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World-Building with Skitch and Scrivener | Kestrel's Aerie

World-Building with Skitch and Scrivener | Kestrel's Aerie

World-Building with Skitch and Scrivener

I have written about Scrivener before. However, as I continue to use it, I find it even more useful as I discover (read: use for the first time) new features. For example….

Yesterday I was working on a world-building exercise for Throne. I wrote out a short description of the political geography along these lines:

The palace is located in the city of Aberlee in the Kingdom of Reloria.

The other three Kingdoms, each ruled by a Duke whose allegiance is to Cosimo, are Fadar, Oleme, and Salsum.

The Hidden Lands are to the north of Reloria, which is north of Fadar (west) and Oleme (east). Salsum is the southernmost kingdom, and has considerable desert area, but also a sizable mountain range.

The Hidden Lands are so called because their southern border (Reloria’s northern border) is the impenetrable mountain range known as the Dragon’s Spine. The tops of the the mountains are invariably wreathed in clouds.

The Kilfandur River has its source in the Dragon’s Spine somewhere, and meanders down into Reloria, then southerly where it forms the common border between Fadar and Oleme, and finally into Salsum. It empties into the Southern Ocean in Salsulee, capital city of Salsum, on the Kilfandur Delta. There are of course several tributaries, some quite large, which irrigate the fertile parts of the three northern kingdoms. Aberlee is located on one of these tributaries, the Aber River.

As I wrote the description above, I realized I would like to see a map of the country I’d just described. I did a quick search for OS X mapping software, and quickly found an application for creating role-playing game (RPG) maps. I downloaded and installed it, and it looked like it would be pretty useful. However, after fifteen minutes of fruitlessly trying to put mountains (the Dragon’s Spine) at the top of my map, I gave up.

Then I remembered my favorite Mac screen-capture utility, the (currently) free app, Skitch. In addition to being a good screen-cap program (it will capture a full-screen or crosshair snapshot, or a webcam shot), it is a free-form drawing program. (You can also annotate screenshots, as I did in last week’s article on redirecting your Blogger ID to WordPress.)

So, I quickly (fifteen minutes or less) created the very crude drawing below in Skitch (click image to embiggen):

As I said, this is quite crude, and will probably change, but at least I have a visual reference on which to continue to build my world.

So what about Scrivener? As it happens, Scrivener makes it extremely easy to import images into your project: You simply drag the image where you want it! Here’s what my note page for this exercise looks like now (screen cap via Skitch, natch):

Of course this is great for notes pages, but the same thing can be done for your actual story pages. You can also resize the image within Scrivener, but any other editing needs to be done before you drag your image into the writing software.

While I was well aware of the possibility of including images in my projects, I was impressed by the ease with which Scrivener implements this feature. It’s a hallmark of the program that everything I try to do is simple (of course, with some features, it definitely helps to do the tutorial!).

Once again, if you’re doing creative writing on a Mac (including scriptwriting!), you owe it to yourself to at least take advantage of the free 30-day trial. And if you want a simple screen capture, editing, and drawing tool, Skitch is not only easy, but free!

2 Conversations about World-Building with Skitch and Scrivener
  1. Cathy
    May 10, 2010 | 04:37

    Hey Kes

    Scrivener looks pretty amazing. I love the cork board idea, although my writing usually only consists of two paragraphs:) Writing anything more than that seems daunting to me. I think when you have many story lines going on in a book or many ideas, this looks like a very cool way of keeping track and organizing them.

    Very nice
    Cathy´s latest blog post is Don’t Be That Guy My ComLuv Profile

    • Kestrel
      May 10, 2010 | 08:29

         Twitter: Oh it definitely is. This list of published authors who use Scrivener is almost as long as the list of unpublished who do. ;) (And good to see you back here!)