The Drawing Board

I didn’t like Scrivener the first time I encountered it. It felt like it over-complicated things; I had a notebook, I had a word processor, I had text files for all my novel notes. What more could I want? Of course, that was years ago, and I don’t think it had a tutorial back then. (Not that I’ve finished the tutorial. It goes on for hours, and I’m not even halfway through yet.)

It’s true that much of what I’m using for at this point could be done in a text file, but I’m enjoying having the different folders to better organise my notes, and see all my characters, say, at a glance. I’ve started moving some of New York Sour into its own Scrivener file, and it’s getting easier to get my head around it.

So far, I’ve posted 27 pages of that bastard novel onto this site. It is terrible, and I love it. But when I first wrote it, back in NaNoWriMo two-thousand-whenever, I winged my way through it. That’s the nature of NaNo, of course. But rarely does a person come out of NaNoWriMo with a piece that’s instantly worth sharing. As I post it, so the idea went, I would be editing. The happy-ish ending will go in the waste-paper basket, and I am trying not to jettison the detective-y stuff halfway through as happened in the original draft. However, I have been pretty slack at my editing. Does the chapter look all right? Sweet, post it. But no longer. This fucker needs work. That means not just notes… it means organised notes.

This week, I have been sorting things into folders and cork-board flash cards. I have a list of characters and whatever basic traits I have so far given them (blonde hair, blue eyes), so I don’t have to wade back through the text every time I need to find out what I named Background Character #3. I have location descriptions, copy-pasted from the text, so I can refer back to them easily.

I had, for instance, completely forgotten that Marley had named his gun “Shirley”. It was a throwaway element, added because it amused me – I could make a neat simile about women being cold! – and had slipped my mind as soon as I’d written it. I re-re-rediscovered it the other night, and it made me laugh.

New York Sour would never have seen a publisher, no matter how much work I put into it. Hard-boiled crime novels need a little extra nowadays, I think, to get themselves published – look at Finch. Fantastic noir detective, getting drunk and fucking and brooding away in his messy apartment. Also, alien mushroom thingies. (I’ll have to review that one day. Suffice it to say that I very much enjoyed it!) But NYS was something I wrote for fun, something I never intended to send to an agent or whathaveyou. I’m sharing it because that’s fun, too. And despite all its faults, I want to make it the best little trash-pile it can be. For you. For its own sake.

Sorry Marley, baby. You can’t fall into her arms and just let the world stop turning. I’m not going to let you forget your responsibilities, your morals, your worldview. Drafts One and Two were but a sweet dream, my caution, my care. I am sorry. But it is time to wake up.

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