A Tool for Your Writer's Toolbox

by Miranda Brumbaugh in


I'm currently in the revision stages of my fiction novel, but I've been pantsing it for the most part. I've found myself using the comments feature on Scrivener, which is my go-to software for noveling, as I rewrite each chapter, as a place where I list the details like plots, subplots, points of view, characters, settings, etc. I even started yet another notebook with the scenes written out in some semblance of order, but found myself losing focus when adding subplot scenes in with the plot scenes.

I've drawn diagrams, mind maps, charts, and illustrations as I try to lay out my story in some type of outline. I even looked up the good ole' JK Rowling's outlines for Harry Potter to use for an idea of how to plot the outline. Needless to say, this book "Outlining Your Novel: Map Y  our Way" couldn't have come along at a better time for me.

Now having read this book, I've rediscovered yWriter, which is free to download by the way, which I've done. I've started going back through my roughly drafted novel and organizing each scene in yWriter using the details I was already trying to organize while flailing around like a chicken with my head cut off.

Additionally, I've checked out all the analysis features on yWriter as mentioned in the book "Outlining Your Novel" like the printable lists of characters and traits, setting descriptions and scene titles, which can also be filtered according to character, setting, chapter and tags. Best of all is the feature that allows you to chart your plot along a linear line so you can see when you are overusing a character or failing to involve another. Pretty sweet if you ask me :).

Did I mention yWriter was free?

Back to the book in review. The author also goes into great depth about character and setting descriptions. I am currently using the list of 100 questions for the character interview as a way to dig deeper into the psyche and past of my four main characters. I'm also looking forward to using the setting description questions to further explore the abilities for my two main settings as I can see them becoming characters themselves, as Weiland points out in her book.

A worthy addition to a novelist's toolbox.