Rewriting THE LONG ROAD – Week 4

this post is basically a scrivener infomercial

this post is basically a scrivener infomercial

This is the fourth in a series of posts about the redrafting process of THE LONG ROAD which will be composed and published as I rewrite the book. The other posts in this series are here.

To recap, my goal from last week was:

I’ll have a sense of how the war transpires and why it transpires that way, and I will be able to start figuring out who the cast of characters will be in the book.

What has actually happened:
I finished working out who did what why and when through the war on a truly epically obnoxious flight* last Friday. The war has a shape and a purpose and a course now, which is really really exciting!

I ended up with 37 handwritten pages of notes plus and additional 5 single spaced pages of text exported from Evernote. It is all very rough, very freeform, and ultimately mostly just helpful for the exquisite brainstorming of which it was the product. In terms of using all these ideas to shape the book itself, I needed to wring some order from all that chaos. And that’s where Scrivener comes in.

I have, like every other aspiring writer with a blog, a whole separate post planned for someday all about why Scrivener is the shit and why it is a writer’s best friend. But his post will specifically focus on how it’s helping to organize my wide-ranging and nebulous worldbarfs. Anyway, take a gander:

SPOILER ALERT: I love these digital notecards

SPOILER ALERT: I love these digital notecards

Now, given that I write in the universe of Aerdh a lot, and given that many of those pieces overlap and many characters cross from one book to another, it made sense to me to create a Scrivener project (called the Aerdh Bible) that would capture information about the universes generally since the information used in this book will inform other rewrites and future work. And that’s exactly what I did. I created this generally project to file away the canonical information I create about the universe as I create it so I don’t have to keep track of everything in my brain alone anymore.

The screenshot above is the very first thing I did in this Aerdh Bible. My first step was to pour through my notes and come up with a list of all the major events that occur in the war, then make a seprate file for each event, which show up like color-coded cards on a corkboard. I rearranged them until I felt pretty good about their order, then used the order to start building out a very rough and dirty timeline. And from there, I embarked on this:

the multi-tasking capabilities of this program are mindboggling

the multi-tasking capabilities of this program are mindboggling

For each event, I’m writing up a quick 200-300 word description of what happened, who was there, the outcome, if it’s referenced by anything (say a song), and if the event is mentioned as a piece of background or appears “on screen” in a book. AND, because Scrivener is awesome and totally panders to my fiddly side, there is a feature that lets you create internal links to other files in the project WHICH MEANS that when a given figure is mentioned I can link to that character’s sheet.

Building the skeleton for all this cross-referencing is particularly useful because the empty cards serve as a reminder of all the little i’s I have to dot and t’s I have to cross. In any case, I am essentially building a wiki for my own fantasy universe and it is a ludicrous amount of fun.

By next week, I should have all the major events of the war built out in the Aerdh Bible. I will probably have an utterly absurd file structure brewing in there. The next big step is to create a visual timeline of the war itself with the arcs of all involved groups represented, so hopefully I’ll be organized enough to start that. Stay tuned!

*Ok, so apparently my plane hit a bird on its way into Denver. A bird big enough to “leave sizable dents” on the plane, which, what the hell was it? An emu? Anyway, the wayward bird and its untimely demise delayed the flight for a full seven hours. I took the opportunity to read an entire book, do some sudoku, and finish a short story. We get on the plane, and it’s a good thing I’m no nervous flyer, because that was the choppiest flight I’ve ever been on. AND THEN FRIENDS, and then, when we landed, we were delayed yet again by a group of entitled assholes who decided to stand up and root around in the overhead compartments for their stuff while the plane was yet taxiing. Air marshals were called on board to deal with the troublemakers — a process that took substantially longer than you’d think — and I took that opportunity to finish out the worldbarfing process.

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