Category: The BA Band

Contact Us Today for a
Free Consultation

Scrivener & The Book Architecture Method

Please welcome Book Architecture’s guest blogger and award-winning author  – Ray Daniel!

 

Stuart Horwitz’s Book Architecture trilogy, Blueprint your Bestseller, Book Architecture, and Finish Your Book in Three Drafts, delivers a powerful framework for writing a novel.

Scrivener, the software package from the company Literature and Latte, is a powerful software tool that combines word processing with outlining, research storing, and task management to create a single novel-creating platform.

One would think that there would be powerful synergies between a novel-writing software tool, Scrivener, and a novel-writing creation tool, Book Architecture, and one would be correct.

This blog shows one way to use Scrivener to manage the Book Architecture process.

Since it’s easier to work from example, I’ll be using my third Tucker Novel, Child Not Found, and parts of my fourth Tucker Novel, Hacked as examples of a novel built using Book Architecture and written in Scrivener.

The Binder

The binder is the perfect place to begin, because it organizes all the information about your project into a single place. The binder for Child Not Found looks like this:

image1

 

image2The first thing to notice is that my binder contains the three drafts Stuart outlines in Finish Your Book in Three Drafts. The messy draft, method draft, and polished draft each have their own folders. I didn’t actually write three drafts of the novel. I generated the material for the novel in the messy draft, and then duplicated the messy draft to create the initial version of the method draft:

 

Here we see the first place where Scrivener intersects with the Book Architecture method: draft management. Rather than have separate word processing documents for each draft – or even worse, one document that keeps changing – we have a place to store each of our drafts so we can refer to back to previous drafts as we move forward.

As we see here, we copy the messy draft to create the method draft. But where did the messy draft come from? It came from Blueprint Your Bestseller’s Action Step #0.

Step #0: Generate Material

Generating material is the first step in the Book Architecture method. There are many ways to generate material and Blueprint Your Bestseller discusses several of them. One of the most basic ways to generate material is to start at the beginning and simply write the book into a word processor. This results in a long document containing your entire novel.

Organizing Material into Scenes

If you’ve generated material, and need to bring it into Scrivener, you can import and organize your novel into scenes. Blueprint Your Bestseller encourages writers to cut up their scenes as Action Step #5. I suggest, for reasons that we’ll see, that Scrivener users do this as Step #1.

Scrivener makes it easy to cut your scenes. You import your book into Scrivener (perhaps with copy and paste) and then use the Split at Selection command to split the document into two documents:

image3

You place your cursor between two scenes and use the right mouse button to split the scene at the selection. This gives you two scenes that you can name. You keep working your way down your document until you’ve “cut up” all your scenes.

Generating Material in Scenes

image4

While Scrivener makes it easy to split a novel into scenes, I recommend a different approach: generating material scene by scene. That is, you create a separate document for each scene and allow Scrivener to compile it all into a book. You can set Scrivener to compile your scenes however you like.

My books have one scene per chapter, so the compilation process is simple. But you can use folders to combine several scenes into a chapter and several chapters into parts.

Generating material scene by scene in Scrivener has the obvious advantage that you don’t need to split your manuscript into scenes later on. It has additional advantages in that it is satisfying to finish a scene and move on to the next one, and that you can use icons in the binder to add orienting material to your manuscript such as acts, beats, sequences, and days. For example here are the scenes that make up my most recent Tucker book, Hacked.

 

Analyzing Your Scenes

The first five steps of Blueprint Your Bestseller help you analyze your scenes:

  • Brainstorm Your Scenes—Make a list of your scenes from memory.
  • Your Good Scenes—Highlight the good scenes, those that are done for now.
  • Your Bad Scenes—Highlight the bad scenes, ones that need work.
  • Your Forgotten Scenes—Note the ones that skipped your mind.
  • Cut Up Your . . . we already did this.

You can do all this with Scrivener’s Label feature. Each scene has a programmable Label field which you can see in the Inspector on the right side of the window:

image5

You can program the label with the words Good, Bad, Forgotten, and even Putrid (If you want to go beyond Book Architecture’s recommendations.)

image6

 

When you edit the labels you can add colors by clicking on the colored dot next to each label.

Now that you have colors on each of your labels you can use them to examine your scenes.

image8

To color code your scenes, select:

View -> Use Label Color In -> Binder.

Hmm. Lots of green. Not so bad.

 

Working with Series

Action steps #6-#10 from Blueprint Your Bestseller all relate to finding the series in your story and attaching them to scenes. Then you look for key scenes where several series intersect, find the theme of the book, and consciously choose how to present the series in terms of frequency and rhythm.

