The Dove on the Pergola – 16th July 2018

The dove on the pergola 180618

Last week, my daughter very kindly offered to buy me Scrivener software for my birthday. According to the Literature and Latte website this is a software package that helps the writer organise all the many different elements that you use when writing a novel. This sounded like something useful, as I’ve found it quite difficult dealing with revision status of both the full text and the notes supporting it (storyboard, scene index, character development etc).

I’ve downloaded the software for a thirty day free trial. This, L&L hope, will convince me that I can’t live without their product and I, or rather, my kind daughter, will stump up the asking price.

I have to say that first impressions are not beguiling. The look of the tutorial is very old-fashioned – at least 20 years out-of-date, with a low resolution font that is not easy to work with. If that carries over to the software itself it will be a major disadvantage. I sit here peering at my computer screen most of the day, and if the text is hard to read I will become tired more quickly. Still, I’ll press on and see what the product can do for me.

In the meantime, dear readers, do any of you have experience with this software? I’d love to hear from you if you do! And if any of you want to look at the software for yourselves, you can find it here.

The Dove on the Pergola – 18th June 2018

The Dove on the Pergola – progress 180618

This is my weekly blog post about the progress of my novel “The Dove on the Pergola”. The novel is about a young Indian woman, Makshirani, who has lived until she was sixteen years old in a village in Bengal, and who then moves to the big city of Kolkata.

The dove on the pergola 180618

Character and plot

I’ve been working on the storyboard this week.

One of the things I’ve learned from writing my previous novels is that it’s difficult to introduce substantive material at a late stage. The new material can create conflicts with previous material and putting them right causes further problems and – oh! (Throws up hands in despair!)

So, I want to complete the storyboard comprehensively before I start to write the novel itself. I have 900 words on the storyboard, and that takes me about a third of the way through the novel.

Mind you, I wouldn’t want to give you the wrong impression. Side by side with the storyboard I’m recording my insights into the characters and the way they interact to form the plot. There’s many more words here – about 3,000 so far. It’s leading to some interesting progress. Most notably, I’m finding that characters are starting to show that they have multiple roles to play.

For example, when Makshirani flees from her village to Kolkata, she turns to her Aunt Abhilasha for support and accommodation. It’s obvious that Abhilasha will influence the plot after Makshirani joins her – but how about earlier than that? Why does she live in Kolkata? Suppose she plays a crucial role at Makshirani’s birth? Her experiences then would help shape who she is, and therefore affect Makshirani later. And that’s one of the reasons why late additions of substantive content are so difficult; action and character are totally interlinked.

Despite my good intentions, though, I must confess that I have started writing the opening scene! I’m trying to achieve the intensity and focus of flash fiction in an extended piece of several thousand words. At the end of the opening chapter, I want the reader to feel emotionally exhausted – but eager to carry on reading!

If you have any thoughts on the way I’m tackling this, I would be delighted to hear from you. I will answer every comment.