Just Another Blog

my random ramblings about crafts, writing, books and kids

Archive for the tag “writing”

Tools of the Trade: Aeon Timeline

aeon4

One of my all time favorite tools for writing is Aeon Timeline. I first heard about through NaNoWriMo. As soon as I tried it out, I knew I had to have the software. It was exactly what I was looking for to organize events in stories. It would have come in handy in 2008 when I was writing a complicated story told from several points of view in three different locations at the same time. Some of the features of Aeon were things I did on my own to organize scenes in the story. I was hooked as soon as I saw this.

I’m still getting used to the new version, but I’ll muddle through my favorite parts.

aeon1First off there’s the main timeline. The newest version of Aeon allows for nested events and connecting different event that happen consecutively. It’s a nice feature that I’m still getting used to using. With this version you can see the title given to the event, the date/time, and the little bar showing the duration. This gives a nice quick overview of your events. Things can be customized by color so different arcs, acts, or characters can easily be identified in an instant.

aeon5

The parent/nesting feature is a nice improvement over the previous version. It allows you to break a sequence down into tiny increments that would get cumbersome on a full timeline. Here, each small even can have it’s own entry but when it’s not important to know the details, the main event can be collapsed, showing the time frame of the entirety of events under it. This has been helpful as I’ve been using the timeline to plot out every episode (so I can make my stories fit within the framework).

Besides the main view of the timeline, each event can be expanded to look at the details.

aeon3

Mine shows the details I’ve entered for event #45 in the timeline. There’s the basic info of title, time, and duration that you see on the timeline, but then other info is added. In this case, it’s the characters involved in the scene (and their ages because I like that feature), the location, arc, a photo, and a summary of events. This can be really helpful when you have a lot going on and need to quickly check something out.

aeon7All of this info is entered through the “inspector.” You can control the title, color, characters involved, and a whole slew of other info, much of it customizable by you.

One of my favorite features from the older version is how you were able to see which characters were involved in each event. It was similar to how I plotted that complicated story with each chapter going across a paper and a line extending from each one down through a list of characters. I would put a dot next to each character in the scene and a circle around the dot of the POV character. That’s nearly identical to what Aeon did. I loved it. And then they changed it.

I’m still not sure what I think of the new version, but you still get all of the information.

aeon2In this case things work horizontally instead of vertically. As you can see, each event is listed on the left with a string of characters going off the screen on the right. I like to put my characters in alphabetical order then color code them through the whole spectrum. No real reason other than it looks pretty. It makes it difficult to add new characters into the list. I really love that you are able to see how old the characters are at any given event. That can be really helpful when you’re doing coming of age stories.

aeon6The information on the top of the page isn’t just about characters. In my case, I also have locations marked (also in a rainbow), story arc, and season. That way I can easily keep things sorted.

When I make my TV show timelines, I like to plot out each episode to get a global canon timeline. Then I plot my stories around that. Groups of events can be separated by “arcs” so I can have the canon arc, story #1 arc, story #2 arc, etc. Arcs I don’t need to see can be hidden. I like having the timeline for every story in one place.

There’s a lot more I didn’t even touch on, like the fact that it syncs with Scrivener. I’ve never used the function, but it’s a highlight for many people. And I’m still trying to figure the ins and outs of the new design.

I don’t often buy products I try online. I usually look for freeware that offers similar functions, but with Aeon, it’s well worth the price. And they usually have discounts during November and for NaNo winners.

Tools of the Trade: Liquid Story Binder

lsb7

Earlier I talked about Scrivener–probably the most popular software for writers. At least all of the ones I know. It’s a great program that I really like, but it always seemed to be missing something for me. I was constantly scrolling up and down the sidebar to switch between files. My laptop screen is small, so splitting the editor to show two different files doesn’t help. I liked the idea of the cork board, though.

I’m always on the lookout for other programs that might be helpful. Years ago, I tried out something called Liquid Story Binder but never could fully grasp all of the options or how they were supposed to be used.

Earlier this year, I decided to try it again. There was a little trial and error, but the whole thing finally clicked. It’s now my go-to program for planning, organizing, and first drafts.