The Scrivener keyword feature is perfect for managing series in Scrivener.

Creating a List of Series

The first thing we do is create a list of series using keywords. We see the project keywords using the Project -> Show Project Keywords pulldown menu. This gives us a list of keywords and we use it to capture our series:

image9

The little plus-sign icon in the lower left allows you to add series. You can double click on the colored squares on the right to give each series its own color. You are now ready to add your series to your scenes.

Adding Series to a Scene

Each scene should deliver at least one iteration of a series. At this point we go through all our scenes and add series to them. The easiest way to do this is to drag the series (keywords) from the Keywords window above into the scene title in the binder window:

image10

You can see the list of series associated with a given scene using the Keyword panel in the inspector:

image11

Once you have all the series associated with the scenes you can easily see how your book handles the series.

Searching for Series

The easiest way to analyze your series is to ask the question “Which of my scenes relate to a given series?” For example, let’s examine the places where the series “secrets” came up in Child Not Found’s messy draft.

First we tell Scrivener that we want to search for keywords:image12

Next we do the search and look at the binder:

image13

We see that we have ten scenes that deal with secrets.

Series on the Corkboard

Scrivener lets you view a collection of scenes as index cards on a corkboard. You can add colors from your series by selecting the View -> Corkboard Options -> Show Keyword Colors menu item. This view helps you find key scenes:

image14

The card display button in the lower right hand corner lets you control the number of series colors that appear on each card.

Series in the Outliner

You can also view sets of scenes in the outliner and view their series (keywords) using the outliner’s column selector like this:

image15

You access the column selector by using the right mouse button on the column title area at the top of the list. (By the way, Scrivener does not require numbers on the keywords. I added the numbers myself as part of my process for sorting analyzing scenes.)

Using Scrivener for the Rest of the Process

At this point Scrivener has helped us cut up our scenes, label them as good, bad, or forgotten, and assign series to them. At this point we can proceed using typical Scrivener features.

Finding the Theme

Blueprint Your Bestseller action steps #7-11 have to do with finding your theme. You’ve named your series in the keywords, but the other steps of describing the series, listing the series sentences, and “finding your one thing”, are best done in a spare document in the Story Notes section in the binder.

Drawing the Target

There is no “Draw the Target” function in Scrivener. You can do this with a big poster board and post it notes. Software tool geek that I am, I use Literature and Latte’s tool Scapple to create my target. Once you’ve completed your target exercise you can store the result in Scrivener’s Story Notes section either by taking a picture of it or (if using Scapple) dragging and dropping it.

Ordering Your Scenes

Stuart Horwitz says that a novel is 99 scenes arranged in the correct order. Now that you’ve fully analyzed your novel with help from Scrivener, you duplicate your messy draft to create a method draft and then rearrange and rewrite the scenes. You’ve now got 99 (or whatever number) scenes in the correct order. So you duplicate your method draft to create a polished draft and you’re all set.

ray-daniel-8x8

Ray Daniel is the award-winning author of Boston-based crime fiction and is the author of the Tucker Mysteries. His short stories “Give Me a Dollar” won a 2014 Derringer Award for short fiction and “Driving Miss Rachel” was chosen as a 2013 distinguished short story by Otto Penzler, editor of The Best American Mystery Stories 2013. CHILD NOT FOUND is the third novel in the Tucker Mysteries. For more information, visit him online at raydanielmystery.com and follow him on twitter @raydanielmystry.

Introducing Madison Utley

Everyone wants to be in a band, right? Even the most solitary among us revel in
the enhanced processing speed and deepened emotional richness that come when we work closely with another who “gets it.” In that vein, we introduce our newest collaborator, Madison Utley. And rather than rotely recite her bio, we’ll simply pass her the mic…

 

Someone recently asked me how I found my way into independent editing and, I was off: “So, when I was seven years old…”

The scale of my response was met with clear alarm, but rather than heeding social cues (I mean, where’s the fun in that?)*, I forged onward: buckle up, buddy, I’m taking you on a journey.

Luckily for you, dear reader, I realize my loquaciousness is better received in person than on the page, and so shall present to you here the abridged version of my tale –

For a decade of my childhood, one month a year was set aside for family road trips throughout the US. It was on a particularly glorious stretch of plains, many years and many miles into this endeavor, where I remember first articulating something which had been dancing around the periphery of my fledgling awareness: The only difference between being home or being here was going; the trick to getting things done is doing them.

