Tools of Writing Handicape

May 2014

Handicape is part of a much larger story that spans over 500 years. While I’ll save the details of that larger epic for later posts (and comics), for now I’ll say that organization has been no easy task.

Documents and Files

I started working on the “big picture” story about five years ago (although certain pieces existed earlier in the form of short stories and a poem). At first I was able to keep my notes together in a small stack of papers covered with scribbles and sketches and notes. But as those scribbles and notes continued to grow and develop into plot and narrative, they began to spill out into various digital files across my hard drive.

This quickly became unmanageable. Files would get lost or wrongly categorized with irrelevant groups. Old versions would be mixed with new versions or sometimes lost forever, which was frustrating when I wanted to refer to some line or thought I had forgotten about.

So here’s a quick list of some of the software programs I use regularly while working on Handicape and its universe.

Plot and Story

In addition to the physical and digital organization of my notes and files, it became increasingly complex to keep the story organized. Each individual story had to share common themes, conflicts and histories with the bigger picture, all while keeping their own individual narrative structures. Key places, events and characters had to be kept consistent with their personal natures as well as genealogies and historical settings. (He was the son of him, who was the student of that one guy who had been betrayed by the father of that other guy when that one thing happened because of that one small event that was caused by an impulsive reaction to an innocent phrase.)

The need to keep everything consistent yet interesting lead me to a few resources that have been invaluable. I realize that writers often have a negative reaction to story theories or plot tools—so did I—and there are a great many terrible resources out there that justify such a response. But a few good resources came to the top and, for me, they have been invaluable in focusing on what’s important, keeping things interesting and emotionally engaging (something that I do a very poor job practicing) and identifying plot holes and dead-ends.

So here are some of those books that I’ve found most helpful.

Since this is just a quick review of my tools, I don’t have a lot of comments about each book right now. Maybe if there’s interest I’ll go into more detail about these tools in their own dedicated posts.