LSB (not to be confused with LSD) is a pretty simple program. There are no fancy bells and whistles. There are a lot of individual windows, though, and they can all store information in different ways.

lsb1

lsb2

This is my basic set up. I not only use LSB to write and organize stories and novels, I use it to organize all of my writing. This particular “library” is called, “My Writing.” It links to everything I’ve written. You start out with “planners” that can be used in all sorts of ways. The basic way is to organize chapters in a book. Each line would represent a chapter and double clicking it would open the chapter file. I use it more as a database. I have one that lists each of the fandoms I’m in (in the above photo with the rainbow sections). Each one of those links to another planner that lists all of the stories I have started for that fandom. To the right is a snapshot of The 100 stories I have. I get a glimpse of my file name or title of the story, which draft it’s in, and the prompt I used. There’s an area to the side for notes where I list draft word counts and edits I’ve made. Later I put in the summary I use on A03.

lsb3

There are other file types that can be associated with each item in a planner. I like to use the journals to keep track of notes I make in my online writing journal. It’s easier to find stuff than in one long note file (which is also an option). And I like to use the “builder” to keep track of what I write each day since I count all of my daily words. The builder is usually used to write separate scenes for a chapter that can then be compiled into a chapter file.

My daily way corresponds to my writing journal on 4thewords.com.

The journal is my other favorite file type. It’s simple but works for me.

lsb5

After I do my daily journal on 4TW, I copy/past it into the LSB journal. Some days, I make a note in the title area to remind me of any important brainstorming I might have done. I’ve taken to having journals for individual projects as well to keep track of brainstorming/notes I’ve entered into the main journal. It works great for larger projects.

lsb4That’s the thing I like best about the program–every file can have numerous other types of files associated with it. And it all works together like a database to keep track of everything. And you can pretty much find any kind of file type you might need. Some work better than others, though. The mind map file type doesn’t work well in this setting (there are better ones online). But there is storyboarding, sequencing, compare/contrast, dossiers, photo galleries, and outlining. I have another library that is about 4thewords. I use it to keep track of the different zones and monsters. Above is a list of monsters and the things they drop using the sequence file type.

There are a lot of things I really like about this software, but there are caveats that some people might not be able to get past. For one, the software is no longer supported or updated. What you see is what you get with no help if something goes wrong. Two, it cost money. Supposedly. There is a free 30 (non-consecutive) day trial. After you’re supposed to pay. Except my free trial has yet to end even after three months. Not sure if the author just stopped caring or what, but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. The third problem is despite all of the options and flexibility, it really is a simple program. There are no fancy fonts, changing font color doesn’t always work, it doesn’t want to import italics/bold/underline most of the time, and moving things between file types can be a pain.

The biggest problem, though, is that scroll doesn’t work. Except in the editor pane in the chapters, builder, journal, and notes. I almost stopped using the program because I couldn’t scroll through my long list of stories, but I persisted. It’s annoying, but I’m willing to overlook it for all of the positive things it does for me–namely organizing all of my writing into one program instead of spread between multiple file folders using LibreOffice Writer, LibreOffice Calc (4 different database files), and Scrivener. I don’t have to scroll up and down to look between the chapter I’m working on and notes I made in another file like in Scrivener. The separate windows in LSB can be staggered so you can just click between them–which is a favorite feature for me.

All-in-all, I’ve found it to work really well for keeping track of everything for me and getting first drafts down. For shorter stories, I also edit in it, but when it comes to novels, I’ll transfer to Scrivener and/or Word for final edits and formatting (since that is limited in LSB). As the trial is free, it’s worth a try. But don’t give up when you get overwhelmed by the sheer number of file types there are. It took me a while to figure out how best to use each one, which isn’t always the way they were probably intended.

Stay tuned for another Tools of the Trade about some other less used, but no less important tools I use.

June Goals

Recap from May:

Reading: D Only read 1 of 8 books needed for the goal.
Writing: A+ Completed all goals.
Finishing/Editing: F– Did nothing. Well, I did a little editing on one story but then gave up.
Posting: F Posted nothing.


