Tag Archives: Scrivener

Six tools of my trade

Six Tools Of My Trade

Over the last few months, I have received a couple of emails asking what I use to write. So, for the heck of it, I figure it would be fun to compile a list of products I regularly use in my everyday process of writing. None of these companies asked me to endorse them or these products. I’m posting these here because I love ’em and want to share my experience with my readers and fellow writers. Hopefully you’ll find something new and useful for your own writing.


1. 13″ Apple MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air

It’s starting to show it’s age, but my first tool is my 2012 13″ MacBook Air. I love this little machine, I’ve written five manuscripts on it and it’s served me well. I got the Air because I thought I wanted the portability, but I’m no coffee shop writer, and I’ve since found I don’t carry it around very often. Come upgrade time, I’ll eschew portability and focus on something a bit more powerful. That said, all in all, it’s been a great workhorse. If you’re looking for something nimble and light I highly recommend it.


2. Scrivener 2 by Literature & Latte

Scrivener 2

Scrivener 2 is the software I write in most often. I use it for everything from brainstorming to the actual process of writing prose. It’s incredibly customizable and once you figure out how it use it, it really streamlines the writing process. The more I explore its features the more I love it. It’s also excellent at exporting high-quality ebook files as well. I wrote a quick post about Scrivener a while back, it sums up my feelings about the software and links to a lot of other handy articles.


3. Scapple by Literature & Latte

Scapple

Scapple is my mind mapping software. I used to use a whiteboard, or a wall and sticky notes. Scapple fully replaced that, allowing me to visually picture my plots, character arcs, and storylines. I love it so much I wrote a whole blog post about it. It’s a good way to keep what used to be temporary work in a digital permanent format which makes it easy to access and reference.


4. Dropbox

Dropbox

Dropbox is my offsite backup and file sharing solution. I work exclusively off Dropbox. All my files live there. It’s nice to have the peace of mind knowing that my work is safe in the cloud as opposed to on hard drives that can fail, go missing, or be destroyed. Back up often. Seriously, do it right now. I can’t stress this enough.


5. Pilot Metropolitan

pilotmet

This Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is my favorite thing in the world right now. I absolutely love this little pen. I recently decided to switch to fountain pens and was looking for an entry-level pen, as so many can get expensive. The Pilot was recommended. It is under twenty dollars and easily worth every penny. After using this exclusively for the last few months, I ended up buying a second one it’s perfect for taking notes, making quick sketches, and signing books.


6. Moleskine Cahier Journal

Moleskine cahier journal

The Moleskine Cahier Journal is my notebook of choice (for now). I have used various notebooks for years now and this is the best. It’s not perfect though. For one: I wish it was dotted instead of ruled as I do everything from make notes to draw sketches within it’s pages. The paper also bleeds a bit more than I’d like. All that said, it lays flat, it’s easy to carry, and it’s cheap (you get three for 9 bucks).


So there you go. It was fun to reflect on the stuff I use every day. There are other tools that I could have mentioned (Evernote, Wikipedia, Creative Cloud) but I wanted to focus on the stuff I use day in and day out. If you’re looking for other handy tools I encourage you to check out the toolkit category. I generally post links to handy websites, advice on craft, and software reviews within that category.

What about you? Do you have a favorite tool in your toolkit? Leave a comment below and let us know about it! I’d love to know what products other writers find invaluable in their own process.

Alexander Louis Leloir, Jacob Wrestling With the Angel, 1865

Friday Link Pack—End Of The Year Edition (2014)

This will be the last Link Pack for the year which means it’s time for the End of the Year Edition! I compile the best loved links I’ve shared over the year into one big post! As always, some of these I’ve mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know! All right, let’s see what you liked:

My Most Popular Posts Of 2014:

Building A Better Book Cover
I wax poetic on cover design, what makes a well designed cover, and I offer tips on how to improve your own covers.

A SpoCon Debriefing
Pics and stories from my first convention. I had a blast at SpoCon and I am looking forward to the conventions in 2015.

