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  1. #1

    Writer's Techie Toolbox

    I was wondering what are some go to tools you guys use when writing your manuscripts. I just downloaded the Freedom app today after S.A. Hunt recommended it on twitter. My standard go to is Write Monkey. I've heard a lot about Scrivener, but I haven't used that myself.
    Last edited by RichardWolanski; January 23rd, 2014 at 03:41 PM.

  2. #2
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    Are you wanting to talk specifically about writing programs? I'm not familiar with the ones you listed, but we recently had a discussion on this in the Writing Software Thread The thread has been resurrected a few times over the years; the most recent discussion begins about halfway down the page.

    If you're wanting to talk about other things too, I could easily (and gladly) talk about some of my favorite resources I turn to again and again for my various projects.

  3. #3
    Where have I been? Moderator JRMurdock's Avatar
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    I recommend Scrivener. I've been using it for two years and absolutely LOVE it. Your mileage may vary. It's great for organization instead of having dozens of word files all over the place and notes, and this and that and the other thing. Instead I have one file for each book and it's all self-contained within the Scrivener project. It's the best $40 I ever spent. Oh, it also converts to mobi and epub for you once you have it all set up.

    Other than that, get a keyboard you can type quickly on. I type very fast and I've gotten a $150 mechanical keyboard for many reasons that are personal, but if you have a place to go and test out keyboards, do so. Test the feel (some don't like the tactile feel of mechanical keys) and how easy it is for you to lay your hands on the keyboard. If you're going to type for any length of time, invest in the tools to do just that. Don't feel like $150 is too much if you're going to be using that tool every day for hours a day (I also use the keyboard for work as well).

    Finally I have a pen and paper by my side. Yes, I can make notes in Scrivener and usually I transfer my notes into my project, but there's something about writing down a note that sinks it into my head faster and better.

    That's my two cents

  4. #4
    Registered User Yzabel's Avatar
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    I tested several tools over the years, and Scivener would be my pick as well. It works especially well if you write your chapters in a non-chronological order (starting with 1, then 10, then 5, etc.), since it allows you to easily shuffle them around if needed—something I find annoying to do in Word or OpenOffice when my files are longere than just 50-60 pages. Also, for those who partake in NaNoWriMo, you get 50% off if you "win"; the NaNo people have been offering that discount since 2011 at the least, and it doesn't seem it's going away. (This is how I bought mine: trial version for a month, loved it, used the discount. Voilà.)

  5. #5
    @PeteMC666 PeteMC's Avatar
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    Word, Excel, a good keyboard, plenty of notebooks and pens. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Yzabel View Post
    I tested several tools over the years, and Scivener would be my pick as well. It works especially well if you write your chapters in a non-chronological order (starting with 1, then 10, then 5, etc.), since it allows you to easily shuffle them around if needed—something I find annoying to do in Word or OpenOffice when my files are longere than just 50-60 pages. Also, for those who partake in NaNoWriMo, you get 50% off if you "win"; the NaNo people have been offering that discount since 2011 at the least, and it doesn't seem it's going away. (This is how I bought mine: trial version for a month, loved it, used the discount. Voilà.)

    Wow, thank you so much for the responses, guys!

    I'll definitely get Scrivner then. I'm on a tight budget at the moment, but I'll swing for that. Yeah, the keyboard will be on my list of future purchases. I type a lot but I could definitely use something that will up my productivity. Sorry, there's already a thread. Feel free to merge if need be.

    Oh, and uh, yes. The almighty coffee is necessary.

  7. #7
    Wirt's Fourth Leg Cirias's Avatar
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    My approach to writing is somewhat understated and tech-reliant.

    MS Word, GIMP (for mapmaking) and a folder of JPEGs I keep for visual reference for stuff like houses, layout of buildings, the look and feel of certain things etc. I have a couple of Word docs that I throw character lists, basic plot outline and other worldbuilding stuff into for reference, then I write away in a separate doc. A lot of my planning and scene development is done in my head and I act a lot of my dialogue out in my car between work/home. I used to feel like I was doing something wrong as I hate using notepad/pen and I never got to grips with Scrivener and the like, but I now realise that this is the best approach for me. I think too much rigidity stifles my creativity... maybe?

  8. #8
    Where have I been? Moderator JRMurdock's Avatar
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    Again I'll recommend Scrivener here. You can store images of any type, import word documents, excel, almost any file type. You can also export files for sharing purposes. You can easily incorporate images into your exported document if you have images that'll be included in the final product. It really is an app for writers that should cater to almost any writing style.

    I do understand that all writers are different. I get that. For example I know some writers like to do a paragraph of scenes on index cards and then shuffle for the greatest effect. Scrivener has that option as well.

    For me, I'm a linear writer. I write from chapter 1, scene 1 and progress through the book one scene and one chapter at a time. I do some light plotting before hand so I have an idea where the story is going and in scrivener I'll create a file for each chapter (usually 40) and I'll put my paragraph in each file so I know what I'm going to write in that chapter. Sometimes I add scenes as I write, sometimes I change things entirely and it's not difficult to push things back in scrivener by inserting a chapter I wasn't anticipating. Honestly, it's increased my productivity because now that I've learned how to use the tool for my writing style, I don't have to think about it any more.