June Goals:

Reading:

  • read three books to make up for missing April’s goals.
  • read four books to make up for missing May’s goals
  • read four books for June goals to catch up with my Goodreads challenge

Writing:

  • write every day in my writing journal
  • maintain my streak
  • keep up with #writeastory
  • answer a Fandom Alphabet prompt every day

Finishing/Editing:

  • do at least one hour of editing each week
  • finish two stories

Posting:

  • post one fanfic from April
  • post two fanfics from May
  • post two fanfics for June

May Round-up

All things reading and writing.

Reading:

One book finished. YAY! I’m only 7 books behind schedule now.

origin

Writing:

Just about 20k words this month–story-wise. I ended up adding the word counts for all of my blog posts I’ve made, so it raised my total for the month to 21,320 and 227,625 for the year. I have a 151 day writing streak this year!

may2017wordchart

Editing/Finishing:

Nothing to report here. I’ve added words to several of the stories I started in April, but none are finished. And I only tried to edit one but got nowhere with it. Sigh.

Posting:

Tools of the Trade: Scrivener

scriv8If you’re around the NaNoWriMo community enough, you’ll know about Scrivener. It’s a writing program that many WriMos swear by. Plus the creators at Literature and Latte give a discount to anyone that participates in NaNo or Camp NaNo. And if you win, you get 50% off the software.

scriv7What makes Scrivener so special? Well for me, it’s the way you can organize your novel. Right off the bat, the software gives you pre-formatted options for all sorts of projects including novels (with or without parts), screenplays, and nonfiction. You can also just start with a blank project.

If you do start with a template, you get everything you need to write your novel and polish it up to send to editors.

scriv3The way that Scrivener handles organization is what usually draws people in. You can divide your novel/story/screenplay however you like. By default, the novel template breaks things down by chapters and scenes. But you can change it to what works best for you. As you can see in my example, each scene is titled and in a folder for a chapter. The symbols next to them can be customized from a list of premade icons, or you can upload your own (I haven’t tried that yet).

scriv1There are other ways to organize your files. My favorite is the cork board because it’s a cork board! Each scene marked on the side is a card that can be moved around like stickies on a wall. The cards can be adjusted to different sizes so you can fit all the info you need.

Another way to look at things is the outliner. scriv4

It gives you an overview of each scene. You can include different columns of information. My example has the synopsis, draft status, and word count. You can move things around just like with the cork board to organize your novel.

scriv2A really helpful tool is the Inspector. It gives you an overview of each scene. The synopsis and scene title go on top (although you can change that to be a photo). You can also add labels to your scenes. These are set up to be “scene,” “chapter,” and other basic labels. Those can be changed. I like to divide mine by POV or plot points. The status can be changed. By default, you have “to do,” “first draft,” “second draft,” etc.  There’s space to leave notes which comes in handy when it’s time to do revisions. There’s also an option to create tags for easy searching.scriv5

Also helpful are the statistics the software gathers. They give you an overview of your entire project and the approximate page count if you were to publish based on typical word counts per page.

scriv6

 

For NaNo, one of the most helpful tools is “project targets.” It lets you set the number of words you want for the entire project and for each session. It’ll let you know if you hit your goal for the day, and it’s fun to watch the little bar turn green the closer you get to your goal.

Scrivener is great because it covers all of the basics you need to organize your works. It’s available for both Windows and Mac, although the Mac version offers more features (I have the Windows version). It’s definitely to go-to writing software for most of my writing friends and what I use most often for organizing and writing novels.

There’s a free thirty day trial which is worth checking out, although if you wait until NaNo, they usually give you a little extra time to explore it, and you also get those awesome discounts.

May Goals

Recap from April:

Reading: FAIL! Read 0 of 4 books I wanted to do.
Writing: Win, win, win and win! Completed all four objectives.
Finishing/Editing: I’m not sure if they were one a week, but I finished seven stories. Bonus!
Posting: Posted only one story which is way less than “as many as I can finish,” and one less than my minimum two story goal. Fail. 😦


May Goals:

Reading:

  • Read four books to make up for missing April’s goals.
  • Read another four books to keep up with my Goodread’s challenge

Writing:

  • write every day in my writing journal
  • add 100 words to a WIP every day
  • maintain my streak
  • keep up with #writeastory
  • edit for an hour every day

Finishing/Editing:

  • Finish four of the uncompleted one-shots
  • Edit four of the already finished stories from April

Posting:

  • Post at least two fanfics

April Round-up

All things reading and writing.

