Thursday, June 16, 2005


I've mentioned this before, but when I'm writing or revising a book I use my yWriter software. (Over 1000 downloads in the past 7 days - it's spreading.)

yWriter allows you to give each scene in the book a rating, using the following choices: Outline, Draft, 1st Edit, 2nd Edit, Done. In the beginning it's all outlines and you have a lot of work ahead of you. My current novel has 136 scenes in it, and according to my latest work report there are 11 at the outline stage, 46 drafts and 79 at 1st edit. The work report uses a deadline for each stage to show you what you have to complete each and every day - for example, today I have to turn 4 draft scenes into 1st edit.

Now, these ratings are subjective and I've been known to push a bunch of scenes from one rating to the next just to get them off my work schedule. For example, today I went through all the scenes and decided seven or eight of them were more like 1st edits than drafts, thus completing two days work with several mouse clicks. (Then I get on with rewriting the next 3 or 4 scenes, happy that things are moving nice and fast.)

Used properly, you can keep a tight rein on the book. On the other hand, seeing a 3 page list of scenes to be rewritten is almost enough to turn you to film making.

This is the hardest part - I'm currently spending 8-14 hours a day on this novel, and the thought of doing that for the next 3 weeks gives me something to worry about at night. All I can do is nibble away at it, and if promoting scenes above their status is what it takes - so be it.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)


Kendra said...

I am looking at yWriter now and trying to determine if your writing method will work for me. I am curious to know if you make notes about character back stories etc. and if so how do you organise the notes?

Simon Haynes said...

No, I'm not a big fan of character sheets & biographical detail. In fact, I never use them.
Having said that, when writing a series it would be handy to have a list of previous info I've thrown in about the characters, so I don't double up.
I realise the bio would be useful in yWriter for many authors, and I'll add something very soon - probably for the next release.

Kendra said...

Right now, I need an ideas analyser which gives the best treatment for an input idea, eg. "Your idea is best treated as a graphic novel" or "Your idea is best treated as a 12 part hour-long television drama". A multi-media mentor plug-in perhaps? :)

Simon Haynes said...

That's the kind of thing computers are terrible at. Witness how poorly grammar checkers work some time, especially with sentence fragments. ;-)

Kendra said...

I have been looking at your other programs, too. So when is the Spacejock yPod coming out?

Simon Haynes said...

Right after I adopt a team of laywers as my second family ;-) I was using 'yBook' many months before ipods were around - late 2000, I think.

I've got a backup/sync program which I use 3 or 20 times a day, but used incorrectly it can delete data from the destination drive, so I'm really not keen to put that one online.

I'm going to put together a file splitting program next - I know they're out there, but it's just something I'd like to do.

By the way, the new version of yWriter supports character info.

Kendra said...

yBook is what led me to find your site. I was using Tom's eTextReader (also Australian, a coincidence) but I wanted a Gutenburg Project interface. Tom's eTextReader is still my default text file viewer because the background texture seems easier on the eye (a personal opinion, feel free to ignore) and it also has a simple editor. I am very happy with yBook as a Gutenburg interface.

Simon Haynes said...

You can always create your own textures for yBook - just edit strip1.jpg (or one of the other 3) Make sure the resulting file isn't too large though, or yBook will crash. Best to back up the existing ones first.
One thing you can do is use irfanview to change the gamma & colour balance without having to edit pixels.