And the answer is none. None more black.


My Scrivener project sure is looking blank, isn’t it? Of course the text part should be blank, what with it being October 31 and all. But the right pane is usually full of notes and things. That’s not so bad; I can live without notes and things. Much more concerning is the second pane from the left. That one might look like it’s full of stuff. But what it’s actually full of is a whole lot of nothing, a black and bottomless pit of you’re-screwed.

That is my Questions That Need Answers document. It’s typically one of the first things I finish when I’m planning a project, if not the very first. Let’s say my story idea is about a ragtag group of nine charged with saving the word by destroying a supernatural weapon before the dark lord can get it. That immediately generates a lot of questions: What does this weapon actually do? How can it be destroyed? What powers, abilities, and resources does the dark lord have? How can these be resisted or neutralized? What vulnerabilities and limitations does the dark lord have? How can these be exploited? And if there’s a giant eagle who can just fly everyone everywhere any time Gandalf asks him to, why can’t he just bring the person holding the weapon over to the fiery mountain and be done with it? And so forth. The point is, these questions need answers.

So what I normally do is, I answer them, and then when I’m writing the first draft, I keep that document in that left pane, handy-like, to refer back to as I write. This year’s document has lots of questions.

Sadly, it has no answers. None. Zero. Not even one.

Perhaps you’re wondering why I’m posting this, then, instead of actually coming up with answers. That’s because it’s pre-NaNo cleaning day, which is an important day for practicing your procrastination techniques.


Post title ripped off from Nigel Tufnel in This Is Spinal Tap

5 words on the street

  1. My procrastination techniques are already pretty good. I haven’t gotten halfway through the Scrivener tutorial and can’t figure out how to use it or how I would if I did. I have this idea that my ragtag collection of useful facts, interactions, consequences, and scenes could be put in virtual post-its and organized by character, scene, timeline etc, but I’ve no clue how to do that yet, and will end up seat-of-the-pants-writing as usual, albeit with a stronger sense of some of my waypoints. Doesn’t matter. This thing will require many major rewrites well after Nov 30 but I believe in it as a creative work that like any other will need a lot of redesign. Meanwhile I really need to get some of the flesh of it grown in my vast flesh-growing vats else it will never get out onto the chopping block. Why am I suddenly the experimental nutrition expert on some creepy starship?

  2. What a great idea! Beats the pants off scribbling questions down in your paper notes as you go. Having them in one nice, convenient place – & not having to read my own handwriting. I need to learn more about using Scrivener.

    • Scrivener is the best. The split pane is kind of a bummer on a laptop with a small screen, but on a bigger monitor it’s awesome for keeping notes, pictures, whatever handy as you write.

  3. My first NaNo, my first experience with Scrivener, and my first read of your blog. Thoroughly enjoying all of it. This is not a procrastination attempt, I have already finished my dailies. Although, my blog has been severely lacking in posts since I joined NaNoWriMo in the beginning of October. Perhaps I should go write some more there. No, I’ll save that for tomorrow, just in case I need other means of procrastination, because I hate cleaning.

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