Becoming a Scrivener-er…a new adventure.

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Mattox MS

On Tuesday 21st May, I finally decided that I’d had ENOUGH of writing in Microsoft Word and took a long, hard look at Scrivener.

But why, you might ask, when more than half of the writers I’d spoken to said it was the best thing ever, had I waited so long???

Well, (long story short) I’d always been happy to use Word in all of its incarnations since before Office 95 was ‘the latest thing’.  But now, as I began to use Office 2010, acquired in March 2013, my heart sank. The darn thing seemed to have a mind of its own.

From paragraph formatting to bullet points it suddenly felt as if Word didn’t want me to be there any more.

I use *   *   * to separate paragraphs – have you tried to type that in Office 2010? It turns into bullets!!

Still, I persisted and wrestled with it for another four weeks, working around the peculiarities as I assembled articles, short stories and…my CreateSpace version of  ‘A Construct of Angels.’ Huge gaps between paragraphs and page breaks that refused to undo became the final straw. For three nights, I was forced to cut and paste sentences in order to get around this idiotic formating problem and when the time came to begin my next project, my brain cried ‘ENOUGH! I can’t go through all that again!’

So, in desperation to soothe my addled mind, I Googled the best price for the latest (or even the previous, for I am not proud) version of Scrivener.

Not so easy, for here in soggy England, we’re unable to take advantage of the NaNoWriMo offer price on Amazon (unless you know of a way around that…) as it’s only on Amazon.com…and we poor Brits aren’t allowed to download from there in case there’s none left for everyone else. We’re quite a ravenous bunch over here – we have been since WW2 rationing ended.

But I managed to uncover a trial download from PC World – priced at $40. Why dollars? Well the download linked to Literature and Latte dot com who seem to have no problems with feeding us hungry Brits.

And so I went for it, desperately hoping that this shining light, this gift from the Gods (they are there…they’ve just retired) was everything that it had been purported.

All right, Toynbee…don’t oversell it!

So far, so good. It downloaded (49MB), installed (even on my stone-age Windows Vista Netbook) opened and allowed me to explore. The tutorial looked daunting, but because it’s interactive (‘try this…see what happens; now try this…isn’t it good?’) it’s more kinesthetic than cramming.

I think that Scrivener and I are going to get along just fine. My ex (Word 2010) will still  be allowed to visit at weekends, but that relationship has definitely cooled.

I will let you know if romance blossoms with the new girl in town.

So, with Scrivener in mind, Write On!

*   *   *

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Are we all guilty of creating imaginary friends?

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My imaginary friend

Whilst idly browsing my WordPress stats, I noticed that someone had referenced my ongoing page ‘Characters that can write their own stories’ from Reddit.com.

The Reddit post was one of several that referred to something called (and this is a completely new word for me) Tulpae.

The page describes a Tulpa as; ‘…best described as an imaginary friend that has its own thoughts and emotions, and that you can interact with. You could think of them as hallucinations that can think and act on their own.’

The contributor opens the discussion with;

Are characters in a novel the Tulpae of the Author?

Very interesting question…

The post then goes on to say;

‘By talking and fleshing out something to your own subconscious for so long, you start to get answers from it. The answers align themselves with all these preconceived traits you’ve given them (for the most part). When you talk to your own mind for long enough, it will answer back: this is an accepted fact.

This sounds a lot like an author with a good enough character not deciding what the character will do, but the author knowing what the character would do because the character tells him or her.

I was told by a writing professor of mine that authors should strive for this level of character development, to the point where the character makes its own decisions.

anyone interested in discussing this?’

Read more of the discussion here.

I’d be interested to learn what everyone else’s thoughts are on the subject of characters becoming part of the creative process.

This got me thinking about the entire process of writing versus creating imaginary friends.

Sure, our reasons for creating are different from that of a child who creates friends out of a need for comfort, companionship or security.

We invent characters to fill a book, act out our story or even (in some cases) fulfill unfeasible fantasies.  When I was a child, barely into double figures, I was having such a miserable time of things, I began to write End-of-the World stories where only ‘nice’ people survived and subsequently found each other to begin civilisation over again  (Obviously, these early stories failed because I’d selectively eliminated all anatgonists!).

Years later, it occurred to me that I had been exercising (or even exorcising) mental control over the world as a form of comfort, rather like inventing imaginary friends to keep me safe.

Later stories, written during my teens, became less like a wish-list of how I (unconsciously) felt the world ought to be.  They even began to include bad guys!

image courtesy of svilen001 - Stock Xchng

But, looking back at them now, the stories still seemed to retain an element of control, a sanity and restraint that the real world lacked.  My current writing style has, I can see now, developed out of that evolutionary process, although I hope that it feels less controlled than those early works.

But do writers invent characters purely out of necessity – simply to act out a pre-planned story?  Or is there even a small element of ‘this character brings me comfort’?  Is there a hint of ‘I’m happy with this character because I’d like them if they were my real-life friend’?  Do we unconsciously develop characters (even anatgonists) that we are comfortable with?

Are writers the ultimate creators of  imaginary friends?

 

Write on!

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