Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be the first in your field. Scrivener started off as an innovative fledgling among writing apps back in 2007 and now is a piece of software used by writers, researchers and journalists around the globe. But as Keith Blount has freely conceded since Scrivener first appeared some of the inspiration for its approach to writing came from an app that’s still less well-known — Ulysses, now in its third incarnation from its German developers The Soulmen.
Being then minded to buy just about every writing app that appeared on OS X I picked up Ulysses 1 (at quite a price I seem to recall) when it first came out and then upgraded to Version 2 — and still never used it. From the start Ulysses has taken a very left field view of the writing process. It set out to be minimalist before minimalism was fashionable. It eschewed conventional word processing formatting in much the same way. Much as I was intrigued by this approach to writing the thing drove me nuts in its first two versions because the developers placed absolutely no store on such simple things as being able to make a word italic with any great ease.
Now version three is out — a completely new app, available on the Mac app store only (which means there’s no upgrade path for earlier users — though there is a demo version available too, details at the foot of this article). Happily Ulysses has seen some of the light. Italics are a doddle and many of my earlier misgivings have been addressed.
So what exactly is this curious piece of software? And should you be using it? Continue reading
Here’s a familiar challenge: you want to work on one scene but know that what you’re going to write is dependent upon a scene, several stages back in the book, which is already done. The standard response to this situation, depending on the software you’re using, is either to split the screen between the two documents or open two windows, one for each bit of the book.
Perhaps it’s me but I’m no great fan of either. All those scroll bars and different bits of window get in the way. This is a book — one long story composed of different bits. I want to see it that way. Continue reading
I had a little gripe here a while back about the fuss around Markdown. For the uninitiated it’s writing stripped to the core. Basically plain text with symbols to handle formatting. Very trendy right now. For the most part I don’t get it.
But here’s an app that comes out of Markdown I do like. Slugline — Mac only though doubtless someone is copying the idea for Windows already — is for writing scripts, not novels. It uses Fountain, a markup language for scripts that ‘takes its cue from Markdown’. So it’s a dead simple, text-based way of setting down a basic script without the complex (CONT’D) and index card features you get in something like Final Draft.
Slugline takes Fountain, keeps the basic simplicity and adds some sophistication. Happily there is a fully-featured demo you can use (you’re not reliant on the App store alone before parting with your $39.99). If you want to get the idea I suggest you download the demo here and give it a runaround. It helps if you understand how scripts are put together and formatted of course.
What makes Slugline different? Continue reading
I’ve been banging on here lately about revision and my three-year quest to find a way to handle a complete book edit digitally, without pen and paper. You can read the past posts through their tag.
But these were about theory. And theory, as we all know, is useless against real experience. After putting down those thoughts I’ve spent the best part of a week revising a full-length novel (the second Pieter Vos book, 108,000 words or so). Without paper.
Does it work? Sigh… finally. And it doesn’t just work. It works brilliantly. Fan as I am of paper printouts when I’m back home I think I’ve done the last one. This is, in my experience better.