After my initial story idea I use Keynote for a brief plot outline and begin writing based on that. I’m too impatient to do a full outline immediately and starting to write early helps me sketch out a more thorough outline as I continue. I do this early enough in the process so I shouldn’t find myself in any plot dead ends.
In the process of writing, I do an enormous amount of what I call brain dumping using my digital voice recorder. Once I’ve honed in on a story, these recordings are literally nonstop and occur 24/7 with some sleepless nights repeatedly picking up the recorder to the point that I have to keep it turned on next to my pillow. I do a pretty good job of keeping up on transcriptions from the recorder but it can be challenging at times to transcribe everything.
I transfer the initial outline of the story to Scrivener and start writing some of the major ideas for the story. Once I have a fairly sizeable amount of notes transcribed I use Keynote (a free SourceForge program) to begin a thorough outline. Once that’s completed (it’s never completed) I take my transcribed notes and some research notes and place them in the appropriate sections of the outline. This has proved very helpful in getting that huge amount of information organized. This is an ongoing process that goes on throughout the writing of the first draft. As I flesh out my characters more during revision, I’ll probably use Keynote to organize this as well. This is an area I need to improve on by giving dimension to my characters earlier in the process.
At the same time I take all of my research notes and pertinent websites that are helpful in fleshing out the story and put them in Evernote tagged according to their subject and relevance. I could actually use Scrivener for this since it has a lot of Evernote’s functions but the PC version is too clunky in that regard. The Mac version is pretty much flawless and has more features which is why I currently have a serious case of Mac envy and foresee a MacBook Air as a selfish and totally uncalled for purchase in my future (well, maybe next Spring when the new models come out) .
As far as my daily word count, when I’m rolling along I’ll write an average of about 850 per day and when I’m having a burnout slump about 450. I’ve never gone below the lower amount for 7 months and 18 days so far. I hope I can keep it up because the BIC method (butt in chair) really does work, if you have the discipline. I keep track of my words per day in Magic Spreadsheet as well as a backup spreadsheet of my own. As I continue to get more organized I hope my average word count will go up.
My notes and research far exceed my novels word count which I view as a good thing.
During revision, I’m definitely going to use a newly discovered writing tool called Pro Writing Aid.
It’s a constantly evolving and learning process but that’s pretty much it so far.
Update 9-9-13: About 90% of the people who start writing a novel give up at some point when they realize the daunting task ahead of them. In other words, it’s a lot harder than they had anticipated. I’m starting to realize how difficult good writing is as I get further and further into the actual mechanics of writing. But rather than get discouraged I’m getting excited because I’m actually starting to wrap my head around some of these techniques to the point where I actually understand how to use them.
For example I’m starting to realize how extremely helpful a W Storyboard and Linear Storyboard using the three act structure would be to get the big picture of your unwieldy novel as well as pushing it in the directions it needs to go in an organized as opposed to random way. Here are a couple of videos by Mary Carroll Moore discussing storyboarding:
In addition to storyboarding I recently ran across an outline of how to use the Jim Butcher method of writing by interfacing it with Scrivener which is the program I use for all my writing. This is from ‘The Writing Site of R.K. Athey: