Thursday, September 3


Listening to: The Thermals, "Now We Can See"

I picture a couple of yodelers calling that post title out from a mountaintop like in the old Ricola commercials.

Okaaaay...moving on.

Finished the first draft of PINK BANDANA GIRLS last week. Damn, did that feel good. All told, it took me just as many months to write as most of my first drafts (between five and seven)...except those months were spread out over a year and a half, and I worked on GRIM LIGHT, its revisions, and a few other ideas in between.

So now I'm getting ready to revise. Judging by The Husband's* reaction to the first third or so, it starts off a little too slow, so I need to throw some more conflict in there. I have a few good ideas for that.

But what I've really needed was a good synopsis. So I opened up yWriter, which I've had on this laptop and my last and never actually got around to using. I think it's going to be a huge part of my revision process from now on, though. Here's why:

yWriter has a chapter and scene breakdown feature, which essentially requires you to summarize everything. You can make files on characters, locations, and items, and insert them into each scene in which they appear. You can specify the date a scene took place and how long it lasted, as well as whether the scene involves the plot or subplot, is action or reaction. You can rate several different elements--relevance, tension, humor, etc.**

All of this was huge, and as I went along I picked up on several places where I didn't have enough conflict, or where a plot thread disappeared, or where a character acted...well, out of character. You can make notes on specific scenes or the whole project, and then you can make yWriter draw up a report using several options.

It's beautiful, in short.

It allowed me to do something very important for revisions, I think: see my story both as a big picture and on a detail level.

And now I'm ready. I'm pretty excited about it, too. I want to make this story good, dangit!

So, two things to take away from this post:

  1. yWriter: highly recommended
  2. It's revision time!

*He's the only one who gets to read stuff before I revise. That poor soul, he had NO idea what he was getting into when he married me...

**You can also change what elements you rate. For instance, if you're writing a romantic thriller, you might want to rate romance/sexual tension instead of humor.


  1. Oh cool! I switch between yWriter, SuperNotecard, and Writer's Cafe. They each have their strengths, but Writer's Cafe comes the closest to having everything I need. I like how it not only has chapter/scene breakdown (like yWriter), but a storylines view that kinda has each scene plotted on a different colored line so you can see the rhythm of and arc of the subplots, too. It costs money, though. :-( Of course. Free demo, though!

  2. Oooh, thanks for the recommendations, Natasha! I'll have to look into those. A good storyline view is what I felt was missing from yWriter.

  3. Ok, I've downloaded yWriter and am trying to squish East of Yesterday into it. It looks like he did what I have been doing with my gazetteers. I make a gazetteer with every novel, but he's thought of almost everything I put into them.

    I notice yWriter has a storyboard--could you use that for your storyline?

  4. After playing with it all day yesterday--and doing quite a lot of work on EOY--I exported everything back to Word format. Since I am a Word expert (certified!), I know too many shortcuts to make any other word processing enviroment tempting for me. And my gazetter in TiddlyWiki format allows me to connect people with places and things and concepts and anything else I might envision.

    In short, I am too set in my ways to change now! But I think, for one who does not have a "system", yWriter is probably a great thing to try.


If you don't feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then possibly what you are doing isn't very vital. If you don't feel like you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it? If you don't have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you are not trying to tell enough. --John Irving