Quick Ulysses tip — duplicating scenes

Here’s something that happens to me quite a lot. I map out the structure of a section of the story, with headings, keywords and a synopsis in comments in Ulysses (more detail on how to do that in Writing A Novel with Ulysses, plug, plug). But then when I get down to writing things start to change.

At some stage I’ll reach a scene which I still want but I need more from it. A bit of the original idea and something new. In other words this more than a single scene. Do you need to delete that original empty scene and synopsis and create two new ones? Not at all.

Just select the original scene then drag it holding down the Option key to where you want the extra scene to go in your narrative. You then get a copy of the original scene. Everything’s preserved so you can delete the parts you don’t want, add in new ones, and get to work without having to go through any repetitive reconstruction of the original.

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Just a little thing but it saves some tedious drudgery, which leaves more time for the hard stuff: writing.


Revising with Ulysses III — some simple techniques

Revision. I love it. My modus operandi these days is to chug ahead with a part of the book then, when it’s finished, give everything a thorough revise before proceeding further. This way I hope to avoid any dismal gotchas — ‘this could not have happened because of what you wrote on Page 182, idiot’. It also means I have a better feel for the story too, and where it’s headed.

So how do you revise? The standard advice — and I’ve given this in my books on writing too — is to turn on track changes in Word so that you lose nothing of the original then tear into your raw manuscript with gusto. The latter part is good practice always. The former… let me be honest. Yes, I use track changes in Word. But it’s mostly out of habit. I can’t remember the last time I went back and reintroduced something I’d previously deleted.

Ulysses doesn’t do track changes. So how do I approach it now? With a delightful and rather old-fashioned simplicity. Let me explain.


Setting up a joint climax — Ulysses in action

I wrote here the other day about how you can use Ulysses to read and edit non-consecutive scenes. Here’s an illustration of that in action from the book I’m writing now, the third in the Pieter Vos series (with you some time in 2016).

This is about halfway through the book when we’re heading for two different climaxes to a pair of story threads. They need to resolve issues raised in earlier scenes separated from the climax scenes by other action. It is much, much easier to deal with these though as if they were written consecutively.

So all I do is use Command-Click to choose the connecting scenes I want and that’s what I get — just the scenes I need. It’s a really efficient way to deal with what otherwise might be a complex task, and I also often find myself improving (hopefully) the earlier scenes I’ve written along the way.



Enter Vellum… the closest ePub's got to WYSIWYG

I put up a new short story earlier today, formatted more professionally than anything I’ve ever self-pubbed before. I don’t pretend to be a self-pub expert. If something suits that medium I’m happy to do it. But conventional publishing — sorry I won’t call it ‘legacy’ because that’s plain daft — remains my bread and butter and I’m happy for it to stay so.

Technology primarily interests me through what it makes possible that couldn’t be done before. I love short stories but the conventional publishing market for them isn’t great. Delivering some now and again direct makes a lot of sense.

What held me back before? The hassle. I like my work to look good, and that’s not easy with ePub and Kindle. Yes you can go through the format routine with Word. Scrivener, Pages and Ulysses will alll publish direct to ePub too, and do competent jobs. But the finer points of publishing — custom design, drop caps, handsome styling — are hard to get unless you dirty your hands with code. That’s beyond me and it will stay that way.

And then along came a remarkable OS X app called Vellum.