Those of you who follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook may know that I fell in June and broke both bones in my left wrist. I’m right handed by courtesy of the Sisters of St. Dominic, and the bones were more or less fractured in straight lines and not displaced. If all stayed status quo, no surgery. My day job is a paralegal, my typical day is twelve hours, of that ten are spent typing. Keyboards (and typewriters) are left handed. By mid-July the handwriting was on the wall. I needed surgery, and I needed it fast. The bones were healing in some kind of fancy macramé pattern.
I kicked, I screamed, I begged, I pleaded. My doctor said, “You will need to take a medical leave.” I said, “Okay,” and danced a modified happy dance. Visions of hours of uninterrupted writing danced in my brain. Hours of reading without guilt. I’m not sure what planet I was on, perhaps there was something in the air of the doctor’s office, but I was completely on board. I was a tad optimistic, and a tad unrealistic, but overall, it was great. Let me explain.
Over the Memorial Day holiday, I had taken a webinar titled . It discussed a modified method of outlining a book and then writing the book in 30 days. Okay, that’s unrealistic (for me), but as someone who has been looking for a way to put more structure in the plotting process, the method struck a chord. Best of all, it works with Scrivener, a writing program I’ve used since the early 2000s.
The writer brainstorms scenes to create story elements familiar to users of the Hero’s Journey, a beginning, a bang up ending, twists, a seeking phase, and a trial and error phase. These elements are put on index cards, then the author uses more index cards to bullet point the bridges between the elements. Easy peasy. If you are using , the index cards are in the program, and—I love this part—you can color code them. I use red for my bang up ending, green for twists, pink for my false ending, orange for red herrings (red was taken), yellow for red herring resolutions, blue for clues, and plain white for my bridges. I can move the cards around to create a flow, add cards, or delete them.
Although all of my books and most of my short stories had been written in Scrivener, and I had always used the index cards as part of the Inspector, I had never used the outline feature. Other writers had raved about it, I’d tried to learn it from my copy of but it never stuck. Finally, as my mother would say, light dawned and day broke. I got it! Naturally, that made me want to use it.
As you can imagine, surgery hurt. My original plan of hours of uninterrupted writing was not happening. Not at first. Hours of hazy pain meds was more like it. So, I indulged in reading a ton of books from my Kindle shelf and fell in love with cozy serials again. I’ve mentioned that pushy twenty-something nurse who’s been driving me crazy, I’d even started the Florida Keys series, but now, I wanted to outline her story and the subsequent books, at least the first four or so, and the overriding arc of her series. Using voice recognition software, a headset, Scrivener, and the Story Engines method, I’m on my way to writing four books and publishing three in 2019. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
I’ll be returning to work on Monday. I’m curious to see how that affects my word count. I’m currently writing a chapter a day in first draft, plus editing the chapter from the day before.
Writers, have you ever tried something new and found it to be so surprisingly successful?
Readers, how often do you wish your favorite authors would put out new books?