Writing

8 Ways Scrivener Aids My Writing

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

When I originally gave Scrivener a whirl earlier this year I didn’t know how the software worked. But I read several articles and posts about how other writers put this writing tool to use. I took my time working through the provided tutorial after which I began using it with increasing regularity.

Over the last few months, I’ve begun using Scrivener for almost all of my writing. I’m so impressed with it’s usefulness, I’ve begun writing about this software to share my ideas. I’m getting lots of mileage out of blogging with it and I’ve begun using it for my newsletter and other email templates.

Here are 8 ways Scrivener boosts my efforts as a writer:

1. I’m better organized from the beginning of projects. Because Scrivener is an organizational tool, I’m able to develop structure from the beginning of the project.

2. I can easily make changes to structure. Even though I’m structuring my projects well at the beginning, if I find I need to make structural changes I can do so quickly and easily using the binder.

3. I can turn out short projects at a faster rate. As I’ve written, I’m using this software for blogging, newsletters and email templates.

4. I can use different media to assist my efforts. I can copy pictures, links, video and other forms of media into a project. This is very effective for visualizing aspects of a project like characters or locations. I place these in a sub-folder within the Research folder.

5. Since I’m more organized and faster with short projects I have more time for longer projects. It becomes a real time-saver so from this efficiency I can spend more time on my longer projects which have a higher importance over the long haul.

Scivener Binder6. In relation to number 5, I don’t waste time staring at a blank screen since all the preliminaries are out of the way. As a writer, it’s not a good thing to sit staring at you screen. For me, beginning with organizing the project and working with development tasks means my ideas are so developed that I’m more than ready to write the project when the time comes.

7. In relation to number 2, I can edit more effectively which is a plus for a novel. I don’t have the whole manuscript staring at me, just a piece that is manageable. I’ve found that trying to manage a whole manuscript in a single file structure means that I bog down with the entirety of editing. With Scrivener, the book is already segmented and ready for editing.

8. It’s my multi-function tool. As I’ve written in earlier posts, the software is so flexible I can use it for any type of work that I’m doing as a writer. And because it is so powerful a tool I can plan a project like a blog series with growth potential and conversion into a different format as a book – and let’s face it, bloggers like the idea of transforming their blog posts into an e-book.

Bonus Info: Here are links to some helpful templates:

Scrivener template designed for a year of blogs from AllIndieWriters.

Another template for blogging from Thaddeus Hunt.

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Upcoming News: Next week, I’m planning a post about Scrivener for another use.

If you use Scrivener, how has it improved your writing? If you haven’t started using Scrivener, what’s stopping you? What other usages can you share? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed yesterday so take a look.

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Clip art licensed from Microsoft Office.

What is Needed Part 6

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Photo used in The Bow of Destiny book trailer

Author’s Note: This is the conclusion of Part 2 of the prequel blog serial entitled “What is Needed”. Click on these links to read Part 1, Part 2 (first section)Part 2 (Conclusion), Part 3Part 4 and Part 5. This series is a companion to The Bow of Destiny (Part 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga). The events of the blog series pre-date those of The Bow of Destiny by several hundred years but include several long-lived characters who appear in the forthcoming novel. This material is copyrighted and not intended for reproduction except at the author’s consent.

What is Needed (Part 6)

by P. H. Solomon

The sun dangled between corona-rimmed clouds and the snow-capped peaks of the Grey Spires. Golden light bathed the path ahead of the three furtive shapes.

Troll-wolves howled and Hastra slipped into the shade between trees with Zelma and Howart. If only they could avoid the pursuit one last time. The Tower was just ahead if she remembered correctly. She pinched her lower lip and peeked along the old road.

Zelma’s breath puffed mist. “Is it still clear?”

Howart loomed in the shadow of the trees. “They aren’t as close as yesterday.”

“They make enough noise to scare everything for miles. But I don’t see any scouts so let’s go.” Hastra eased out of hiding onto the overgrown road and her two companions followed.

Her stomach rumbled but Hastra dared not call for a halt so she ate bread from her bag. Two weeks and the food’s still good though it was hard. She kicked a root and stumbled but Zelma steadied her.

