Literature… and latte. Photo illustration Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
These days you can easily share data and collaborate on almost anything, from Rdio playlists to photo streams. But when it comes to plain old written text, your options are terrible. You’re pretty much caught between working on a shared file in Google Docs or shuttling versions of your work back and forth via email. Add more than one collaborator and this becomes a total nightmare.
Thankfully, tools exist to smooth the process of collaborating on writing projects. I’m currently editing the second draft of a novella, and I’m looking for a way to work with “beta” readers. I’m testing several pieces of software, and so far one called Draft is in the lead. Not only does it let you share a document with other people, it lets the team comment on any part of the source document and also allows them to edit a copy. Then, when they submit their versions, you can preview any changes before accepting or rejecting them.
Better still, because Draft can sync with a document in Dropbox (as well as several other cloud services), you can sync the edits from your beta team with a local app, like Scrivener. Here’s what you need to make the collaborative magic happen.
Straight outta Leipzig comes the latest update to Soulmen’s Ulysses III, the writers’ text editor for the Mac. As ever with Soulmen updates, the fact that this is a “mere” point update shouldn’t fool you. Ulysses III 1.2 is the kind of thing many folks would ship as a v2.0.
StorySkeleton is an amazing app that’s been around for a little while, but a recent update to add iPad support has made it even better. At heart, it’s a kind of index-card-based note and outlining app for writers (screen, fiction and non-fiction) to help structure and plan stories. But the design is fantastic, making it easier to use than most other alternatives.
Oh, and it exports directly to native Scrivener files.
Scapple is a great new app for writers. If you were looking for an app that creates a sheet of paper on your Mac, then this is it. Scapple comes from Literature and Latte, the folks behind the amazing Scrivener, so you know that it has been designed and used by writers.
NaNoWriMo is the annual attempt by many tens of thousands of people to finally get that novel out of their head and into the cloud storage option of their choice. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight on the 30th November, and you can get there by fair means or foul. The rules? It has to be a novel, it has to be 50,000 words (or more) long, and it has to be written in November.
The tools you will need most to write your NaNoWriMo novel are inspiration and a lot of perseverance. Luckily, apps can help you with both. Here’s the definitive guide to NaNoWriMo apps on the Mac and iOS. If you can’t drag that novel kicking and screaming into the world with the help of these apps, you can’t do it at all.
Scapple — a cross between scabs and Snapple? Thankfully not: Scapple is in fact a brand new (as in beta) mind-map app for writers. What’s that, you say? There are already a ton of mind-map apps out there? That’s true. But none of them comes from the developer of the awesome Scrivener.
Index Card allows users to organize their stories, articles or thoughts without adding a lot of unnecessary weight to the app. When I first tried Index Card about two months ago, I tried it against a number of other apps that contained similar index cards features. For the sheer act of organizing a story, which is why I originally downloaded the app, Index Card came out on top above other apps like, for example, Storyist. Storyist, while working great as a story writing app, didn’t offer some of the features in its index cards feature that the Index Cards app offered. And if you want to check out the app, now’s a good time — it’s on sale for $2 (from $5) till early tomorrow morning.
I write a ton on my iPad these days, which lets me work wherever I like (usually in bed) and concentrate way better than I can working on my giant-screened iMac. Thanks to our complex blogging back end here at Cult of Mac, it’s still easier to add pictures and other bits and pieces with the Mac, but the writing part is so much better on the iPad that I try to do it as often as I can.
I figured I’d show you a few of the apps I used. Below you’ll find my favorite writing apps for the iPad.
Next Monday is November 1st and for us would-be wordsmiths, that date has special import as the first day of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Over the next thirty days, tens of thousands of would-be novelists will smash out as much prose as they can, trying to finish the first draft of a short, complete novel before the clock strikes midnight on November 30th.
In order to help novelists prepare for the orgy of fiction that will all but consume the lives of Mac-using NaNoWriMo next month, Scrivener — our favorite project planner for writers and novelists — has seen fit to release the public preview of the much anticipated 2.0 update… and it’ll be completely free to use until December 7th.
With National Novel Writing Month coming up this November, it would already be a good a time as any to plug our third entry in our Mac Essentials list, the incredible novelist’s tool Scrivener… but the imminent arrival of version 2.0, a new blog update explaining the new version’s added features and a last chance to get Scrivener at its old, cheaper price make it a no brainer.
What to expect in Scrivener 2.0? The lengthy list of new features is too big to fully cover, but in the upcoming version, you can expect to find significant improvements to the corkboard mode, including freehand movement of note cards; a revised text editor that includes a Pages-style format ribbon and a page layout view, as well as an Ommwriter-style image background in full screen mode; multiple project notes; editable QuickReference panels; document collections; custom templates and icons; the ability to sync with Simplenote and ePub support to read your new masterpiece on the iPhone, iPad or just self-publish it.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As a major new version, Scrivener 2.0 is getting a price bump to $45. Anyone who bought Scrivener 1.0 since August 15th gets the upgrade for free, while older customers must pay a $25 upgrade free.
The good news is that until Friday, September 17th, you can still buy Scrivener at its old price of $39.95… and since you will have bought it after August 15th, that’ll make you eligible for a free upgrade to 2.0 when it lands in October, giving you an entire month to get comfortable with the new features before NaNoWriMo.