    Again, everyone is different, but Scrivener does allow a great deal of flexibility to match almost any writer's style. (and it's only $40 )

  9. #9
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardWolanski View Post
    Wow, thank you so much for the responses, guys!

    I'll definitely get Scrivner then. I'm on a tight budget at the moment, but I'll swing for that. Yeah, the keyboard will be on my list of future purchases. I type a lot but I could definitely use something that will up my productivity. Sorry, there's already a thread. Feel free to merge if need be.

    Oh, and uh, yes. The almighty coffee is necessary.
    No apologies. I had only asked similar questions recently and thought you might like to see what others had talked about in that thread.

    I ended up getting Scrivener because of recommendations at that time and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Please, continue the conversation here. Though I will add that I made a comparison in that other thread between Scrivener and my previous program, MS OneNote, with some pros and con's of each which you might find interesting.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage View Post
    No apologies. I had only asked similar questions recently and thought you might like to see what others had talked about in that thread.

    I ended up getting Scrivener because of recommendations at that time and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Please, continue the conversation here. Though I will add that I made a comparison in that other thread between Scrivener and my previous program, MS OneNote, with some pros and con's of each which you might find interesting.
    Scriviner going to be a definite buy next week. I'm going to use it in conjunction with the Freedom app. Oh, I loved using OneNote for making all sorts of projects, the screen clipping tool was especially a fave. I'll look at that other thread as well. I like seeing how other writers produce their monstrosities of output.

  11. #11
    @PeteMC666 PeteMC's Avatar
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    Oh help, I've got MS OneNote on my work laptop (I have no idea why, but it's there) and the few times I've tried to use it I've spent far more time tinkering with the software than actually getting anything constructive done with it. I'm the same with XMind, but I know a lot of people who swear by that.

    Maybe I'm just old fashioned but I really struggle to do any sort of cognitive thinking with software. I need physical cards or post-its and a whiteboard or corkboard and string to do that sort of thing.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by PeteMC View Post
    Oh help, I've got MS OneNote on my work laptop (I have no idea why, but it's there) and the few times I've tried to use it I've spent far more time tinkering with the software than actually getting anything constructive done with it. I'm the same with XMind, but I know a lot of people who swear by that.

    Maybe I'm just old fashioned but I really struggle to do any sort of cognitive thinking with software. I need physical cards or post-its and a whiteboard or corkboard and string to do that sort of thing.

    Hey Pete,

    OneNote can get really confusing. It's even confusing for me. I mostly used it as place to collect ideas while I was online. If your method of prep in "meatspace" works for you then--there's no shame at that. Maybe RedMage will chime in. I'm terrible at explaining things to people. I'm going to buy Scrivner next week, it sounds like it would be great for you as well since you like to organize the plot details.
    Last edited by RichardWolanski; January 25th, 2014 at 08:39 AM.

  13. #13
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    I am so not a techie. HTML? I have no idea what that stands for, let alone how it differs from other programming languages. And I really don't care. It's just not something I'm in to.

    So I'm using Scrivener in a pretty basic way right now. Mostly in the same ways that I was using OneNote. I changed because I was having fears that OneNote was losing my work--I'm still not certain if it was or wasn't.

    Really, I'm using the program as an outliner. Somewhere to put all my notes and chapter outlines that is easy and quick to move around from note to note and scene to scene and is not in an enormous list like it would be in Word. I write my stories directly in MS Word from beginning to end; I do like those in a big, run on document. So I'm not using any of Scrivener's publishing related features. I know, I'm missing out on a lot. The current book is half complete already, so maybe I'll give those other features a chance with the next book.

    I'm guessing here that most people will use it to a far greater extent than I am.

  14. #14
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    double post

    Can I just say that I really appreciate our mods and Dag and all the people involved in getting that glitch fixed. Now all I have to do is fight my phone to not when it decides I pushed one button but was trying to push another. You guys are awesome!
    Last edited by RedMage; January 25th, 2014 at 02:43 PM.

  15. #15
    LaerCarroll.com
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    I tried Scrivener. And lots of other tools; I’m a software engineer and am always looking at new tools. But in the end I come back to Word.

    Among other reasons, I’ve modified it with plugins. So for instance I can select a word or phrase and with one keystroke automatically call up an online resource such as Dictionary.com or Thesaurus.com or Wikipedia or Google or Google Maps which will look up that word or phrase for me. Or look it up in a Word file I keep in the same folder with my work-in-progress called Names_and_Places.doc.

    (I also modified Word so it would do SQL database lookups and such but that turned out to be overkill.)

    Incidentally, LibreOffice lets you do something similar without going to the trouble I did. But by the time it became available I already had Word set up.

    Incidentally, I do not use the traditional submission format: 8 1/2 x 11 double-spaced etc. I set my page size and margins and so on to the 6x9 single-spaced trade paperback format it will eventually come out in when printed. I can more easily find expository lumps and dialogs-turned monologs and such.

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