Thursday, July 21, 2016

Software I'm using for my Next Book

I originally started preparing this post when I began writing the first draft of Warlock & Wyrm over a year ago, but the article languished and before I got around to completing it, I'd finished the book instead. So, as I prepare to send Warlock & Wyrm to my editor, my thoughts drift to planning my next novel. Right now, this new story exists primarily in my head and on a MS Word document containing thoughts and ideas. The next step is to begin using some of my favorite writing software to morph this collection of ideas into the start of a first draft. Because I'm a plotter (and not a pantster), the planning stage is integral to my writing. You don't need these programs to write a book, but I've found through trial and error that they benefit my writing process greatly.

For my first step, I'll use Dramatica to set up my story and ensure my characters have proper motivations and the plot is solid and well-developed. I've used the Dramatica software for four books, and find it to be a beneficial exercise in story-building. In brief, the Dramatica process assists you in building your story through the Story Guide function. The program asks you to describe your story--what happens in the beginning, middle, and end. It then prompts you to outline the main story events. After that, the software helps you create your characters and set up their relationships; protagonist vs. antagonist, sidekick vs. skeptic, and so on. This post provides more detail on Dramatica and what I like about it.

While I'm going through the Dramatic process, I'll also begin assembling a spreadsheet (Excel)  to track and organize details on my characters, settings, time lines, world-building, and other details I'll need to reference while writing. This spreadsheet is a work-in-progress that I add details to throughout the writing process. For example, if I describe a character's eye color in chapter one, I record it in the spreadsheet, so I can find it easily when I forget what color they were by the time I'm writing chapter 30.

Next, I'll use the Dramatica output to start assembling the novel in yWriter5. I used yWriter5 in writing Warlock & Wyrm and found it to be the single most helpful program of all the software packages I've tried. Because Warlock & Wyrm has multiple point-of-view (POV) characters in different locations and time lines, yWriter5's organizational capabilities proved an excellent resource. Being able to organize my writing by scene, character, location, and other categories made it much easier to track the various story lines and arrange them in a logical, cohesive order. yWriter5 makes re-ordering scenes and chapters easy, and is full of great tools that I've written about before. My plan is to write my first and second drafts in yWriter5. Once I'm comfortable with my story and have used all yWriter5's internal tools to check and correct my novel, I'll move on to the next step.

Using yWriter5's export function, I'll open the novel in MS Word, where I'll do my final self-editing and polish, before sending the document to my editor. By having the novel in Word format, it is ready for self-publishing on Amazon. Within Word, I use Pro Writing Aid (PWA), which I've also blogged about previously. PWA is an editing tool that can be used online, or with a plug-in that allows editing within your Word or Google Docs file. PWA allows me to self-edit by identifying mistakes I can recognize and fix myself, before I send it to my editor for a professional polish. I use the PWA plug-in for Word to do a thorough edit of the document, chapter-by-chapter.

So that's a glimpse into my current writing process--at least the pieces that involve software assistance. Best of luck with your writing and reading adventures.


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