Two important points, one – the software I’m going to mention here is available for less than a hundred bucks – total cost. And two- there’s nothing like having an older computer running out of operating memory to focus your attention on what’s really important and what you use rather than on what’s the latest and shiniest tool in the box. In the last two weeks, I’ve deleted a great many bits and pieces of software that I simply didn’t use as a writer – freeing up my hard drive and my mind.
Here are the survivors I use to make money.
Scrivener – Windows and Mac
I now use Scrivener for everything having to do with creating words. I’ve mentioned this programme before but the more I use it, the more I understand the power in it, the deeper I fall in love with it. (Yes, this is being written on it) Scrivener simply works the way I want a tool to work.
Everything is easily accessible when I’m working so for example, when I’m working on a book, my research and notes sit in a file that’s one click away. When I want to rearrange the outline, I don’t have to cut and paste but merely drag and drop the relevant sections into the new order and I can tell you this is coming in really, really handy as I work on my newest fiction project. Rearranging an entire project is very, very easy and makes a traditional word processor seem quite antiquated and cumbersome for writing books and managing complex documents.
I could go on and on about my regard for this bit of software but let me simply say that if you write, you owe it to yourself to give it a trial run testing out its simplicity and power.
Scrivener also exports files in a multitude of formats so file sharing and even ebook compilation are part of its feature set.
Try the free trial version – and if you’re disappointed, I’d would be too.
Scrapple (Mac only)
Now, I wasn’t sure how I was going to like Scrapple, a brainstorming, organizing, graphic outlining bit of software but given my brain is working more and more in a visual mode, this one has earned a place on my desktop. I was sold when I started organizing the fiction proposal on it, sorting out the different story lines and how they all worked together. Boxes hooked up with other boxes and placed anywhere on the page you like (far different than other brainstorming tools) with a simple drag and drop mouse click.
At $14.95 it’s a steal. But do get the trial version in case it’s not for you. Also from the Literature and Latte folks who brought you Scrivener (and it syncs with Scrivener so after you’ve brainstormed and put it together, you simply insert it into your working notes.) Very slick!
Index Card (iPad)
Mentioning Index Card is a bit of a cheat because this is an iPad app. The beauty of it is that it talks to Scrivener and syncs through Dropbox. So I can write on my iPad (I use a Logitech thin keyboard) and sync it to my desktop machine and Scrivener. Or I can send my desktop work to my iPad.
I’m told Literature and Latte is working on an iPad version of Scrivener so I’ll be replacing Index Card with that when it arrives for seamless sharing but for the moment, this is a go-to bit of software. But if you use Windows, you could still sync Scrivener and Index Card for a very workable partnership.
And yes, images are a critical part of our work even it you’re purchasing them. Pixelmator is simply the easiest and best bit of image software available – so simple a Doug can use it and so powerful he’s never going to use it all.
This bit of freeware saved my writing sanity. It makes epub files for uploading to various publishers for my ebooks. I was getting to the point of tearing out whatever hair I had left trying to make the Smashwords Meatgrinder work for me. I need Smashwords for getting ebooks into Barnes and Noble so I was getting more and more frustrated with the inconsistent results their software generated.
Drop a text file into Sigil, format it with the simple and familiar buttons (B for bold etc) , insert some images (use the Insert file command for this) and it automatically creates the Table of Contents. It took me an hour or so to master the technique of using it and after that I was outputting perfectly formatted ePub files (there’s even a code checker system inside this) that were accepted within 24 hours by both Smashwords and Apple.
You may have others and you may use traditional word processors (I do have the Mac Pages on my machine still) but these are my five must-have writing tools and the ones I use to make my living