19 September 2012

Wednesday In Progress: Soppy Over Scrivener

(...And no, this isn't a paid ad or endorsement of anything. These are my own observations and opinions - and photos - as always. Take from it all what you will.)

A while back, I mentioned how I was always late to the party. I really am.

Books probably not written using Scrivener - pity!
After years and years of hearing about this supposedly "awesome program for writers" called Scrivener, I finally downloaded a 30-day trial. Yesterday. I think not having my own laptop, my virtual writing and research space (if we want to get fancy) contributed to my hesitation to try this out, but yesterday - in the middle of my utter frustration with my straight job dealings, the copious notes I have littering not only my trusty never-leave-home-without-it-notebook, this laptop (several Word documents, a few Notepad files and I also use Open Office), I decided I really need to consolidate this mess.

I can't remember who it was on my Twitter feed, but someone mentioned how well they were able to organise themselves with Scrivener and bang out their story. Well, being that me without an outline is akin to me walking around town without pants (comfortable, though not appropriate and completely useless and distracting), I figured another tool in my writing arsenal wouldn't be a bad thing.

So, I downloaded the trial version (30 nonconsecutive days of usage) and even though I've only used it for a few hours thus far, I think I'm in love. I have webpages of info, character sheets and snippets of story all in their variously useful places - and I can drag and drop if I find them a better place! I have house plans! Actual images so I don't have to remember or pour through my notes/text as to whether or not I put the kitchen in the south or west of the house (not that it will matter to my readers, but just in case). I still need to have faith with the importing of documents, though. I'm so used to things not working between programs (though advertised as if it were as easy as Scrivener makes it).

I have 30 days to test everything out (but I'm probably going to buy it this Friday).

Your turn! Have you tried Scrivener? Like it? Hate it? Found something better? What writing tool can you not live without?

16 September 2012

What Are You Afraid Of?

So, I realise I'm a little early for Halloween - but it was actually Michelle Muto's Facebook status that inspired this post (So, thank you, Michelle)!

Currently, I am writing/researching a project which involves monsters. Well, I'm writing about monstrous creatures in any case. A while back (as I was getting ready for bed), I was getting some ideas and sorting out scenes in my head, some of which involved these monsters attacking my main character in her bedroom. Naturally, that exact moment would be the perfect time for my brain to go into overdrive and imagine those monsters sitting in my bedroom, waiting until the lights were out to attack me. It took me about an hour before I could relax and stop scaring myself stupid.

When I was a child, though, I was deathly afraid of dogs. It was all my mother's fault, really. In order to coerce me into bed (and stay there throughout the night), she would warn me: Don't get out of bed or the scary dog will get you and my imagination would suddenly see two red eyes in the darkest corner of my room, just waiting for the chance to snap if I dared leave my bed. Only during the desperate bladder-bursting moments did I, too.

That fear of dogs went well into my adulthood (I'm actually a cat person). Didn't take me too long to overcome that fear, at least, knowing that my fear was really unfounded. Besides, how can anyone be afraid of this face?
A face everybody should love: our pirate dog, Bonny

I'm sure as I continue writing my monster story, I will have irrational moments where I may have to check under my bed/in the closets before going to sleep.

A few years ago when Ju-On was playing in theatres, we went - despite my aversion to scary things. I had nightmares for an entire year. I'm hoping writing this story won't be as bad because, ultimately, I figure I will finish this story in five books. That's a long time to have nightmares. Yikes.

Your turn! What sort of things scare you? Are they irrational fears from childhood? How did you overcome them or are you still afraid?

09 September 2012

Techno Party - Fashionably Late

Late to the technology party, as usual. I'm always late to any party, really.

This weekend I got myself a new toy: 500GB laptop with a 17" screen and, boy howdy, is it beautiful. Bear in mind, I haven't had a personal computer since 2003 or so (maybe a little earlier). Oh, well, let's be honest: I have a beautiful green iMac that's been the best darned paper-weight and closet-stuffer since 2003. I probably could fire it up right now and use it, but not online. Well, I think the better half would have a stroke if I tried to drag that lump out of storage, especially with my new and shiny toy.

My iMac's CD drive is completely shot and it's more hassle to upgrade/deal with now, especially with my new and shiny toy. See the theme, here?

I still don't own a cell phone. That may change next month, but we'll see.

these hands know maniacal typing, the Neo knows pain

Anyway, this was all to facilitate better and easier writing and research on my part. Even now, the bulk of my writing will stay on my Neo (holy crow, someone's dyed theirs...interesting) for ease and the negative distraction it has by comparison to the laptop which is my biggest issue with working on a laptop in general. Give me a wifi connection and I'm lost for days hours doing research. Yeah. Research. I don't have that luxury on my Neo, so I can work.

So, yeah - another step in my writing life. More tools; shiny, distracting tools.

Your turn! What tools do you have? What have you done to keep the distractions to a minimum? Are you late to the party, too, or are you usually hosting it?

05 September 2012

Wednesday in Progress: Short Stories Are Gold

Holy moly. An entire month of being offline (PC decided to go wacky and then it was the Nightmare Best Buy commercial) and I'm going to try and figure out this "regularly blogging" thing. Bear with me.

me writing my masterpieces, duh
So, we're going to try a new format for this blog. Wednesdays I'm going to share the wisdom of all those fabulous writers I follow on Twitter and Facebook and compile lists of helpfulness - if only for myself, but I think it will be generally useful to anyone out there reading. (I don't hear crickets over my streaming radio...)

Currently, I'm up to my eyeballs in a lot of changes/upgrades. I'm hoping to move to my own webspace in a few months, I'm working on a massive story (that I'm hoping to write in a series of 5 books), and I have a handful of stories/story ideas that are being shuffled around and tweaked whenever I have a moment. That and there have been a few life-changes that have affected us, too. It's exciting, scary, hectic - you name it. Good times.

Here we go:

I like Ryan Casey's Short Stories: Four Reasons Why You Should Write Them. Especially with the ebook popularity and a number of new products hitting the market just in time for the holidays, short stories are a fantastic medium for ebook formats. Take ten or fifteen minutes and you can have your literary fill with a nice, compact tale - in between waiting in a queue at the grocery, waiting for your next appointment, or even your lunch break (provided you don't spill your food on your eReader).

Kris Noel has great for advice on the Three Act Structure - basics every writer should follow, regardless if you're writing a novel or a short story, or a movie script! It's a great little poke in the brain if you're having trouble with the pacing of your story.

Lastly, a fun little video: Vonnegut Advice: Short Stories I personally really enjoyed Slaughterhouse Five, but I didn't get past that one book of his - and he's written tons of short stories! I think I'm going to have to devote one of my weekends to reading a few. Plenty of great, simple advice - but I like (and I need to remind myself constantly) of #4 Every sentence must do one of two things - reveal character or advance action. I also like #6 Be a sadist. Sweet.

My hope is in between all of my longer fiction, I will be able to share a few bite-size morsels that you can enjoy. There are dozens of starts floating about in this brain o'mine...

Your turn! I'd like to hear from you. What advice do you have to share about writing short stories? Do you write them at all? Have you tried? What was the last short story you've read?