By now, the pantsers will be champing at the bit. “We just want to write!”
So let’s write.
To recap, you should have started by setting up the program to brainstorm your new idea. But I know a lot of pantsers do minimal prep; they rely on serendipity to provide all the background details. (If you haven’t read the first two tutorials, I highly recommend you do; this tutorial is written assuming you have.)
Either way, you will probably need a place to store things that you don’t want to forget. So go ahead and setup the brainstorming workplace as per the first tutorial; leave out the scenes list if you don’t use it, but at least have the builder and the scratchpad setup. Use it as you write to quickly jot down inspiration and then flick right back to writing again. Make sure you save the workspace, then close all the items except for the file listing.
The next thing you need to do is create a Planner. Go into the Create menu and choose Create -> New Planner. Call it “First draft of (my book title)”. If the viewing pane is missing, press F1 until it appears. Unlike previous tutorials, you will need this. Save this Workspace.
1. The Linear Panster
The linear panster may not work from an outline, but they still progress in a simple forward direction. You will be working from the Planner, but not IN the Planner. Let me explain.
It is entirely possible to create a chapter in the planner and write directly into it. But we don’t write in chapters; we write in scenes, and usually you’ll have more than one scene in a chapter (though not always).
So if you write directly into the planner, you end up with one of two things; either a single scene per chapter, or a chapter document with several combined scenes. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with either option, but it takes away some of the flexibility of the program when you come back to edit your work. LSB is fantastic for editing, but you get the most out of it when you leave the planner for the final build.
Linear Plotters can use this technique as well (multiple builders per book) but I’m a visual person, and used to working with notecards, hence why I predominantly use the storyboard.
I’ve called my first Chapter “Chapter 1”, being the unimaginative linear plotter that I am. You can call it whatever you like. Highlight the chapter, and from the planner menu, choose New Builder.
The builder automatically takes the name of your chapter. Now, you write; each scene in its own little unit.
Notice on the left of our planner window, there are now two files in our viewing pane; the chapter backup and the builder for this chapter. Any file you create from within the planner menu is linked to that chapter. You could have an outline, dossier, gallery, playlist, anything you like, specifically for that chapter.
When you think you have all the scenes you want in that chapter, from the Builder Menu, choose Build All Items.
I have chosen “Include Titles and Descriptions”, but you don’t have to.
Notice that you planner now links Chapter 1 to a chapter document, a builder document and a backup document.
Very important note
If you use this technique, DO NOT make changes within the chapter. If you want to update text, go back to the builder for that chapter. When you want to add the new text to the chapter, simply re-build the chapter. It will ask you if you want to replace it; choose yes. This way you can cut pieces out, store them in the builder and not lose them. If you make changes to a chapter, they will be lost if you go back and rebuild.
Later, when you are editing, you can create a workspace for each chapter. But there’s no need to do that now.
If you’re currently panicking and thinking “but I don’t know how many scenes I need per chapter!”, relax. It doesn’t matter. Remember this is your first draft. If you suddenly think “I need to move scene X to chapter Y”, you can cut and paste from one builder to another, and just rebuild the chapters. It really is that flexible.
2. The Non-linear Pantser
And may I just say, you people are crazy.
Which means that you have numerous options to work from. I recommend to start with that you work straight from the builder. And this brings us to a new feature; associations.
From your Planner (First Draft of (my book)) choose File -> Association, or press F2 on your keyboard.
From the dialogue box, choose”First Draft of (my book): Builder. Close the dialogue box, and rearrange the windows to suit. Now reopen the dialogue, and click the “Save Current Workspace” button.
You’re ready to write. Each item in the builder is a scene from your story; give them meaningful names, rearrange them with the up/down arrows, come back to them as you need to. When you finish the book, organise them into chapters and build them, or build them as you go if you get the opportunity.
When you’re writing, I really recommend that you work in a builder. I know this goes against my suggestion for non-linear plotters in the last tutorial. But I find working directly with chapters limits the flexibility of the program. That’s not to say you can’t do it; I just don’t recommend it.
I’m sure you’ve realised by now just how vast the options are for using this program. I hope that my demonstrations have given you a greater understanding. By now, you will be thinking about ways to make the program work for you, extending what I’ve written and trying out new things.
But the tutorials aren’t over yet. Next up we look at manuscript goals, wordcount tracking, tools, layouts and preferences. But for now, you have everything you need to write; so start writing!