Old Broken Road Cover Reveal
The post where I reveal the cover of my latest novel Old Broken Road. I love doing these. Expect a reveal for Red Litten World coming very soon!

Most Clicked Writing Links Of 2014:

The Two Most Powerful Behaviors Of Successful Writers
It’s no surprise that San Francisco writing coach Lauren Sapala shows up as a most-clicked. In this post Lauren discusses two behaviors—focus and boundaries—used by writers to get things done. Invaluable advice, both are tough to master but critical for personal success.

Designing A Book Cover Is No Laughing Matter, Okay It Is
In my post Building A Better Book Cover I reference this TED talk by acclaimed cover designer Chip Kidd. It gets a lot of love, and for good reason, Kidd isn’t only a great designer he’s a fantastic entertainer. Easily one of my favorite TED talks.

Do Not Despise These Small Beginnings
I loved this piece from composer Royal Teague on creation and the creative struggle and you did too! It’s very much worth a read.

5 Reasons I Switched to Scrivener For All My Writing
It’s no secret I love Scrivener. It’s my go-to software for all my writing. In this post, author and speak Michael Hyatt goes into details why he switched to Scrivener.

Most Clicked Art Links Of 2014:

The Art of Kuldar Leement
I’m a huge fan of Kuldar Leement’s concept artwork, so much so I featured him as a Visual Inspiration post. He has a great sense of composition and it really helps carry his vision.

Portraits by Dave Bastian
Design and illustrator Dave Bastian does portraits, but they aren’t your typical portraits. (If you’ve seen my twitter profile image then you’ve seen Dave’s work, but his Instagram account really shows off his incredible imagination and skill. Check out my portrait here.

Einstein’s Camera
Adam Magyar takes stunning motion photos using custom built cameras. The results are shockingly beautiful. If there’s one link you click today, make it this one. (Thanks to Erik Hedberg for the tip.)

Most Clicked Random Links of 2014:

Famous Paintings Of Jacob Wrestling With The Angel, Ranked By How Much Their Actions Resemble Slow-Dancing
I love the internet. (Thanks to Gus for sharing this way back when.)

David Foster Wallace Was Right: Irony Is Ruining Our Culture
My friend Ray Frenden shared this Salon article way back in April, I liked it then and so did you! It’s real good. An honest look at irony’s effect on our modern culture.

The Seattle Archipelago
Jeffrey Linn, a campus planner at the University of Washington, has created a fascinating map showing what my hometown would look like based on a 240′ rise in sea level should all of the world’s ice sheets melt. Someone should write a book about this… hummm…

One Of The Solar System’s Largest Volcanoes Is Right Here On Earth
Tamu Massif sits about a thousand miles off the coast of Japan and it rivals even the mighty Olympus Mons on Mars. Solid work Ring of Fire.

Lovecraft Story Of The Year:

At The Mountains Of Madness
It’s no surprise this was the most clicked Lovecraft story. Not only is it one of the most famous, it’s also one of the best. So settle in and follow the doomed Antarctic Expedition as they explore what lies in the mountain range beyond the ice. When you’re done I recommend checking out Thug Notes’ analysis, good stuff.

Animated GIF Of The Year:

DLX3EUB

My Top 5 Posts

Dr. Robert Goddard at Clark University
Dr. Robert Goddard at Clark University – via Flickr

I have been busy. Real busy. So while keep plugging away I figured in the interim it’d be fun to visit my top 5 blog of all time. So here we go, starting with number five:

5. Building A Better Book Cover

I have spent the better part of 15 years working as a designer. So at the beginning of 2014 I shared some of my knowledge on what it takes to make a great book cover. I got a lot of positive feedback on this one so it’s no surprise it made the top 5 list.

4. Scrivener

Scrivener is my go-to writing software for a number of reasons. Instead of rehashing on others wrote in this post I linked to some of my favorite articles about the best word processing software on the market.

