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44

I am a programmer in real life, so using a version control software was a no-brainer for me. I write stuff in plain text, with each chapters in a separate text file. I use Subversion on them, with TortoiseSVN on Windows, and also use a Dropbox for backing up my repository. This way I have my changes versioned, I can comment the changes I commit, and if ...


33

For longer pieces, especially those with figures, tables, contents, or internal references, or citations. For shorter pieces (such as an essay) I'd do it in Word or OpenOffice, since I normally don't need the power of Latex and getting it laid out properly won't involve much work. Any writing of decent size, I use latex because: 1) I only worry about ...


24

You should really just grab and try any version control software presented on the market. This soft is not really more than controlling text files, and text files is what we do. I use Mercurial and I am very happy about it. It's easy to use for writing alone, as Mercurial tracks all your changes through local repository, and easy to use when collaborating, ...


22

Am I allowed to beat the drum for Scrivener again? :) Scrivener is a tremendously flexible writing program which allows you to rearrange your items easily, by dragging around icons, by putting up virtual cards on a corkboard, or setting things up in outline format (the Outline view is right in the top bar). Each item of your outline is a document, which ...


20

Games Industry Possibly the most creative industry that you can write for. This is displayed through the excellent storyline in the Assassin's Creed series. It consists of a dual storyline that spans throughout the history of mankind (Due to their excellent implementation of the sci-fi mechanism combined with historical emphasis on events.) If you read ...


16

My advice? Skip the world building. Focus instead on your characters. Tell the story as it happens to them. Invent the world around them as you need to in order to tell their story. If you introduce inconsistencies, clean them up in a later draft. Focusing on the axial tilt of the planet your characters live on rather than who your characters are and ...


15

Other than Scrivener :) I find Excel (or another spreadsheet program) works surprisingly well. First column: Year Second column: Month Third column: Day (Insert more columns as needed.) Last column: event If you have multiple items on the same Day, repeat the Day data and use a 24-hour clock, so you would have: 1898|July|Holmes and Watson move into ...


14

Some tool such as this could be useful, but I believe you are asking the wrong questions. In my answer to the question you linked and another answer in that question by Fox Cutter, the questions we posed weren't life detail questions. They were motivation questions. There's a key difference. I might create this shell man who gets up at 6:45 on the dot ...


13

I've been a computer industry journalist for most of the past 20 years, and I can assure you that it's plenty creative. This isn't "tech writing" in the sense of describing how to use a product, but rather offering useful advice (such as "which of these tools is worth your money" or "here's some tips on how to use it well") that offer LOTS of opportunities ...


13

I use git. There are a number of popular GUIs for it, though I tend to prefer the command line. My backup service of preference is Rsync.net because they are reliable, fairly priced, support (and encourage) you to encrypt your stuff and not give them the keys, and really care about their users' privacy.


13

Scrivener can compile to various formats including EPUB and Kindle formats, and gives you lots of control over formatting. Here is a video tutorial showing how it's done. It is available for both the Mac and Windows, with a Beta version for Linux.


12

For tracking short stories and direct submissions to publishers, use Duotrope, a free online tool that contains every market you've ever heard of and a multitude that you haven't, complete with submission history, links to websites, etc. Also, be sure to donate to them, because they deserve it. For tracking agent queries, use Query Tracker, which has a ...


12

None of them. There is no commercial grammar checker that I know of which even approaches the ability of a halfway-competent native speaker. If you're thinking that grammar-checking software will help you with your typos and grammar mistakes, think again. This is one thing that still requires human intelligence.


11

I have been using Calibre to format my e-books, and I have been very happy with it. However, as PseudoCubic noted, it will not accept a Word document as input. Ideally, you should convert your file to html first and then format it with Calibre. If you convert your Word document to html, make sure you choose the Web Page, Filtered option. Otherwise, Microsoft ...


10

Before Lauren shows up, let me provide an answer from a non-evangelist ;) ... it looks to me like a cross between an outliner, a note organizer, and a word processor. Yes, more or less. Scrivener is an all purpose writer tool. It tries to replace all other tools an author would need to write a book, or better: to finish the first draft. All other ...


