I’ve admitted before that I’m a “pantser” when it comes to writing. I get story ideas in my head and enter them into the old laptop, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. There are times, however, that I have a Point A and a Point B in my mind, with no clear path on how to get from one to the other—or worse, several possible paths. How do you deal with such a situation?
In my case, I think I’ve found a solution. Scrivener. If you’ve never heard of it, follow the link and have a look around. It’s got a reputation for having a steep learning curve, but once you go through the tutorial that comes with it, you’ll have all you need to get started. I got talked into trying it during the editing of the first book in my sci-fi series, and I liked enough about it to make the switch away from LibreOffice for the main writing duties for the second book.
Okay, enough of the free publicity. Back to the topic at hand.
One of the things that Scrivener allows you to do is split a chapter into scenes. It stores them on a document tree and with the virtual equivalent of a 3×5 note card, so that you can click on one or the other and immediately go to work on it. In one view mode, you can see the cards against a corkboard of sorts, and even move them around to get your scenes in the proper order. I’ve used this ability to re-order the sequence of events in chapter one of book two, and believe me—it’s a time saver.
One other thing the note cards allow (and the main reason for this post) is the ability to duplicate scenes and work on them as different versions. Not sure you like the ending of a scene, but you want to keep the start? Make a duplicate and edit that copy’s ending. Still not sure? Make another duplicate and edit it. Repeat until done. There’s even a color-code system that lets you tag a card as an “early version,” “first draft,” or even as “rejected,” depending on how you feel.
I’ve brought all of this together in my latest chapter, following the steps above. Using Scrivener’s split-screen function, I have the cork board of cards on one side of the screen and their contents on the other side. This lets me flip back and forth between different versions of a chapter without losing my place or having to worry about keeping track of version numbers, file names, and so on. As the title of this post suggests, I’m exploring several (read: three) different ways to get from Point A to Point B, all on the same screen, and all without fiddling with multiple documents.
Now, how one actually gets from Point A to Point B is beyond the scope of this post, except to say that you don’t have to set one version in stone and alter it later if you’re a pantser like me. Sure, you can use this same technique in something like LibreOffice, as long as you don’t mind keeping track of filenames on your own. It’s just a lot easier if you’ve got a tool like Scrivener to help you along.
Questions? Comments? Please feel free to use the Contact page!