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Author Topic: writing software
legolasgalactica
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I suppose all new writers wonder as I do: isn't there an easier way to handle the complexities and unwieldy length of a book-length project.

Having never written anything longer than a 13 page business analysis paper for English class in college, my first draft MS is barely reaching 25 pages of actual draft text, plot and scene summaries, notes, etc. Already, I am spending enormous amounts of time scrolling up and down, skimming text to find the part I want to work on or move around.

It seems like such a waste of time, and I keep wishing for a software that will help me break it down and navigate through it in a manageable way.

I did a little research and came down to scrivner ($40) or Evernote (free--but I don't know how well it will fit my needs as a writer). I wonder if anyone has experience with either and/or advice on better or other solutions.

As an aside, I stumbled across fastpencil: http://www.fastpencil.com/company/for-authors it looks like it might be useful software, but they also provide a wide (complete) set of services, from project consultations to editing and formatting services, illustrations and cover design to full publishing, marketing, distribution, and printing services. Unsurprisingly, they have some heafty prices, but offer 80% of net royalties similar to smashwords. I'm wondering how their pricing compares with other professional services of editors, publishers, etc. And if the higher royalty split wouldn't make it a better deal in the long run. Worth a look.

[ December 17, 2013, 11:43 AM: Message edited by: legolasgalactica ]

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Denevius
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quote:
isn't there an easier way to handle the complexities and unwieldy length of a book-length project.
I actually think simplifying the narrative would work better than any writing app on the market. Keep the plot simple, keep down the number of characters, limit the locations. Don't write what you don't know.

Unwieldiness is probably a symptom of something more deeply flawed in the prose that a writing program may ease but won't actually resolve.

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RyanB
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I've never used scrivner but I hear it's amazing, the gold standard.

If you're on Windows there's yWriter, which is free. I used it for a while and it's not bad.

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extrinsic
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I use a propietary software that does gigaflop calculations running in the background of the shell operating system. The program isn't available on the open market nor will it ever be.

How it works: I preload the program apps with development and research, sketches, deliberate or whimsical or wild thoughts, exercises, anecdotes, vignettes, writing and narrative theory studies, event points and turns, character traits and stakes and motivations, setting details, outlines and plans, input notes updates when they arise, then let the program run calculations and speculations. The system and software may take days, months, or years to output results.

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legolasgalactica
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Well, I'm sure it's not my prose as I hardly have enough of that to worry about. Maybe 10 pages. What's hard for me is that, for good or ill, I just can't mannage to write sequencially. I have a thought for a scene here, an inspired conversation there, something I want to add or change in what I've already written, some thoughts on one of my characters I want to focus on. So when I have these inspired moments I want to open the appropriate place and just start writing. I could start new word documents each time and try to label them, but I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that I'd end up with thousands of fragmented documents and struggle to remember what they were for and where they go. So I've been trying to keep them in the same document. However, I'm not a speed-reader like most compulsive readers and by the time I've scrolled through my tangled web of various writings, I'm already tired or start to lose focus on what I was initially trying to do.

Extrinsic, I got something like that once. It wasn't working properly, so I opened it up to find out why. Unfortunately, the squirrels inside escaped and now I'm left with an empty cage with a wheel that spins slowly in the wind.

I suppose even a basic hyperlinked table of contents that outlined the basic plotlines and scenes would be adequate enough to keep my sanity intact.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by legolasgalactica:
Well, I'm sure it's not my prose as I hardly have enough of that to worry about. Maybe 10 pages. What's hard for me is that, for good or ill, I just can't mannage to write sequencially. I have a thought for a scene here, an inspired conversation there, something I want to add or change in what I've already written, some thoughts on one of my characters I want to focus on. So when I have these inspired moments I want to open the appropriate place and just start writing. I could start new word documents each time and try to label them, but I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that I'd end up with thousands of fragmented documents and struggle to remember what they were for and where they go. So I've been trying to keep them in the same document. However, I'm not a speed-reader like most compulsive readers and by the time I've scrolled through my tangled web of various writings, I'm already tired or start to lose focus on what I was initially trying to do.

