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CRIMP Defined




Software for Authors

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Posted by Stephen Zeoli
May 17, 2011 at 01:50 PM


Exceptionally interesting topic!

As Hugh says, different strokes for different folks. But I’ll take that one step further in that I use different software solutions depending on what I am working on. I lead a dual computer life. In my day job I mostly write shorter pieces—catalog copy, press releases—using a Windows (XP) PC. Here I often find the clean and simple interface of the plain-text editor NoteTab is the best choice. It has fewer distracting features, and since most of my copy is meant to go into a design application like InDesign, it is better to use plain text. I don’t need to track changes in most cases. Sometimes I do need to do some brainstorming or structuring before hand, and I’ll do that in Brainstorm or NoteMap. I don’t need to do much if any research for these projects, other than extracting information from author bios, or book proposals from these authors. I organize that information in OneNote and/or PersonalBrain (I really should pick one or the other of these two excellent programs, but they each have different strengths). I don’t suppose any of these applications would technically be called “software for authors.” Once the Windows version of Scrivener is out of beta, I’ll give that a try. I suspect, however, it is more application than I need for this work.

In my free time, I do more fun and, hopefully, creative work, using a MacBook. This work tends to be longer and require genuine research. In this venue, Scrivener is invaluable. The research that I grab from the web goes first into Yojimbo, just because it is easy. Depending on the complexity of the writing, I may use Tinderbox as a place to brainstorm, plan and initially structure the work before bringing it all into Scrivener, where I usually find myself deleting and adding material as my thoughts on the project change.

I’m grateful for these tools. But, if I didn’t have them, only had Word, I’d find a way to make that work. I’ve probably written this before, but I got through college using an old Royal manual typewriter and Corrasable Bond paper. If someone had given me a computer with no software on it but NoteTab, I would have been ecstatic. The difference between a typewriter and even the simplest of software editors is like the difference between monks hand-copying books, and Gutenberg’s printing press. By comparison, it is a much greater leap than NoteTab to Word, by miles!