Best word Processor for Writing a novelThe best word processor for writing a novel
Clues to why writing a book is more than just words.
Ever since I started to write textbooks, I have been struggling with the development of text editing programs. The sentence "word processing" itself is soul-eating. However, the actual issue is the shared interfacing convention that almost all text editors have in common, within a context that emerged in the early era of computerization, when almost all of them were focused on the commercial world.
However, they are almost strangely unsuitable for long, complicated and open-ended structural documentation such as non-fiction or novel. In order to comprehend why, you have to look at the whole lifecycle of a product, from the first few thoughts to the finished one. At the beginning you have guesses and fragments: a touch of concept for a personality or a historic topic, a quotation from a novel you were reading in the early stages of research.
Many of these segments are only tangent to each other and usually have no inherent sequences. It becomes consistent concepts. Like them, they are sending you on further routes of study, especially when you write non-fiction: you are interviewing an exper on the concept you are researching, or you reveal a long-sold gem of erudition that will be buried out in the Archives.
When you are fortunate and stubborn, these notions then take on a clear straightforward form: they become argument or narrative. The order begins to count; where you begin and where you end makes a sensible distinction. Finally, these narrations and argumentation are matured into superordinate categories: paragraphs, chapter, whole book. Each of the different levels are interlaced.
Guesses come together to make snippets that come together to make tales. However, the order only becomes crucial in the upper layers: histories, argument, chapter. Traditional text processing programs have no way of coping with this development from premonition to story. From the beginning, you are locked in a scanning documents tree.
But I think for most writers, this archetypical first design is a fictional one itself, when you sit down to create the mythical first sketch of a longer text in which the whole episode of the novel or section is already depicted in the mind (or in another modus of the concept found at ?notecards, Evernote folder.).
Then we dare to enter the new part of a small fraction of a volume that has been previously charted, and then fill in the remainder as we research it. However, the execution of all this conceptional motion is a sorrow once you have changed to the enforced Scrolls of Word or Pages. Not so much have we noted this restriction because many of us use different fork editing and editing utilities for previous workflows.
Once you start thinking about the real texture, you can use your own outline and built-in outline editing tool burned into your text processing programs as a kind of mid-level tool. Many writers see the transition from generating concepts to actually typing as a shifting from the real thing to the real thing: they store their own concepts in a notebook or index card and only move into the field of narrative once the pieces have become stories.
For more than twotyears I have been looking for a better system for authoring books, since I began to write my first text. There is something about Scrivener that causes many powerful emotions in the person who used it, both good and bad. Scrivener has far too many functions, I think, and even the useful ones are often hidden in bits of attitude that are more confusing than they make clear.
My loyalty to Scrivener is essentially just three things the program does, but these things are so good that I can more than bear the whole complexities of the script. Each scrivener file consists of small maps of text - called "scrivenings" provided by text - from text?-text at ?that - are displayed in an overview screen on the lefthand side of the screen.
Choose a map and you will see the text associated with that map in the top area. When more than one map in the structure is selected, the text of these maps is displayed in a scroll display in the primary area. They can simply combine a row of maps into a longer map.
You can nest the maps; you can make a map named "biographical information" and then draw six maps that contain quotations about the biographies of a particular person into this map to make a new one. You can nest this directory into another directory and so on. Selecting an whole directory shows the text of all maps as a scrollable one.
What the panel/map at the end of a page looks like, you can see in this grave of the definitive design of my Wonderland work. They may seem like basic functions, but once adopted, they have a deep impact on the write world. During the research stage you only create a disordered deck of maps with quotations, suggestions, hyperlinks, fragments, clues.
There is no order, no sequencing, just a nonlinear set of remotely related notions. However, as the scheme begins to take form, certain topics begin to appear, and these become files with other maps. At some point, these topics begin to refer to factual parts of the volume or single paragraphs. This is where the order starts to play a role, but you can modify the order by drawing the maps and folder in the Arrange screen on the lefthand side.
Now I notice that conventional text processing programs allow you to reorganise things like the order of a section. However, just think of what most authors have to do when they are in the center of a volume and they choose to move a three-page section from the end of one section to the center of another.