3. Barnes & Noble Closing 200+ Stores

I found it amusing that this was on the list. I’m not a book industry site, nor am I a breaking news blog, yet for whatever reason this post got a lot of traction with you readers.

2. “The Stars Were Right” Cover Revealed!

This one wasn’t a surprise. I love doing cover reveals, and clearly my readers do as well. (You can see Old Broken Road‘s cover reveal here.)

So that covers the top four. The number one blog post was far and away my biggest hit scoring nearly five times the amount of traffic than The Stars Were Right‘s cover reveal and more visits than all the previous posts combined…

1. My New Whiteboard: Scapple

Back in December of last year while I was starting work on Red Litten World I picked up and began to play with Scapple. I wrote a quick review which was then re-posted by the good folks over at Literature & Latte, thanks to them traffic exploded! Since going live the post has garnered views from thousands of visitors and I still get occasional hits to this day.

So there you have it, from cover design to Scrapple, the top five posts in the last two years.A big thank you to all you readers. I really appreciate the support, your comments, and everyone’s encouragement. It makes doing this fun. Here’s to two more years, more posts, and many, many more books!

Scrivener

Scrivener
Often I am asked “what do you write in?” It’s a question one a lot of writers are asked and one I am very eager to answer: I write with Scrivener on a Mac, and I absolutely love it.

Scrivener is a hard program to really explain. Everyone uses it differently. In a lot of ways it’s like Photoshop in that it becomes what the user needs it to be. If you’re writing a screenplay it can accommodates that, if you’re working on a novel and like working scene to scene it can work with that as well, if you’re like me and write in chronological order Scrivener allows that as well.

It’s an organizer. A note keeper. A name generator. It can be just input (like the screenshot above) removing all distractions and allowing you to focus only on your words. It can also be an alarm, notifying you know when you have hit your word count goal. In short: it’s incredibly powerful.

Like most customizable programs the learning curve can be a bit daunting. Rather than rehash what has been written about time and again, I’ve collected  links by folks like me who use Scrivener, people who have converted to Scrivener, and why you might want to  consider it for your own writing:

Since we’re on the eve of NaNoWriMo I should add: if you don’t use Scrivener and are participating in NaNoWriMo I wouldn’t encourage switching to any new program. Not yet. For now write what you’re comfortable in and come to Scrivener when you able to spend some time to learn a new piece of software and aren’t trying to put up 1613 words a day.

I draw maps.

Map of Lovat
Detail of the City of Lovat from my manuscript “The Stars Were Right.”

I write speculative fiction, which is the fancy way to say I write books that fit somewhere between sci-fi and fantasy, both of my manuscripts Coal Belly and Stars exists in realities separate from ours. Coal Belly takes place during an industrial revolution on a river covered planet named Vale, Stars exists in a distant furutre where the surface of the earth has changed significantly and strange creatures interact with humanity on a day to day basis. They’re both very detailed settings and in both cases I found that drawing my own maps really helped me with my world building.

I write with Scrivener (an amazing tool, I’ll probably write a post on it at some point in the future) and it has some templates for locations that I find very helpful. However sometimes a document with descriptions isn’t enough. My love of maps and my reliance on them in my writing is probably born out of my career as a designer. I can write details, but visualizing them spatially is often difficult for me.

Cardova
“City of Cardova,” a central location in my manuscript “Coal Belly”

More and more I tend to find myself breaking out the ol’ moleskine and starting to sketch. Maps help me see a city, or a nation in better context, I can write to that local when I have it drawn out before me. See the distance between point A and B. Other times I use a map to work out details in a scene or a chapter. Case in point: I wrote a scene towards the end of Coal Belly and after reading it I realized it was confusing, so I drew a map. I choreographed how the whole event played out, I mapped character movement, and made notes on the actions of the scene. It worked out well.

So I draw maps, and will probably continue to do so, how about you? Ever drawn a map to help you write? What tools do you use? How detailed do you get?