Scrivener [for Windows] is Here!

After what feels like a lifetime of wating, the immensely popular writing software Scrivener has finally been released on Windows systems.

There isn’t much else I can say except if you like Scrivener for Mac, and you have a PC, you will want this software.

And if you only have a PC, or for whatever inexplicable reason, you’ve never used Scrivener on your Mac before, you will still want to get this software. With a 30 day non-consecutive trial, what do you have to lose?

Scrivener for Windows | Scrivener for Mac

OmmWriter Revisited, the Pretty Writing Space (now on PC & iPad!)

I originally talked about Ommwriter a while ago, but since there’s new versions for both the PC and iPad out now, I figured it might be worth taking another look, especially for those who missed it the first time.

Before I start, I just wanted to say that this software is free*.

Now I have your attention for a little longer, let’s continue…

Continue reading OmmWriter Revisited, the Pretty Writing Space (now on PC & iPad!)

Sup Tom, Gaz, Kev! Why Twitter is Awesome.

I find Twitter to be an absolute Mecca for procrastination.  Not only does it allow me to mingle freely with writer types, to discuss and converse and otherwise listen in like a twisted pervert to other peoples’ conversations, but it bridges the gap between the ‘celebrity’ and the ‘average joe’.

When you see celebrities on the TV or hear about them in newspapers and interviews, despite any attempts to make them seem like normal everyday people, there’s still very much untouchables.  When you hear about what they’re having for breakfast or how their train to whatever random shoot/interview/meeting they’re going to, first hand, you come to realise that they are in fact regular(ish) people, and as such you have every right to converse with them, too, if you so wish.

So what when they talk back?

Here are my current claims to Twitter fame:

My first is that I was one of Tom Cruises #FollowFriday’s

(I’m in there, somewhere. The reason I suspect I was added to Tom’s undoubtedly very selective list of recommendations was because close to the time this tweet popped up I was discussing how awesome the sound that the aliens make in the remake of “War of the Worlds” is. But that’s not why I’m mentioned. I’m mentioned because Tom secretly loves me. True story.)

My second was the writer behind Father Ted, Black Books and the IT Crowd, Graham Linehan, who not only spoke to me but potentially took my advice. He was asking about different word processors for writers and asking about Scrivener and if it’s any good, to which I started gushing about its amazingness as I usually do for that piece of software mastery, to which he said something along the lines of “I’m sold!”.

My third and final, and favourite by far, is that I was actually replied to by none other than the Soze himself, Kevin Spacey, who originally said, if I recall correctly “Anyone want to start a conversation?”, to which I asked the age-old question of “How’s the weather?” because, well, what else would you ask Kevin Spacey, other than “flfmflsmmflflff”?

And the response I received:

Therefore, I’m awesome, because Kevin Spacey is awesome; he talked to me, so I am awesome by proxy.

What about you?  Any Twitter claims to fame you care to share?

Looking for a Caucasian Male, Tall and Sticky. #NaNoWriMo is Ending.

The end is in sight for another year of NaNoWriMo. I’m only around 1 day behind on my word count, although I somehow managed to confuse myself (it’s not hard) into thinking that NaNo this year ended on a Sunday (a conclusion I reached with some confidence because November started on a Monday…yes, I know, I’m an idiot), so I have two extra days I didn’t realise I had. I thought this weekend would be the big rush (which it inevitably still will be), but aparently I have a longer failsafe.

So, this time next week, we’ll be in December, the festive month of Christmas (or Winterval, if we’re being abhorrently PC about the names of Britain’s festivities — I call it Christmas, and I don’t even like Christmas all that much), I will (hopefully) have a 50,000+ word Scrivener document, albeit with a hefty chunk of remaining scenes to write, although on the upside, I do have those scenes outlined, so I know what I’m doing, it’s going to be a case of maintaining the drive to continue drilling out a couple of hundred words a day until it’s finished.

Which I might not do, but anyway, moving on!

So it occured to me that thus far I haven’t come across anything hilariously bad in re-reading. That may well be that I haven’t actually done any re-reading of it yet, but that’s not the reason I bring it up.  The reason I bring it up is because I did find this wonderful little typo, which I couldn’t resist sharing.

The line should’ve been:

The man was blonde, tall and stocky, with broad shoulders…

The line actually read:

The man was blonde, tall and sticky…

It’s best to remember that all this writing lark — regardless of whether or not you do it ‘just for fun’ or with a serious and driven long-term goal to venture into the world of publication — it’s still about having fun, about enjoying yourself, and — of course — about telling the story you’ve always wanted to to tell.

