This is where I found myself. I’d written an entire trilogy. Except I hadn’t.
Two years in, what I had was a stack of scenes. All important, all fairly polished. No real fat that needed removing. The line-by-line was already pretty good.
What I did not have was structure. I had the linear timeline, but not the story timeline, which it turns out needs to be a lot different to be most effective. I had tentative connections between the scenes, they proceeded causally and temporally, but connecting everything the best way through order and structure needed a lot of work. So, the next two years were concentrated mostly on that.
I’ve read all those books, but many of them conflict in their concepts, and many of them really aren’t helpful. Some are even dangerously idiotic. I think the key is to try to understand them all, then cherry-pick what works, and to not worry about what feels as if it does not work in that advice.
Now I have structure. How? By applying myself to it an average of 7 hrs a day for every single day since. I have my 10,000 hours in, just in this single project.
But the best advice I got was from Shawn Coyne, his certified editors, and his book ‘Story Grid’. He worked for a big 5 publisher for over 25 years in editing and acquisitions, and he knows what’s up, and his podcasts are amazing. I’ve listened to a dozen other experts, Michael Hauge, Robert McKee, Joseph Campbell, James Scott Bell, all of them. Even Blake Snyder, although that thinking where every screenplay must fit precisely into a particular mold is what has ruined Hollywood and made every movie just one more version of ‘Transformers’. Not what we had in mind.
They all can help, but Shawn Coyne’s crew helped me more than all the rest put together.
And the best tool? Without question, Scrivener. Without this platform, creating and manipulating structure and order is nearly an impossible task. Scrivener makes it all possible.