Do You Have a Writing Platform?

What is a Writing Platform?

Writing for me is a multi-media experience. I like to start with a brain dump type of document on a very large piece of paper, like 22 X 16. I have even been known to tape two or three of those together for something much larger.

I begin with a central idea, in the middle somewhere. I draw lines out from that center object without much organization, and draw a circle at the end of the line. One circle might represent, say, characters. I will create more lines out of that circle one for each major character or maybe just groups of characters that will be broken down to the individual character. I write around the circle representing a character notes about the character. Physical characteristics, character traits, flaws, motivations, etc.

On a separate line coming out of the central idea will be setting. Lines coming out of that circle will be things like time period, physical characteristics, characteristics of people, cultures, other important details about where the story takes place.

On a separate line coming out of the central idea is plot or event flow. Events that make up the struggle of the protagonists, and the interplay between them and those that are opposed to them. What events have to come ahead of others. What needs to be communicated to readers and what needs to be held back. My story is developed over these lines.

I like to use sticky notes to start with, putting my ideas and developments around the central idea, and starting to create the organization. Now I can see what things I need to go together. Which characters? What settings? What pieces of the plot? What are the points of conflict? What has to be overcome for the protagonists to succeed?

A story is beginning to take form.

There is magic in seeing the “big” picture, and there is a part of me that relates to the physical aspects of designing the story.

However, for me the real magic happens when it starts to go into a digital form. This is where the framework and the platform come in. I used to keep everything in word documents. Then finding that I needed graphics, and quotes, and timelines, and so many details that I couldn’t find when I wanted them. I decided to start looking for a way to manage the whole thing. I found that way with Scrivener.

What is Scrivener

Some people want to call Scrivener a word-processor. Perhaps at the simplest level it could be thought of that way, but it is also a story organizer, a research keeper, a scrap book for story items, a book compiler, a book formatter, a complete desktop publishing warehouse!

It might seem a little daunting at first. It does have a lot of moving pieces, but it also has a few wizards to help you out. It is the only way that I know of to organize and keep track of everything for writing a full-blown story.

When you first get Scrivener, it looks like this. You can use the tutorial, the YouTube videos, and the user manual to get started.

Once you decide to on the type of book that you are writing, you can select amongst a number of options shown above. If you are writing fiction the template looks like this:

If you are writing a non-fiction book, then select the non-fiction icon to get a screen that looks like this:

There are so many options! Templates that will make writing your non-fiction book very formulaic. Kind of like painting by the numbers. I really like these templates and find them very useful for writing non-fictions books.

Getting back to fiction, my favorite use of this software, you need to select a name for the project and where to put it. Then it creates a template that looks like this:

Here I am able to write my manuscript chapter at a time, or write them in a much more eclectic way. I tend to jump ahead, then drop back as I fit in different pieces. I can also keep all of my research right here. I can type in my notes about characters, settings, and plot. I can grab screen-shots and pictures, and keep it all in one place. I have tried a lot of different solutions, but have never found one like this.

I really love Scrivener. I have found over my lifetime that the tools make the job. Writing is no different.

Go ahead and give it a try here:

Scrivener Software

Once you have scrivener up, here are some of the things it will help you do:


Using the Novel format you can:
By default, when compiled (File > Compile), this project will generate a document in the standard manuscript format for novels.

The necessary settings are also provided to make it easy to compile to a paperback-style PDF for self-publishing or an EPUB or Kindle e-book.

Using the Template

Create a new folder for each chapter. You can add a title each folder with the name of the chapter. If you don’t intend to use chapter names, just use something descriptive that tells you what the chapter is about. (You do not need to—and indeed shouldn’t—title the folders “Chapter One” and so on, because chapter numbering will be taken care of automatically during the Compile process.) The first chapter folder has been created for you with the placeholder title “Chapter”.

Create a new text document for each scene inside the chapter folders. (Upon export, scenes will be separated with the “#” character for standard manuscript format, or with a blank line for other formats.)

Information about characters can be placed in the “Characters” folder, and information about locations can be placed in the “Places” folder. (These are just regular folders that have had custom icons assigned to them using the Documents > Change Icon feature.)

