14 September 2006

Novel? . . . Oh, that novel!

As you may have gathered from my stony silence on the subject, my novel has been stalled for some months. I passed the 100,000 word mark in January but since then have done so little with it that I have only just reached 105,000 words. This is not due to anything serious like writer’s block, but simply because of the unusually heavy demand for my editorial services recently. My workload now seems to be easing off for the first time in several months, and I am looking forward to getting back to the writing.

As an added incentive, I have decided to combine the final push to the end of the novel with a trial of yWriter, a piece of software designed to assist in the novel-writing process. I was reminded of its existence when Gary made a passing reference to it on his blog a few weeks ago. yWriter was written by Simon Haynes who is an author of science fiction as well as a computer programmer. Since I am always on the look-out for pieces of software to make my life easier, Gary’s reference to it made me go back and take a closer look.

First impressions are good: yWriter successfully swallowed my novel and painlessly dissected it into scenes. The main project screen offers an overview of the novel, chapter by chapter and scene by scene, with useful statistics (number of words in each chapter and a running total for the novel as a whole) and a screen in which you can view the outline and text of a selected scene. Most of the real work is done in a text editor that loads one scene at a time: it is very basic (no italics or bold text) but it gets the job done. I particularly like having the scene outline visible while working on the scene itself (previously I have kept scene outlines and other information in a database while working on the text in Word). yWriter also keeps track of point of view character and the time and duration of each scene (particularly helpful as I am working three major and two minor points of view, and sometimes their scenes overlap to give multiple perspectives on an event so there is plenty of scope for temporal inconsistency in the novel). And last but not least, yWrite is freeware.

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