Thursday, December 10, 2015

Old Dogs, New Tricks? ~ Anne McAllister

I've been writing romance novels for thirty years. Well, actually, my first one was published thirty years ago, so I've been writing them a bit longer than that.

It wasn't exactly the dark ages still . . . but can you say the word: "typewriter?"  Yes, me, too.  Also "white-out" and "cut-and-paste" (the real scissors and tape event, not the virtual less messy stuff we do now) and "change the ribbon."  Also, "carbon paper." Yikes.

I was on my sixth book when I got a computer.  And I had actually finished the first/second/third/umpteenth draft of the book when I got it.  I stared at it and wondered how I would compose on it.  I didn't.

I taught myself how to use it by typing the entire manuscript into the computer (black screen with orange printing. Who remembers that?  It felt like every day was Halloween).  Later  -- when that book was gone -- I would learn to compose.

But first I printed out a draft of book # six, then took it to the post office and mailed it.

Unlike now, it didn't come winging back after lunch with a revision letter attached.  I actually had a couple of weeks to breathe and to even start a new book.

But I digress. What I'm getting at is that the way we work on books has changed -- at least those of us who have been around years and years and years.

I still use my Word Perfect software in a newer incarnation because I can't live without "reveal codes."  But I convert it to .rtf for those who can't deal with Word Perfect.  And I do my edits and revisions online in Word, which I have learned to work with in self-defense.

So, I'm good at learning some things, better at others, not good at all at a particularly daunting few.  But usually I can work something out -- or work around it.

The time has come, however, to make -- or try to make -- another leap.

I've had enough people tell me that Scrivener is a great way to work on a manuscript to be eager to give it a try.  I'm particularly interested in it because I'm in the throes of working out the logistics of a four book series which needs some inter-locking moments rather than being totally sequential.

Scrivener looks as if it can help me accomplish that. IF (and it's a pretty big if) I can come to terms with it. I've done an online course in it, I've read a book or two about it. And I have some books I want to e-pub that I thought I might dump into Scrivener like I did my sixth book with the computer to sort of figure things out while I don't have to be creative at the same time.

So . . . I need advice. If you are familiar with Scrivener, what's your opinion?  What is the best approach to take to learning how to use it? What tips and tricks to dealing with it can you suggest?

Do you love it? Do you hate it?  Do you have a better idea?  It looks pretty do-able, so far, but then I start "doing" and I get stuck and I want to tear my hair.  Then again, sometimes  when I actually begin writing in the program, I forget all the bells and whistles and screens I don't know what to do with, and I actually write and it's effortless -- just me and the story.

Those moments make me think I'll get there some day.

So, here I am -- old dog looking to master a new trick, or at least, for me, a new software program.  I'd welcome all the help I can get!

And since this is the last time I'll be here this month, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanza, or the goodness of the season.  Thanks for sharing your comments and views throughout this past year.  Hope to see you here next year as well!

dog -- mine
typewriter: By Oliver Kurmis (Self-photographed) [CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Scrivener -- logo from my purchased copy of their downloadable version.


Helen Bianchin said...

I'm about to take a leap of faith and trial Scrivener for the next book. I have the program loaded, "Scrivener For Dummies" ... it's 40 years since my first book was published, so very much a case of "Old Dogs, New Tricks?"!!

Anne McAllister said...

Helen, We can learn tricks together! I believe that's the book I read. I am making a bit of progress. Hope you are, too! Send me an email and we can compare notes!