1. Sean K

    Sean K New Member

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    Thinking of building an app for novelists, thoughts?

    Discussion in 'Software' started by Sean K, Jul 18, 2018.

    Bit of background: I love minimalist word processors like iAWriter, helps me focus on the writing and get stuff done. But I find once a manuscript gets to a certain point things get messy and you run up against walls. I’ve used Scrivener et al, and being able to work in scenes/chapters/etc was great, but beyond that felt too complex, like I was spending more time project managing than actually writing.

    My background’s in software and I’ve done the startup thing before, so figured I’d take a crack at this – an app that lets you manage a project with scenes/sections/chapters in a minimal word processor. My startup was in content management, so I’m pretty across the challenges.

    But first want to get feedback from other writers, to see if you guys share my frustrations or if I’m just weird. So, how do you currently write and structure your manuscripts? Have you tried project-based writing apps like Scrivener? What did you think?

    Anyone keen to try a beta of this when/if it’s done?

    Have ideas for other features I think would be useful, but the core of it is the structured, non-linear writing inside a minimal UX. Like a big magic document.
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I feel as if Scrivener is already that app. You don't have to use all of its feature set, or even a fraction of it, and IMO the parts that you don't use don't get in the way.
     
  3. Martin Beerbom

    Martin Beerbom Active Member

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    I agree with ChickenFreak.

    Alternatively, look for markdown editor which feature a document organizer. There should already be a few that do what you want. Also, there are quite a few note-taking applications that can be used in that way.

    On the Mac/iOS there's Ulysses (which appeared to me as a Scrivener-down-to-basics when I found it, but it was actually the other way round: Ulysses was the inspiration for Scrivener). However, beside it not being on Windows, it's also quite expensive and a subscription, which I do not like (besides, the developer switched from one-time-payment to subscription in a bad fashion, made statements justifying the switch that left a bad taste with me, and used updates to manipulate the App Store rating. I don't use it because of that, but the app itself is technically very nice).

    Another one that I recently discovered is Typora, which should be on all platforms. It's just in beta, and free for now. Problem is that you do not know what the future holds in store for it. It has a document organizer (multiple files that can be combined into a large one), but hides it until you need it. It's also unusual in that it doesn't have a separate source code/preview UI (like most other markdown editors), but applies all changes directly in the editor. I still have problems with it, and it still seems to be buggy (hey, still beta), but looks promising so far.

    I'm sure there are others.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
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  4. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    I've used Scrivener, and I don't really have the same problem, but I will note that the one thing that it doesn't have is official Android support (they have a Mac and iOS version) so if you could develop an app that has support there, you will have one edge over Literature & Latte.

    I think it depends on how the writer thinks as well, as a software engineer, I wouldn't be surprised if you like a certain structure to how you do things that works for you (my bf is a software engineer himself and he is like that) but some authors like to have the notes and boards linking the events and background notes for world building.
     
  5. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I assumed when you said 'app' you were talking about smartphones / tablets, but the two replies so far talk about Scrivener having already catered for the market you're aiming at (and it's my understanding Scrivener is desktop software).

    I've never used Scrivener (and have no intention of doing so), and I find writing anything other than short texts on my phone is beyond frustrating, so neither appeal to me.

    Good luck all the same.
     
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  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Scrivener is desktop, phone, and tablet, and syncs nicely. It’s handy to read or edit stuff on my phone when I have a stray thought or spare moment.
     
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  7. Martin Beerbom

    Martin Beerbom Active Member

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    Same goes for markdown editors/note taking apps. There are lots that are desktop/mobile with syncing.

    Although I must admit I am on Mac/iOS only, hence I don't know what is out there for Android, and have only a limited knowledge of Windows apps.

    One example I mentioned is Ulysses (expensive, AFAIK not on Windows). Others are Byword (straight markdown editor), and one of my recent discoveries, Falcon (note taking app, uses markdown, has a document manager built in, similar to Ulysses, but simpler and cheaper). As said, I know there are both on Mac:desktop and iOS:mobile. They could be on Android or Windows, too, but I wouldn't know. I assume there are equivalent tools.

    ETA: Scrivener is out on Mac, iOS and Windows. AFAIK, there's no official Android version. I know that some has ported an older version to Linux (with the blessing of the Scrivener makers, I believe), and I seem to recall that something similar has happened for Android.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  8. Damien Loveshaft

    Damien Loveshaft Active Member

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    I use scrivener on PC and ios. I don't know how people find it so complicated. Plus they sync! Otherwise why wouldn't you just use google docs? It's a word processor with online syncing.

    The only thing I'd find useful is an all in one app for character development with lots of good generators and profile template as those are a little bare bones in scriv.
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm tentatively assuming that they try to read the manual and use all the features. Scrivener is a huge bag of features, but I see the vast majority of them as the result of, "Huh. Several people want this. Let's create it." rather than being things that everybody would need or want to use. Occasionally I think, "Hey, it would be nice if..." and I do a search, and quite often I find that a feature exists.

