The story in software

Some people track the epochs of their lives by the cars they owned at the time. I appear to be doing that with my computer programs. I hesitate to look back at my very early days (the Jurassic of pen and paper, the Selectric, and Wordperfect) and focus mostly on this century, but even that is revealing in ways I don’t expect.

Years ago I started using yWriter. It’s really good free writing software that does everything but make toast. It was excellent for my needs at the time because it had great outlining ability. I could give my stories something approaching a plot arc. I was a joyful creator in those days, tossing ideas at the page with the glee of Jackson Pollock discovering jet propulsion. yWriter saved my sanity, and probably my editor’s, too.

Then I went to a Mac and started using Scrivener, which I love but for different reasons. Now I’m all about the editing flexibility and don’t start using the program until my outline is already in place. Things are just simpler that way, even though Scrivener probably can make toast, along with waffles, homemade jam, and a variety of cocktails. It’s a super-powerful, clever, fabulous program, and I use about 10% of it.

The truth of the matter is, I outline using sticky notes on the wall. Or a notebook. Or a napkin. Unless you’ve got the goods, no amount of computing power will save a book. For this reason, I find my methodology getting simpler all the time. Stories are about the wrench and recovery of the human heart, no more and no less.

Freestyle, um, Saturday: a new story!

Good Spirits by Rachel Goldsworthy

The Pacific Northwest looks like a peaceful place. There are pretty towns like Corsair’s Cove and Victoria, beautiful parks, rugged green wilderness….

But once upon a time, in my grandmother’s lifetime, there was Prohibition and smuggling, rumrunners and corruption.

My new story is set in that post-Great War era, when women had new legal rights and the social rules were loosening like Edwardian corsets.

I loved learning a little more about that time and what my grandmother, a new bride like my story’s main character Hulda, might have done as a young farm wife. And I loved putting some of those things into my new Corsair’s Cove Companion short story, Good Spirits.

I hope you get the same pleasure reading it as I got writing it.

Wishing you a happy weekend,

Rachel