Extrinsic, I got something like that once. It wasn't working properly, so I opened it up to find out why. Unfortunately, the squirrels inside escaped and now I'm left with an empty cage with a wheel that spins slowly in the wind.

I suppose even a basic hyperlinked table of contents that outlined the basic plotlines and scenes would be adequate enough to keep my sanity intact.

The hyperlinked toc is exactly what I was about to suggest. Works for me over much longer works than what you're working with. [Smile]
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extrinsic
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I keep several open documents when I write. One, a notes file that contains the basic scene outline, I switch to when a thought arises. I preserve whatever there, forge on with the main raw draft, and come back to the notes during rewriting and revision. The notes file is a plain ASCII file. It doesn't do word count calculations so I write in WordPerfect that does that and other helpful processes.

Also, I'm expert with wordprocessor software, using other documents and document components to collect and organize other data. One of which is a clip file for cut, copy, and paste excised parts, parts that might come in later in the process, extended scene sketches that don't quite fit yet but may after more deliberate meditation, whatever doesn't fit at the moment in the main draft or notes file.

I file any given narrative's several documents in one subdirectory titled with the narrative's working title. Other files in the subdirectory are earlier versions, other formats. Those folders go under a subdirectory for fiction, nonfiction, poetry. etc., respectively. And one main subdirectory at the top tier of writing.

I use an extended ASCII program for the notes, and preplanning, and development, that allows up to sixteen documents open at a time. It's freeware. One of the persistent documents is general inspirations, items that may have little to do with the project in progress. Other open documents might be other projects on the front burner. When working on one project, if an inspiration about another project comes up, a few keystrokes to switch to that document and document what comes up for it. Huzzah!

The Multiple Document Interface (MDI) feature of computers is a marvelous thing.

[ March 01, 2014, 10:39 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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legolasgalactica
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THank's RyanB. Ywriter it is! Looks amazing, with everything I was looking for. And free.

Can I ask why you stopped using it?

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RyanB
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I started writing short stories exclusively and exchanging them. Everyone else was using MS Word and it's commenting and "track changes" system for critiques.

I think you can add comments in RTFs as well, but Word seemed to be the path of least resistance. Until you start formatting the story for submission that is.

Supposedly Scrivener has most everything yWriter has and more, and one of the more's is awesome automatic formatting. But Scrivener is $40 vs. free.

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Owasm
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I use Scrivener. For critiques, I just cut and paste the document into word (thank goodness for 'select all').

I am hoping for an iPad this Christmas (major persuasion campaign with wife). If I get one, I'll be trying Textilus as a text editor that can sync with Scrivener. Scrivener has been working on an IOS version for a few years and this seems to be a viable workaround.

I'm in the Mac ecosphere, so YWriter isn't an option. I really like Scrivener and collect all kinds of files of character sketches, outlines, blurbs, etc. all together in the Scrivener file. It's great for me. I've written ten novels/drafts on Scrivener with no problems.

What I like is that I can throw a copy into MS Word and use the grammar/spell checker and transfer the corrected copy back into Scrivener as many times as I choose.

For me it's worth the money.

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Reziac
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I use RoughDraft: (free)

http://www.salsbury.f2s.com/rd.htm

Its multidocument search-and-replace function is what finally stole me away from WordPerfect, and that's saying a lot.

BTW, you can buy cheap (sub-$40) tablets direct from the wholesalers and manufacturers:

http://www.alibaba.com/trade/search?fsb=y&IndexArea=product_en&CatId=&SearchText=7+inch+tablet

Most are bulk sales only, but some sell single units. (And insider info is that an iPad costs all of $38 to make in China, so the cheap units really aren't out of line price-wise... just skips the middleman and the markup. I just read that a company will be bringing them to the U.S. market direct in a few months, too.) There are a few listed on Amazon in that price range, too.

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Kai Sen
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For those who get easily distracted - like me - I like Focuswriter. Hides all the buttons and turns your whole screen into a soothing gray canvas with just a blinking cursor. Now it's just you and your words.

http://gottcode.org/focuswriter/

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legolasgalactica
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quote:
Originally posted by Reziac:
I use RoughDraft: (free)

http://www.salsbury.f2s.com/rd.htm

Its multidocument search-and-replace function is what finally stole me away from WordPerfect, and that's saying a lot.

