1. ps102

    ps102 Senior Member

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    How is your word-processor set-up?

    Discussion in 'Writing Software and Hardware' started by ps102, Jan 22, 2023.

    Hello everyone!

    I have been using a writing template I found online to write my manuscripts from the very first day I started, and it makes it so the text is quite filling per page. But since I started sharing my work here, I noticed that the smaller font changes the 'reading speed' of the story just a little bit. It's nothing major, but it was noticeable. It was almost as if the smaller font would bring me to a different point in the scene faster.

    Am I imagining things, or what...?

    My writing template is basically this:
    • Courier New Font (12pt size)
    • 0.20cm paragraph spacing
    • 0.85cm line spacing (fixed)
    I used normal settings just as a test by copy-pasting my manuscript into a new document, and I was shocked as to how more book-like my story looked. The sentences were much thinner, and each paragraph didn't look anywhere near as humongous. I could also see that much more text fit within the same page because the paragraphs were a bit more compact.

    Have I been doing this wrong? Has my template been messing up the flow of the stories?

    What do you use? Do you think that it actually matters?
     
  2. balgay

    balgay New Member

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    Amazon have a free tool called Kindle Reader. You could upload your manuscript into it and see what it looks like on a kindle and a phone. That might highlight if your template is messing things up.
     
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  3. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Currently Reading::
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    I always set mine so it looks like a paperback. I believe it's A4 sized? 6x4 inches. I change the background page texture and give it paperback margins too. I find when it looks like a book, I treat it more like a book. I'm also typing in a minimalist editor. I don't need toolbars. All I do is hit an italics every so often, so there's no need for clutter. I really want it to look like I'm typing straight into a paperback.

    I also like using kindergarten fonts. It's hard to find the perfect font though, so I haven't done that in a while. The simplicity of it makes me more creative, I think. And by kindergarten I don't mean a kid's scribbling with backwards letters. I mean the perfect print the teacher would put on the board.
     
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  4. Amontillado

    Amontillado Active Member

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    Here's a general observation - styles are very simple to use. Once you learn the basics of what they do they make your formatting a lot easier.

    For a while I was a member of two critique groups, each with tightly defined rules for font and layout.

    I had three style sets. One that I like to write in, and two others for the two writing groups.

    The style sets had the same roster of style names. All I did to format for one group or the other was just load the appropriate style set and tell the word processor to match style names.

    Sometimes it helps to edit in a different font, or with different margins. Finding "those those" duplicate words that happen to straddle a line boundary, for example.

    If you adopt the idea of defining styles, you've got a lot of flexibility.

    I like to have character styles that are inherited by paragraph styles. A character style that feeds three paragraph styles will make changes in all three paragraph styles at once.
     
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  5. ps102

    ps102 Senior Member

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    I agree! I re-made my writing template from scratch and made it so it looks a bit like a paperback. I don't know whether this is placebo or something, but I feel like I already have much better control over the text. I'm much more satisfied with the way it comes out as compared to before. I'm not really sure why, maybe the huge letters were putting me off before. The paragraphs really were humongous.

    What software do you prefer? All I know is MS Office and LibreOffice. I used Office 97 on my Win98 laptop yesterday, and I indeed found the simplistic interface refreshing. But that's old software, and though it can run on modern machines, it's probably not a good idea to use it.

    That's interesting, I'll keep it in mind. Although I'm not really sure I'd be entirely comfortable feeding manuscripts to Amazon servers. But that could just be my hatred for Big Tech talking.
     
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  6. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Currently Reading::
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    I've used many, many of them. Libreoffice and Word 2013 are what I use when I'm stuck on an office machine. That's where I set the 4x6 inch pages. Writemonkey was pretty good too. (I know, the name's ridiculous.) I actually paid up the $15 a got Typora properly licensed, so that's what I use now. You get 3 installs with that purchase, I think. You can always free up a license from their website. (Important for me because I dread formatting a machine that was using a license. I have to be able to free it somehow.) In Typora, I just click on the newspaper style and drag the margins in so it's a very narrow window.

    Here's their website. If you scroll down it has a few screenshots of their program looking elegant. Kind of old school in that it relies on shortcuts and markup. Reminds me of my days using Bank Street Writer on the Apple IIc. Maybe that's why learning a few shortcuts doesn't bother me. It all feels very familiar since that's how I learned. You can turn on a simple menu too. It shows the typical: File, Edit, Paragraph, etc. It's pretty discreet so I usually leave that on.

