How I write

I’d like to yak just a little about the two main aspects of my approach to writing, the mechanical first and then the intellectual.

The tools

Many writers use Microsoft Word, and that’s what I started out with, but I discovered an awesome tool called Scrivener. Developed specifically for writers by writers, this writing software makes it easy to create, track, research, and revise a novel, regardless of length. Of course, it’s great for writing nonfiction as well.

Your separate sections, scenes, or chapters are listed in the left side of the Scrivener window, which makes it a breeze to shuffle things around without losing track of where they are in your manuscript. When I was using Word, it was time-consuming and frustrating to continually be scrolling through trying to find the right spot to cut or paste something. With Scrivener you can have additional windows open at the same time so you can see different sections of your manuscript side by side if needed.

If you’re accustomed to working with index cards, you can still do that with Scrivener’s “virtual” index card system. You can keep project notes on the side as well, to remind you how old your main character’s nephew was at the time of the fire, which year the serial killer committed his first murder, or what color the princess’ hair is.

It also makes formatting your book for publication a breeze, or at least close to breezy as you can get. There are various presets and templates that can be used whether you want formatting for a manuscript, paperback, research paper, or ebook. It exports directly to .mobi, which is what Amazon needs from you if you’re publishing an ebook; .epub for Nook and various other readers such as the iPad or Sony; .doc for Smashwords; .rtf (rich text format), and others.

It would make for an awfully long page if I tried to cover all of Scrivener’s features, so that’s not my goal in this article. I just love to spread the word about this fantastic tool. It was originally for Mac only, but now they have a beta version for Windows and Linux as well. And at only $45, it’s an absolute steal.

Try the Mac version free for 30 days (and that’s 30 days of use, not a calendar month) and see what you think. You’ll never go back!

Buy Scrivener for Mac
Windows or Linux beta version

Buy Scrivener 2.x for Mac OS X (Regular Licence)

Here are some books that I’ve found to be extremely helpful in both how to write well and for the business side of writing.

      

The approach

My approach to writing is pretty simple, really. I write the kinds of things I like to read, which I imagine is true of most writers. And what I like to read are thoughtful novels about real people with flaws and virtues, fears and desires, frustrations and joys.

However, I would classify my writing as PG-13. There is a segment of the reading population who would prefer not to read books that contain profanity and explicit sex or violence. That isn’t a judgment of others; it’s simply a personal preference of mine that I know some others share. So you won’t find those things in my books or short stories. Whether that makes them somehow boring or less real, you’ll have to read them and judge for yourself. I don’t feel that traditional values necessarily equals mundane, but that’s just me, so I’ll let my readers make their own call. :)

I don’t write every day, although I really should. That’s the problem with having too many irons in the fire, if I may use a tired old cliche; it just doesn’t leave enough time to do everything I want to do. But that’s okay because I enjoy my work of graphic and web design, photography, and Internet marketing as well. See what I mean?

Even though I’ve been writing all my life, I never thought I was particularly good at it. And I might not be; I’m sure I will get my share of bad reviews. But after my first novel erupted and got hot molten words all over my desk, I realized that I wasn’t quite as bad as I thought. I mean, my first draft did stink up the place, but by the time I had finished editing it, it was better than I expected I could make it. And I realized I should have been pursuing it seriously all along instead of telling myself “You’re no good, don’t even try.”

Live and learn. (I do need to stop thinking in cliches!) :)