BTW, you can buy cheap (sub-$40) tablets direct from the wholesalers and manufacturers:

http://www.alibaba.com/trade/search?fsb=y&IndexArea=product_en&CatId=&SearchText=7+inch+tablet

Most are bulk sales only, but some sell single units. (And insider info is that an iPad costs all of $38 to make in China, so the cheap units really aren't out of line price-wise... just skips the middleman and the markup. I just read that a company will be bringing them to the U.S. market direct in a few months, too.) There are a few listed on Amazon in that price range, too.

Wow that's cool! Many are replica units with slightly substandard parts or performance like the galaxy note I thought of buying doesn't have the full s-pen specific functionality and software I need but the specs were still impressive if less than the real model.

As long as you know what to expect when you order it's cool and worth the price.

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legolasgalactica
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Update! So I got the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) and Love it ! The S-Note features are particularly great for the random way I brainstorm. It's a synch to compile pictures, audio- music and text with handwritten notes and doodles Into a single place.And for the Writers who like to write their stories by hand 1st, writing with the s-pen is like natural writing on paper and you can either keep it as searchable handwritten notes or have it converted to text as you write. I scribbled out this post by hand with few minor corrections.

Sorry for my unsolicited advertisement for the new Note, but I am very pleased with it. With my removable Bluetooth Keyboard, it can basically replace my laptop.

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legolasgalactica
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Oh, and I like using ywriter! Sadly he hasn't made an android app of it yet.
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Denevius
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quote:
With my removable Bluetooth Keyboard, it can basically replace my laptop.
I have to admit that my one disappointment with my iPad is that I can't write on it. I bought a wireless keyboard, but it's too clunky, and if I'm lugging that thing around, I might as well bring my laptop. I saw that iPad air has some cool keyboards, but then, I don't have an iPad air, just an iPad.

However, the fact that there's no Word on iPad's also makes any kind of serious writing impossible. I would love to be able to edit my novel on the commute to work, but it'll be too complicated trying to use Apple's iPages on my tablet, and Word on my computer. And simply using iPages would be retarded since most people don't.

All in all, it's kind of a bummer. My Mac is great, but too big to whip out on the bus when I stuck there for an hour and a half with nothing much to do.

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extrinsic
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I continue to write most with OEM factory installed wetware. Asked when I appear idle what I'm doing--I'm writing, I say. Asked what I'm writing when I'm typing, Nothing, I say.
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kmsf
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Mostly, I use either the Bat Computer or Scrivner. Sometimes I use a pencil and paper.
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WolfCreature
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You might want to check into the Automatic Grammatizator invented by Roald Dahl - I hear its pretty good.
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Owasm
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@Denevius - I've used Textilus on the iPad Air (my wife did relent in the end at Christmas) and it's okay. You use it in conjunction with Dropbox. It's a little clunky and you have to at least get started with an internet connection.

I got an iPad case with a built in keyboard that works better than the screen, but not as good as a full-sized keyboard.

Still waiting on IOS Scrivener, which still remains my drafting tool of choice.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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You might want to try Evernote(TM) (have it on my iPad2) for edits. I think you could move a chapter at a time into it to edit on your commute, and there's a writing tool (have to think of what it's called) that works with Evernote(TM), so you could use your own handwriting to enter stuff into a "note" (document). Evernote(TM) syncs with your computer, so you can move things back and forth between them.

Something to try, anyway.

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legolasgalactica
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They have Bluetooth keyboard cases for the iPad too. I'm not positive the apple store has them but I like writing on Polaris office suite or kingsoft. Both have all office software to create, view and edit.
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RyanB
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My wife has a Kingston bluetooth case/keyboard for her iPad. It's pretty nice. Usable but definitely not clunky. We found it at a yard sale. If I were going to buy another keyboard for her iPad it would be the Logitech.

http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Ultrathin-Keyboard-Cover-generation/dp/B007PRHNHO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1394107862&sr=8-2&keywords=logitech+keyboard+ipad

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