 

 

It wasn’t as if all barriers were dramatically dashed from my mind in that moment, somewhere on the open road at high noon; it wasn’t an epiphany. It felt more like acknowledging an incontrovertible truth, one that settled in right at the core of my pliable twelve-year-old consciousness.

Carried into adulthood, that perspective meant I was comfortable turning ideas (I want to learn Spanish) into decisive action (I’m going to move to Colombia).

It’s not a terribly novel ideology. It doesn’t absolve me of the time and effort necessary to enact my plans. It doesn’t mean I’m inherently good at all I try. It doesn’t mean things unfold how I expect.

What it does mean is that I embrace my agency and trust in my ability to figure things out. If I come across what seems to be a worthwhile pursuit, I know I can and will make it work.

Sure, I can move to South America. Sure, I can run a marathon. Sure, I can set the record for most wings consumed in one sitting in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Sure, I can write a book.

Enter: independent editing.

With the first major project I took on, I didn’t let the fact that I had never attempted writing on that scale deter me. I put in the time. I researched. I sought guidance from the right people (looking at you, Stuart).

I wrote the book.

And I was hooked.

Independent editing felt – and feels – like the coalescence of all that I most value in life: dealing in words, working with people, dynamism, independence, flexibility, challenge.

Fast forward several years and I’m currently based in Sydney, Australia (…because it’s beautiful. Because I want to. Because I can?). Some weeks, I’m elbow deep in projects that set my mind afire. Others, I’m trekking for days at a time through the Tasmanian wilderness. I’m dizzy with gratitude I’m able to structure my life in a way that allows me the freedom to pursue the breadth of that which I find fulfilling.

It seems to me that living well relies on (near) equal parts humility and confidence. Helping people bring their vision to the page demands the same; it’s their project, their expertise, their passion – I’m there to learn. I also know I have much to give. Therein lies the excitement.

 

* let the record show, in actuality, I am an excellent storyteller who is forever leaving my fans wanting more

A Convert Speaks

A Word on the Method, by Jeanette Stokes

When I feel completely stuck in my life, I try to remember that I worked all this out about twenty years ago. If I walk, write, and make some art every day or nearly every day, then I can keep going and life can seem quite livable and sometimes even meaningful. So, when I run out of steam, I try walking, writing, or painting.

When I get stuck in my writing, whether working on a book or a shorter project, I can sink into that dark place of: “This is stupid. I can’t write. All those other things I wrote were a fluke. No one wants to read what I write anyway.” Then, just before I give up entirely and turn to learning macramé, a faint voice in my head will say, “the method.”

As though coming out of a fog, I take a few bold steps toward the bookcase in my upstairs study and reach for Blueprint Your Bestseller: Organize and Revise Any Manuscript with the Book Architecture Method by Stuart Horwitz. This and his two subsequent books lay out a brilliant method. I begin at the beginning, proceed through the steps, and everything gets better.

It is important to have already written down everything I can think of to say on the particular subject at hand. That’s actually the first step. The method is most helpful to me once I have written a great quantity of words and am stuck trying to figure out how to help the project hang together.

One step that is particularly useful is writing down all the scenes I can remember. Trust me, I never want to do it, but it’s like peeling the tough skin off broccoli, it is so much more satisfying to eat if I’ll just take the time to do it. So, I write down the scenes, compare them with what I actually have, and notice what’s missing. Almost immediately, I have some hope about the possibilities for the piece I’m working on.

Then comes the really hard part: Cut it up. I never want to do this step either and once wrote a friend: “I don’t want to print the book out and cut up the scenes. I don’t want to do it. I’m SURE it is the next step, because I have the glue-y feeling about the project. I work on a little bit here and a little bit there, but it is time to figure out the theme and the scenes and stop dealing with it as a big wad of dough. Telling you this will give me the courage to DO IT!”

I print the manuscript out and cut up the scenes, worrying the whole time about how to save the brilliant segues I have written to connect various sections. Once this surgery is completed, I get the payoff: a sense of ease and spaciousness comes over me and I can see! Instead of one tight intransigent blob of words, they come to look like small interesting packets that have a chance of making sense together.

The method works for a book, an article, or a chapter. I remember one particularly satisfying hour of writing when I printed out a slightly tangled chapter, cut it apart, rearranged and deleted, and found the meat. The next day I rewrote it. The method never lets me down.

After separating all the scenes, I get to make charts on the wall of all the scenes and a big bullseye target that helps figure out what the theme is for the project. If I just stick with all the steps, I wind up with a much clearer, cleaner, more accessible piece and I stop feeling like I’m lost in the dark.

