These days, nobody writes on real paper any more, let alone uses some kind of physical pen or goose-quill. The price for a trusty, old Underwood typewriter is going up by the year, like an antique piece of furniture.
I have always been a bit of a gadget freak and computer aficionado (that’s a five syllable word for “nerd”). So, of course, I have been writing digital letters ever since, using a word processor like Microsoft Word. And that has worked just fine and dandy. I mean, you tap the “a”-key on the keyboard and the corresponding letter appears. What more do you want? What more could anyone want?
Well, it turns out that there exists dedicated software for people writing a book, a screenplay or something similar.
Did I already mention that I am a gadget freak and computer geek? I love to play with new software and make it dance to my every bidding. So I downloaded Scrivener and started the 15 day trial period.
I am on day 2.
Boy, do I love it! It’s easy to install but you need to work through the interactive tutorial before you can take it for a spin. Well, who cares, it was a pleasant three hours. In it, you learn everything about how you can create your characters, trick them out with orderly, well formatted character-sheets and keep all their characteristics neatly in one place. You can create setting sheets that describe each location in your project in great detail. You can have the synopsis of your chapters on little index cards and arrange and re-arrange them on a cork board to your heart’s content. It keeps track of your word count in every which way, you can set a target count for the sitting as well as the entire project, and much more.
I spent day one importing all my Word files into Scrivener, setting up my project just the way I like it and arranging everything so that it feels nice and comfy. That was yesterday. Today I re-created my characters in Scrivener and spent two hours roaming the internet for good photo representations of what Liz, Raoul, Grayson and all the others characters might look like. I also sketched out Liz’s apartment, scanned it in and dropped it into my “locations” binder. Then I assigned keywords to each chapter, so that now I can search for every chapter that has Raoul in it but not Liz. Or the other way around, if I should ever feel like it.
In those two exciting days, Scrivener and I did so many things together that by the end of day two we had become best friends. One thing, however, I did not have time to do: write chapter 23. Because when the dust has settled and each bell and whistle has been properly admired, there’s nothing left but writing. The one and only thing that really counts and keeps you progressing toward your goal.
To tell you the truth, it’s cost me two delightful days with not a single word added. It is so tempting to get led astray by all the countless possibilities Scrivener offers. But to a child like myself, these are mere distractions. Glittering stars and fickle, dancing lights in the dark which lead the wanderer astray.
I have thirteen days left in the trial. Guess chapter 23 will have to wait a bit longer…