Plotting, the Synopsis, and Technology

I’ve been thinking a lot about the tools that could make our lives as writers and illustrators easier.  With the dismal reality that creating is often a poorly compensated way to make a living, I have been looking for ways to streamline the process.  Time is money and all that.  And, I wanted to share something that has really helped me to become more organized as a writer.

I finally broke down and ordered Scrivener and I have to say that I don’t know what took me so long.  It was on sale about a month ago, but did I order it then?  Um, No.  A dear friend of mine did and when she showed me the basics, I knew I had to order it for myself (even at full price).  And, here’s why:

1.  It stores everything I will need for each novel in one easy to find place.  I have dozens of spiral notebooks, folders, binders, and computer files for each of my novels that I know I have saved-somewhere.  They are in my office, but when it comes to hunting them down, I’m lazy.  Sad, but true. With Scrivener, I never have to hunt for those things again, which saves me precious writing time.

2. I am an incredibly visual person and this program gives me the ability to use a corkboard to see the main plot points of each of my acts and chapters.  Outlining is made simple and always at hand.  I write all my books using a three act structure.  As you know, within each act, certain key elements need to be accomplished.  This program helps me to see each plot point clearly.  The overall progression of the storyline and all the plot points can be detailed on index cards for every chapter.  This brings me to my third point.

3.  The synopsis practically writes itself.  If you detail each chapter’s plot point on an index card that is stored within the chapter, at the end of your novel, all you have to do is compile the plot points from the note cards into paragraph form and you have a very clear synopsis.

 4. I can move my chapters around easily.  If you review your synopsis and feel it might work better if the chapters were rearranged, you can do so very easily.  Cut and paste or just click and drag and voila- it’s rearranged.

5. You can use a split screen to have images, research, or character sketches open simultaneously.  The images and research are saved on a tool bar that is easily accessible and never lost. Priceless.

6.  The program has formats for fiction, non-fiction, scriptwriting, poetry, and lyrics.  It also has a blank template and a miscellaneous template.

7. Each version can be exported and complied in several formats.

As you might have gathered, I’m slightly obsessed with this program.  I have everything I need for all four of my novels in progress in one, easy to access place. There’s no mess, no overflowing bookshelf, no fear of information lost.

(I swear that I don’t work for the company that manufactured it-nor does anyone I know.  It’s just that when I realized how much this writing tool has helped me, I had to share it with you.)

As always, please feel free to comment about your experience with writing programs or tools you have found useful for your craft.

Happy writing and illustrating.




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2 Responses to Plotting, the Synopsis, and Technology

  1. Laura Bowers says:

    Awesome post, Larissa! I downloaded Scrivener about two weeks ago with the intention of moving my 75k novel to it before editing, but it was too confusing trying to learn the program and separate that mess into chapters, scenes, etc. I’m definitely going to use it for my next book! The corkboard makes me giddy. 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Messy Way | Kathy MacMillan

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