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Fiction vs. Nonfiction writing/software

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Posted by Matty
Sep 3, 2008 at 09:07 PM


I think one application that should definitely be mentioned more in these types of conversations is biblioscape, which is similar to ideamason (if perhaps not quite as finished) but is not nearly so clunky. Version 7 really is pretty impressive, and the addition of the “composition” panel means that it may be close to becoming the kind of integrated writing/research platform that so many of us have dreamed about. I also think that many users of this forum would be impressed with use of hierarchically sorted categories to tag data, including references and notes.

I actually think that the writing tools for fiction writers are equally useful for nonfiction, with one caveat: they don’t do footnotes. This is the sticking point for me with all these applications with the exception of Scrivener. For all the problems with MS Word, at least it deals with footnotes smoothly. All the applications that I know of for the PC which would give better outlining capabilities don’t do footnotes. There are work arounds for this when in the drafting stage, but once I produce an actual draft in MS Word, there is no way to import it back to the outliner, without losing footnotes. Since I am constantly producing drafts, which I then need to reorganize, this makes all these products useless as writing environments. Page Four and Whizfolders would be awesome writing programs for me if they allowed me to produce a draft with footnotes and/or export and import seamlessly to Word with footnotes.

So, I use word 2007, biblioscape to organize and format references, and my notes are spread among Onenote, Zoot, and Biblioscape. (Not an ideal solution!) If I were starting over from scratch, I would buy a Mac. I would write in Scrivener, keep my references in Zotero, and keep my research notes in Devonthink, and output final drafts in Word.

One of the draws for Devonthink is that it seems to deal with pdf files more powerfully than PC programs, but this might just be a case of the grass seeming greener on the other operating system.