Zelda 1: Get Out the Knife

The Twelve Days of Zelda officially began today, so I opened the You Again files.

There are ten thousand of them. The earliest is dated May of 2004, but I know I started it in 2003. I don’t know why I thought I’d open the folder and it would all be neat and tidy. It looks like a goat threw up in there. And although I have many files to open yet, here’s what I’ve found so far:

In a desperate attempt to save this book, I have called Zelda “Emma,” “Esme” and “Roxy.” Her best friend Scylla was once called “Beth.” James, however, has always been James.

I have started this book it three different places, once too late in the story, once too early in the story, and once just in the wrong place. The first scene, which should be Zelda meeting an antagonist, was actually three scenes and a coda: the first scene had 2392 words, the second had 3889, the third had 1384 and the fourth had 241. Yes, folks, almost 8000 words to get my heroine on the scene and in trouble. That’s, uh, too many.

Then the hero, James: 7225 words to establish him and his relationships with his cousins. Yawn.

The heroine’s best friend, Scylla: 2248 to get her POV.

That one may actually be pretty good, but it’s still going to have to be cut unless I move her to Chapter Two because by the end of the first chapter, I have to have my heroine with her goal and antagonist, my hero with his subplot goal, and something that’s brought them together so I can get the love story subplot going. Which means I now have over 17,000 words for a first chapter. Which is about, oh, eleven thousand too many. So I have to cut it which means that 60,000 word head start I had on the novel just faded to 50,000.

Helping in this weeding out process is some great shareware that I found called Scrivener. If you’re not on a Mac, don’t even go look at it because it’ll break your heart that you can’t have it. It’s a writing word processor that’s only meant for writing drafts of fiction and screenplays. When it’s done, you save it to Word or whatever major word processor you want. But as composing software, it’s great, well worth the $34 they ask for it.

I now have my first chapter scenes all in Scrivener where I can keep them straight with the note card that goes with each scene that I can see all at once tacked to Scrivener’s corkboard which looks like this:

Scrivener’s Desktop

And I have my basic plot outline (Beginning, Act One, Turning Point One, Act Two, TP2, Act Three, TP 3, Act Four, Climax) filled out for Zelda, for the James/love story subplot, for the Scylla subplot, and for two other major characters so I know where there are at the crucial moments. Tomorrow, I’ll add some of the minor characters so I know where they are in their plots at those moments.

Plus I have my One Sentence Idea (Bob will be so proud):

A woman goes back to the house for a Christmas house party and meets the same people she was with at a summer house party fifteen years before while trying to discover who fathered her at a similar Christmas house party thirty-five years before.

Yes, it needs work.

And my “this book is about” sentence (which is easier for me than a One Sentence idea):

This is a book about ZELDA who wants to find her FATHER/FATHER’S IDENTITY but can’t because X is destroying evidence and killing the people who know.

And my central question:

Will Zelda defeat X and find out who her father is?

And yes I did a conflict box. You’re not getting it because it gives away the murderer.

So while I still have a mess on my hands, at least I’m clearing away some underbrush and getting my plan in place. Pretty good or a first day.

23 thoughts on “Zelda 1: Get Out the Knife

  1. I am in the process of saving up to buy a Mac and trade in my PC. This is due in part of the delightful software Mac has. Plus there is that nifty feature where the plug is attached by a magnet which is good for me because I am a klutz.

  2. did you find an answer about why Zelda needs to find out who her father was?

    i’m glad it’s starting for you. i need to backtrack. but first i have homework.

  3. I was just in the mac v. pc debate with a friend trying to convert me yesterday. If he only knew he just had to mention THIS software and I’d be completely sold on a mac for my new laptop-to-be.

  4. I love the look of the Scriveners so much I did a google search and found something that looks similar for us PC people. I’ll post the link if Jenny says it’s okay…?

  5. It sounds like that writer’s online workshop is really working for you. It’s not like you have to use the OSI to pitch to an editor. Yet. Sounds fascinating. I can’t wait to read it.

  6. Sounds like you are well on the way to cutting thru the underbrush to get to the story. You’ll have plenty of time to work on it today because the snow has everyone locked down. Is it just me, or does Scylla sound really interesting?

