Friday, September 10, 2021

3 Tools I Use to Write a Novel Quicker

By Keri Kruspe

Author of Otherworldly Romantic Adventures 

When I began my writing career, I felt like I was trudging through molasses… uphill… in a hurricane to get my first novel ready to publish. Now that I have a couple of years of being published under my belt, I’m beginning to feel more secure in the process. As I’ve explored different/better ways to produce my novels, I’ve heard about various software (other than Word) that other authors rave about. So, late last year, I took the jump and used three different “writing” programs that I can’t live without now.

I find that they not only keep me organized, but they also allow me the freedom of creating my manuscripts at a faster pace.

Whether you are a pantser, plotter, or a plantser (combination of both), I feel you can find something with these three tools that will help you hone your craft. What’s great is that no two people utilize them the same way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to other authors and am astonished how they use them completely differently than I do.

In this article, I’ll outline the basic info the company gives, and then show you examples how my stuff looks. A bit of a disclosure here: I am in no way affiliated with these companies nor do I receive any monetary compensation for mentioning them in this article. What I say here is my own opinion.

With that out of the way, let’s get started!

Plottr is the newest software I’ve begun to use.

Basically, it’s a downloadable outlining software that makes it easier for me to plot my novels. I love the visual versatility that lets me use sub-plots. They even offer templates to use for planning, everything from mystery to romance.

One of the best features I like is the “Series” tab. Here I can keep a running synopsis of the series I’m writing in now:

I admit I’m a visual. I absolutely love that there are places to create characters, places, and notes that I can add a picture to. Another thing is I can access all of that, no matter what book I’m plotting for.

Here’s a small sample of my series characters:

Another nice thing about Plottr is its ability to track different kinds of attributes. Like flaws or personality traits or magical abilities. I can choose to make these attributes simple one-liners or add a paragraph for extra information.

Plottr isn’t limited to the features I listed above. There are extras that I don’t have space to list, but here are a few examples:

  • I can flip my view when plotting. I love doing this. Sometimes looking at it in a different angle (horizonal or vertical) gives a fresh view of the outline.
  • Navigation is easy. You can scroll through the beginning, middle, and and with ease. 

The one thing that sold me about Plottr is a newer update… I can export it either to Word or to the next tool I want to talk about… Scrivener.

When I first used Scrivener, I’m ashamed to admit I gave up too soon. It seemed way too complicated for me. But, over time, I took a couple of courses (even hard copied the lessons to put in a binder I keep on my desk for quick reference). While I feel I’m scratching the surface of what I can do with Scrivener, I’m plugging along and getting better with each book I complete.

 One of the things I like about it is it supports my need for a visual. What I mean is, for every scene, I can put in a picture on the side that helps me when I must describe something. From a space station, innards to what my villain looks like.

It may be a whimsical reason to use Scrivener, but it puts me in the mood to escape… er, plan my world-building.

Just so you know, Scrivener is not a word processor. It’s more like a tool that focuses on supporting the task of writing long-term pieces. Another feature I really like is the flexibility of moving my scenes/chapters around. I can do that in Word, but then I’d have to copy the text and paste it where I want to. In Scrivener, I just drag and drop. 

I also like the “corkboard” feature. Here I can see my chapters/scenes and change the order here if I like.

In the article “Ten Reasons to Write your Novel in Scrivener” their reasoning is more compelling than mine. One of the other super features is you can export your masterpiece to several formats: Word/ePub/Paperback proofs.

But, before you export anything, it’s best to make sure your creation is as professional as possible. Which brings me to my last tool… ProWritingAid.

Before I began using Scrivener, I used ProWritingAid. When I found out I could use it with Scrivener, I about swooned. Using it from Scrivener instead of exporting it to Word first cut my editing process in half and gave me a good reason to stay with Scrivener. 

I love how this editing tool not only offers grammar checking, but it also has in-depth reports that can strengthen and polish my manuscript. While I don’t utilize all that they offer, I love the summary that points out areas I could work on.



When I wrote the first book in my series, An Alien Exchange, it took me over a year from start to finish. Since my goal is to release a book every three months, I’m always looking for ways to become better/faster in creating my stories. One way is to get comfortable with these tools and utilize all they have to offer. I’m hoping that will give me the best chance to reach my long-term goals.

How about you? I'd love to hear about the tools you're using to help achieve your overall author goals!


Maureen said...

Have you always been a Plotter? I'm a panster but am trying to get myself to plot more so I have less editing later, so I'd be curious if you already enjoyed plotting when you starting using Plotter.
I use Scrivener but barely. I need to learn more about it to be more efficient with it.
Prowriting Aid can be used with Scrivener? Mind. Blown! I use AutoCrit and it's such a pain to move back and forth. Might need to check out Prowriting Aid just because of that!
Thank you!

Keri Kruspe said...

No, I'd always been a panster. But I found myself getting lost in the middle of the story and would have to backtrack. This year, my goal is to write faster/better, so I wanted to give plotting a chance. So far it's helped to keep me on track. Especially when I get stuck. I just go back to my notes in Plottr and think "oh yeah... wow, that was pretty smart of me!" Plus I refer back to all the time because I've put in details of my characters, places, and things so I don't forget the important stuff.

Maureen said...

Thanks! So you start with Plottr then work in Scrivener. I might need to check out Plottr because I too really want to write faster and better! :)

Diane Burton said...

I'm mostly a pantser but, like you, Keri, I often get lost in the middle. I tried Scrivener, but it slowed me down too much as I tried to learn it. I'm so comfortable with Word that trying to learn something new seems counterproductive. Still, I'm going to check out Plottr. Thanks for sharing what works for you.

Keri Kruspe said...

I have to confess that I probably only use a small portion of what Scrivener does. But with each novel, it does get better.

Nancy Gideon said...

I'm so intimidated by plotting software. I admit it, I'm a tech sissy. Old school paper and pen is about as complicated as I get.