Writer’s modes

I think I’ve come to a useful view of a writer’s work which may form the basis for my program. Producing a novel, say, has several distinct types of tasks and only one of them is actually writing the final words. The rest are, for example;

Character development – figuring out who your characters are
Reviewing – letting other people read and comment on your work
Redrafting – writing is rewriting, you know.
Structuring – arranging passages to form a narrative
Summarising – writing story treatments, synopses, etc
Checking consistency – making sure the story holds up logically (eg no plot holes)
Research – learning about parts of the real world for verisimilitude (eg reading history for historical fiction)
Journalling – writing daily thoughts down as a way of developing ideas or recording progress

I don’t know of any programs that really take into account these seperate tasks and support the writer. For example, with redrafting, people just use multiple word documents or overwrite old prose with new prose. Wouldn’t it be better if each draft was saved off so you could see the development of the idea? So that you could never lose anything?

Any ideas, from the writers out there, what kinds of tasks you involve yourself in, and exactly what it means to you? I’ll try to pull together some of these ideas in a later post. Thanks.

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10 thoughts on “Writer’s modes

  1. Ooh – redrafting – I’d like to be able to ‘click down’ and see earlier versions of bits of work, rather than having to search through old versions to find bits. Sort of like writing a novel on post it notes, and being able to peel off the top one to see the ones underneath.
    And I’d like to be able to specify things such as ’emotional development’ and ‘character development’ and ‘plot development’ and be able to lay the 3 lines over each other to see where they’re intersecting and going up and down.

  2. Ooh, and research, I’d like to be able to take a bit of writing and create a link to the original research behind it so that I can go back and look at it whenever I need to.

  3. And it’d be great to have somewhere to store correspondance about writing – so cover letters for submissions, responses, exchanges with people reviewing work – with the ability to tie bits of them to bits of the writing in question. And maybe with the ability to tie in ‘to do’ flags, so if someone says ‘this area needs rewriting’ or ‘there’s an inconsistency here’ you can tie it to that area with a ‘to do’ flag to fix those bits up later.
    And a way to import artwork – photos, etc – so that I can say ‘Fred was tall and saturnine’ and have a link to, say, a photo of Steer, for reference. *grin*

  4. I don’t know of any programs that really take into account these seperate tasks and support the writer. For example, with redrafting, people just use multiple word documents or overwrite old prose with new prose. Wouldn’t it be better if each draft was saved off so you could see the development of the idea? So that you could never lose anything?
    Are you just talking about any decent Wiki software there? You can re-write to your heart’s content, and at any point you can decide to revert to an earlier version, without losing the stuff you wrote more recently.

    • The same idea as wiki and CVS and similar, with maybe a different spin… with a wiki page, you assume a general level of improvement. With writing, you may want to look at two versions as different, equally valid versions of a passage.
      To the best of my knowledge, though, there aren’t any writer’s tools out there which deal with this.

      • I can’t think of any, no. What do you achieve by having two side-by-side versions of the same thing though? Surely for the finished work you’re generally going to choose one over the other?

      • What do you achieve by having two side-by-side versions of the same thing though?
        Well, it’s not necessarily something that’ll occur – things will probably just be layered by time. However…
        It is often useful to discribe the same thing from different viewpoints. For example, an author might describe ‘the city of paris’ from the point of a common butcher, a prostitute, and a lord. All three views are side-by-side and different, but all equally valid.
        It can also be useful to describe the way something develops over time. A character, for example, should be different at the end of the story than he was at the start. So you might want to support descriptions of a single entity at different times, which again has that side-by-side and equally valid feel.
        The idea of varied viewpoints, changes over time, etc, seems to be necessary to modelling a story, which is a narrative of multiple characters and multiple events having multiple effects over developing time. Not an easy thing to model..

  5. the only things…
    that i ever use when writing
    are mozilla and notepad. i have
    many notepad documents open,
    all named so i know what’s going
    on. i’ll have notes, notes on
    notes and dialogue etc etc.
    and research is quick nowadays.

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