetic. Paying for your cover artist, advertising, editing, and anything else you can’t manage to do yourself, taking care of your taxes can never be forgotten, every penny you’ve earned working for yourself will have to be accounted for and half of it given to the government (don’t even think about bitching about it either).

If you skimp on the Arithmetic, cut corners, assume you’ve got all your shit covered when you don’t – you fail. Maybe the government gets you. Maybe you can’t get that awesome cover because you can’t afford to pay for it. Maybe you try and stiff someone and find yourself on a blacklist (yeah they exist no one wants to talk about them but they do). Or maybe, maybe you just can’t keep feeding yourself and your own.

The 3R’s: Writing, Reading & Arithmetic Part 1 of 2

Remember way back in the day when the rules of education were as simple as the three R’s? When just being well versed in the basics of Writing, Reading and Arithmetic were more than enough to prepare you for a lifetime as a responsible adult (whatever that is) and productive member of society? Things have gotten complicated. Arithmetic is now advanced Calculus, Reading is line analysis and Writing – well we all know Writing is a world unto itself of complexity.

Still, there’s something important to remember about the basics. After all, no matter how complex the world you are in today might be, it still is made up of the same basic elements that it was years ago. Sometimes, just remembering that can help you over the hard parts.

Writing

Well it’s the big one isn’t it. Stringing words together to make sentences. Gathering sentences together to make paragraphs. Groups of paragraph become pages and eventually all those pages become books. Writing improves with practice, long hours spent fondling words and worlds like lost lovers. A thousand and one books have been written on the subject, you can pay someone to re-drill the basics into you and there’s always an opportunity to practice practice practice.

Aren’t we lucky though? In this day and age you’ve got social media as a constant practice arena. Twitter teaches you brevity. Facebook reminds us of the constant and far reaching potential of our words. Texting… invites us to re-imagine language in ways we never considered before, then destroys it to be rebuilt anew. There’s even helpful ever present Grammar Nazi’s always ready to remind you that yes, indeed, you’re doing it all wrong.