At the head of the long rise Hastra spied the pile of weathered stone named the Old Tower. Where Withlings used to go to see and hear instruction or speak rituals. Now it was the dead end of the trap Kregen sprung around them. They staggered over the path against wind that snapped and swirled across the end of the headland that thrust into the booming sea.

Horns and Troll-wolves howled. Much closer now. “We must hurry now, sister.”

Zelma shivered as she walked, her eyes wide.

Hastra brushed hair from her face. Was she cold or afraid? The edifice loomed out of the gloom of dusk in the east. Distant lightning flashed across the Bay of Storms from the east and lit the roofless tower-top. It defied wind and weather. Gusts tugged at the low scrub-trees scattered around its feet. This isolated end of nowhere might be the end of them. If only Eloch…

The travelers hurried into the shadow of the Old Tower and took refuge from the blasts in a shallow alcove. Snippets of howling and horns broke through the roar of wind. Their pursuers were coming now. There was no escape. Hastra hugged herself but still shivered. “Now what?”

“I don’t know except go up.” Howart steadied himself with a trembling hand on the stone. He leaned against the wall, slid into a crouch and laid his head on scratched arms folded over his knees. A ragged sigh escaped from his thin lips. “Just need to rest a while.”

Hastra peered along the road. They were all spent and bound to die. She touched the death wound from which she’d risen. “What is needed is given.”

Horn blasts floated on the wind.

Zelma’s lips quivered and dark circles ringed her eyes above pale skin. Sprigs of her hair waved from beneath her gray hood. “They’re coming now.”

Hastra nodded. Even Zelma’s hair seemed faded. “They’ve found our scent. We can’t stay here long. If we are needed atop the tower then let’s climb.”

Soft sobs escaped from Zelma. “Then what?”

Hastra embraced her sister. “We’ll pray, Zelma. All will be well in the end. We’re here for a reason just because we’re still breathing when we should be weeks dead.”

Zelma forced a thin smile through her tears. “It will never be the same as it was, but perhaps we’ll see better atop the tower.”

Zelma’s hair fell across her face as she touched Howart’s head. The Grendonese man remained still. “He’s fallen asleep.”

Hastra’s head whipped around at the close sound of horns. “Trolls are near. It’s time.”

Zelma jumped and Howart started.

The gaunt man stood. “We must go and seek Eloch’s guidance.”

They scurried from the alcove and climbed the stairwell that wound around the tower’s girth. Wind flailed the surviving Withlings and the storm thundered in the bay as they fought for each ascending step. They ignored their weariness as horns sounded closer.

Hastra staggered. Surely they had time. She thrust her hands before her and pulled for the next step as rain pattered the stone.

Horns sounded closer along with hounds baying, clear and constant, as the din of pursuit carried over the wind. They grappled their way to the top and knelt with their cloaks twisting in the violent wind.

Snarls announced the arrival of trolls. The troll-wolves howled. Kregen’s voice rose in the wind. “Quickly, take them.”

Hastra raised her eyebrows to Howart and Zelma. There was fear on their faces. If only they could meditate in all the din. “Pretend it’s the Hall of Silence.”

Hastra shut her eyes and raised her hands. What is needed is given and she needed focus. She ignored the troll boots scraping on the steps. She breathed and reached for practiced calm. “Move in me, O Eloch.” She exhaled. Welcome warmth bloomed at the edge of her awareness and she waited rather than reach for it in conscious thought. Warmth swallowed her fear and grief.

Hastra’s eyes blinked open and shut as her usual trembling at the presence of Eloch took hold. Her arms shook and her body quaked. Zelma and Howart undulated like grass in the wind.

The clouds spun into a whirlwind that detached from main storm and churned toward the tower. Hastra closed her eyes. Calm as a sleeping babe. Indecipherable words erupted from her mouth.

The wind rumbled and drowned the clamor of troll horns and hounds. Hastra’s body stilled with the wind and her eyes opened. Light glowed in the spinning gust. They were protected from our enemy. Her arms dropped to her sides. She fell over and stared at the shape moving amid the light and whirlwind.

Beyond the silence within the whirlwind, Kregen cringed at the stairwell. He stretched out his arms and shouted unheard words. He shook his fist with a grimace and fled.

“You have come as children in need. Will you serve on?” The voice suffused Hastra with the rich whisper of peace and inexorable power.

