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Writing software

Got a question/comment about the business of writing or about the publishing industry? Here's your place to post it!
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stu1883
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Writing software

Post by stu1883 » Sat August 27th, 2011, 7:57 am

I am sure this question has been asked before, but I cannot find the thread!

Do any of you wonderful people use New Novelist or Scrivener, or just use MS Word or Open Office?

I am looking at things that could really help me push forward & Dragon Naturally Speaking is looking very interesting, so does anyone use that and how do you find it? Is it easy to use, does it help you in the way you want it to or is it more of a burden?

If anyone has any thoughts or observations on this I would be very grateful if you would share them with me.

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Post by SGM » Sat August 27th, 2011, 10:19 am

[quote=""stu1883""]Do any of you wonderful people use New Novelist or Scrivener, or just use MS Word or Open Office?

I am looking at things that could really help me push forward & Dragon Naturally Speaking is looking very interesting, so does anyone use that and how do you find it? Is it easy to use, does it help you in the way you want it to or is it more of a burden?[/quote]

I am using Word because, apart from any other reasons, I now use it constantly for most things (sigh, I still have WordPerfect and love it but have had to move on).

I resist spending money on other items because I know, for me, it is just an excuse to put off doing the actual writing which I can quite well achieve in most programs I already have.

As far as Dragon is concerned, I have never had to acquire the skill of composing as dictation but have had experience of listening to those who think they have and have come to the conclusion that it is a skill that requires a great many years and experience to master.

You might find that it frees up the flow of your words for you but that would be a very personal thing. Try getting a PC dictaphone and experiment with that first (basic ones are very cheap from Argos) or just use a PC microphone and dictate into your computer and see how happy you are with the result. Then decide if you want to go further with it.

In the end what works for other people may not work for you and, of course, the reverse is also true.

I just keep telling myself not to make excuses. That I can manage quite well with whatever I already have and just to get on and do it - everything else is just prevarication. I spent more time getting frustrated about not being able to get my hands sources that I want to use than with what software I have but, again, that is just an excuse.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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parthianbow
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Post by parthianbow » Sat August 27th, 2011, 3:45 pm

@Stu: I've heard great things from another writer about Scrivener, but haven't yet got around to looking at it :p

I also have extensive experience of using Dragon Naturally Speaking, and contrary to what SGM has heard, it does not take months or years to learn how to dictate - at least it didn't for me.I was able to start using for real work within a day or so. I found it a great deal faster than typing (and I can type at about 70 wpm), especially once I trained it to my voice. However, the type of writing I do when dictating is quite different to that when I type. I couldn't tell you the difference, but I prefer typing. So once the reason for my using DNS was over (an RSI in my right wrist), I stopped using it, and I've never really gone back to it. It's partly laziness, as it's slow to start up and close down, and sometimes doesn't like interacting with Word, but mainly it's for the reason above.

I hope that helps somewhat!

PS How's your writing going?
Ben Kane
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Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

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stu1883
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Post by stu1883 » Sat August 27th, 2011, 5:03 pm

Hi Ben,

Great to hear from you! I'll get the creeping out of the way first, Hannibal was brilliant! I loved the story and, as usual, I learnt a lot about the man and the history of the time.

Anyway, my writing is actually progressing and I am over half way through my FD. I have done some re-writing and changed the plot as it was naturally taking me in a different direction than I had originally planned. I do still get sidetracked researching, reading for pleasure and stuff but it is definitely getting there. Albeit still slowly.

How are you and your family, well I take it?

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Sat August 27th, 2011, 9:57 pm

I use Word because it's what I grew up using. Might buy Scrivener with my NaNo winner code once the Windows version is released. I've looked into other writing software but don't have the budget for any of the programs available (of course I tend to be attracted to the shiny glow of bells and whistles that I don't really need).

Not impressed with Open Office. Tried it a few years ago, and though I can't remember what about it I disliked, I'm not really interested in jogging my memory by trying it again.

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Julianne Douglas
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Post by Julianne Douglas » Mon August 29th, 2011, 11:19 pm

I use Scrivener for Mac and I absolutely love it! Don't even know how to use all the fancy features. ;)
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Writing the Renaissance

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue August 30th, 2011, 2:26 am

I just downloaded Scrivener for Windows Beta. I haven't done much with it yet--sometimes, looking at a new tool, even though I know it will help with my work my eyes glaze over at yet another set of protocols to learn.

I must be getting old and ossified.

I have a friend who does all her plotting and moving things around in Excel. So my DIL came over to teach me all the fancy workings of that program, one she uses all the time. But when I showed her my outline-and-chapter method using Word, she said that what I was doing was more efficient than what she could do with Excel.

At the moment, I create a word file for each chapter, and another for the outline, where I use Word's outline function, usually about three levels: Chapter is level 1, scene is level 2, and notes are level 3. Body text goes in the bottom level, of course.

Then I copy that as a second document, called 'all so far' where I paste whatever the current finished version of the scene is. And for each draft, I create a separate sub-folder.

Perhaps my most important writing tool is a file I call 'bonepile'. I have one for each version of each WIP, and into it I put all the lovely bits of writing or critical plot explanations that are weighting down the scene. I can then go and retrieve them later when I find a better place to put them. Having the file gives me the mental freedom to cut ruthlessly, knowing that I can always go get it later. And over the years it has taught me that if I wrote something I liked that well once, I can do it as well or better when the need arises. 90% of them never get used again.

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Post by fljustice » Tue August 30th, 2011, 3:18 pm

[quote=""MLE""]I just downloaded Scrivener for Windows Beta. I haven't done much with it yet--sometimes, looking at a new tool, even though I know it will help with my work my eyes glaze over at yet another set of protocols to learn...Perhaps my most important writing tool is a file I call 'bonepile'. [/quote]

I'm so sympathetic! I used to be a systems analyst and programmer and I can't keep up with the changes in Windows, much less each new tool or gadget! Why can't I just type a command and be done with it? (Still use keyboard shortcuts rather than drop menus.)

I have a similar process. Each chapter and outline in separate files with a master copy. Each draft and all the related files have their own number and file as well; so all files related to the first draft is kept in WIP-1, second draft in WIP-2, etc. I keep my research notes in separate files and add the pieces to my outline as I need them to inform my writing. I also have a "bonepile," but call mine "outtakes" where I put all the brilliant pieces of writing that gets cut. Like MLE, most never get used. Everyone has their system and fine tunes it over time. This is what works for me.
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DeAnnaCameron
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Post by DeAnnaCameron » Tue August 30th, 2011, 10:32 pm

Awhile ago I downloaded the free yWriter 4 software after hearing a friend rave about it. I poked around a bit and thought it looked interesting, but at the time decided to put it aside because I didn't want to transfer or redo what I already had in Word.

Now that I'm starting a new project, I'm thinking about giving it a try... (I see there's a newer version, yWriter 5...hmm)

Hard for me to break the Word habit, though....
DANCING AT THE CHANCE, love and vaudeville in Old New York (Berkley/April)
THE BELLY DANCER, a novel of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (Berkley/out now)
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