Articles tagged "software"

The Scoop on Scrivener

As writers, we’re known to seek comfort in the form of tea, complaining, and well, more complaining. It’s part of the process, which as of late has been somewhat revolutionized with the software writing program, Scrivener.

If you follow authors on social media or have a critique group, you’ve probably already heard of it. Praised by mainstream media like The New York Times and tech publications such as Wired, The Seattle Times even went so far as to say that writers “swear by” Scrivener — which over the years has received awards from MacWorld and MacUser.

A self-proclaimed “content management tool,” the software is designed to help writers “structure and compose” long documents such as dissertations, screenplays, essays and of course the ever-daunting novel. The “binder” section in the left navigational pane helps you find and edit specific portions of your document and hop to and from your research or other notes then back to your writing easily. Don’t like where one scene or paragraph is placed? Drag and drop it into a new location; no need to waste time copying, pasting, and re-formatting your text. Last, but certainly not least, the virtual index card feature was created to help authors determine the best sequence for their work. Explains Allison Martin, who used the software to redraft her YA fantasy novel, plot a contemporary piece, and write a short story:

“Often while writing I’d have an idea for a future event or couldn’t remember what I was leading up to in the scene I was writing. So I’d pop over to the corkboard and check or type a quick note in the side bar so I would remember. Being able to see a point-form version of my novel is extremely helpful for me. Scrivener catches all my tangents and afterthoughts and compiles them into neat and organized homes that I can go back to and actually understand what I meant in my notes.”

Lauren Morrill, author of the upcoming young adult novel from Random House, Meant to Beagrees about Scrivener’s organizational merit.

“I like the way it forces me to think in parts of a novel: scenes, chapters, etc. Word is just one giant, endless blank page, which can be really scary.”

Structure isn’t the only helpful Scrivener provides. The often updated software offers an outlining tool, allows you to switch to scriptwriting mode for screen or stage play formatting, and even exports your document into the format you need for self-publishing.

That said, there are some drawbacks, notably the program’s file exclusivity, meaning that it’s not possible to pull one’s Scrivener files into Word to do a read-through when not at your home computer. Although the company has stated on their website that they’re “hoping to bring a scaled-down version of Scrivener to the iPad (and possibly the iPhone too) eventually,” nothing has been announced just yet.

Those new to the software should heed advice from veteran users. Notes Allison Martin,

“Think of Scrivener as a ‘writing software program’ not as a ‘word processor.’ It’s not like Word or Pages where you just start writing. It’s meant to aid you in the ENTIRE writing process from research to outline to publication.”

Lauren Morrill concurs, and also advises users to “watch YouTube videos” to really understand how it works before diving in. Otherwise you may run the risk of reaping more frustration than reward.

Speaking of one’s experience with Scrivener, have you used it yet? If so, tell us what you think in the comments below.

Lulu Presents at the Mongo DB Conference in Atlanta

I do not speak engineer speak. Luckily, Lulu has a team of brilliant team of engineers who do speak that foreign language and speak it well. So well, in fact, that our Senior Engineering Manager Kevin Calcagno is presenting today at the Mongo DB Conference hosted by 10gen in Atlanta on his experience and expertise using the Mongo database system.

Mongo DB is a free, open source solution (to be more specific, an open source NoSQL database), which is part of the attraction for Lulu, since Lulu has always supported the concept of free, open source software. Lulu itself is open-source software that we make available for anyone to use for free. For more info on how to build your own publishing business using our APIs, read this: Expand Your Business With Custom Publishing Solutions. Our history with open source extends even farther back in time to when Lulu CEO Bob Young founded Red Hat.

Kevin has spoken at a Mongo event before, hosted at our Lulu headquarters here in Raleigh. For slides of his past presentation, look to farther: Why we decided NoSQL was right for us, How we came to choose MongoDB.

“When we hosted here, we had so many people attending that we had to start stealing chairs from people’s desks around the office to provide enough seating!

Kevin’s talk today will focus on the insights he can provide based on Lulu’s experience using Mongo DB. He plans to give his audience a sense of what prompted us to switch to Mongo, what the implementation process was like and what we tripped on along the way so that they don’t have to.

“Mongo is really freaking fast,” Kevin says. “Whereas our old system, since it had to pull together so many pieces of data, was comparatively slow. Fractions of seconds add up pretty quickly when you have the volume of traffic that we do.”

The Mongo DB Conference is a very technical conference, but highly recommended for those with the appropriate knowledge base. And, just a little nudge in the right direction, if you fit that description, Lulu encourages authors with technical expertise to publish their information, books, manuals and more through Lulu.com.

And if this tech speak is over your head, what is important for you to know as an author is that Lulu’s engineers are working hard every day to provide the best way to keep your valuable information and content safe, organized and easily accessible.