Character and setting sketch sheets have been provided which can be used for filling out information about the people and places in your novel. These are located in the “Template Sheets” folder. You should not edit the documents in the “Template Sheets” folder directly unless you wish to change the templates (which you are free to do – you may wish to customise the sketch sheets or get rid of them entirely). Instead, to create a new character sheet, click on the Characters folder (or wherever you want to create your new character sheet) and from the Project menu, select New From Template > Character Sketch. This creates a new character sketch document for you to edit and fill in with your character details. You can create setting sketch sheets in the same way. Alternatively, you can just click “Add”, or hit cmd-N, with the Characters or Places folders selected.

Pick up Scrivener here:

Scrivener Software

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First Person VS Third Person (POV)

First Person vs Third Person

Point of View (POV). The point of view simply means from who’s eyes the story is being told. Point of view can sometimes be difficult, because we tend to want to speak from a first person point of view, meaning using I or we. However, when telling a story, the first person point of view is mostly reserved for biographical types of information, or occasional interjection.

Having said that, the first person point of view can be good for non-fiction and teaching. Using personal experience and letting people know what you experienced and how it made you feel can create a bond between the reader and the writer. Using personal stories with the “I” point of view can be an excellent way of writing non-fiction and creating teaching materials.

Who’s Going to Tell Your Story?

The whole concept of Point of View is about who is going to tell your story. Choosing who will tell your story will make a big difference when it comes to the story itself.

The Second Person Point of View

So often we talk about first person and third person that we can forget that there is a second person. What is the second person point of view? Well, second person is something that you use all the time. You use it when you say “you.” That second person can be used when an interactive feel in needed. When you want to place your readers in the story as the main character. It isn’t something that can really be used with a novel, but can work well with a video game or interactive story.

The Third Person Point of View

The third person point of view is characterized by he, she and they. It is the typical point of view of most novels. Usually you need a story teller. That can be a character in the story, where every event, every feeling, every decision is made from the point of view of that character. This is a typical story telling feature. The protagonist doesn’t necessarily need to be the narrator or story teller. The story can be told from one of the minor characters point of view. Where they tend to express their thoughts or feelings about the protagonist and the action in the story.

In larger volumes, there may be several main characters. Different chapters can be written from the view point of each of these characters. Each character takes his or her turn with narrating the story. This type of expression works well with larger stories that have many points of interaction.

Using a Narrator

Sometimes the story calls for a narrator that is not part of the story. A narrator is usually a third party and might have more knowledge or insight than any of the characters. This type of arrangement works well for stories that the main character is purposefully unknown or perhaps discovered as the story unfolds. The narrator may have his own motives and may not have all of the knowledge or may purposefully skew the information in favor of a character or group. This constitutes a condition known as the unreliable narrator, where the narrator tries to persuade the reader to some opinion that may not even be logical.


Point of view will color everything about the story. Telling the story from the main character’s point of view or from a secondary person’s point of view will determine how events will flow and what the outcomes will be. Choosing the point of view may limit what can be told or described because the character or narrator may not have all of the information or may have ulterior motives for telling the story in a less than truthful way. Choosing a point of view and who will be telling the story is an important part of the progression of a novel and shouldn’t be left to chance. Make that choice and let it be a strong part of your story.

Keep up the good work writing.


Best 10 Children’s Books

In Kellee Giles’ epic novel Breaking Silence,  Taylor wanted to be the greatest writer in time, or in other words, the greatest writer of all time. I loved reading from a young age, and actually thought that I had found the greatest writer of all-time early on.

At about eight years old, I graduated from Dick and Jane books to what I figured was indeed the greatest writer of all time. Dr. Seuss, of course. I moved reluctantly to other authors and bigger books. I got married and life took on deeper meanings. My kids started reading and I was re-introduced to children’s books. 25 or so every three weeks, because that what we could check out of the library. It was wonderful, and I found a number of authors that I became acquainted with. Some I got tired of reading very quickly, but others, I found I could enjoy again and again. Here is my list of all-time favorites.

