For hardware, I use a Windows 8.1 laptop, an iPad and a Kindle Paperwhite. My Windows software includes Scrivener, Word 2013, MS Paint and Gimp. On the iPad, I like Apple’s Pages, but I use it rarely. I would love to use the Word app on my iPad, but I already own Office 2013 on my laptop and can’t see spending 100 bucks per year for the fully functional iPad version. But it would be nice. The app looks pretty good.
Additionally, I utilize OneDrive (cloud), Evernote and Pocket all of which run on both my laptop and iPad. This lets me sync some files between both systems rather than always having to email myself everything.
When typing, I use a Bluetooth keyboard that offers three pre-linked devices. I simply select button-1 on the keyboard for my laptop, button-2 for my iPad or button-3 for my Android tablet. This way, my hands only have to master one keyboard for all of my devices. It makes life much easier. I also use a Bluetooth mouse rather than the trackpad on my laptop – just my personal preference.
When writing, I refer to the Dictionary.com app on my iPad. I find it to be very useful for spelling, synonyms, antonyms, rhyming words, related forms, grammar, etc. (Several of the options require you to pay for an upgrade.) You can also access this on-line at http://dictionary.reference.com. Another helpful website is http://thesaurus.com. In addition, I check the following websites for grammar and punctuation rules: http://www.grammarbook.com and http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/index2.htm.
The Kindle app on the iPad is a godsend. I use it to proof/edit my books using the highlight and note features. That saves a lot of paper and ink. I rarely print anything until the last step shortly before publishing.
Now for Scrivener, which is my latest and favorite writing software. Another writer on Twitter suggested it to me, and what a great tool it is. It allows you to outline your book – frame it into chapters and subsections. You can view the framework as index cards, or as the text that goes with those cards – the actual ‘book’. Moving sections is a simple mouse movement of the associated index card – no more copying and pasting. You can rearrange the sections/scenes within a chapter, move a scene to a different chapter, or reorder chapters. You can even flag the status of sections from draft through final.
With Scrivener, you can have blocks of the master file which do not get included in the ‘book’ itself. This lets you store research notes, develop characters, etc. There is a trashbin, so you can access or recover old drafts, if need be.
Another nice feature is that you compile your book – either to print it, make a Kindle file, a PDF, MS Word document, text file, RTF and so on. In other words, write once and then produce the final product any way you want. It gives you lots of control.
The only caveat, at least for the Windows version, is that the compiled Kindle file is not exactly what Amazon wants – close but not quite. Therefore, I wait until the book is ready to go and compile it as an MS Word doc, load it into Word and apply all the styles, formatting and table of contents. One last proof and it’s all set to upload to Amazon. A short story takes me less than an hour from Scrivener to Word to finished product.
As is true of any software, there is a learning curve. The company has on-line tutorials to help – and a users’ forum. You can purchase Scrivener on-line for about $40.
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