Good luck in these closing days!

WordCount-o-Rama. Note how the progress bar has now gone to a not entirely pleasant greeny/yellowy/vomity hue. Yum.

The Difference Between Finishing & *Finishing* #NaNoWriMo

Week three is in full-swing now.  I started the week on a slippery slope back towards falling behind on my word count, but a bottle of Pinot Grigio and one crazy three-hour Write or Die session and I was back on track.

But there’s a problem here, something that was evident last year and is already becoming clear to me now.

I’m not going to finish this novel in November.

That’s not to say I won’t get to 50,000 words.  If I keep writing at the rate I’m going, I’ll be able to get through to 50k by the skin of my teeth, and maybe a fraction more.

Problem is that I can write about anything, if I need to; I can wank on for pages about the goddamn “whispering wind” if it means I will get my word count up, and — at least in parts thus far — I think that’s what I’ve done.  That’s not to say I’m not setting decent foundations; it’s just that I can say with more than a bit of confidence that a good portion of what I’ve wrriten is just crap fluff.

But let’s be gentle and considerate to my fragile psyche for the moment, if only to remind me that I’m doing well (I had my Granddad on the phone earlier, who — when I told him I was at 30,600 words as of today — moved away from the phone and called across the room to my Nan “She’s written thirty THOUSAND words!”, which I have no shame in saying made me feel just a bit good).

The problem is that even after the total 50,000 words have exploded from my inner consciousness and through some miracle (MacBook/Write or Die/Scrivener/Alcohol) ended up on the page, judging from the amount I’ve written in words compared to the amount I’ve planned in scenes…it just doesn’t add up!  I’ve written 30,000 words-ish as of today, and I’m not really even into the meat of the story, I’m still on character development (hell, character introductions, in some cases!).

So the likelihood is that, come December 1st, instead of revelling in the fact that I wrote fifty THOUSAND words in a thirty day window, I will be sobbing quietly into my Andrex toilet roll (I don’t buy proper tissues, because I’m not a pensioner) since I still won’t have enough words to work until I have that first draft that NaNoWriMo proudly exudes we will have at the end of the event.

I suppose my main aspiration out of NaNoWriMo this year is to realise that my goal is a first draft, and not just about reaching the numbers (although that is a bonus, naturally).  The reasons I have failed at writing this stuff so many times before has been down to various poorly conceived excuses, well-said in this blog post, including some of my favourites:

8. I can’t remember the filename.

21. My novel? Oh, it’s all right here in my head. I just haven’t written it down yet. But it’s gonna be brilliant!

A novel swirling around in your head — no matter how vibrant and wonderful — is only important to you, and while that may be good enough for some, for others, you just need to get those ideas out there for others to enjoy (and ridicule!). If I continue to put it off, as I have been doing since 2005 and onwards for all four books I intended with great enthusiasm to write following The Genesis, I may end up leaving a legacy of nothing but “shoulda woulda coulda”.

Of course, this isn’t intended to be a disparaging post, by any means. Well, not really.  Maybe a bit.  I only have to remind myself that The Vampire’s Son, the second book in the series and the one I wrote for (and won!) my first ever NaNoWriMo last year — and another one that had been sitting patiently on the back-burner for years — is yet to get a complete story.  I wrote 50k for that, also, with about the same speed and exubreance and I am doing now

Although maybe now I’m getting a little further on account of I like Divided They Fall better.  No, wait, that sounds mean. I love all my stories equally. Wow, what a massive lie.

Moving on!

So this weekend, I’m winging off to my muse’s house for a weekend of writing folly and wonder (although she’s told me she’s recently adopted a kitten, so no doubt the majority of the weekend will be spent watching it roll around white going ‘awwwwwwwwwwww’ uncontrollably), whereby I hope to sustain my writing drive and also to work out just how much writing it’s presumed I’ll need to do in order to create a complete first draft of Divided They Fall, something that has been in the pipeline for the better part of FIVE years.

How is everyone else’s Week Three going thus far?  Have we gotten over the dreaded Week Two slump?  Have we gained a momentum towards our goal?  Does anyone else think that 50k isn’t going to be enough, or is that just me?

Kat’s #NaNoWriMo Week Two, Time to ‘Write or Die’.

It’s been kind of a weird, detached sort of week, where I’ve felt at points that I’m not quite “all there” within myself. Christ knows how my characters must be feeling!

