Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Trello for Writers: Using Templates in a Project

Trello is as flexible as you need it to be. The way you set up your project really depends on the way you work. In this tutorial, I'll assume that one story or book is one project. I'll also assume that you've set up template cards as shown in a previous tutorial.If you haven't set up template cards, it's no big deal. Those templates make it so you don't have to re-create similar cards for each character, for example, or for each scene.

Create Project

In the previous tutorial, we created a Trello board to hold our templates. Because we want to be able to use those templates in multiple projects, we don't want to use that same board as our project board, so we'll create a new one.

  1. Open Trello.
  2. From your Boards menu or on the Boards screen, click Create New Board.
  3. Name the board. For this example, I'm calling the board for my project "Jack and Jill."
Create Lists

A story consists of several elements. For my Jack and Jill story planning, I want to create lists called Characters, Settings, and Scenes. Eventually I'll create another list to track submissions, but let's not get ahead of our selves.

On your new project Trello board, create a list called Characters. Conveniently, there's already a box to help you create your first list. Just type "Characters" and click Save. A new box automatically pops up for the next list, so call it "Settings," then do this one more time for Scenes."

Copy Templates to Project

The next thing we need to do is copy cards from our Templates board to our project board.

From the Boards menu, pick your Templates board. Next, click your Character template card, then click Copy.

Change the Title field to your character's name. Then, in the Board field, select your story project, and select the Characters list. Then click Create Card. This creates the card based on the template and puts in the right place. If you switch back to your project board, you'ss see the character card you just created in your Characters list.

Repeat this for each template you want to copy. Remember to set the name, board and list for each card. But if you forget, it's no problem. You can easily change all of that stuff later.

Edit Cards

Once the cards are where you want them,you can edit them.

For example, my Character card includes a comment with some basic info about thecaracter. In the template, I just have headings for the info, but I can go into the card and add the details now that it is is in my project.

Next Steps

That's most of the basics for creating your project and starting to plan your story. Next we'll go into some deeper information, like using Trello to manage actual writing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How to Get Motivated to Edit

At LDStorymakers this last May, my favorite workshop I attended was by the woman who actually put on the conference this year—Melanie Jacobsen. She talked all about how she makes herself be productive in her writing no matter how busy she is. It was really great and practical, and I came away ready to apply everything she said.
I didn’t. Part of my problem is I’m not actually in the writing stage I’m in the editing stage. I found myself wanting a follow-up class about how I can make sure I am productive in editing/rewriting, which in some ways is a whole different beast than writing your first draft.
Here are the ways I’ve applied some of her advice and also figured out my own:
1.       Have and update your outline. I’m a total pantser. All the way, 100%. But, even the most hard-core pantser needs to create an outline as they are writing the rough draft, and then update that as you edit. Otherwise you get soooo lost. And have no idea what’s going on. And your story will make no sense. Basically, organization has to kick in at some point. It’s still flexible. You can still change things whenever you want. You just need some way to keep track of what you’re doing and what needs to be fixed as you edit.
2.       Schedule time to write. This is basic, but I keep forgetting it all the time. I think I’ll just want to write, it will just happen magically because I’ll feel so inspired. But most of the time, I have to schedule it and I have to make an annoying reminder to beep at me in my phone over and over before I’ll actually get myself to write/edit consistently. Because it is a thousand times easier to write today when you’ve already written yesterday. Momentum is a big deal. Plus, I’m so Type A that I’m obsessed with checking things off my list—so if I put writing on my list every single day, I’m more likely to do it so I can check it off. And then I feel so good and productive that I want to do it again tomorrow. It works.  
3.       Write a blurb of what you’re going to write tomorrow. This is the one thing from Melanie’s presentation that I’ve actually been applying. It’s so helpful. Everyday once I’m done writing, I write a paragraph or so about what I’m going to write about tomorrow. Sometimes dialogue starts coming to me and I write it down. Sometimes I end up writing a whole page. Whatever, that’s great. That means I’ve already got the inspiration going for the next day without putting the pressure on myself for it to be “perfect” like I do when I sit down and write for real. If I’m not totally rewriting a scene but just editing it a little, I write down exactly what I need to go through and edit for. Then the next day I know exactly what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, and that makes it easier to start—especially since sometimes rewriting something can seem more overwhelming that writing it in the first place.
4.       Stop worrying about it being perfect. This relates to a point I just brought up in the last one. When you’re on your third or fourth or tenth draft, but you’re writing a whole new scene that you’re adding in or basically completely redoing a scene that was there before, you’re basically back in rough draft land for that scene and that can be frustrating. Because you’ve already gone over this thing how many times now? But it’s OK. It still doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s never going to be perfect. It just needs to be written and then you can look at it later and then show it to your critique group and clean it up. For the millionth time. I used to think that just writing a novel took patience. I’ve realized that’s nothing compared to the patience it takes to edit a novel. And I’m not even close to done. Sigh. Patience.
And all those things have helped me to be much more productive lately, which is great.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Trello for Writers, Part 2: Templates

If you use Trello to manage your writing projects, you might find it useful to create cards that you can use for multiple cards.

STEP 1: Create a "Templates" Board

Let's start by creating a Trello board where you can keep the cards you want to reuse. Open up Trello and click Create new board. Give the new board a title, such as "Templates," and click Create.

That's it. That was easy enough, right? You now have an empty board, waiting for your cards.

STEP 2: Create a List

Now that your board is ready, it's just sitting there empty. An empty bulletin board isn't particularly useful unless you pin something to it, and the same is true of your Trello board. Unlike the blank slate of a bulletin board, though, Trello expects you organize your cards in lists. The kinds of lists you create on your template board depend on the types of templates you want to keep there. For this demo, let's keep it simple. You can always take what you learn and get fancy later. Let's create a single list.

That's easy enough. Turns out, your board is not exactly empty. Turns out there's a box waiting for you, where you can type a name for your first list. Let's call it "Novel Cards."

Click Save (or just hit Enter) and you'll have a list, ready for your cards.

Step 3: Create Cards

Your cards can be anything you want, but because we're keeping it simple for this demo, let's go with something high level, like the following:

  • Character
  • Scene
  • Setting
  • Submission
In your new list, click Add a card, then type the name of the card, "Character," Hit Enter, and type "Scene. Continue this process until you've created all four cards.

Step 4: Add Details

The point of these cards is to contain information that you want to reuse, so we'll need to add some details. Think about the details carefully, so you add what you want and don't have to go back and make changes.

Click one of the cards, and create a comment with the outline of the details you want. Remember, that hitting enter will save the current comment and create a new one. This is good if you want each characteristic to be its own comment, where you can add more details. If you prefer a lighter card, press Ctrl+Enter to move down a line in the current comment.

For example, for the Character card, you might want details like name, age, birthday, best friend, address, appearance characteristics, personally traits, and so on. What you include and the amount of detail depends on your preferences. Click outside the card to close it, then click on the next card.

For scene, you might want a name, summary, goal, characters present, conflict, resolution, and maybe a sequel if you write using the scene and sequel method. 

Do this for each or your cards, adding the types of information you are likely to want in each project. Once you copy the card to a project (we'll do that in another lesson) you can always edit the card to add any project-specific info that you don't necessarily need in a template, such as whether your character is on Team Zombie or Team Pirate.

Next Steps

As you can see, Trello is flexible enough to adapt to your style and preferences. 

After you've created your templates, we'll copy the template cards into a project and look at how to use them to plan your story.