    The only thing that I find to be thoroughly non-intuitive is changing settings when compiling a manuscript. (I find even "compile" to be a non-intuitive word for that.)
     
  10. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Bothered

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    For linear writers who don't need all the "side stuff" like character templates and outlines, Scriv is a complicated program. Word works fine for me and synchs with my Apple devices and my Windows-based devices. As to why we wouldn't use Google Docs...It's useless if you have an Internet outage. Last winter I lost an entire day's work when the local internet system in the tiny town where I was staying got overloaded with online Christmas shoppers and my work didn't save. The ability to go old-school with my laptop and a thumb drive during an outage and upload later is a huge factor in my setup.

    edited to clarify the last sentence
     
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  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I don’t use character templates, and it was a long time before I noticed that outline view was an option. But I do work with multiple files, one per scene; maybe that’s the difference.

    If I use just a word processor, I have to name the files in the order that I want them to list in the directory in the OS, and to stop editing one and look at another, that’s a few clicks. Scrivener shows the files in whatever order I drag them, and changing the file I’m editing is a click.
     
  12. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Bothered

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    That's a huge difference. I keep the number of files for any given project extremely streamlined. For this novel there are, at most, six files, including two character sheets. There are only two files I use every day, so I just have them open in separate windows.

    Scriv is great for those who use its features, but for me, it would just bloat up my devices with a huge amount of stuff I'd be paying for that would sit unused.
     
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  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    If you already need Word, sure. I don’t, and Word is WAY bigger and bloatier than Scrivener. :)
     
  14. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Bothered

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    Word, hell. I've got the whole damn Office suite, thanks to needing it for the day gig. :rolleyes: Plus a whole boatload of specialized stuff. Bloaty is right.
     
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  15. graveleye

    graveleye Active Member

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    Have to agree on Scrivener. I got it on my PC, iPhone and iPad. I'm constantly going back and forth between them all. It's nice to be able to write when you have some time but don't happen to be at your desk.
    There is a learning curve, but Word and others have them too.
    I don't use even a small portion of what it can do, but for a pantser like me, it's all I need.
     
  16. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Bothered

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    That's how I use Word. It's on all my devices. (ETA: But because Internet access is iffy in some places, I keep thumb drives for the laptop and then upload when I can work online.)
     
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  17. Damien Loveshaft

    Damien Loveshaft Active Member

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    Oh! That would explain it wouldn't it? I've never read the manual honestly and kind of only use what I need. I just like all my documents being in the same project and those little odds and ends. I also break things up into scenes... plus I don't have professional word. Then God forbid the formatting accidentally goes wonky. I used to have lots of issues with my student Word.

    Maybe there should be a Scrivener light? I just find Word to be as clunky as Scrivener. If not more so because of the excessive formatting complications.
     
  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Yes! Ignore the manual! Scrivener used without reading the manual IS Scrivener Light!

    Well, ignore the manual until you need a particular feature. It will probably exist. Search the extensive online documentation for just that feature and don't be tempted to read about the rest. :)
     
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  19. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Bothered

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    What do you guys do when the Internet is down due to power outages (we had 2.5 hours with no power the day before yesterday due to thunderstorms)?
     
  20. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    For Scrivener, I only need the Internet to sync from one device to another. I can work indefinitely without it.
     
  21. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Bothered

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    Good to know.
     
  22. Damien Loveshaft

    Damien Loveshaft Active Member

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    Yeah, there's no passive internet connection needed for the features to work. It just works using Dropbox to sync to the app.

    Also, rereading some of the thread while not half asleep... There's character templates? Huh? I've never seen these! I made my own XD. Did I do something the hard way?
     
  23. DeeDee

    DeeDee Senior Member

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    Trade secret, sorry :D
    Great for having fun and wasting time :superagree:
    I'm a bit wary of people who offer free candy out of vans and free software on the internet :wtf: Who were you again? And why don't you have a website?
    So, it's like Wordpad, and all those (at least half a dozen good ones) free minimalistic text editors available at the moment :-D
     
  24. ThunderAngel

    ThunderAngel Active Member

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    I put together a basic novel layout page in LibreOffice, and a fiction podcast planner in the same application. Additionally, I've actually thought about programming a fully-featured creative-writing app in Visual Basic as well, but my book and game projects are taking up the majority of my creative time. If you get one done, I'd be happy to try it out. :)
     
  25. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    When you consider that not that long ago writers would tap out door-stop novels on a typewriter, I'm baffled as to why anyone feels they need anything other than the most basic of WP. In my opinion these over-complicated pieces of software are just another branch of procrastination. If you've got a killer novel in you, you don't need them. And if you haven't Scrivener etc ain't gonna change that.

    Cue the "Yeah and people used to do their laundry on a washboard / something about caves" etc, etc.
     

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