Now having written a novel, several short stories, and being in the middle of two more novels, I have figured out that I am not really a pantser when it comes to writing. I don’t think I am a true outliner, either. For those of you who don’t know, a pantser just starts writing and sees where the story takes them. I did that with my first novel, up until the point that timelines and locations and descriptions all got too complicated. I had to start taking notes and planning ahead.
My biggest difficulty came with where to take the notes. A spreadsheet? Notes in each chapter that I would carry over and revise as I went along? A notebook? A book like “The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook” by Weston Elliott? Which is very good, by the way.
I have heard that some people use index cards on a wall, or lots of sticky-notes. Being able to re-order scenes is very appealing to me, but I have never tried it. It seemed too cumbersome. With less-than-readable handwriting, I would rather stick to electronic means. Still, I really would like to try the card method.
Scrivener has saved me. I don’t have to mess with paper. It allows me to reorder scenes as much as I want, mark scenes according to their progress (draft, second revision, final, etc), and keep everything in one place. And, since I save the files into my Dropbox account, I can access them anywhere. (Yes, I am doing backups locally should the Dropbox folks vanish from the face of the earth.) You get to do custom labels too, and organize your files and folders any way you wish.
One of the coolest features: Research. I can take a long URL to a specific picture or place on a website, drop it into a Scrivener note, and click on the link to bring up the page. Or copy the page entirely and paste it in as a document for off-line access. Or, let Scrivener do it for you: it accepts PDFs, images, and websites as media imports. I think it will even embed youtube clips. I’ll have to try that…
If you have never checked it out, I would suggest you take a look. Scrivener is made for Linux (what I run), Windows, and Mac-OS.