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Making of a Novel Part 1


Lately I’ve been preparing to write my next Sci-Fi novel and I thought I’d use this opportunity to show you the process of how I go about doing this. Herein will be a series of posts dedicated to showing you the nuts and bolts of how I write a novel. There will be serious spoilers. So if you are coming across these posts and have not read any of my Star Trilogy novels, you may want to skip them. I’ll try and figure out some kind of spoiler warning to put on them above the fold. I don’t get much traffic to this site, so I really doubt too many readers will be freaked out by learning the secrets revealed in these novels.

Back Story

The novel I will be writing is the third book in the Star Trilogy, Starveyors. This trilogy consists of three books, each set at a different point in time in relation to a thousand year long war between the Western Alliance and the Votainion Empire. Book One – Starforgers is about the events that lead up to the start of the Great War. Book Two – Starstrikers is about a Special Operations team and is set in the middle of the war. Book Three – Starveyors is about how the war finally ends. There are about 500 years between each book, meaning an entirely new cast of characters for each. That’s really all the back story you need.


I’ll start with hardware. I’m a nerd so this kind of thing interests me. If you don’t care about such things maybe you should skip to the next post.

My primary writing tool will be my aged, white MacBook. At least until it croaks. To prepare for its slow but inevitable death, I will be using non-proprietary programs and saving everything to DropBox. When this laptop does die, it will be replaced by an HP laptop running Ubuntu. Hence the reason I’m not using Scrivener or Pages or any other Mac only software.


The backup writing tool will be my HP Mini netbook. It’s running an older version of Ubuntu – 10.10. I don’t anticipate using the Mini much, but you never know. Sometimes the small form factor is handy for writing. I wrote all of Starforgers on the Mini and it worked out just fine.

HP Mini

Because I’m writing this novel using software tools that are cross platform, I can use either my MacBook, the Mini or the family’s new Windows 7 HP laptop. I won’t say when I’m using a particular platform unless something tragic happens and one or the other dies during the writing process.


My primary writing tool will be Focus Writer. The backup will be LibreOffice Writer. Both of these writing programs are cross platform, meaning I can use them on Mac, Linux and Windows. Again, flexibility is my primary motive here. The last novel I wrote was done entirely in one long file using LibreOffice Writer. It worked out fine. In the past I’ve used Microsoft Word and Scrivener.

Focus Writer

This time I aim to give Focus Writer (FW) the starting position. It has the ability to become a full screen composer or to write in a regular window. I chose FW because it offers RTF and TXT formats and the QT framework allows for a nice, easy on the eyes editor. I could have used a regular text editor or a programmer’s IDE, but many of those are not cross platform.

LibreOffice Suite

The second piece of software I will be using is LibreOffice Calc, a spreadsheet program that works just like Excel. I use a spreadsheet to outline my novels. Not much to say about this, it works like Excel and is cross platform.

The final piece of software that I’ll be using is the native file manager for whichever platform I’m on. As you will see in another post, I use the heck out of the lowly file manager. This is because everything I write for the novel is neatly stowed away in nested project folders or directories.

Finally, there is DropBox. In case you are unaware of this handy program; just know that it creates a folder in your home directory and that folder backs up to an identical folder in the cloud, i.e. a web based server. The advantage of this is that your files are constantly backed up and available for any major OS platform. You can work off-line and then when you come on-line, the files are updated to the web. Oh, and DropBox is free for all the space you’ll need to write several novels.

The next post will be about how I organize the novel in those nested folders.


8 thoughts on “Making of a Novel Part 1”

  1. Pingback: Making of a Novel, Part 7 - |

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    1. Pals: Ha! Perhaps I should have used that tone with the Believers.At any rate, I think you might be misreading MM's tone. His "we know" might be with a grain of salt.Then again, it might not be.To the question of government building — how do you solve the problem of 1) succession 2) defense 3) personal liberty 4) mobocracy?Any decent system of government has to solve these 4 specific problems.

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