Writing Stories April 21

Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Scrivener, having used the app to write three novels, two novellas and a travel guide. But when I accidentally found myself working on a screenplay for a comedy series, I thought I’d try the industry-standard software for the job: Final Draft.

Final Draft comes highly recommended, used by all the top studios and praised by such screenwriting talents as Aaron Sorkin, James Cameron, JJ Abrams, Sofia Coppola and more. Ben Stiller said that ‘Final Draft is the only screenwriting software I have ever used, and it is the only one I ever will use.’

But priced at a hefty $250 for the Mac app and another $20 for the iPad companion app, it’s not a trivial investment for most of us. So what does it do to earn such praise and justify the cost … ?

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Writing Stories March 14

Whether you are tentatively planning your first ever blog post or are a best-selling novelist working on your latest blockbuster, there are plenty of apps out there designed for writers. But as writers are sometimes known for their procrastination techniques, and choosing the right app could be the excuse for putting off work on your Great American Novel for several days, we thought it would be helpful to provide a few pointers.

All of the apps featured are available for both Mac and iOS, as I feel it’s important that you can work on the move as well as at a desk. In my comments, though, I’m focusing on the Mac versions as that’s the platform on which most people are likely to do the bulk of their writing.

The obvious starting point, of course, is the app Apple gives you for free: Pages. In fact, some might question why you would ever need anything else, so let’s start with this before considering some of the alternatives …

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Spigen TEKA RA200 Airpods Earhooks Cover

Writing Stories November 27, 2015

As mentioned on an earlier Happy Hour podcast, I have a giant collection of iPad styluses, having tested dozens of them since the first iPad debuted in 2010. Earlier this week, my colleague Zac Hall reviewed the best (and most expensive) iPad stylus, Apple’s brand-new $99 Apple Pencil, which is hard to find in stores, and only works with the 12.9″ iPad Pro.

Since the Apple Pencil is two to six times as expensive as some other options, I wanted to spotlight its key strengths and weaknesses relative to rivals, all of which are more broadly compatible and readily available to purchase. During testing, I discovered that the Apple Pencil actually benefits from a surprising little Apple software cheat to make an ultra-fine first impression…

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Writing Stories April 15, 2015

Feature: Why I edited a novel on an iPad (and why I Kickstarted it afterwards)

After noting that I planned and wrote a novel on my MacBook Pro 17, it might surprise you to learn that I did much of the editing on my iPad.

I began the editing on my Macs – the Pro when I was at home, the Air when I was elsewhere. At that point, I still wanted to be in Scrivener in case structural edits were needed: scenes that needed to happen earlier or later in the story.

I also used my Macs to incorporate feedback from alpha and beta readers. Alpha readers were subject-matter experts (airline pilot, aircraft engineer, software developers and so on), who could identify any technical errors or omissions. Beta readers were technothriller fans who provided more general feedback on the story itself.

Writing Stories March 19, 2015

Update: Both 11/9 and my second technothriller, The Billion Dollar Heist, are now available on Amazon.

Of all the stereotypes we hear about Apple owners, there is perhaps none so enduring as the guy writing a novel on his MacBook in Starbucks. Well, one November, I became that guy. Fast-forward a few years, and I have a 110,000-word technothriller ready to unleash on an unsuspecting public.

I’d had an idea for a novel years earlier, but I’d initially done what almost everyone does when they have an idea for a novel: absolutely nothing. The gap between having an idea and having a completed novel seemed too enormous to contemplate, especially when it would have to be combined with, you know, working for a living.

But then someone told me about something called NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. Every November, around 400,000 people across the USA, UK, Canada and a number of other countries around the world attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel. I decided to become one of them–using Apple technology, naturally …  expand full story

Writing Stories January 3, 2014

As you doubtless gathered from my recent Scrivener review, I’m a massive fan of the best Mac app I’ve ever used for creative writing. The TL;DR version is that I wouldn’t dream of attempting to write a novel in anything else. My only real grumble is that we’ve as yet seen no sign of the long-promised iPad version of the app.

I’ve used PlainText with a Dropbox sync as a way of working on Scrivener projects on my iPad, and that works well enough at the writing stage. At the planning, stage, though, I love the corkboard interface. I was thus really interested to see an iOS app that not only provides a very similar corkboard view, but which can export and import to and from Scrivener …  expand full story

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