Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Organisator

I’ve blogged before about writing softwares and whether they are useful/necessary. I think my verdict earlier was ‘no’, but now that I’m 25 000 words in, and my hard drive is littered with Word documents called things like ‘The bit where mc gets homesick’ and ‘scene describing the town’, I wonder if there might be a use for some kind of organising program. 

One that’s been recommended to me is yWriter, but unfortunately it doesn’t work on macs.
I like its simple approach: ‘yWriter is a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes. It will not write your novel for you, suggest plot ideas or perform creative tasks of any kind. It does help you keep track of your work, leaving your mind free to create.’

No frills. However, so far I can achieve the same effect by using the document Navigation pane in Word, as long as I label all my scenes with ‘headings’. I’d like to do a comparison with yWriter, to see if it’s more effective than Word alone, but will have to wait until it becomes available on Mac I suppose.

In the meantime, my favourite tip for making software work for you is using the Autocorrect function to enter characters’ names. I can’t remember where I picked it up, but it’s pretty handy when one of your major characters is called ‘Aunt Honoria’. Just open the Autocorrect options menu in Tools, and add an autocorrection: Replace ‘aun’ with ‘Aunt Honoria’. Easy! And it saves me 10 keystrokes every time Aunt Honoria pops up in a scene. I can't imagine how I got by without it.

Are there other shortcuts you use? What else am I missing out on?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Working from home

It's everyone's dream, right? Be your own boss, work when you feel like it, play whatever music you like as loud as you like..

When my old work asked me if I'd like to do some editing work for them and I didn't have to come in - I could Work From Home - of course I jumped at the chance. I could save money and psycological damage by avoiding the commute to work, and I had visions of sitting in a cosy cafe hunched over my laptop.

Alas, I don't think I'm cut out for working from home.
At home, there is no-one there to look at me disapprovingly if I turn up at my desk well after 9am. There's no-one to raise an eyebrow after I leave for my tenth cup of tea and perusal of the fridge. And there's no-one to tut-tut if I spend two hours on lunch, or get distracted by email, by (ahem) blogger, or even, perversly, if I start doing my homework instead (when homework becomes a procrastination tool, I know I'm in trouble).

In short, I am the least self-disciplined of people and I make a terrible boss.
On the up side, I've made quite some headway with my novel...

Any tips for working from home would be most welcome.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tomorrow, when I start my essay

Yesterday, I went and saw the new film version of Tomorrow, When the War Began. Yes, I have an essay on symbolism in Robert Drewe's The Drowner due in two days, but TWTWB is an Australian YA classic, and I wanted to see how they'd gone making a film of it.

It was ok I suppose. They've axed a couple of sub plots, and Ellie was too pretty and didn't look tough enough, but overall it stayed true to the book. The funny thing is, in one scene, one of the girls is reading a copy of My Brilliant Career. Ellie, the heroine, comes over and asks her how the book is, and the other girl replies, 'It's not bad--better than the film.'
'Yeah, books always are,' says Ellie.

A nice ironic touch there? I guess the producers knew what they were risking, taking on a favourite of Australian teens since 1993, so they got that in early, but it sounds self-defensive to me. If your audience really is sitting there thinking, 'this isn't as good as the book,' why underline it for them? Why not just get on with the movie. 
A bit strange, but I still enjoyed the movie, even if, um, it wasn't as good as the book.