Everyone writes differently. And thank goodness too. If we didn't we'd end up writing the same kind of books. A long time ago I wrote about creating a story bible, a reference work for a novel or series. That was…
It's been a while since I came up with a short story so here's something that may be new for most of you. Last Exit to Fuengirola is a short — seven thousand words — tale set in southern Spain. It featured in…
This is an old review of Ulysses that doesn’t reflect the fantastic current version out there. For something on that please see here.
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?
IA Writer was a pretty pivotal app for writing on the Mac when it came out a few years ago. There’d been simple writing apps before, including a couple that emulated old-fashioned DOS screens. But Writer wasn’t looking backwards. It wanted to reset the writing process altogether and do minimalism in a modern way. So you got one font, a very simple screen, ‘focus mode’ which allowed you to concentrate on a piece of work sentence-by-sentence, and an absence of formatting.
I buy all these things (which is why I ended up with Scrivener in the first place). So naturally I got a copy, just as I got Ulysses, Byword and lots I’ve forgotten. Of all of them IA seems to have taken off the most and now has a very capable iPad app which syncs with a Mac through iCloud.
But here’s the big question: have I ever really used it?
A comment yesterday reminded me what a software junkie I used to be. Had I tried TextExpander instead of setting up auto-correct in Word? Of course. And Typinator. And probably lots else besides.
I started using computers in the Eighties, when most of them were as inadequate as they were expensive. True they could do things that nothing else was capable of. But there were always holes, glitches, things you needed that weren’t there out of the box.
The Microsoft Surface tablet I picked up on Amazon Ebay for £310 has a video out port and a USB port too. I happened to have a three or four quid mini HDMI cable lying around here which turns out…
Yesterday I took delivery of a Microsoft Surface Tablet, yes the cheaper one running the cut-down Windows RT that the tech press have largely been so rude about. I'll write about it in some detail later but it's clear to…
I bought a new Kindle over Xmas: the Fire HD. It replaces the original e-ink Kindle, the one with the little keyboard I could never get the hang of. As a piece of techno-kit the Fire HD is pretty impressive…
Some lucky people can survive on laptops alone. I’m not one of them. I get involved in a lot of work that involves a desktop and a big screen.
For most of the last thirty odd years I’ve been writing on a Mac. I daren’t think how much money I’ve put Apple’s way in all that time. That journey is now at end.
Here are a few good reasons for dumping the Mac.
Most of us think about software when we’re planning our writing process. That makes a lot of sense. But rethinking my own methods I decided to take one further step back. Whatever software you use, you end up running it on a screen. If you’re a professional writer you spend most of your working day staring at one of the things.
But how big? What kind? How do you choose?