In my NaNo pep talk e-mails, I was told that week two is considered “the bad one”, and with good reason, when you think about it.

You’ve had your first week of wondrous folly throwing yourself into this shiny, new piece of work that you’ve been dying to write for days/weeks/months/years (delete as appropriate — for me, it is years).  You’ve vomited up literary genius with reckless abandon and paid no attention to your inner editor (or you try to, anyway; alcohol helps to shush them even more, FYI).  And while I didn’t particularly like my opening scenes and chapters, I still wrote them with a fair amount of vim and vigour. The ironic part of it is the story itself started to take off this week, and yet I dragged my feet in sitting down to do anything.  Maybe I’m afraid of being unable to do the story justice…maybe I’m just lazy. Probably both.

Towards the backend of the week, I did manage to rekindle some of that lost love with my old writing friend, using Dr Wicked’s “Write or Die” as a crutch, both desktop edition and the free web version.

For the uninitiated, Write or Die is a very simple program, designed to put — as the web site says — “The ‘Prod’ in Productivity”.  You have a simple screen to enter a target word count and the amount of time you want to have it written in. That’s it. Off you pop, you have a text screen in which to enter your next masterpiece.

Ha.

Anyway, what’s the big deal about that, you ask?  Well, if you stop writing for a prolonged amount of time, it will start screaming at you (screaming in a literal sense, although the web version has crying babies instead, which I can vouch scares the bejebus out of you when your mind and fingers have wandered onto another web site for a second too long!).

“Write or Die” helps keep you focused and urges you to concentrate purely on the task at hand.

Of course, I learned all this last year, which some readers might at this point be experiencing déjà vu, thinking “hasn’t she talked about all this before?”. And yes, yes I have.  To which I will respond in the words of Alice:

I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.

Or, in my case:

I give myself very good advice, but then I get distracted by something shiny and forget all about it.

I’m still behind on my word count today, but on the Scrivener front, I’m being rewarded for my hard work with a much more pleasant yellow-coloured progress bar, so woot!

Two quick points I’d like to bring up about the coloured progress bars in 2.0:

  • I know (or rather, I know now, after dicking about with backdrops and random other new sparkly settings in 2.0) I can change the colours or indeed set them to one solid colour of my choosing, but whereas I was on the fence before, leading into;
  • Having seen the colour adapt to my progress, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my initial hesitatance at the frightening and new idea has faded into obscurity.

Moving on!

I’ve also been going to bed at stupidly early times this week (10 o’clock most nights), which not sound bad, but when I’ve always considered myself to be most prolific at night time, it’s had a real knock-on effect to my writing schedule. I’m not sure why I’ve been tired, although I’m starting to suspect it’s pure apathy.

Tonight, I am going to sleep in my office (that’s the third bedroom in our house; I don’t mean I’m going to drive to work and sleep under the desk in a sleeping bag like Manny).  It will hopefully mean I will be less inclined to go to bed early, as I can roll off the desk chair and straight into bed, where I can sit with my laptop in my…well, lap, like it’s supposed to be!

As the second week draws to its close, I’m slowly warming again to the story in general and back to the characters. Having spent a good twelve — or, in some cases, more — months having no ‘contact’ with them, it’s taken a while to get back into their mindsets.

In any case, I’ve hit and passed the trigger point of the story arc, so hopefully things should pick up significantly in the coming days. As always, only time will tell.

Hope everyone else’s Week Two was more productive than mine!

Kat’s #NaNoWriMo, Day One, or ‘The Battle of Exposition’

I can tell you now, I won’t be blogging everyday. I’m just not that interesting. Sorry. I know it’s hard, but you’ll get over it eventually. That fact that I’m not blogging, that is, not that I’m not that interesting. You probably knew that already.

Anyway, yes, NaNo is here, woo! As I suspected, I’m too old to stay up late, and I went to bed just one hour shy of midnight. I’m made of fail. But wait! When the other half woke up to go to work at 5:30am, I woke up, too, excited like a child on Christmas morning. So I got up and wrote my first 1667 words (it was actually 1746, but shh, don’t ruin the dream) before 7am.

I used Write or Die, although I’m already having my compulsive behaviour spaz out because of it. See, it doesn’t automagically make your quotes into smart quotes, and it doesn’t make your … into ellipses. So after writing my first bit, I copy/pasted it into Scrivener then went on to correct all of the formatting, which took me to about half eight, when mixed in with finally getting around to watching MikeJ’s Halloween Shameful Sequel.