Kregen’s offer rose with the flash of the knife. Hastra smiled as tears spilled from her eyes. “I will serve.” Zelma and Howart answered the same.

“Zelma Vorcinni, should you choose to follow, to you shall be given the task of protecting for long years that which shall come to you in time. You shall want for nothing, not even companionship in desolate places.”

“Howart Balto, should you choose to follow, to you shall be given the task of hiding against chaos what shall come to you after a while. No power of time or change shall pierce the bulwark about you in the midst of confusion.”

“Hastra Vorcinni, should you choose to go, to you shall be given the task of labor against innumerable foes, yet you shall find rest and plenty in the midst of want and danger.”

“And now, my children reach to me if you will come and be comforted and healed…”

At Eloch’s urging, the three Withlings stretched out their hands as one.

The whirlwind fell away.

Hastra rose on one elbow amid a grass covered field at dusk. “Zelma? Howart?” She sat alone with her bag that held her food and the Book of Prophecies.

End of Part 6

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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Styling Your E-Book With Proper Formatting

Introduction

The use of styles in word processing is a bit esoteric for many users. However, when formatting an e-book, styles can be very handy. With that in mind, I’ll follow-up on last week’s post about formatting by digging a little deeper into what styles are, why they are important to e-book formatting and how to use them. As a reminder, create a back-up copy of your content before formatting so you can easily revert to the original.

Does Your Manuscript Have Style?

So what’s a style and does your book have it? Well, when considering formatting, this is not so much a question of writing style as visual presentation. You don’t want to worry about this while your actually creating your content but when you are formatting styles add, well – style.

Formatting Word Styles

Styles, as implied by the term, is a way of changing the appearance of your content. That’s a simple statement but there’s much more to than that. It’s basically using a template of different format settings. In Word this is done via the Styles section of the Home menu. Using different styles means you can change headings, first lines of chapters and other sections of your content when a simple click. It’s very handy when it comes to formatting.

But why should you use it?

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The Importance of Styles

Your e-book needs style. It’s like when Kramer (think Seinfeld) found the wide-brimmed hat when he was wearing the coat from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. It’s just not as gaudy. The use of styles adds effects to your manuscript that improve reader experience.

For instance, if you have a book with headings or chapter titles a different style that’s in bold with larger font size can be helpful. However, you don’t want to just make those changes anywhere since they can create discontinuity if used improperly like I just did. Additionally, the first line of a chapter or scene can be enhanced so that it’s noticeably different from the rest of the text and alerts readers to the change. Styles also set apart other types of content in your e-book such as copyright, end material and block quotes (non-fiction).

So that’s a thumbnail of what styles are and why you need them. But how do you use them?

How To Use Styles

The use of styles can actually range from quite simple to complex. I’ll keep it simple here for the sake of brevity but a more thorough discussion can be found in the Smashwords Style Guide. Let’s scratch the surface to get started.

Pre-set styles are on the Home menu in Word 2007 or later. My screenshots are from Word 2010 so yours may be different. First of all there are several styles of which you may need to make use: First Line of a Chapter, Normal, Block (for non-fiction), etc. These are all changed or created from the Styles Manager. It must be noted that just highlighting and changing formatting to suit your needs may not mean that these are picked up correctly when processed by Kindle or Smashwords. Styles manage formatting on a larger, more consistent scale and allows you to change the style easily with a click or two.

In Word 2010 to modify a style right click on the style and choose modify:

Modify Word Style

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Next click on the format button in the lower left and choose Paragraph.

Word Style Modification

The paragraph properties for this style are displayed.

Word Paragraph Properties

Settings such as indent, line spacing, etc can be changed here. Try to make your “Normal” style consistent with what the whole book will be. If you will be using a first line style to forego the use of indent for the beginning of a chapter try creating a separate style. There are pre-set styles for headings, titles, subtitles, etc so don’t try to re-invent these – just change them to suit your needs. Apply the various styles besides Normal wherever necessary by click to that location and clicking the applicable style and the text will be changed.

Scriv Preset StylesThat’s the basics of managing and applying styles in Word. Scrivener is similar in that it comes with presets like Word and you can apply them from the format bar. I’ll discuss these in a later post but for now these should help you learn the basics of formatting for e-books.

Have you tried formatting your e-book? What tips or tricks do you use with formatting? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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The Black Bag by P H Solomon