We all know Scrivener is cool, right? View your text as either an individual scene, a giant block, or a corkboard or outline. Reorder scenes and chapters with ease. Export to various formats, but I really only use Word/RTF. Seriously, moving your chapters around in other programs hurts, ow, don’t do that!
2. Aeon Timeline.
This app is amazing. It’s the easiest way to keep track of time in your story. My novel in progress has vampires in it and spans from the 1840s to current day. Do you want to do math to figure out how old your characters are in each scene, what season it is, what the weather is like, how much time has passed since the last scene, how long it took them to travel from A to B? I’m putting world events in my timeline as well if I think they would affect my characters. It does one thing, and it does it brilliantly.
Also, well. I’m also writing a short story in the same universe as my novel and because they share a universe, they share a Timeline. If it turns into a series–it’s a standalone novel with series potential–it will continue to use the same file.
3. The Office Suite of your choice.
Okay, okay, I’m using Microsoft Office because I have it for work, and I love it, but if you’re broke or just have an issue with Microsoft you can get similar features with some other packages. The main things I’m using are:
3. a. Track Changes and embedded comments in Word. Especially comments in Word. My writer’s group sends me Word documents with embedded comments and it is *chef kiss*. (Last I checked, Word still had the absolute best Track Changes feature. Let me know if I’m out of date!)
3. b. Excel. Before Aeon Timeline I used this to track time and ages. I still used it as scratch to figure out some travel time, and, because I’m a pantser, I’m doing a post-first-draft story grid in Excel. Er. I googled to look for a description of Story Grid exactly the way I’m doing it and didn’t find much right away (although this is the closest). The short version:
- Get a list of chapters out of Scrivener
- Get a list of scenes out of Scrivener
- Number both
- One line summary
- List the role of each scene–rising/falling action, Save the Cat beat, etc.
- Date when the scene is set
- Location where the scene is set
- Which arc this scene falls into, color-coded
- Any other plot threads I want to track/update
What I’m actively in the market for: Something to keep my story bible in. Right now it’s in Evernote/Scrivener/Aeon Timeline/Excel, and Evernote is cool, but I kind of want something like a wiki. We’ll see.
(Yes, I know some writers use slips of paper, but I have a bad relationship with slips of paper and lose them.)
Oh, and I’ve created my characters in The Sims 4 for visual references, and use Pinterest for visual references/moodboard type stuff.
Tell me about your favorite killer app pieces of writing software!