I particularly like how Scrivener 2.0 has changed the progress bars to show how well you’re doing. Red = Bad. Green = Good. Just in case you didn’t know. I’m not even sure if I’m being sarcastic here; I mean, I do like it, but at the same time I’m wondering who came up with the idea to suggest if you’ve only written a fraction of your target manuscript, it gets displayed as a fail colour. I don’t know.

Moving on!

After that, I went to work. Going to work was strenuous, I’m not sure how I managed it. Today involved the drama of pushing my cat off the work’s laptop before sidling it alongside my MacBook. Nightmare, right? Well, he did try to bite me. The cat, that is, not the laptop.

I also tried to cut my own fringe today. Guess how well that worked out. I used this guide to do it, although I wasn’t really going for the Bettie Paige look at first, it just sort of happened (read: I cut too much).

Onto the actual writing itself…as I expected, it wasn’t great. Unlike many, I don’t have a great beginning for my story. I have a fairly decent end, and a juicy middle full of character-developing meaty goodness, but the beginning is incredibly wishy-washy, mostly because I haven’t really decided exactly where or when it should start. If you look at it in terms of the 8 point story arc (Stasis > Trigger > Quest > Surprise > Choice > Climax > Reversal > Resolution), I know my trigger that sets the dominoes for the rest of it all in motion, but there is a considerable amount of filler that the reader will need to be aware of before the whole thing can start.

I’m trying to work out how much I can get away with, which — right now — just involves writing every damn thing that needs to be covered.

This is how it went today with scene number 1:

I’m there, in the zone, writing the first few paragraphs like my life depended on it, when all of a sudden, Exposition bursts onto the scene.

And Exposition’s like: “Hey hey! What’s this? You want these two people to have a normal conversation? Screw you, they’re going to tell everything that happened in the last book in explicit and jarring detail so that the reader knows in no unclear terms exactly where they’re ‘at’.”

And then I’m all, “You may have won this round, Exposition, but come edit time, you’re going down!”

And Exposition’s like: “Noooooooooooooo!”

I’m hoping that by about 5k words in, I’ll be able to leave all this nasty exposition behind and move into more important stuff. Then the entire thing can get cut out in the first edit. Yay!

Anyway, I hope everyone else had an eventful day 1, let’s keep it together, only 29 more days to go!

Where’d October Go?

Wow, October just kind of snuck by in the night, didn’t it? No? Just me?

Grandfather Clock Face Waters building EXPLORE 4-8-08 2828photo © 2008 Steven Depolo | more info (via: Wylio)
With only 2 days ’til NaNoWriMo 2010 kicks off, I’m poised somewhere between excitement and dread.

On the one hand, I have pages of plans and outlined scenes written (47, to be precise), as well as character profiling and general writing prompts. I have my arsenal of writing software (‘Scrivener’, ‘Ommwriter’ and the ever-so-encouraging ‘Write or Die’). I have my new MacBook Pro, bought for the sole purpose of writing to my heart’s content, ready and waiting for my fingers to slam its keys into oblivion for 30 days straight.

On the other hand, I haven’t written anything for months, and I’m worried that I will not be able to maintain the momentum for 30 days, or worse, worried that I won’t want to.

It doesn’t help that NaNo starts on a Monday. Bleh.

I suppose it’s important to maintain a positive attitude, because I’m not at all self-defeatist.

Ha!

My #NaNoWriMo Playlist, Scrivener for Windows, and so on…

Like many writers, I find music to be a massive aid when I’m working. Unlike TV shows or films, which are easy to get distracted by, music has the beauty of only taking up one of your senses, hearing, which you don’t really need at that point, anyway. Unless of course you’re like me and only consider listening to the music to be half the battle, the other half of which spent making playlists upon playlists, carefully choosing, then ordering and re-ordering the tracks.

With NaNoWriMo on the horizon, I am making the final preparations all ’round. I have not one but five individual playlists, each with a selection of tuneage to cover most of the types of scenes I intend to write.