Reading:

Didn’t get any books read this month. Camp NaNoWriMo kind of ate my brain. I did get a little bit of reading done. Just not enough.

Writing:

This is where it all happened in April. 77,854 words for the month bringing the total for the year to 182,714 words. And a 120 day streak!

apr2017wordchart

Editing/Finishing:

I don’t even know where to start. Thirty stories were started in April. Six are considered finished but unedited at the moment.

Posting:

Handle with Care (The 100(TV))

Tools of the Trade: White Noise

If you’re like me, you probably get distracted easily. So anything that helps me concentrate on my writing is a treasure. Last time I talked about 4thewords.com–a writing game that allows you to fight monsters with your words. My productivity has probably quadrupled since I started using the site. I’m on a 104 day streak!

Today, I’m going to offer up another tool that helps me. And that’s white noise. My hearing is… let’s just say it doesn’t like me much. When I need to hear–as in talking to someone or watching TV–I have a lot of trouble. Voices and sounds jumble together, making it frustrating to carry on a conversation. I’ve had to put the closed captioning on the TV or I miss a lot of the dialogue. But when I need the quiet, my ears seem to pick up every noise. And that’s a distraction. I run a fan 24/7 to help drown out the noise of five kids in the house, but that isn’t always enough.

Last week, I discovered white noise websites. Specifically, ones that make rain sounds. I had no idea what I was missing in my life. Rain is a white noise just like the fan. The only difference is the pitch changes some, and it sounds more natural. Add some thunder in, and I’m back in the Midwest in the midst of a storm.

I miss thunderstorms.

I highly suggest checking out one of the many sites out there.

The one I’m using right this second is noisli.com. It has several different sound options besides rain, such as streams, waves, and even a coffee house. You can mix and match the different sounds and adjust their volumes. So if you want to be in the middle of a thunderstorm, you can. If you want to be in the forest, listening to a babbling brook, you can. You can listen to a gentle rain at the coffee shop. Or sit around a campfire. Just find the right combination that works for you.

There are others.

mynoise.net has a slider system, like an equalizer on a stereo, that allows you to adjust each frequency of the rain and thunder. It also has presets for different settings like rain on a tent or distant thunder.

rain.today is another site I use. It lets you choose a few different rain/thunder options to adjust the sound. There are also white noise options like a television or other static.

rainymood.com has a simple on/off setting, but there are apps for Android and Apple.

ambient-mixer.com has nature sounds in a lot of settings. Like a tropical rain forest or a forest at night. That’s just in the nature section. There are other collections that can put you in the mood to write any setting. Their fantasy settings are especially popular.

There are a lot of other white noise and rain maker sites out there. rain.today lists several at the bottom of the page to look into.

I highly recommend one of these, or if you’re the kind of person that only seems to focus in a busy coffee shop, there are tons of those kind of sites out there as well. I’m sure you can find just the right combination of white noise to blot out the real world and let you concentrate on what is important: torturing your characters writing.

This Is the Best Day Ever!

bestday.jpg

Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s been a good day.

First, I had an all-time record number of words. 16,236 words to be exact. Of course, I haven’t slept in almost 36 hours. But 16k!

Second, 100 day streak! Yeah, baby.

Third, I finally got my dream minivan!

van_041117

 

I’ve wanted a Town & Country for years. I figured some day I’d settle for a late model Dodge Grand Caravan which is the “poor” man’s version of the T&C. Well, after the truck broke down, my husband had no choice but to buy a new vehicle to get everyone home.

They told me they were getting me a “Susan,” which is what we named the rental we got years ago. I was excited, although anxious about new car payments after just buying a house. But what are ya going to do?

They finally get home, and I’m shocked to not just see my Town & Country, but the thing is flippin’ fully loaded. DVD player, Sirius (which isn’t hooked up), leather seats, imitation wood trim, all sorts of fancy buttons and dials.