10

Scrivener does have a Comment or Sticky-Note function. You can also use a Highlight to mark big swathes of text, change the color of inserted copy, and Strike-Through to cross things out. As John Smithers wisely points out, Scrivener isn't just for writing the draft. It also allows you to gather notes, keep audio and video with your story, create outlines, ...


9

For a non-spam answer: I highly recommend Celtx. One of my friends and I decided to write short plays last summer and this was the program I used and I loved it. I found it very easy to use and figure out and I had never really written plays before then. http://www.celtx.com/index.html


9

The writing program yWriter has this function. yWriter is basically a downgraded version of Scrivener for Windows. It allows you to create multiple scenes and rearrange them easily. It will also analyze those scenes or the entire document for word usage, word goal, etc.


8

SimEarth might work well for you. As I remember, in addition to the Earth simulation, there was Martian terraforming as well. It is an old DOS game; I wish Maxis had updated it for modern computers. Something that might also be interesting is EdGCM, the only global climate model I know of that will run on a PC. Changing the forcings in model can provide ...


8

I use git for version control, and it's terrific for writing projects. I've used GitHub to share work in progress while collaborating with a friend. We wrote plain text files in markdown format. GitHub also has an Issues tracker that can easily be used to assign, accept, and track individual tasks. My friend and I didn't need that to collaborate, but ...


8

There are two concepts in git that can help: branches and tags. Tags. Think of a tag as a name for a specific revision. Any time you want to remember a version, create a tag for it. For example, when you finish a draft, you can tag it like this: git tag first_draft When to use tags. Tags are good for marking any version that you might want to remember ...


8

I use paper and a pencil. Paper is extremely flexible. You can: cut out sections and re-arrange them in any way you want (even stack them) have an infinite canvas (as large as your living-room floor) see everything you wrote at the same time and therefore better grasp and play with it in your mind than when only a small section of your work is visible on ...


7

I use Google Docs revision history. True version control systems like SVN and GIT are too complex, requiring knowledge of the command line, and are really designed for collaborative teams, working on dozens of different files, all at the same time. They're overkill for writers. I use Microsoft Word for writing, and every time I save Google Cloud Connect ...


7

If you're using a PC, one program you may already have that's quite good at OCR is Microsoft OneNote. Just import a scanned image, right-click and select Edit Alt Text. You can then copy the OCRed text to any program you want. It's not as good as a professional, dedicated OCR program, but it's quite good for quick and cheap conversion.


7

The answer depends a lot on what you have around you and what your needs are; assuming that You don't have extensive needs beyond Latin-1 and Math character sets, or simple use of Unicode character sets You don't have a need for overly-rich or complex page layouts (i.e. you're not doing page layouts that you'd see in a glossy magazine) You don't have ...


7

You might want to try Calibre, which is a pretty powerful ebook conversion tool. To my knowledge it won't accept a Word document directly as input, but you can convert your manuscript to another format from word first, like HTML, plain text, or even PDF, and import it into Calibre for conversion.


7

If you want to work within emacs, I would consider org-mode; it's what I'm currently using for writing projects (amongst other things). First and foremost, it's an outliner, with facilities for structuring your document(s) hierarchically. If you want to plan a story out into acts, acts into sequences, sequences into scenes, maybe scenes into ...


7

Does the OneLook Reverse Dictionary work for this? You still need to winnow down your search phrase, but it might work. (Information from this answer.) However, good ol' Google will sometimes do this as well; just type in "word that means" and the rest of a short phrase. For example, here's the search phrase "Word that means separating wheat from chaff". ...


7

Any decent word processor software will allow you to insert cross-references. I've used this quite frequently in Microsoft Word when writing technical documentation for software. It produces a link that the user can simply Ctrl-click to navigate. You can link to a variety of different items within the document. If you export the document as a PDF the ...


6

Applications: I cannot say enough good things about Scrivener, from Literature & Latte (for Mac). It's not a word-processing program, it's a writing program. You can organize notes, drag "notecards" and folders around, block out the rest of your screen, paste in photos and movie clips, and use a virtual corkboard to rearrange thoughts. It was THE main ...



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