For each story that I create, my writing process always differs in some small way. Whether it’s the amount of research, notes taken, character nuances, or how much detail needs to be fleshed out. However, for my current work-in-progress (Dark Embrace, for now), this is probably the most advanced, most detailed I’ve ever been. Thanks to a little tool I recently tried called Scrivener.
For those who don’t know, I’m currently working on telling the story of Cross and Lucas—two of my most favorite characters. Cross and Lucas first appeared to me about two or three years ago. (I even posted a short story, a tease, if you will: Here). However, at that time, I only had little small details, all focused on individual characteristics, all of which I wrote down. As desperately as I wanted to start their story right away, it just wasn’t time yet. I knew what they looked like, their personalities, and how they sounded. But I didn’t know their full stories, and they hadn’t invited me inside their world. Yet.
So while I worked on other stories, every now and again I would catch little details and glimpses. Scenes would play out in my head, like movies, and I would jot down everything I saw. Now, you can imagine that over the course of a nearly three year span, I’ve accumulated quite a lot of handwritten, unorganized notes. I moved everything that was relevant to Word documents. The more I typed, the more I learned. I learned the answers to some of the “Whys” I’ve been dying to know about since the beginning. I met new characters. I learned motivations and ambitions. I realized this story was going to take me across the globe into at least four countries and three continents—places I knew next to nothing about. Thus my research began…
All the notes I was making, all the websites I bookmarked like crazy reminded me of being in school again! And despite using Word now, everything was still an uncluttered mess, and I had not reached the heart of the story’s purpose amongst other things. There was still a lot that needed to be figured out.
And then I found out about Scrivener a few months ago. I never looked back since.
If you don’t know, I am definitely a Plotter. I work best with organization and a clear outline. A long time ago, I once went Pantser with one of my stories. Though it turned out great in the end, at the time it felt like the scariest, riskiest thing I’d ever done with my work (Which is crazy since as a child I only ever Pantsed). The story was over 30K, and at the time I had no idea where it was headed, or if it would have a plausible plot. I only had a basic premise and the characters. That was it. It was a wild once-in-a-lifetime ride.
However, Dark Embrace was getting a little too complex for my unorganized Word documents, so I switched everything over to Scrivener (which even allows me to save photos!) and it was the best thing ever. Clutter-free! Now that I could categorize my notes/research/info into folders and sub-folders, things are easier. I can focus on one thing at a time and know that I haven’t missed anything. However, it has opened many more doors of research, speculation, what ifs, etc. I realized Dark Embrace was just book one of a series, for instance. I also realized it was going to have serious religious context. I finally got the picture more clearly since using Scrivener. Everything fell into its collective place.
Here’s a screen grab of my current “binder” for my Cross/Lucas series:
While I’m glad that Scrivener has helped me evolve my writing process, I find it ridiculous that I have a total word count of nearly 44000 and I haven’t even started my story yet!
And each time I go in to update the Outline portion, I realize there’s more and more research to be done. But I can’t complain. I’m in love with everything so far, especially since I’m nearing the end of the outlining/note-taking/researching phase, and ready to flesh things out.
This just might be my longest story to date. We’ll see.
But that’s been my writing process (or should I just say, process?) for this particular story/series. What do you think? Do you find the idea of Plotting too tedious? Have I scared the Pantsers straight? Let me know your opinions in the comments!