Tag Archives: writing

Mapping Act II with Scrivener

I’m always looking at ways to be organized and also productive. As a former teacher, I lived and breathed my lesson plan book. I suppose you could say it was a modified version of a bullet journal. I wasn’t strict about following every lesson I planned out—you can’t be! Things happen in the classroom and you have to be able to adapt which means some lessons got done and some didn’t and you’d have to move the lessons around to make it work.

As a writer, it’s difficult to stay organized and productive.  Research, drafts, notes—these all are necessary for writing a story, but it also can be a challenge to keep them all organized.

During the summer of last year, I spent time outlining my story, using the three act, eight sequence story structure. I had a major breakthrough in writing when I did this. I learned that I had a whole story. I just needed to write it! Cut to the present, I finished the first act and I’m now ready to write the second act.

But I had a little trouble figuring out how to make that transition. I spent a few days brooding about what would come next. I had an idea, but I didn’t know how to get there.

I went back to my original outline from the summer. It had been almost three months since I had looked at it and it was quite an eye-opening experience going back to it. So much of the story has evolved from that outline. The story has gone from a skeletal structure to a living, breathing entity complete with muscle and a complex system. I was surprised at how far I’d come and pleased to see such progress on my novel.

When reviewing the second act outline notes, it reminded me of the structure again. It was a lot like starting from the beginning again, learning the structure before adding the muscle and complexity to the system.

With this in mind, I decided to incorporate Scrivener as part of the process. I started using Scrivener a few years ago. I haven’t fully learned all the ins and outs of the program, but it was so easy to learn how to use it and just knowing the basic features of the program has really helped me to stay on top of things.

When I first started my book, I had my notes, sticky notes, a thick stack of index cards, and a trifold presentation board. I proceeded to plot out the first act, using my notes by jotting down the basic events on sticky notes and putting them on my presentation board. I’m a visual person which helped me to see the structure of my story.

Presentation board:Sequencing board

Tri-fold presentation board set up for 3 Act plot sequence

This time for Act II, I used the cork board feature on Scrivener. The cork board feature is a virtual cork board complete with index cards. There are a lot of things you can do with these index cards like color coding and laying them out just to name a few features. For me, once I typed out the events for Act II, part 1, I printed out the index cards.

Typing in Scene notes into Scrivener Corkboard

Bad lighting! I do most of my writing at night when the kids are asleep!

I also printed out Act I too. The default setting color coded each Act: Act I was in pink and Act II was in blue. The difference was that the events for Act I were already completed scenes where as Act II were only concepts. There’s a feature where you can label each index card so that Scrivener can recognize the difference.

Scrivener Index Cards of written and to be written scenes

Sticky notes are place markers to denote turning points and climaxes.

Once the index cards were printed, it was just a matter of cutting and then taping them on to my presentation board. Thank goodness for washi tape—nother fantastic use for it! Since washi tape is adjustable, I can move the cards around if I need a scene somewhere else.

Scrivener Index Cards Act I and II

My inner washi addict at work here!

Now it’s time to write! I have a plan. I have direction. I’m hoping to meet my goal of completing Act II, Part 1 by the end of January, but if it takes me longer, I’m okay with that. I know where the story is going, I just have to stay to the path and keep writing.


Cutting Down Page Length

As part of my writing experience in The Writer’s Studio Online through Simon Frasier University, we are participating in a Cross-Genre Module study of a genre outside of our assigned one. I’m currently in the fiction group and for this Cross-Genre Module, I’m in the YA/Speculative Fiction group.

I love my fiction group. I’m part of a talented, supportive group of ladies. My mentor June Hutton is an amazing writer and her books have gorgeous prose for days. But, I will admit that I was also excited to be a part of the YA/Speculative group too. My mentor for the next few weeks is Eileen Cook who is a YA author of fantastic books. She is also very generous with her insight into YA fiction publishing as well.

For this module, our assignment is to write a piece with YA/Speculative Fiction conventions. Well, since my current WIP is a YA fantasy, I didn’t have to go too far. Since this is a new group and new opportunity, I decided to write up a scene that had been playing in the back of my mind while working on my current WIP. (It’s either feast or famine when it comes to story inspiration.) This particular scene is related to my current WIP, but it does have potential to be part of a sequel.

Excited about the prospect of writing a scene that had been locked up in storage, I took this opportunity to gleefully write it. (What can I say, I love writing!) After it was all said and done, I wrote 13 pages of new characters and plot.

Wonderful! Fantastic! I’m awesome!

Oh, but the there is a 5 page max limit.

