Today, we have a commercial for Mac. Specifically, for a Mac application called Scrivener. Oh, the love I feel! The L-O-V-E. Really, I could break out in an interpretive dance here (if I could dance).
I am a Pantser. Meaning I sit down with an idea, a character or two, and start writing with no rhyme or reason or idea where things are headed. Wish I could outline, but frankly, the thought of outlining freezes me into a catatonic state of inertia (is that possible, or have I just won the prize for most amazing redundancy?).
Anywho, Mac + Scrivener = love. And here is why.
The corkboard, ladies and gentlemen. You can break all your chapters down, make notes about each, and then pin them to the corkboard. You can color the pins any color you want — like red for romance, blue for suspense, etc. When you lay out those index cards with the pins (click of the mouse), you can then see your plot progression and how much you are devoting to each aspect of the novel.
The corkboard also can be viewed in outline format. Notice the colors of the outline. You can have your outline display the colors you chose for different aspects of your plot. At a glance you can see the progression and how much you are devoting to romance or suspense or subplot A, B, etc.
Another cool thing is the research area. You can pull in photos, webpages, etc, and make notes about characters or settings. I've started putting photos into my research area. When I want to get the mood of the swamp or of a plantation home, I click on my research tab.
The truth: I downloaded the program months ago, played with it (but didn't take the tutorial on how to really use it), and didn't buy it. I figured I didn't need it, even with these cool features, because I had Word and would be writing in Word because it cost so much. But, I came across a blog post the other day where someone was talking about the infamous plotting board. I'd tried it before, getting a big dry erase board and colorful stickies and graphing out the plot. It was okay for me, but I hate messing with all that real estate, you know?
So I thought about Scrivener again. And this time, I took the time to actually DO the tutorial. It's not long, and it helps you see the full capabilities. That's when I realized how cool the program is. I do NOT write in it, btw. I write in Word, I paste the document in chapter chunks, and then I go for the labeling and notes. I have both programs open and I go between them. It works for me. You can import a complete document into it, which I did, and you can break it out into chapters — which really helps for the labeling. I'm not sure this program will work for me in the writing stage, but in the revising stage, it's perfect.