Highlights include:

  • Voices – Disturbed
  • Rabbit – Street Drum Corps
  • Everything Ends – Slipknot
  • Escape from Hellview – CKY
  • Dizzy – Orgy
  • The Lobster Quadrille – Franz Ferdinand
  • Pasturn – Skinny Puppy
  • Two Birds, One Stone (Wes Borland / Reholder Remix) – Drop Dead Gorgeous
  • Hallucinating – Apartment 26
  • As We Enter – Nas
  • Controller – Prong
  • Fasten Your Seatbelt – Pendulum
  • Poison – Prodigy
  • Forgotten – Spineshank
  • Miss Murder (VNV Nation Remix) – AFI
  • The Mission (“M” is for Milla Mix) – Puscifer
  • Slam – Pendulum
  • Ending World – Information Society
  • Funeral Song – The Rasmus
  • Dream is Collapsing – Hans Zimmer

The world in Divided They Fall is largely broken, separated between the vampire community in the aftermath of the Awakening, life from both sides of the Slayer walls, and Catrina’s constant breaks from reality. Everything is very disjointed, and music like Skinny Puppy and Information Society reflects that well.

For the most part, I’ve tried to pick songs that have no or little lyrical content (or, if they do have content, that I can interpret the lyrics as something somehow relevant to the story, as in Disturbed’s ‘Voices’ and Apartment 26’s ‘Hallucinating’), and my reasoning behind this is that I tend to get easily distracted (What, me? Distracted? Never!), and if I listen to a song that has lyrics while I’m writing, my mind tends to wander into the realms of my characters acting out whatever the song is talking about. Maybe that’s just me, but one late night and a wrongly selected playlist was how I ended up with the image of Fox dancing to Candi Stanton’s Young Hearts permanently burned into my subconscious, and that’s already one character entirely emasculated, it’s not a mistake I want to repeat.

In other news, as if I haven’t harked on about it enough before, this year I’ll be throwing my weight around Scrivener again for juicy NaNo goodness. As a bonus, a public beta version of Scrivener for Windows is now available. Yes, its functionality is limited and naturally there are some bugs, but hell, it’s SCRIVENER FOR WINDOWS!!!! What isn’t amazing about that?

Everyone taking part in NaNo this year, I can’t recommend Scrivener enough; it’s just a perfect free-form planning software with the added bonus of providing a distraction free* writing canvas with the full screen mode. Plus, if you’re using a Mac, Scrivener has already been out for some time, and with a new version out now (plus purchase discounts for NaNo winners and participants), it’s a great time to invest in some sweet software.

Both the Windows beta version and Scrivener 2.0 for Mac are available as COMPLETELY FREE demo versions, both of which will be fully functional (Windows version with the aforementioned bugs but it’s still perfectly usable) up until 7th December, so even if you choose to go elsewhere for your writing needs, it will still be available throughout the entire NaNo process.

Details and downloads can be found here.

Lastly, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, feel free to add me as a buddy or on Twitter so we can suffer through it together. Writing is an incredibly lonely experience, and I’m not condoning the procrastination tidalwave that is Twitter, but it helps to share your experiences — good and bad — with others.

* It’s only distraction free if you have a shred of willpower to turn off Tweetdeck and any other such notification tools while you’re writing!

NaNoWriMo Is Coming, the Ideas are Getting Phat

Please put a penny in your think-ing cap!

Oh man, I’m so sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with me today. I think I’m still on a high for having had my MacBook Pro delivered to me today; it’s so sparkly and new and not completely bashed in and destroyed like the old one. Here, let me show you some pictures of it. What do you mean you don’t want to see them and don’t care that I have no a new computer? You should care, damn it! Well I’m going to show you them anyway, get over it.

Yes, I know it’s sideways. No, I can’t be bothered fixing it, not even with my new fandangled software or whathaveyou. I’m sure you get the prettiness even when it’s not pointing the right way.

Anyway, now that’s out of the way, it’s worth mentioning that NaNoWriMo is cresting on the horizon. With little over a month until it starts, writers the world over are frantically trying to get themselves in the right frame of mind, organise their ideas and just generally get a sense of structure about the whole thing.

If you, like me, are a writer looking for a little assistance in getting your pre-NaNoWriMo game face on, you might want to check out Abby Kerr’s (no relation, but awesome name, of course) site, because she’s created a very lovely guide for us all. Go get it!

Since my 30 Days of Writing blogs will be coming to an end shortly, I think I’ll start documenting how I’m following this guide (or maybe something a little more interesting, I don’t know; depends entirely on how incredibly entertaining I can be when talking about following steps in a guide). In any case, I’m a very happy bunny today because I have my new fandangle laptop installed with all the writing software I’ve been so sorely missing the last few weeks (Namely Scrivener, Write or Die, Ommwriter, WriteRoom, all of which you should get…also, all of which (with the exception of Write or Die) are Mac-only, so you should also get a Mac in some capacity, if you don’t already, and then you can be forever poor (but happy!) like me.), and I am ready to ROCK.