Editing for geeks

I have been a bit quiet of late because I am deep in editing mode, with a lot of Christmas and new year stuff on the side. But I have  got my story mapped out now, so I thought I’d stick my head above the parapet and share what I’m up to.

I have filled in all my real-world index cards, colour-coded them and shuffled them around, and I have transcribed all that information onto virtual index cards in Scrivener, which I have already banged on enough about. So now it’s all back to the laptop for the next stretch.

I am a geek. I was a website designer for ten years (possibly one of the first ever to put this particular career in the past tense?). I love a bit of programming: php, html, css: bring it on. But most particularly I love a good, streamlined bit of Apple software., like the aforementioned Scrivener. But now I want to big up iCal as the novelist’s second plotting tool of choice.

The devil is in the detail, and getting it right is so important for the credibility of your story. I like to be sure I know what happened, to whom, and when. I have spent the last week or so – in between cooking and consuming vast quantities of rich and fattening foods – filling in two new iCal calendars I have created for the  main protagonists in novel #2. It is very comforting to work out exactly what time on what day a certain scene happened. While the calendar order of events might not turn out to be the structural order of the novel, it is helpful to have it pinned down. As with all things to do with form, it is good to write the rules before you break them.

Also, filling out the characters’ calendars is also great for working out if something is worth holding onto or getting rid of. Then I can go back to Scrivener and mess about with my corkboard view a bit more.

On another level, iCal helps me get to know the people I am writing about on a different, more intimate level. I have even begun to feel a bit voyeuristic as I work on my main character Lara’s calendar. There are so many things in it that only she should know. That is the level of intimacy I need to really bring her to life in the second draft.

Which is what I am going to move onto very shortly, after I have addressed my list of things to do in Things, the task management software, another geeky way of adding a bit of left-brain thought to this mysterious story generating process. Do you have anything you like to use for this stage?

Meanwhile, I have to go and cook fish pie for fifteen. Now then, should I add cream or not?

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