This has been a tumultuous year, to say the least. With my new job, my work with Wicked Window Productions, my reading, watching (critically) too many movies, and life in general (including the death of two family members), I’ve hardly had time to (1) write on this site (though I post a large amount of stuff on Facebook) and (2) work on any novels. Mostly, that second one has more to do with my spending time writing screenplays and scripts than anything else.
That changes this November. Here’s my plan:
So, you remember that a while back I said I was working on a video game? Well, that seems to have fallen through. Until recently, I thought that meant I’d just have to chuck this whole thing up to a learning experience (and I did learn, a LOT). Then I thought, “Wait a minute: I created this world. I breathed life into these characters. I created a history, a cohesive universe, villains, heroes, and the masses in between. There are literally DOZENS of characters here, some of them really good ones, so WHY aren’t I doing anything else with these?!”
Silly I know.
So, after a few conversations with my friend Melissa Garret (a stupendous writer whose books you should buy right now for just $2.99 because she’s saving up for a house) and Hugh Howey (author of the best-selling Wool series), I decided to turn this video game into a novel.
As it so happens, this year Wicked Window Productions is winding down shooting at the end of October with a wonderful little Alice in Wonderland-inspired piece we all put together (wait ‘til you see the awesome little girl we got to play Alice. Ultra creepy, ultra awesome). After that we have two months off, one of which I fully intend to use putting 120,000 words on paper. I know, NaNoWriMo just says 50,000, but since the vast majority of this story is done and planned, and many of the conversations already written out, I can’t help but think it fair that I go for something a bit more stringent. Of course the goal isn’t 120,000 words. The goal is a completed novel. But 120,000 words will likely accomplish that.
So that’s where I stand. After I’ve finished the novel, I fully intend to approach the owner of the IP (intellectual property), and get his blessing in order to sell the book. I’m thinking his blessing might come at a price, say 25% of the profits? I think that’s pretty reasonable. And if he says no, well… at least I had fun and learned something while writing it, right?
To help guide me, I’ve been reading John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story (Kindle, Paperback), which, I’ll be honest, I’m going to have to read again. Like John McKee’s Story (Kindle, Hardcover), Truby’s work is pure story-telling gold. He has software that accompanies the book, but at $170, I think I’ll just take really good notes.
I also have to find sources from which I can master at least couple of genres. I think I have sci-fi down pretty well, but I still need two more if I’m to really be able to get work from my creative writing. Thanks to Wicked Window, I’m learning a LOT about the horror genre, but honestly, I’m not all that much into horror, unless it’s psychological. Your imagination is considerably scarier than anything I could present to you.
So with all this writing, what tools have I been using? Here’s a short list:
- Screenwriting – Final Draft: For screenwriting, I ultimately settled on the industry standard for film (though I almost went with Movie Magic Screenwriter). This was after trying out a couple of iOS options (the best being Scripts Pro, which I used to write Resurgence).
- Technical Writing – Adobe RoboHelp: If you’re a technical writer, you need to know RoboHelp, plain and simple. Sure, you can know other tools. You can even be a good programmer and roll your own solutions, including using tools like DocBook. Ultimately, though, you’ll run into a situation where a client says, “RoboHelp is what we use.” It’s not a bad piece of software, it just has a lot of… limitations. An alternative is Madcap Flare, which I really like, but I’ve never gotten a chance to use it professionally. And trust me, I’ve tried.
- Novel Writing – Scrivener: Literature and Latte’s Scrivener program was THE reason I bought a Mac back in 2007. Just recently, I put together a computer rig, installed Windows 8 and, after much hemming and hawing, I went ahead and dropped the $40 for the Windows version of the program. Scrivener is a phenomenal tool, and it’s worth every penny. Besides, it’s what I wrote the video game in, though I think I’ll end up writing the novel using Microsoft Word.
- General Writing – Microsoft Word: For all the blame Microsoft gets, the Office Suite is dominant for one very important reason: It’s a very effective, very well built tool. Yeah, I know, I’ll have people tell me “Well, FrameMaker does this better”, and “LibreOffice does that better”. You know what? They’re right. LibreOffice’s organization is dated, but well put together (and free), and FrameMaker can handle large documents like no one’s business. (Take a 700 word document with lots of floating images, many headings, and hundreds of lists, and watch MS Word choke faster than the 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.) Still, despite this, Word is a marvelously constructed tool, and the 2013 version is easily their best yet. If you want to try it, sign up for a month of Office365. Frankly, I haven’t looked back, and in fact, almost gave up on Scrivener because it was so good. Maybe, when I get better at it (particularly the outlining functions) I will. Not today, though.
- Blogging – Windows Live Writer: I know, another Microsoft tool. But really, this tool is surprisingly good. Simple, clean, and direct: everything a simple writing tool should be. It’s obvious a fair amount of work went into this, and while I’m still testing it out, it’s definitely a great little tool. (For a while, I used Red Sweater Software’s MarsEdit, but I honestly haven’t felt the need to go back to that for years. Also, it’s Mac only, and I’m now on a PC.)
I could go on. For example, I could start writing about the writing tools I use on my phone (EverNote, OneNote, Office Mobile, Writer, SimpleNote, WriteRoom, iA Write, etc), but frankly that would be another post entirely. In fact, I think it will be.
The fact that I should probably be writing everything I learn about movies and writing here instead of anywhere else hasn’t escaped me. Maybe I’ll consolidate all the stuff here some day. For now, I don’t feel I have the time to write full posts (this one alone took me about an hour, and it was mostly off-the-cuff stuff I used to test some more of the features in Windows Live Writer), but when I do… well, obvious move is obvious.