Hey, you. Sit down. It’s time we had that chat. About software. Specifically, the software this author uses to pen his novels.
For decades I’ve been using Microsoft Word, upgrading to the latest version with each new desktop purchased. But I’ve finally succumbed to the warm propaganda issued by my fellow writer Michael Marshal Smith, a stalwart source of many authorly tips at the HarperCollins’ Summer parties hosted at the British Museum. Michael swears by a software program called Scrivener, so I have finally decided to throw my conservative stick-in-the-mud habits to the wind and give said new application a go.
The main advantage of Scrivener over Word is that as well as being a fully functional word processor, it comes with a nifty project management tool specifically designed for novelists, screenwriters and creatives. Having just handed in the manuscript for ‘Foul Tide’s Turning’ to Gollancz (the sequel to ‘In Dark Service’ and second in the Far-called series), I’m now using Scrivener to plan out the plot for the third fantasy novel in the sequence. So far, colour me impressed. The daily word-count target tracking is one of those features, I suspect, I’ll wonder how I lived without.
I’m still in Scrivener’s very generous trial period, but I think this is one piece of software that will be making the cut on my PC in the next twenty days.
On the subject of PCs, I read today that Microsoft is cutting its losses on its touch display Windows 8 system and bringing in Windows 9 as quickly as possible. I know of no one who uses W8 on a desktop or a laptop that has a nice word to say about it – it’s essentially a tablet O/S squeezed into a serious desktop environment as a panicked reaction to the average Joe(ss) switching from desk/laptops to tablets and phones when consuming media. Notice I say ‘consuming’ – I don’t know of any developers who code on their iPad, or even many authors who write novels on their phone/tablet, although I guess it is technically possible. Peter V. Brett even proved it during his commute by writing the Painted Man on his phone, although the media broke the story in the same manner as a goldfish riding a cycle – the act of the fish caught doing it proving of far more interest than the journey being undertaken.
I’ve actually been holding back from purchasing any new computers (Raspberry Pi aside), because I didn’t want to be lumbered with Windows 8, and couldn’t face the time-suck and built-in obsolesce of manually reinstalling with Vista. Let’s trust Windows 9 is better. And let’s hope the ghost of my old boss, Steve Jobs, doesn’t read this and come back and haunt me for even mentioning Windows. Yes, I know, Steve. IBM. I should have Bought Macintosh. I’ve still got the T-shirt, even if my last Mac is slowly rusting in the loft. Bet it’d start first time if I plugged it in, too.
Now, if only I could convince George RR Martin to ditch DOS and Wordstar and his steam-driven difference engine and embrace the 21st century . . . what do you say, George? If I can finally leave Word behind, you can welcome those chill winds of change into your life, too.