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April 29, 2008

StoryMill On Sale

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Back here I did a lot of enthusing about a new and terrific class of writing tools for the Mac. Short version: They aren't word processors or page-layout programs. They're more like project organizers. Gather all your research, all your drafts, and all your files in one place, and move among these resources quickly and intuitively -- no more contending with files-scattered-everywhere. Then, when you've finished writing, make your project look pretty in a word processing or page-layout program. Novelists and other book-writers are likely to find these products godsends, but they're also helpful for any writing project longer than about 5000 words. Really-truly: Using these products will likely reduce your writing-organization headaches by 90%.

One of them -- originally called Avenir and recently renamed StoryMill -- has just gone on sale. I've settled on Scrivener myself, and love it. I have nothing but good things to say about Scrivener; it strikes me as one of the most brilliant pieces of software I've ever used. But StoryMill -- which, unlike the more customizable Scrivener, has been optimized for fiction-writing -- is an excellent product in its own right. Current price: $29.95. That's a serious bargain.

Another Mariner Software program that I like a lot is MacJournal, a small miracle of versatility. You can use MacJournal to keep a journal, or even many different journals. But you can also use it as a general bin for all your writing. Why go searching every which-where to find something you've written when you can dump all your writing in one place instead? As with StoryMill and Scrivener, if you use MacJournal you'll want to export (or copy-and-paste) your masterpiece into a word processor for prettying-up before showing it off. But that's a small price to pay for a great big heap of convenience and ease.



posted by Michael at April 29, 2008


While I have no doubt these are useful tools, I anticipate\ the usual "unintended consequences."

When word processing took over in law firms, the size of contracts, pleadings and other documents began to expand alarmingly. This problem was so pronounced that judges began to issue specific limitations on page numbers (with instructions as to size of margins and line spacing) in many cases.

Documents continue to balloon to preposterous size. Back in the bad old days, typists had to be incredibly accurate or great at cut and paste. Relieved of these restrictions, BS artists started shoveling the shit in incredible volume.

I suspect that this will be the unintended results of these tools also. Well, maybe that unhappy result has already been accomplished in blogs.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on April 29, 2008 1:21 PM

Ease of expression equals too damn much expression. I think there's a lot of truth to that. Hurdles and hoops have a certain amount to be said for them. On the other hand, as for myself, I'm not interested in making things harder for myself, only easier.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 29, 2008 2:22 PM

I've never used an organizing app. It seems that the time required not only to learn the software, but to maintain the daily discipline of actually using it by entering data and scheduling events is more effort than it's worth.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on May 1, 2008 5:34 AM

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