My problem was never getting enough words out. It’s always been having too many words written. I know, it’s a good problem to have, but like most writers, it is a struggle figuring out where to cut and trim. Because every word was birthed with love and care, so how could I decide which of my pretties had to go?

It’s a good thing I was an English teacher in a former life. Even more fortunate that I’m also a certified editor too!

Because of my teaching and editing background, I’m familiar with structure. Story structure is the bones of the plot. I like figuring out where they are and how they connect. It also hurts when I have to pull some of them out too. But, it does get easier with practice.

I had to figure out how I was going to get a 13 page draft down to 5. First, I figured out what were the parts to the scene. I had to look at the beginning, middle, and end of the scene and figure out what in those sections could be trimmed without hurting the overall beat sequence.

It turned out that the scene had three distinct sequences: the carriage ride, the arrival, and the meeting with V. (I’m being purposely vague here because this might be a future novel in the works.)


After figuring out the structure of the scene, I went further and noted how long each beat was, how many pages each one took. It turned out the beginning was the longest! It also turned out that it could also be cut too.

I was worried that if I cut the beginning, the rest of the scene wouldn’t make sense. The carriage ride is where the new characters are introduced, the situation they are in is illustrated as well as what kind of characters they are.

How did I decide to cut it? I reviewed the rest of the scene and realized the story was still coming through even without the beginning. It’s just a glimpse which is what the purpose of the assignment is supposed to be.


By cutting the first 6 pages, I shaved down my piece to 7 pages. Only two more pages to cut down! From there, it was a matter of more trimming and revising. I’m happy to say that I was able to trim it down to the 5 page max limit.

Am I upset or frustrated by having to cut all those carefully crafted pages? No. That’s what “Save As” is for! Those pages aren’t gone forever. They’re still there, waiting to come out later when I’m ready to tackle this project in the future. The trick is to remember to do a “Save As” before starting the next draft!


This wasn’t a quick fix and it certainly wasn’t painless, but it gave me an opportunity to really test out my skills as a writer. I know this won’t be the last time I’ll have to do major revising to meet guidelines, but the next time I do, I will have a plan of action in place already to tackle the issue!

Getting back to my routine!

Starting the new year right! Determined to get back into my morning ritual of an hour a day of writing. Feels so good to get my writing time in and now I can spend time finishing up my writing submissions, closing out my 2015 journals, and finally setting up my 2016 journals. I feel so behind and it’s only the second day of the year! 😂 But my writing time is getting back on track so I’m stilling calling this a win! 🏆👏🏽 #amwriting #writer #writing #writerslife #writersofig #writersgonnawrite #writersofinstagram #yafiction #yafantasy #yafantasywip #wip #pinaywriter #bulletjournal #stationeryaddict #journals #productivity #lifegoals


Morning View

YOU GUYS. The window is being repaired and it’s sunlight, air, and the smell of rosemary in here. I need to write, do some bullet journaling and planning, and homework, but I just want to read in the natural light with the fresh scent of rosemary wafting in. #firstworldproblems of a #writer who doubles as a #bookworm. #writerslife #bulletjournal #books #booknerd #booklover #planneraddict  

Fiction Writing Critique Session-TWSO

Last night was session four my #fiction writing group at #TWSO. Despite technical glitches due to windy conditions (trouble logging in, staying logged in, audio not working) our group persevered and got through three quality critiques in under two hours even with a late start. So grateful and proud to be part of such an amazing group of writers and to also be in a program that supports creativity. Now it’s time to add my critique notes to my revision notebook to come back to after this draft is finished. @cs_sfu #writer #amwriting #writerlife #writerscommunity #writersgonnawrite #writersofinstagram #writers #yalit #wip #journal #creativity #inspiration #apassionfornarrative #books  

Mentor Readings: Eileen Cook TWSO

Just finished up the first of four mentor talks with Eileen Cook for #TWSO @cs_sfu. It was such a fantastic session and she answered so many questions about writing and publishing. Thank you @eileenwriter! #writer #amwriting #writerscommunity #writerlife #writersgonnawrite #writersofinstagram #inspiration #yalit #yafiction #specfic #lifegoals #grateful  

Back on track!

Alright. After a fantastic weekend of visiting with friends, going to the Getty (see previous post), and spending time with family, it’s time to get back to work. Tea pot is out which means serious business! Preparing my critiques for my #fiction workshop this week. I’m up for critique as well on my second chapter! A little nervous, but cohorts are so supportive and positive, I’m sure it’ll go well. #writer #amwriting #critiques #papermateflair #officesupplies #tea #twso @cs_sfu