Saturday, May 31, 2008

Interesting tools

Working furiously on a bunch of projects, including Watch, the sequel to Wake. I've been using the index-cards feature of Celtx, a way-cool open-source free media preproduction package, to plot it out. Celtx is a Canadian project (yay, team!), based in St. John's, Newfoundland. The index-card feature is the closest simulation to actually using 3x5 cards on a physical bulletin board that I've seen for Windows (and, yes, I like it better than the Scene Navigator in FinalDraft, which I also own).

And on another project -- one about which I'll say more later -- I'm collaborating for the first time with Google Docs, which I must say is also way cool. (The team members are also doing their scheduling with Google Calendar.)

Tomorrow, I'm off to Washington, DC, for three days to chair a keynote panel at the Gartner IT Security Summit.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At May 31, 2008 1:09 PM , Blogger MikeP said...

It's not clear if you're a Windows or other-user, although I'll guess Windows. If I'm wrong and you're a Mac user, have you checked out Scrivener?

At May 31, 2008 1:15 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Sorry, I should have said! I use Windows XP Professional on my computers. :)

Hmm. Srivener's Corkboard looks very interesting!

At May 31, 2008 2:08 PM , Blogger Nick Matthews said...

Hey Rob,
Scrivener for the Mac is pretty spectacular. It's a very good way to organize research data, and then notes. The cork board is actually hierarchal, which makes it very useful for segregating data, and then drilling in deeper when necessary.

One of the other major writing programs for the Mac is StoryMill. The main feature that StoryMill markets is their Timeline view, useful for plotting.

One of the best features that I find in writing software is the ability to go to full screen mode, to reduce distractions.

I understand that you have some heavy investment in your current software setup. Have you ever seriously considered switching to a Mac? These days, it's very easy to start up Windows XP in a virtual machine, to run any software that can't be run natively.

At May 31, 2008 2:22 PM , Blogger MikeP said...

I've not used it to write a book, but Scrivener was very useful in my last couple of courses, writing papers. I've also used it for work to organise documentation and I'm starting to use it for more involved weblog posts.

Maybe someday a book. :)

At May 31, 2008 2:42 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

There's just no way I'm switching to a Mac for the forseeable future. I just have too much invested mentally in what I know about XP, Windows networking, etc. etc. :) Plus, remember, I write in WordStar for DOS! :D

At June 01, 2008 1:13 AM , Blogger gdtownshende said...

Another very 3 x 5 cardish program for any of your readers who might be writers/Mac users is SuperNotecard, which can be found at Mindola Software..

At June 01, 2008 8:45 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Cool, gdtownshende! Thanks!

I should mention I'm also very much a fan of Writer's Blocks software (which I praise on their site) ... but it doesn't do quite the same thing. Its cards are of no fixed size (which is cool -- a small card takes up less space than a big one), and it snakes them top to bottom instead of left to right.

I just love playing with tools for the writing process ... ;)

At June 11, 2008 12:26 PM , Blogger nessie said...

I've been using google docs since day 1 and overall am very happy. When I am working on a biz document which requires heeps of research, the fact that the entire group can update the same doc is so useful.

However, dont copy paste in GDocs. It always screws up and you end up pulling out several handfulls of hair. Also, when your on SIMULTAEOUSLY its hell - the Gdoc keeps going back to the top of the document.

As for Google Calender - I love it! I use my phone now and palm but hell, its great open source software. I am sure they will eventually fix it...


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