When I find a writing tool that works, my first thought is, how cool, my second thought is, alert the media and tell the world. I consider it a public service.
One of my favorite tools is Scrivener. It’s a fabulous program from the Literature & Latte stable that has turned me into a plotter from a pantser. I do not pretend to know all the bells and whistles of the program. There are any number of fabulous classes, Facebook groups, and YouTube videos to teach the finer points for those who want to master the program. When I sing its praises, I suggest that writers learn the basics and then drill down into the aspects that work for them.
Initially a pantser, I discovered that the index cards in the inspector are fabulous plotting tools. With the Inspector open, the index cards are displayed on the right-hand side. Because I’m visual, I’ve attached a screen shot of my current WIP as a shorthand explanation. I use the color function for the
index cards to indicate whether the scene is a clue, red herring, red herring resolution, inciting incident, twist, or grand finale. I can see my plot at a glance. This card is red to indicate it is the inciting incident. There are several prompts on the card to describe the content of the scene. All I need to do is connect the dots. Hah, not that simple.
Liz Milliron, a fellow writer and former blogmate at Mysteristas, introduced me to the missing Scrivener link. Scapple is another Literature & Latte product. Full disclosure, I’ve had it on my computer for years. I think I bought it in 2016. Never used it as a writing aid. I played with it. It’s a fun program and creates documents similar to mind maps. Until this WIP, I failed to see how it could be used in writing.
The events of this year have discombobulated me. I’ve become a full-time writer. Yea! But I’m also a news junky. Boo! Writing has been steady but distracted. Current event distractions and the interruptions of life in general meant I was having a hard time remembering who did what to whom, with what, and why. By the end of each writing session, I’d spent more time scrolling and searching than I did writing. That’s when I remembered Scapple.
My stories are puzzles and they revolve around the victim. To solve the puzzle, I have to know my suspects. Then I must know where the clues are going to fall in the story and where the red herrings will lurk. To avoid loose ends, red herrings must be accounted for and my killer revealed by the clues. Ever play the game of Clue? Then you know it can be a challenge to reveal Ms. Scarlett as the murderess in the library with the wrench while Col. Peacock clamors for attention in the hall with the knife. Scapple provides an easy way to organize my suspects, clues, and resolutions in a clear format.
In a perfect world Scapple would integrate with Scrivener via keystrokes. Until it does--or I learn how to use the drag and drop function--I simply print my charts and keep them handy with my notes. Thank you Literature & Latte. Writing made simple. Well, sort of.
Do you have programs and tricks that help you keep track of the many moving parts of a story?