Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why I ditched Word for Scrivener

Hello Five Scribe Readers.  One of the most useful and talked-about writer tools these days is a program called Scrivener.  A few weeks ago, one of my chapter mates asked about Scrivener, and rather than try to expound on the advantages myself, I thought I'd ask someone who knows this writing program inside and out.  I'd like you to meet someone who's ditched Word and who literally wrote the book on Scrivener.  Please welcome Gwen Hernandez, Author of Scrivener for Dummies to the Five Scribes.
I was in a committed relationship with Microsoft Word for fifteen years. Together, we composed business letters, term papers, memos, technical manuals, and even a graduate thesis. The thesis took the shine off our romance, but it was my foray into fiction that killed the affair.

That’s because I met a younger, sexier, writing program called Scrivener that understood my needs in a way Word never could.

Here are just a few reasons why I threw Word over for a newer model.

Scrivener remembers your spot. Every time you open a project in Scrivener, it takes you right to where you left off before. Maybe not such a big deal when writing the first draft, but when you’re in the midst of revisions, it’s a lifesaver.

Your structure is easy to see. Scrivener lets you write in chunks—such as scenes or chapters—called documents. The Binder, where you view all of the documents in your project, gives you an at-a-glance overview of your entire manuscript.

Saving epiphanies is easy. I tend to be a linear writer, but when I get an idea for a future scene, there’s no easy way to store it in Word without keeping it at the bottom of the document until I’m ready for it. In Scrivener, you can create a document, write out your idea, then store it within the project until you figure out where it goes.

Color-coding. In Scrivener, you can label and color code your documents by whatever piece of data you want to track. For example, I tag my fiction scenes by point-of-view (POV) character, using blue for the hero and pink for the heroine (original, right?). Instantly, I can see which character a scene belongs to and check my overall POV balance.

For nonfiction, I use the Label field to keep track of the status of each section (e.g. Not Started, WIP, To Editor, Author Review, Complete).

Auto-save protects your hard work. If you’ve ever faced the Blue Screen of Death, or lost power after writing 3,000 words without saving, you can appreciate that Scrivener saves your project every time there’s more than two seconds of inactivity. So while you’re pondering your next sentence, Scrivener’s committing your words to memory.

Scrivener also makes it easy to back up your project to an external disk (e.g. flash drive, external hard drive, or online site like Dropbox). A must in case your hard drive fails, you spill water on your laptop, or someone steals your computer.

Scrivener is like a Trapper Keeper®. You can import research documents, web sites, and photos right into your project, so even when you take your laptop on the road, you have everything you need.

Plus, you can keep outlines, notes on ideas for changes and future scenes, and character and setting information all within the project. No more scouring your hard drive or that pile of sticky notes on your desk for a crucial piece of information.

Working without distractions. Scrivener’s full screen composition mode blocks out all distractions, making it easier to focus on your writing. Change the background color or image (images are Mac only for now) to suit your mood.

Tracking progress. Scrivener makes it easy to set word count targets for your entire manuscript, as well as each session. You can also set a target for a specific document. A colorful progress bar shifts from red to green as you approach your goal.

Scrivener works for plotters and pantsers alike. Plotters and storyboarders will love the Corkboard where you can create an index card (another view for a document) for each scene—and add a synopsis or note about the scene, if desired—and then add text to the documents when you have the book’s order figured out. And if an outline is more your thing, Scrivener has that view too.

Pantsers can just create a document within the project and start writing their first scene. If you’re a pantser, you might find the Outliner or Corkboard helpful for looking at your story structure or checking your timeline.

Scrivener makes it easy to take notes. I already mentioned that you can write a future scene—or create a placeholder for it—so you don’t lose your idea. But you can also add notes right into the text you’re working on. When you can’t think of the perfect line of dialogue, or you need to do some additional research, simply insert an annotation as a reminder and then get back to writing.

Other options include putting a note in the Synopsis section (the index card), adding a document note, or using a separate document for an ideas log.

Another trick I like is to use the Project Notes (visible from all documents) for a quick-view list of each character and his/her vital stats such as hair and eye color, height, age, and job/role/rank.

Advanced searches. Scrivener lets you customize and even save searches to quickly find what you’re looking for. Want to know in which scenes you mentioned an item, person, or place? A project search returns a list of all documents that match your search criteria.

You can also find specific types of formatting, including annotations, comments, highlighter color, text color, and footnotes.

Exporting to e-books is a snap. Scrivener is your one-stop publishing program. When your masterpiece is done, you can compile (export) it to an EPUB or MOBI (Amazon Kindle) file for easy self-publishing, or for perusing on your e-reader. You can also export to DOC, RTF, TXT, PDF, direct-to-printer, and other formats.

That’s just a small list of what makes Scrivener—available for Mac and Windows—too hot to resist. So, if you’re tired of your stodgy, inflexible word processor, hook up with a program that puts your needs as a writer first.

There’s no commitment with Scrivener’s free trial, but you just might find your happy ever after.

Gwen, thanks for joining us.  Readers, Gwen will be giving away a copy of Scrivener for Dummies on November 28th,  in a drawing to one questioner/or commenter.  (Please, U.S. residents only.)  And be sure to leave your e-mail address to be entered.

Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies (Aug 2012, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.), and the teacher of popular online Scrivener classes for Mac and Windows. A 2011 Golden Heart® finalist in Romantic Suspense, she lives in Northern Virginia with her Air Force husband, two teenage boys, and a lazy golden retriever. Learn more about her book or classes and get free Scrivener tips at www.gwenhernandez.com.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ready to wake up your muse and sell more books?

Five Scribe Readers, most know Misty Evans writes the Superagent Spy and the Witches Anoynmous series and that she's a talented author.  But did you know she has a strong marketing background, and she's availing those services to you?  Well, now you do.  Read on!

Strong Brew Coaching

For the Writer Who Wants To Sell

You know how to write. You love creating stories.

But is your blurb doing all it can to sell your story?

Is your query letter getting the responses you want from agents and editors?

Do you need help plotting and writing that dreaded synopsis?
Have you been asked to put together a proposal package but you don’t know what to include?

I can help.

Together we’ll take your writing to a more effective level. A sales level. Whether you’re an indie author who needs a marketing coach or a writer struggling to uncover your plot or craft a catchy query letter, I’ll work with you to make your writing attract the attention it deserves.

You can read my bio and book page to see my publishing creds. Along with that, I have a degree in marketing with a minor in English. During my ten-year stint in the business world, I designed print ads, wrote and edited newsletters and developed web copy for several major retailers.

Marketing is in my blood. I’ve taught creative writing classes and currently offer online workshops for writing, plotting and marketing series. I’ve worked with aspiring writers and published authors to do everything from create a catchy logline to outlining an entire series.

So wake up your muse! Get her a cup of strong cup of coffee and let’s get some work done.

To learn further what services Misty offers cost as well as references, check out:


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Today's guest editor is author and freelance editor, elis vidler. 

    q: I’m a new writer.  I took my manuscript to my first critique group and I’m overwhelmed.  Some circled every was, others my adverbs, some my adjectives, and some even rewrote my pages.  When what I really wanted to know if they liked the story.  Now I’m not sure I do.  How do I keep from getting discouraged?  ~ Mona

A:    Mona, first, you may be in the wrong critique group. If the members aren’t helpful and constructive, leave it. But take heart. I never met anyone who got it all right the first time. We have to learn our craft, and it does take work.  
The thing to remember is All things in moderation. “Was” and other forms of the verb “to be” are often overused, but some are needed to create a smooth, readable flow to the writing. Using only jazzy or exotic verbs is even more distracting.
Was often means the writer is telling instead of showing. For example, Leigh was a sweet girl. That’s telling the reader what Leigh is and what to think. Instead, try to show that she’s sweet by creating a little picture or scene, such as Leigh cut through the parking lot. A bag of groceries scattered across the asphalt at her feet. She ran around the old station wagon and found an elderly man lying on his side. Then you can show the kind of person she is in a couple of sentences. Showing takes more words, but the pictures have a much stronger effect than merely telling.
However, if the idea isn’t important to the story—say if Leigh is the cashier in a restaurant and never appears in the story again—don’t spend time on her. It may be better to tell it rather than slow the progress of the story with an unnecessary scene.
Was may also mean the sentence is in passive voice, where the subject does not perform the action. The ball was thrown by Karen. If you can add by someone other than the subject, it’s passive. To make this active, rephrase to Karen threw the ball. Use passive rarely. It depends on what in the sentence is important. The meeting was rescheduled (by the secretary) for Tuesday. This is passive, but it doesn’t matter who did the rescheduling.
Another use of was is the progressive form of the verb. He was running when the man attacked him is quite different in meaning from He ran when the man attacked him. Consider the meaning before you change those.
Look at each use of was and see if it’s needed or if there’s a more interesting way to phrase it.
About those adverbs—the ones ending in ly are usually the culprits, and they often modify a weak verb or attribution, such as walked or said.
For example, you might change She walked quickly to she hurried. Or He said softly to He whispered/murmured or He breathed the words in her ear, barely ruffling her hair or She strained to hear him. Keep working at those things.
Adjectives can be overdone too. If most of the nouns in a paragraph are modified by one or more adjectives, there are probably too many. When fewer are used, they have a stronger effect.
I hope this answers your questions, Mona. If not, feel free to contact me.
Thanks for having me on Five Scribes. I appreciate the opportunity.


Ellis Vidler Bio

Ellis writes and edits in the South Carolina Piedmont. All her books are suspense with varying degrees of romance. Her newest is Time of Death: When artist Alex Jenrette draws, scenes of violence appear. Will anyone believe she’s psychic and never saw them happen?
You can also learn more about Ellis at http://theunpredictablemuse.blogspot.com/

ReaDERS, have a question you’d like to ask an editor? Send it to me at BELLSON@COMCAST.NET AND IT COULD BE USED IN AN UPCOMING COLUMN.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Great Post on Marketing...is your cover saying enough?

Hi guys,

There is a great post on marketing at my Indie Blog and I didn't want anyone to miss it as it affects all of us writers.

"Why Cover Art and Advertising Headlines Have The Same Missions"
*The Three Missions of Headlines and Book Cover Art
* Finding Out Who Your Best Prospects Are
* Important Advertising Misconceptions Indie Publishers Need to Know
*The Importance of ‘Promise’ & ‘Benefits” in Cover Art
*Examples of Cover Art: the Hows and Whys of Doing it Right
Have questions on Cover Art? Get answers from the expert.
Vince Mooney