Integrating Writing Tools For Story Creation—Sometimes The Stars Align

My apologies for the boring title. For those of you who don’t write fiction, my even greater apologies for the upcoming post.

Image credit:

Image credit:

Although multi-tasking is not my preference, I found the perfect ménage à trois for outlining my new work-in-progress.

By coincidence, I started reading Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling by Larry Brooks at the same time I started Gwen Hernandez’s Scrivener course at the same time I started my new novel’s outline.

Like literary Legos, these three elements locked nicely into place.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Image credit: Wikipedia

1. Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling

This book is the follow-up to Larry Brook’s Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing. Both books click beautifully with my left-brain tendencies.

In Story Engineering, Brook focused on structure while in Story Physics he focuses on ways to enhance this fictional architecture.

The timing is perfect because I’m presently expanding my manuscript’s main plot points into a bulleted beat sheet (essentially a blueprint for the outline). Brooks’s story “physics” will help give my structural elements some extra pizzazz which will hopefully keep readers flipping the pages.

2. Scrivener Training by Gwen Hernandez

For those who don’t know, Scrivener is a low-priced software program that enhances the organization of written projects, both fiction and non-fiction. It’s a great way to localize all your manuscript needs, including research, images, outlines, character descriptions, scenes, etc.

Scrivener comes with an instructional tutorial, but even though I reviewed it and wrote my most recent novel using the program, I knew I was missing out on features. There was so much more I could be doing with the software. Thanks to fellow blogger and writer S.K. Nicholls, I learned about Gwen Hernandez’s Scrivener course. At $45 for a four-week course, the price was right, and the daily lesson is easily doable in thirty minutes or less.

I’m ten sessions into the course, and although I’ve created a new project to follow along with Ms. Hernandez’s instruction, I’m also trying things out in my work-in-progress’s file.

A screenshot of my characters’ images (or what I’m imagining they look like…) in Scrivener

A screenshot of my characters’ images (or what I’m imagining they look like…) in Scrivener

3. My Outline

The third piece of this literary trifecta is my outline itself. Yes, I’m a plotter, no mystery there. I like to know exactly how my story will unfold, what needs to go where, and when it needs to happen (though that doesn’t mean I can’t make changes).

For me that takes research and planning. In fact, it’s my longest writing phase—about six months. After that, I need three months to complete the first draft and another three to complete the edits. At least that was the schedule for my second novel, and I hope to keep the same pace.

Plotting doesn’t float every writer’s boat, and that’s okay. But stringing my outline together while simultaneously reading Brook’s book and taking Ms. Hernandez’s class makes me hyper-aware of the elements that will improve my story. In other words, since the advice is fresh in my mind, it gets actively incorporated into my work.

For once, the stars are aligned…

Any software or books that make your life easier, writing-related or otherwise? Do you use Scrivener?

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Rubin4Carrie Rubin is the author of The Seneca Scourgea medical thriller. For full bio, click here.

189 Responses to “Integrating Writing Tools For Story Creation—Sometimes The Stars Align”

  1. Kourtney Heintz

    I’m slowly moving my drafted manuscripts into scrivener to create series bibles. I haven’t started drafting a new novel yet, but I think I might try drafting Six Train’s sequel in Scrivener this summer. For me it’s Margie Lawson’s packets on revision and editing that revolutionized my writing.


    • Carrie Rubin

      I think I remember you posting about Lawson’s editing tips. I’ll have to relook her up. I am loving Scrivener this time around now that I know better how to use it. The class is over now, but I took a zip drive of all 20 of Gwen’s class handouts to Kinkos and had them printed out. I keep them in a binder for easy reference. Using the program is as much fun as the writing!


  2. Aussa Lorens

    I need to check Scrivener out. A lot of people were talking about it at the start of NaNo last year… and I’ll be (hopefully) working on something this coming Autumn. While I tend to just write and see where it take me, my heart secretly longs for structure. *sigh* Don’t tell anyone.


    • Carrie Rubin

      Structure is good, but even for those who like to wing it, Scrivener is wonderful. I’d marry it if I could. 😉


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