Scrivener for Windows

For all the years I’ve been writing—or wanting to write—and been on the web I’ve looked for software that might help me write better. I mean that exactly as it reads. I never purchased any of the gimmicky apps which purported to help you write a novel or a screenplay, but I did download and try the demos. I knew intuitively that software wouldn’t elevate my writing, but I hoped it might inspire me to write more. None of what I found did. Nearly every application I found wanted me to plug in the details of my characters: height, weight, eye color, and goals—like the first three mattered and like I knew the last. If I knew my characters’ goals I wouldn’t need your software. When I could fake a goal or when I just loremipsummed one up the results were nothing more than an mishmash of words I could have just as easily written on Post-it notes and then stuck around my monitor. A messy electronic mirror of my messy organic brain.

Along the way I ran into program which made more sense to me as a writer. Programs which help organize the pages and chapters and books. Sometimes these would also manage the submissions as well. YWriter stands prominently in my memory for that. I recognized the value of doing these things, but I didn’t see much value in these apps either because I could do all the organizing I needed with MS Word—for awhile WordPerfect—and a good directory structure. Considering how quickly I write, tracking submissions wasn’t a priority. The interfaces on these apps were an act of love not an act of UX.

Eventually I heard of Scrivener, and that it was for the Mac. I could look at screenshots, I could read reviews and raves, but I couldn’t touch it. Undeterred, I google “like scrivener for windows” every quarter or so. That search invariably coughed up BinderX or whatever that braindump mess is called. So many people seem to like that tool that it worries me I’ve not got the correct brain for it. But given what little I imagine is true about working writers I can’t see how any of them would stand for what comes across to me as a shoe box for postcards, a notepad, and a stubby pencil.

More recently I have found Q10, WriteMonkey, and Celtx. Q10 was great except it isn’t being actively developed. I use WriteMonkey daily and don’t recall why I hesitated dropping Q10 at the time. Celtx does its thing well, but, as much as I want to like it and want to need it, I just kinda like it and don’t really need it at all. As good as Scrivener for Windows is looking I doubt I’ll drop the pure black screen of WriteMonkey for Scrivener’s black text on white or other paper. I’ll copy and paste.

This beta version of Scrivener for Windows is tight so far. I’ve only run into one glitch; anything else I may have found clunky or odd can be attributed to having been born of Mac thinking or just developer style—I think. The interface is sleek and usable. The icons feel good. This is clearly professional software and I’ll consider spending money on it when that time comes.

As a developer I really like the idea that the software I use is aware of the related files I may need quick access to while working. The Binder pane comforts me, but it also confuses me. I understand how it works and what it does; I don’t know how I’ll employ it in the context of writing. When it comes to writing I’m not sure I need to have all writings located in well organized places. Looking back on my writing I can see where I would retro-organize what I already have written, but I don’t think I would have done that much organizing ahead of the writing.

Yesterday I wrote elsewhere.

513 words on day 571

Indexing and Reading More Like a Writer

Yesterday I reignited an old effort to index and catalogue the work I’ve done here on 1000 Days. You may recall I’d attempted or claimed to have attempted to create a glossary. Yesterday I created a better infrastructure for following through on that endeavor. I may use it as a safety net for one day of weekend writing.

Aside from creating a default activity to go to during those tough-to-write-on Sundays during football season, I look forward to defining the volume of what I’ve done over the past years as well as uncovering some misplaced toys from the youth of my daily writing. Toys I knew I had, but forgot I enjoyed.

Finding Mr. Johnathan Goffe, The Shanty, and You all before entry thirty-two surprised me a bit. I’m certain I’ve not created two such deep wells in a thirty-day span since. Or if I have, I haven’t done so in a while. Indexing 1000 Days should help.

I bought a Kindle 3 less than a month ago. I’ve read several sample bits on it, I’ve loaded it with books I’ve already read on the iPhone, and I’ve read more than halfway through my first full novel on it. This inaugural book, Clockwork Angel, kicks off the The Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare. The balance of the series remains pre-published. Clare published three previous novels in the same world but set in present day. Clockwork Angel finds it’s setting in 18th century England.

These Young Adult novels appeal to me because I find myself looking more and more at books from the perspective of my children. I wonder what I might read to them; I wonder what they might choose to read to themselves. Of course, ‘clockwork’ in the title captures my eye—so far, I’m left cold on the point of the title.

The book is well written and good, but I doubt I’ll purchase the first series or even the second book in this series soon. I may purchase them after some other reading. This one just didn’t grab me which is likely not a surprise to the author since I’m a middle-aged man rather than a much younger girl. The suspense, both dramatic and romantic, feels a little drawn out for my taste. And, my God!, the descriptions of eyeballs overwhelms me. Sure, window to the soul and all, but apparently front door, back door, and chimney as well.

None of that was meant to be my point. I meant my point to be that I’ve been reading with more of an authorial eye. Appraising what I’ve read from a creator’s perspective rather than a consumer’s. I’m not great at it, but I think I’m getting better.

459 words on day 549

Practice Being

Day 478

Several months ago I purchased the Mouse Guard Roleplaying book. I’ve been reading the Mouse Guard comics for some time now and have generally collected anything David Petersen has written regarding mice. I’m becoming less enthusiastic as he’s not been as prolific as I’d like, but when he’s doing, he’s doing it well.

This past weekend I finally started reading the book. It’s different than I’d expected. Meatier. Not typical. It’s not a roleplaying experience I’m familiar with. I’m not familiar with many.

I’ve not finished reading the manual—I’m only a couple chapters beyond the intro—but I’m impressed with the heavy emphasis on plot driven play. I don’t know how well that works in actual play, but it sure stirs the writing guy in me. Give’s me more ways to think of the things I’ve been thinking but not writing recently. I’m starting to believe that placing a target in front of a character and a time limit for her to obtain that goal may just be a plot. That the random conflicts the author throws up develop meaning through mere presence in the story.

I don’t believe and I’m not saying here that just doing these things makes a story great or even just good, but the do make a story. I still need to practice being, before I can practice being good.

224 words