For most authors who do not use Scrivener, single sections are kept as seperate files. With Scrivener, this whole process takes a gesture: you move a map from one directory to another. To a certain extent, this part of the user interfaces is more like building a musical play list than typing in a conventional text editor.
Moving maps from one file to another increases your effectiveness, but is also a major design leap, because as you write, you'll see both the section you're working on and how that section will fit into the overall view. In Scrivener, you can either perform a visual scanning of the maps in the menu bar on the right or perform a fast find yourself.
It is always a bit abstracted to read about how someone uses a program, so here is an example from my own last letter to give you a feel for how it works in use. During my first year of study in 1991, I attended a workshop with the outstanding Franco Moretti on the novel of the nineteenth-century, in which we discussed a few lessons about a kleptomaniac pandemic that broke out in Paris just after the opening of Bon Marché, one of the first real malls.
Then a few years ago I began to think about a pamphlet about the stories of recreation and game. This seemed to me to be a good source, so I made a map in Scrivener that was something like "department stores disease06 - what was the Deal?
" She spent some time living alongside other vague maps related to other recreational topics: some memoirs about the emergence of the monopoly; the story of the music instrument; the effects of tavernas and inns. Then I dig around a little and find Michael Miller's definite Bon Marché culture story and a lot of tempting quotations about the first shops and their early kleptomanic benefactors.
Nearly immediately this individual map dedicated to shopping mall sickness became a file containing a group of maps, each with a quotation from Miller's novel or another reflection of mine on what the sickness might mean. In Scrivener, a file containing a few dozens of maps with quotations and pictures relating to the current fellowship and their impact was quickly created.
This research brought me to the story of the fabric from the Kattun web site at ?most and ?which - which soon became a separate Scrivener file full of information about the East India Company and the counter-reaction against the "Kattun Madams" of Britain's high societal. At the end of this trial, I could see that the Bon Marché/new stores in the 1600s Clusters were buoyant, among other less auspicious research lanes that tend to be a heap of lost quotations with no organisational structures.
When I saw these notions, I thought of a greater concept of the relationship between industrialisation and recreation, and how the traditional representation of the industry revolutions has a backward causation. Now I could see for the first and for the first and foremost how a chapters took form. Naturally, the rectilinear way of my study did not reflect the order that the concepts would finally take up in the section itself.
However, this did not make any difference, as it took three seconds to move the files in Scrivener in the correct order. With every pull all my comments, quotations and quotations came along for the trip. By that time I had ordered four parts of the section in the correct order:
That is probably the point where it is right to say that I began to "write" the section, although the strokes are necessarily more blurred when using one single utility for the whole research/idea/write/editing ccess. However, instead of opening an empty file in a text processing program and making a section heading entitled "The Stores of the Latest 1600s", I was able to immediately produce an existent one based on all the research I had done in the last few sisters.
I' ve sniffed all the maps in the directory and moved all that didn't seem necessary to a genetic Catch-All directory named "research". "The rest of the maps were the best in the series: quotes I knew I wanted to use; excerpts from comments or descriptions I myself had made during the research time.
So I drew these maps in about the right order and began to fill in my own text around them. Sitting down to compose a new section, you will never be confronted with an empty page; each section begins its life with quotes and memos that already begin in the general order you have imagined.
Many times I see these pieces as an archive of idea; when I set down at last to start writing a story, I just build a bridge between these isles, not venture out into an empty, unknown world. Replacement of the enforced Scrolls with interlaced maps allows the projekt to evolve and ripen within the same use.
Use the same utility to research and organise your early thoughts when the work is still in an embolic state and when you are creating a complete script with chapter and section and endnotes. Having written a number of different languages for two years, I have the feeling that the instruments I use to create my own language are perfectly suited to the lifecycle of the text.
It no longer feels like I'm being forced into text processing. I' m just a writer. I think my Scrivener-based work flow fits me better than any other approaches I've taken in the past, but it's always astonishing how many policies humans use in the creation world.
We' re starting the show next weekend with a different kind of www. liz phair, one of my favourite song writers of all times.