  7. Kyra, no it’s not just you. Somehow, Jenny, when you talk about Scylla your tone seems lighter and brighter. You might be intrigued by Zelda, but I think Scylla is trying to tempt you away from her. Beware of shameless hussies like that 🙂

  8. Sure, Sara. Is it Writer’s Cafe?


    Cyndi posted it on CherryForums. I haven’t worked with that one so I don’t know anything about except what’s on the website, but it looks similar.

    Except, you know, not on a Mac (g).

    As for Scylla, I always have a soft spot for my supporting best friend characters because they can be outrageous (see Lisa Livia in Agnes and the Hitman or Lisa in Bet Me) because they’re not on the page that much. And Scylla is more whacked out than most so I really love her.

  9. Go look at it.
    My instinct is yes. I’m starting to transfer a lot of project stuff into it now, and it’s working really well. But I’ve just started.

    The nice thing about Scrivener is they give you a 30 day free trial. So you can go in and put a project in and see the bells and whistles. I’m fairly sure they do that because once you’re in, you’re hooked.

  10. Looks like a goat threw up in there.

    You mean, it’s not just me?

    And OMG on that Scrivner thing. I was sitting in bed with the laptop and called the Second Son in to see it (’cause he’s an English/Creative writing major type — yes, we have paid for a college education that will add yet another starving artist to the gene pool when he graduates, sigh). Then I shoved it in front of my husband, who is about a third of the way through his first novel and whose Word program is also seriously infected with Barfing Goat Syndrome.

    I mean, imagine — everything on one computer screen instead of randomly scattered amongst a thousand spiral notebooks, napkins, Post-It notes and files whose names one can no longer remember. The mind boggles.

    Now all I have to do is steal my MIL’s new, virtually unused Mac…

  11. Scrivener sounds like a good program. At literatureandlatte.com, it’s for sale and says it has “universal” application for Mac/PC so they’ve upgraded.

    Of course, like all discerning individuals, I have multiple Macs at home. 🙂

  12. It’s moments like this when I remember that buying a Mac laptop was a damn good decision three years ago. Thank you very much for the link to Scrivener; I’ll have to download the trial tonight.

    I’ve been using Circus Ponies Notebook for keeping random notes — and you’d better believe that’s been fun going through old files and converting this stuff to one place — but this looks like it could be better for the actual writing.

  13. Janis, the Scrivener developer says he gets irritated with software companies who make you pay for multiple copies of things just because you have more than one Mac, so you can buy Scrivener once and install it everywhere. How cool is that? I’m tempted to send the guy a Valentine.

    I adore Scrivener, and have been so busy writing my novel in it for the last month or so that I’ve utterly failed to blog about it. (This is a miracle, by the way. I’ve been noodling aimlessly on this $&*% manuscript for at least two years.)

  14. I’ve been threatening to buy a Mac for years, every time my PC gets temperamental and now I have an even better reason – that software almost had me drooling all over my keyboard because my office is such a mess of notepads and computer printouts that I can’t find anything half the time. Or my daughter steals my notepad and draws all over it, obliterating my notes. (how can I yell when she so proudly says, ‘It’s for you, Mommy?’)

    Oh yes… I see apples in my future 🙂

  15. i don’t like macs (ok, stop throwing things at me) but the program does look cool…really cool.

  16. Zelda, the book… This is soooo cooool. We’re learning the nuts and bolts of novel writing over there, and a case study over here. Just right. ThankYouThankYouThankYou. I may learn this stuff yet.

  17. I said I wasn’t going to go to the Scrivener website because while I’m a genious on a PC, I’m pretty much Mac-stupid. But I went anyway and wanted to cry. That looks so cool.

    Then I wiped the tears from my eyes and checked out the Liquid Story Binder. All is right in my world again.

  18. Hi Kyra. Good to ‘see’ you. I think you’re right, Scylla sounds like a lot of fun. Jenny, you do write some great best friends.

  19. This program looks cool, but it might be more complicated than I can handle. I’m not really a computer person. Is it very hard to learn?

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