    When you submit a story though, publishers always want it in docx (and sometimes doc) format. Then they like sending changes back as tracking changes. At that point, you're stuck with Word. You have to approve their edits and add your own with your own tracking changes. I usually use Scrivener to convert to doc submission format since it can handle that with a few clicks.

    Everyone else is going to cheer for Scrivener. That's okay. Scrivener is cool. I just like my editor being as clean as possible, so it's Typora for me.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2023
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  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I like Markdown editors. I use Ulysses but Typora looks good.
     
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  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor

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    I use Scrivener, courier new, 12 pt font, and usually when I compile it to view it I export it as a pdf with the paperback settings, using 6 x 9 inch size 0.5 inch margins for Top, Bottom, and Right, and a 0.75 inch margin for left as I read those are the best dimensions for a 'paperback' book look. I don't worry too much about the how it looks as I'm typing it. After I export it, I may gloss over it, look for typos and examine how the entire page looks (are there too many paragraphs, paragraphs too long, etc.) and maybe do one touch up before resuming the WIP. Using the above settings for a pdf results in about 330 words per page, and on my monitor I put the magnifier at 75% in Adobe Acrobat so I can see a full page of the pdf at a time).

    If I know I'm going to be away from the desktop (the only machine that has scrivener), I'll export it as a .docx, then upload it to google docs, and edit it there and later transfer the new lines and/or edits back to scrivener later. Of course if it's the beginning of a chapter, I can use a blank google doc but usually I work from the entire document, although it does take some time to load, which comes in a little less than 330 words per page for some reason in google docs. Not sure if that is due to my .docx settings or just the conversion that google docs does.

    I also upload to google docs so I can view WIPs on my phone wherever I'm at. I don't have a lot of time for focused, structured writing, but I can always find time to look at a WIP on my phone, look for typos or see if the flow is bad or just look for other changes. But these are for pages that are still fresh, so I'm not really looking at it 'new', so often all I end up doing is just reading the pages and basking at my great work (the Dunning-Kruger effect is real!).

    I don't use Typora, but I've used LaTex for chess related stuff. Actually I started my WIP in 2021 using LaTex but quickly switched to scrivener when I realized it was probably better for writing but google docs really has all that I will probably ever need (I think I began using scrivener because it seemed easier to create epubs and mobi files rather than fooling with LaTex epub templates, but I'm not sure I'll ever really need that capability, although I have used scrivener/calibre to view my WIP in an eBook format.)
     
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  9. ps102

    ps102 Senior Member

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    The problem with Google is that it's... Google. I do not feel comfortable giving a company full access to a device which can see, hear and track precisely where I am both in the physical and electrical world. Android is open-source, yes, but the Google Services Framework is not. Nobody precisely knows what it does behind your back but its generally agreed that it can't be good, given Google's business model.

    I use CalyxOS on my phone, which is a Google-less version of Android that has a customized version of Google Services Framework (MicroG), since basically most Android apps need Google's closed-source framework. Hmmmm, I wonder why?

    It blocks most of their tracking, but in return, many Google apps are glitchy. This means no Docs for me on the phone :/

    But even if I did use docs, I would not be comfortable storing it on the servers. Any manuscripts I store on the cloud for backup purposes are encrypted with the AES 128-bit standard. Ain't nobody other than me can touch 'em.
     
  10. balgay

    balgay New Member

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    Kindle Reader is a desktop program so you don't send anything over the net. Given Amazon's KDP involvement I don't think they will be lifting your manuscript but I agree sending it over the net is not a great idea.
     
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  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Doesn’t it automatically back up files to Amazon’s servers?
     
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  12. ps102

    ps102 Senior Member

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    Ah, okay, thanks for the clarification. Though the possibility of the program doing things you don't want it do is there, still.

    It's not so much about them stealing my manuscripts (they've no reason to) but more the question of where the data travels, where it stays, and whether it gets erased. If not, what do they do with it?

    Amazon was the company that eavesdropped on people with the Alexa device, after all. No way am I trusting them!
     
  13. balgay

    balgay New Member

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    When I checked it out before deciding to use it I disconnected from the internet. It imported, exported etc without a problem. Not full proof but they are certainly not saving it to Amazon servers up front. I don't have a sniffer so it was the best I could do.
     

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