Category Archives: Techniques

Diary Of A Novel – Day X + 2 ( do not skimp on editing!)

image“Match Games” is still at the editors. And I am realising that this “Diary” is probably going to be more of a “Weekary” as work has started to get really busy again in the run-up to Christmas!
But progress on the adventure of the steep learning curve of presenting “Match Games” on my site is being made.

And once again I realise the importance of professional editing

The really big hurdle was the 20000 words or so I got back from my editor with the merciless order to CUT, CUT, CUT! “How?” I screamed silently in the middle of Sibelius 2nd Symphony, the loud bit. It read perfectly to me. Then I read it again. The bit in the cave. Lukas Novak’s nemesis. It was too long, she was right. It was tedious in places, she was right! It was really interesting to people who know the cave well, like myself and two of my beta-readers. But to the rest of the world? To all those people that are (hopefully) going to read “Match Games”?
It’s just another cave.
I cut it back harshly. And read it again. It hadn’t lost impact. On the contrary. It was tighter and had more pace.

Once again I told myself do not skimp on editing in the future! I had skimped on my own editing, sent it to a professional editor far too early. I should have done more edits myself. I did three. Five would have been better. Lesson learned.

Technical problems solved and ideas developed since last post

  • I’ve been doing an online newsletter course with the wonderful Dan Blank and a host of inspirational people. With the help I am getting on the course I have developed a much better sign-up form (still via wufoo), see right.
  • At the bottom of each post there now is a second sign-up possibility.
  • I have signed up with shareaholic and registered to unlock additional features (it’s free). As a result  “share” buttons are now showing at the bottom of each post, automatically. Share buttons also now float at the right hand site of the website, which looks really neat.
  • A further shareaholic feature are occasional “you may also like” suggestions at the bottom of some posts. I have not worked out how and when they appear. It’s on the to-do list. I need to optimise the images used for these previews.
  • The biggest achievement of the week has been developing my first quiz, “German For Outlanders” – German for foreigners, through . Another steep learning curve!Oh yes, and here is a great template for writing good blog posts 😉
    See you soon, please sign up below for updates.

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Filed under Bea Schirmer, Beatrice Schirmer, diary of a novel, Techniques

Diary Of A Novel – Day X + 1

Coloring PencilsStocktake.
After yesterday’s introduction it is time to know where I stand and what I need to learn to do.

  1. I have a self-hosted website
    Absolutely essential. And cheap these days. I opted for a server that allowed me to install WordPress onto the new site easily. Then I migrated my existing blog (the one with the most relevant content) to the new site. Why? See 3. Job done!
  2. The Blog
    A constant bone of contention. I have one. But I never really knew what to put on it! After all, you don’t want to impose on people with your drivel. But the nobody read it anyway, at least I don’t think so. Stern note to self: research Google Analytics! 
  3. Location of The Blog
    After much deliberation I moved The Blog from a and a blogger site to my self-hosted site. The word out there is that one can benefit an awful lot from WordPress’s own promotional activities. But the limitations are great. The installation of widgets and plugins is severely limited on a blog; and although there are work-arounds for some applications, the generalrule is that no third party plugins are easily installed. What that means is: no mailchimp code, no links to one’s own books and music from Amazon and so on (that’s as far as I got, really…).
    Rather than researching work-arounds instead of writing creatively, composing music, making glass or playing the bass I quickly opted to host The Blog on my own site. If in the long run this is the right decision only time will tell.
    Currently The Blog and my musical projects inhabit the same home page in one long string of relatively unsorted posts. Note to self: order and reduce categories!
    And if you decide to stay with your or similar, non-self-hosted blog, here is a helpful article on how to make mailchimp work via wufoo:

Next tasks:

  • research Google Analytics
  • separate The Blog from completed Projects
  • order and reduce categories on rolling Blog page

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Filed under Bea Schirmer, diary of a novel, Techniques

Diary Of A Novel

White keyboard keys - help conceptThe “Match Games” diary starts not, as one would expect, at the conception or the beginning of the novel, but at its end.

With the manuscript now completed and safely at the editors for a few months the real adventure starts:
Writing the book was, I thought, the only and most challenging adventure I would have.  And it was hugely enjoyable! Out of all my creative endeavours losing myself in the story of Lukas, the reluctant detective, with his love of beer and preconceptions, his life in a dull rut, was the most entertaining and fulfilling pastime; how could I help this feckless oaf grow into a superhero worthy of his physical statur?
In the end, Lukas himself took charge and the story developed a mind of its own. It made me, it’s author, write it in the way it wanted to be written.
And I knew nothing about writing! I still don’t. But I do like to tell a story. And it needed to be involving. And ultimately uplifting. On top of all that Lukas wanted to become a better man.
And he did.

And now I am here at the start of this new adventure, based entirely in really. A reality that is at my fingertips, quite literally. A reality away from the bookshop and the library, entirely virtual, yet frighteningly real.

And I know little about it. It’s a steep learning curve, they all say.

And I am ready to learn. Join me on this journey if you wish.

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Mind map your Novel

As we all wait with baited breath the release of Scivener for IPad those of us writing and brainstorming mainly ’on the go’ need to rely on available apps to aid us in the process.

Mind mapping has been a total revelation for me; I have used SimpleMind excessively, for Character sketches, action and reaction diagrams, ’what if’ scenarios, timeline outlines and so on.
You can add notes, pictures, actions, links, relationships and of course it is full customizable with regards to colours, outlines et cetera.
Photo 25-09-2014 13 15 26It works similar to Roz Morris’s index card system.
There is a paid desktop version of SimpleMind available, as well as a very useful demo of the software that lets you save your mind map in various formats for import into ScivenerScivener then opens these as notes with sub-notes, so the relationship between ’strands’ or trails of thought are preserved.

I use iA Writer, which is fantastic for fast and furious idea jotting. I do ALL of my writing with this app. Photo 25-09-2014 13 15 00Annoyingly, it’s recent update auto-corrects inverted commas (’) to spaces; I have no idea why and if you write your dialogue with single inverted commas instead of double, you get auto corrected every single time! I now use “ for dialogue exclusively and convert them all later in Word, with the ’replace all’ option.

Photo 25-09-2014 13 16 00


Manuscript is a lovely app if you want to see your budding novel in book format. It does chapters and chapter outlines, index cards and export options. It is a nice app to keep track of versions of full drafts (and its word and page counts).



Photo 25-09-2014 13 16 15Goodreader is of course perfect for annotating PDFs, once you have exported a full draft and don’t want to trawl around individual chapters.

Writer Lists is a fun app that supplies lists from names to birth signs to Aussie slang, and has just had a major update.

I also use Pages, Numbers for an alternative to mind mapping when working on chronology and timeline and ’Dictionary’ – there is a useful translation option with this app.

Please leave comments and suggestions as to other writing apps and tools below.

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