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October 31, 2008

Software for NaNoWriMo

MIchael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

National Novel Writing Month begins tomorrow. If you're nuts enough (or exuberant enough, or whatever) to want to take part -- or if you're just someone who sometimes puts together long pieces of writing -- let me suggest buying and using some software that can make your writing projects a lot more pleasant: Scrivener and StoryMill. They're first-class examples of a new kind of writing tool that I wrote at some length about back here.

FWIW, I consider these new programs the first big advance in computer writing tools since the word processor. There's no reason to bother with them if you never write anything longer than a few thousand words. But once your projects grow bigger than that, these programs can be godsends. Imagine keeping all your research, your drafts, your notes, your revisions -- everything -- not in scattered folders but in one file. Lordy, if only the Wife and I had had one of these packages back when we co-wrote our trash novel we'd have spared ourselves numerous headaches.

Scrivener is probably the more versatile of the two applications. It's good for any kind of writing, where StoryMill has been optimized for fiction writers. But they're both great, and are very reasonably priced. Scrivener is a bargain at $39.95, and StoryMill is on sale until Monday for just $29.95.

Now, as for whether or not it makes any sense whatsoever to write a novel these days ...



posted by Michael at October 31, 2008


I'm doing it.
In other words, seeya all in a month.
And as for your final question, I quote the immortal Talking Heads and loudly proclaim that I am going to "Stop Making Sense".

I'm sure there are those who never thought I was making any sense to begin with, however.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on October 31, 2008 8:29 PM

I haven't used this, but it's free and actually seems to be the computer equivalent of an endless blank page:

"Dark Room is a full screen, distraction free, writing environment. Unlike standard word processors that focus on features, Dark Room is just about you and your text."

On the Mac, I use NeoOffice 2.2.5. It's better than Pages in iWorks and cost me all of $2.

On my Fujitsu Lifebook, I used to use ClarisWorks for Windows v4, but I lost the reg card and haven't been able to reinstall it since installing a new hard drive. Too bad, as it's uncomplicated and very undemanding of hardware resources.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on October 31, 2008 11:37 PM

I'll race you Spike!

I've just received voice recognition software for my Mac (Dictate, based on the Naturally Speaking engine for Windows), and it seems to be actually pretty good. So I'm going to dictate my novel, since I can compose in my head faster than I can type, and besides my arms are fracked with RSI, compounded by the weights I pull around, some of which are fairly heavy, all of which crank my ulnae in various unpleasant ways. So mass typing bouts are contra-indicated. VR software it is.

This month it's no more political nothingness. No more casting of Patrick-pearls before the swine of Chris White, MQ, JV and the rest of the superior liberal sty. It's back to the creative drawing know, the one where stuff actually gets drawn.

Oh, and a friend has got a wickedly dark novel percolating in her deep dark mind, and I think I'm going to give her a friendly call out to come join us...see what she can do in a month...a lot, I expect.

How 'bout it big man? How about it friend? Youse up for it?

So Mister friend of the deep dark mind...on your (non-erasable) mark(er)s...ready, set...write!

Posted by: PatrickH on November 1, 2008 10:31 AM

Varoom! Art doesn't have to have a lot of "the hell with it, I'm doin' it!" energy and spirit. But it can sure help.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 1, 2008 10:54 AM


You're on, dude.
Dew-off-the-rose youth and a Japanese work-week versus wisdom and voice recognition software.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on November 1, 2008 6:36 PM

Heh. Spike: you're like the girl in Tender is the Night (I think?), you know, she was eighteen "and the dew was still upon her".

Me, I'm sere and cracked and bitter. Interesting race!

And let me join with Michael in singing the praises of Scrivener. It'll be managing my novel project. Aces. Damn fine piece of software. Anybody who writes complex things (not just fiction) on the Mac should get Scrivener toute suite. It's odd, because it's not really writing software, it's project management software. I'm as interested in exploring its possibilities as tool for life organization as I am for writing.

And Peter, Dark Room is indeed tres cool. Scrivener has a full screen mode that's essentially Dark Room inside a bigger program. What is about that particular zenned-down ultra-minimalist screen that makes writing so much faster, freer and more plain fun?

Posted by: PatrickH on November 2, 2008 9:37 AM

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