Writing is hard, but it doesn’t have to feel aimless. Stuart Horwitz’s method will help you find your way.

Jeanette Stokes, is the executive director of RCWMS and author of several books, including Just Keep Going: Advice on Writing and Life. She lives in Durham, NC.

Winner of the 1st Annual Book Architecture GIT-R-DONE Travel Grant

Last year, we travelled 19 states to tell the story of Doris Buffett’s unique philanthropy. Crafted with co-writer, Anita Mumm, and accompanied by Stephanie Craig‘s dynamic images, LETTERS TO DORIS: One Woman’s Quest to Help Those with Nowhere Else to Turn presents a slice of the heartwarming and selfless community that Doris created through her Letters Foundation. One thing that working with the Letters Foundation has taught us is that our charitable giving has been all…over..the…place. Executive Director, Amy Kingman, challenged us to really think about where we wanted to focus our efforts. What do we think is most helpful for the writers that we work with?

The answer was resoundingly clear: A travel stipend for the author of a work-in-progress to get away and finish the damn thing.

Book Architecture thrives as a finish line business.

Our proudest testimonials go something like: “We’ve been thinking as an organization of doing a book for ten years and with your help we were holding it in 9 months.”

Hence the BOOK ARCHITECTURE GIT-R-DONE GRANT was born.

 

 

Without further ado, then, the Particulars:

Grant Money Awarded: $2,500. Book Architecture will also provide 1 hr. of coaching prior to departure to help you get clear on your production goals and 1 hr. of coaching while you are away to help you stay on track.

Deadline: Jan. 15th, 2020, to BAGrant@bookarchitecture.com

Submission Criteria: 10 pages of writing (max 2,500 words) from a work-in-progress of any genre, along with a 1-page cover letter (max 400 words). This cover letter should answer the following three questions:

  1. Why will getting away from the unending stream of responsibilities (children, aging parents, day jobs, chores, etc.) help you push this project over the top… i.e, git-r-done? We want to know things like: How long have you been working on it? What number draft is this? How clearly can you see the finish line, etc.?
  2. What good is this project doing you? Who were you before this project started and who do you hope to be when it ends?
  3. What good is this project doing the world? Like, really. We’re interested.

Stipulations:

  • Grant money will not be delivered to recipients. Instead, travel expenses up to $2,500 will be paid directly by Book Architecture. Approved expenses include transportation, lodging, and meals. Requests for equipment upgrades will be considered as part of a getaway package. Wine-in-a-box you will have to get on your own.
  • Grantees will share a description of their travel/writing experience in a blog on the Book Architecture website.
  • Grantees will be required to sign a legal waiver stating that if anything happens to them while they are away it’s not our fault (duh).

Judging: Book Architecture has partnered with InkHouse to be the sole judges for this award. InkHouse is an integrated PR agency for innovative thinkers, creators and leaders who believe in the power of stories to effect positive change. We are satisfied with their judging criteria, and their decisions will be final. Book Architecture will be able to confirm that your submission was received and passed along…but that’s about it.

 

 

June 1, 2020 UPDATE:

I’m going to have to ask you to believe that the fact that the winner of the First Annual Book Architecture Git-R-Done grant is writing about a pivotal moment in the history of what became the Black Lives Matter movement AND is a nurse who has been treating people with COVID-19 six days a week for three months is a coincidence. Or fate, which is what I would go with.

(But seriously, judging was complete in later February. We just didn’t announce the winner because she’s been so busy saving lives and we wanted her to have her moment in the sun.)

Amy Wilson is writing a novel set during the MOVE bombing in 1978, when the city of Philadelphia battled what they termed a terrorist cult whose civil disobedience was aimed at exposing systemic brutality against black people. Her novel, Roof Girl, will explore the issues of family, belonging, and the power dynamics around truth. Amy plans to use the $2,500 grant stipend to travel to West Philadelphia (where the events occurred) for interviews, visit the archives at Temple University and immerse herself in the scenic detail of Philadelphia landmarks like the Franklin Institute and the Mutter Museum.

I swear it is another coincidence that she and I are both from Philly and lived there when these events transpired. We didn’t know each other, and besides, the judging was all done in a double-blind process by InkHouse PR. Speaking of InkHouse, they praised a number of contest entrants and reported the penultimate tier held many worthy candidates. I hope we will see some of you again next year.

Once, you know, people leave their house, Amy will embark on her travels and keep us updated. Go, Amy!