Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tools and Shtuff

Plotline. Backstory. Character description.
Opening hook. Conflict. Ticking clock.

Whether you draft an outline, write a chapter synopsis, swear by the Snowflake, or fly by the seat of your pants, overseeing the first gasping breaths of a newborn novel can be a daunting task. But you have to go there before you can get to the good parts: quirky characterization, story weaving, and brilliant, soul stirring dialogue.

If you’ve never heard of the Snowflake Method mentioned above, I highly recommend you use the provided link (waving to Randy I.) and enlighten yourself. I’ve yet to follow the method through to completion, but used the first steps very successfully to plot two books. Never quite managed to list my scenes via spreadsheet.

Randy Ingermanson is a pioneer in novel construction, and I offer him props. But today I discovered a new toy. has created powerful software for creative writers. In particular a program called Power Writer, a functional word processor with fully integrated outlining and story development tools. I downloaded the demo version and have to say I was impressed enough to place the order. Power Writer has a big brother called Power Structure, an amazing program that lives up to its name. I know because I got that demo, too. Of the two, Power Writer seems to meet my present needs, but if I outgrow it, I’ll know where to turn.

Have I shoveled the Snowflake from my writing paths? Not on your life. With all Power Writer’s bells and whistles, there’s nary a mention of snowflake fractals, spreadsheet lists, or Legal Shtuff. Some things can’t be replaced.


Lisa said...

Hmm...interesting. Give me an update once you've had a chance to try it.

Marcia Gruver said...

It takes no time at all to download the demo, and it's worth the trouble. I know Power Writer's probably not for everyone. But I've played with it nonstop for two days, and I love it. I'm still in the planning stages for my current WIP and it's been a great help in organizing my thoughts. Can't wait for the full-featured version to arrive.

One drawback so far. It defaults to double spaces between sentences and I can't find where to change it. I've emailed for support.

Jess said...

Okay... On one of my three old computers, I think I have the Power Writer demo. And if memory serves me, I was never able to figure it out. But the older I get, the more I become impatient with "figuring out." Case in point: we bought a new TV - flatscreen with a DVD player in the side. We had to call for help just programing the channels, and a couple of weeks ago I checked out two DVDs and wasn't able to watch either of them because I couldn't 'figure it out.'
I give up. I'm doing well to sit down with pen and paper anymore and plot. Let me know when you find a demo of a program that does my thinking for me. LOL

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