#10 Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

I am Sam, Sam I am. Will you eat green eggs and ham? This classic masterpiece has been read to me many times by young readers just getting into reading. The rhyming and rhythm add to the story line and make the book fun to read. The book was written by Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and was written to only include 50 unique words. It repeats words, sentences, and phrases to help young readers recognize the words as they read them. The over-all message of the story is one of discovery. That the protagonist resists trying the green eggs and ham through every effort that Sam makes to get him to give them a little taste. Finally, in desperation, the green eggs and ham are tried—and by pleasant surprise the protagonist likes them after he has tasted them. The story lets readers know that they can’t judge a book by its cover, so to speak. A great lesson, and a great read.

#9 Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

This children’s book has many levels of understanding. It is made for a slightly more advance reader than Green Eggs and Ham, but is filled with humor and with sadness. Max, the main character, dresses up in a wolf costume, is rude to his parents and sent to bed with no supper. His “escape” to the land of the wild things is a journey into his childhood thinking and experiences. The Wild Things he encounters are fashioned after his relatives. Max finally understands how much his family loves him and how hollow his adventures are, and makes his way back home. There are a lot of life’s lessons to be learned here, and it is an entertaining story.

#8 The Berenstain Bears, Bears in the Night.

The Berenstain Bears written by Stan and Jan Berenstain, and later by their son Mike have about 300 different books in the series. I like most of them. I love the memorable characters who definitely follow their prototypes in most every story. For all of their faults there seems to be a lot of love in the family. I like that every story teaches a lesson or moral. I have selected specific ones to try and teach specific lessons to my children and other children. I have a favorite. It isn’t the deepest, the longest, nor even teaches the best lesson. I think that I actually like it a lot because it is probably the shortest and the easiest to read. When I would get the “Daddy, read one more story,” routine, this was my fall back and my salvation—because it was quick. The bears hear a noise get out of bed with the lantern traipse around looking for the source of the noise. Find it, and are frightened running back to bed. It doesn’t have a lot of words, but it is fun, and quick to read.

#7 Go Dogs Go by P. D. Eastman

Dogs and cars fill the pages of this delightful children’s book. The words are easy and the sentences flow nicely. Dogs are given human characteristics and the illustrations make the characters come alive. The story is fast paced and really has not direction or plot, but the antics of the dogs doing so many human things is quite inviting. Dogs are shown racing, swimming, having parties, and just doing so many things. The pretend situations are funny and will appeal to pretty much any child. The words and sentences grow as the child gets into the book. I believe that starting with just a single word, the word Dog, gives any child the confidence that they can make an effort to read the book.

#6 Hand, Hand, Finger, Thumb by Al Perkins

This book has fun rhyming, rhythm, and simple words, and is a counting book. It teaches words and numbers. I like the way that the book builds from just one to many. It sticks to monkeys and kind of focuses on the activity of drumming. It makes a child feel like they can keep adding to the new words and watch as the action and the scene opens up and gets bigger and bigger.

#5 The Snow Birthday by Brenda and Dean Giles

This book is for a little bit older reader. It has a great story line and a surprise ending. It follows a little girl who has a Birthday in the winter time and how her family helps her make that birthday special and memorable. It includes wonderful winter activities and the story line warms your heart.

#4 Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Every home library needs a go-to-sleep book. This was a favorite for late night reads. The book talks about the house and the things in it and how everything was quieting down and getting ready for sleep. A very calming read that I thought helped get the kids ready for the goodnight moment. Very useful for parents.

#3 Duck and Goose by Tad Hills

Duck and goose contend over a ball, believing it is an egg. Each one considers themselves to be better suited to taking care of the egg. Over some interesting turn of events they learn that it is a ball and they learn how share and how to settle their differences. The illustrations are bright and colorful and I love the story line.

#2 Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Harold is on a great adventure. He draws everything that he encounters with his purple crayon. Some things he draws with great purpose, and others just seem to happen. The story takes him far from home, but he gets back by drawing the moon as he sees it from his bedroom window, then drawing his bedroom window around it. I just love the imagination and the adventure of the story.

#1 Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite children’s authors, and I think he hits a home run in this imaginative story. I like the premise of the story, he says something like “You have brains in your head, and feet in your shoes, you can go anywhere that you choose.” I think that is a real parallel to life, and the boy and the girl in the story do take imaginative adventures. This is one you will want to come along with for sure.

That wraps up my top 10 Children’s books of all-time.



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