Saturday, July 11, 2009

THE WRITE WHISPER: Tricks of the trade

These days, there are so many resources available for writers, it can be confusing.
What works?
What doesn't?
And what works for one person might be another person's version of personal hell?
Lately, I've been doing a glut of online courses (my personal favourite for learning new techniques...but that's another upcoming post entirely!) and during one of these courses, the use of recording data came up.
There are loads of fancy software programs out there (Writersblock, Powerstructure are examples) but what got me really interested was the use of spreadsheets.
Some people use them religiously for every book, plotting anything from word count per chapter, who appears in that chapter, to precise details like weapons used, animals, supporting characters, time, day, season, etc...)
Some use them as a rough plotting device while some use them while writing, filling in as they write the book (eg. at the end of each chapter) so that they can tell at a glance what has happened in their story and what needs to be filled in.
I've never used one but am intrigued.
For a mainstream book, I think I could be tempted, keeping track of all those extra characters and places and events...
Have you used anything like this with your writing?
Care to share?


Anonymous said...

I don't use anything special. I just write. I personally, don't see the point in bogging myself down. But *shrugs* what doesn't work for me, works for others.

Anonymous said...

Nicola, I’m a reader, a Nicola reader, and fan.

If I ever took to writing I’d compile a novel plan, spreadsheet, and I’d update it constantly with statistics about where I am and what it took to complete the plan. I’d also have a ‘notes’ document where I describe characters and locations. In fact the notes document is where I’d start. I’d introduce my characters and create a mind mood for the novel’s voice to absorb before it began to sprout.

Those notes would prove a good place to refer while building a scene; keep the eyes from changing colour, etc. A second computer on my desk would keep the notes document and a dictionary, etc open all the time and then I wouldn’t have to interrupt myself while writing.

I guess it might be nice to be a writer; still there is so much quality already available to read. It’s nice being a reader. -------- Eric

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Lacey Devlin said...

I have to balance on a thin line. If I plot too much I don't want to write the story at the end of it (I've made myself bored lol!) so there needs to be some spontenaity :) but I have to admit I'm intrigued by the idea of a filling in a spreadsheet as I go so I know at a glance exactly which scene is in which chapter (I do that now but afterwards as I'm writing a synopsis and boy does that take a while!) I can't wait to hear about your courses! Have fun :)

Nicola Marsh said...

Interesting responses, thanks Lou, Eric and Lacey.