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First Draft with Plume Creator

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Writing my novels on Ubuntu Linux has never been this easy or this well organized. Plume Creator is a writer’s IDE or Integrated Developer Environment. Just substitute Developer with Writer and you have an IWE. It lets you outline, organize and write your scenes and chapters however you like and then allows you to export them to ODT, an open document format that LibreOffice will accept and transform into Word or RTF format so you can more easily send your manuscript to editors and proof readers.

I use Plume for story creation and when I have my first draft nailed down as far as structure goes, I export it to Write and carry on with editing. There is no built in spell check or editing features in Plume Creator as of this version. So you can’t really take your manuscript beyond the first draft. However, getting a solid first draft written is so much easier in Plume than in Write.

When I have a completed, edited, proofed version of the manuscript I then cut and paste each chapter out of Write and into Sigil. But that’s another story for another post.

Plume treats each scene in your novel as a separate file. You then combine scenes to make chapters. If you have ever seen Scrivener, you already have the knowledge to write with Plume. The two applications are very similar. But Plume has a few tools that make writing that first draft easier. And it works on Windows and Linux, two platforms that are second fiddle for Scrivener.

Two useful tools for outlining your first draft in Plume are the Outliner and the Mise en scene.

This is a close shot of the Mise en scene area showing the characters in the scene and the location. Clicking on the “Eye” icon anoints a Point Of View character.

Here’s what it looks like when you pop up the arrow. You can click and drag your characters into the Scene area, same with the locations. This is very cool meta data to have, especially if you are writing an Epic Fantasy, Sci-Fi or a Mystery.

If you click on the “Man” icon you get the Mise en scene editor, where you can add your characters and locations. Here is where you can elaborate on characters and locations. You can even add new categories.  For instance, in my SF books I have lots of starships, so I keep track of which ones are in a scene using the Starships category.

Here’s a wide shot of Plume in action on my Ubuntu laptop. The Notes area is useful for additional meta data, I use Blake Snyder’s shorthand symbols to show conflict and emotional arc.

This is what a filled out Outline looks like in Plume. You can chose to hide any of the columns to make things less crowded. Sometimes I hide the notes in the outline view.

At this point in my WIP, I have over 50K words in Plume and it still loads and plays ball like a champ. I should be finished writing this first draft in another month or two and then I can reuse the Mise en scene cast and locations for my third book which is already set up in the same Plume project. When I write a trilogy, this is just easier for me than creating a new project for each book.




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