Now I really, really don’t want to know what he paid for this or how we’re going to afford the monthly bills. Yikes.

I’m not sure what year the T&C is, but it is, by far, the nicest, most expensive vehicle I’ve ever owned. I get to drive it tomorrow. Squee! The kids want to call it “Destiny,” since it was apparently our destiny to break down there and buy her. I’m secretly going to call her “Felicity.”

Oh, and fourth, my family finally made it home from their adventure. Three days late. But that’s not important because minivan!

I’m kidding. I missed them, and was getting worried. I just didn’t miss the noise and mess. They’ve been home four and a half hours, and already I’m exhausted.

Tools of the Trade: 4thewords.com

As an author, I’m always looking for things–programs, websites, apps–that make writing easier or more enjoyable.

4twlogo-xsI discovered 4thewords.com in October 2015. It was listed as a sponsor for NaNoWriMo. I checked it out and was intrigued, although, I promptly forgot about it. It wasn’t until March 2016 that I truly saw the genius of the site. I wrote 125,000 words that month.

There are a lot of sites out there that offer a place to write and store your words. They might even give you incentives like monthly challenges or have pretty graphs (750words.com is one of them). So what makes 4thewords special?

4tw_playIt’s all in the packaging. And this site is wrapped up in a role-playing game complete with avatars, monsters to fight, and quests to finish. If you like RPGs, I probably have your attention now. For those that don’t get the appeal, you should still check out the site because the graphics are adorable and the quests are amazing motivation.

See, your writing isn’t just words on the screen. It is a weapon to be wielded against a menagerie of monsters. You start in Luciola Forest and have to complete quests to get out. Quests are completed by fighting certain monsters that drop items.

wignow_md

Wignow of Mama Tree

The monsters are beaten by writing a certain number of words within a time limit. Like a Wignow needs 250 words in 30 minutes to beat him. A Rudakai needs 1,700 words, but you have 340 minutes (around 5.5 hours). The harder the monster, the better the drops.

rudakai_md

Rudakai of Luciola Forest

 

 

 

 

Eventually you fight your way out of Luciola Forest to move on to Mama Tree. And there actually is a storyline to follow. Something about dust infecting the forest, and I honestly wasn’t paying attention because I wanted to get to the next quest. But there is a story.

Along the way, you collect armor and weapons that affect your three stats. The higher your Attack stat, the fewer words you actually need to type to win. The higher your Defense stat, the more time you get to finish the battle. And the higher your Luck stat, the more items the monster drops.

There’s a lot more going on with stores, banks, crafting, and locksmiths. There’s also leaderboards and a great forum with a lot of fun, supportive player-writers (and I’m not saying that because I’m a moderator).

untu5_md

Untu pirate

Right now we have a Camp NaNoWriMo event going on–an Untu hunt. There’s a special zone with monsters that only come out during NaNo. They have their own quests that earn you special prizes.

All of this may sound ridiculous to some of you, but I am here to tell you that it works. The graphics are adorable and suck you right in. The word count goals for each monster make it feel as if you accomplished something concrete when you defeat a monster. The quests keep you wanting to fight more. And more battles means more words.

For me, the leaderboards have been a huge source of motivation. Staying on the “battle” board for most wins, keeps me fighting one more monster. And keeping my streak going, has me coming back every day. Just this year, I’ve written 125k words and haven’t missed a single day.

corecrystal_sm-min

Core Crystal

The only caveat is that the site cost money. You get a 30 day free trial, and then you have to pay $4/month. Honestly, the site is well worth the money. And if you won NaNoWriMo in November, there’s a code in your winner’s goodies to get a 60% discount.

If you do decide to sign up, use this referral code: WVBIY23608. When you eventually buy your first month subscription (because you will want to), you’ll get an extra 20 Core Crystals which are used to pay for subscriptions and a few in-game items. A month’s subscription is 44 Core Crystals which cost $4 (US). Oh, and I’ll get some Core Crystals as well (which I appreciate).

At the least, it’s worth checking out with your free trial. Battle a few monsters, finish a few quests, and visit the forums where I’ll be hanging out. I’m justanotherjen there.

4tw_play2

I hope to see you soon. And happy hunting.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: