We didn’t get too much done this past week due to unforeseen circumstances and a death in the family. It’s been a rough one. We started out the week with our first Litzo work session which was very productive and then it all went downhill from there. We’ll focus on the positives. Anne explored the possibility of using a novel-writing software to streamline the rewrite process.
Recently, we’ve begun using Google Docs as a writing platform because it allows us all to access a shared set of documents and it’s fairly easy access. It is also free. The downside is Google Docs is unwieldy when formatting and we often experience typing-lag which can be a bit frustrating. Our preferred method that we have used in the past is exchanging Word documents via email. The main writer maintains the master file and then emails the current version to our coconspirators…I mean collaborators, for their input and additions. After they are finished, they would email their contributions to the main writer for inclusion in the master document. It worked, it just had quite a few extra steps. Anne was hoping there might be a better way out there.
First, she looked into Scrivener. She heard good things about it from her writer friends, along with the warning of the steep learning curve. The problem with Scrivener, for us anyway, is it has no functional way to allow for collaborative writing and editing. Scrivener was scrapped as a possible solution.
Next, Anne looked into Living Writer software. It seemed like a really good fit, if a bit spendy compared to Scrivener. (Scrivener is a one-time purchase, whereas Living Writer is a monthly subscription.) It claimed to be more user-friendly while also allowing sharing for editing. She was also intrigued by the use of character cards and auto-fill for character names (also available on Scrivener). She signed up for the two week trial. It did not go well. After signing up, the new user is supposed to get a link sent to them to confirm their email. The link never arrived despite numerous requests for a resend. Anne finally decided to skip the email confirmation and go straight to exploring the software. One feature offered is to upload a partial or completed manuscript to the site. This seemed ideal as we are in the middle of rewrites of our New Mother Earth series. Anne uploaded the 100,000+ word manuscript of Exiles of Gaia, and that’s when the problems started. First, the software didn’t recognize page breaks or original formatting. It placed the cursor at the end of the manuscript, and there was no way to scroll to the beginning of the manuscript. If there was another way to navigate, besides using a the up-arrow and down-arrow, she couldn’t find it.
After a frustrating morning with the Living Writer website, Anne gave it up as a bad job. It might be different if starting from scratch but she cannot recommend this software if you are looking to rework an older manuscript. She has not given up on her quest for a better way to collaborate.
We’re not sure how much we’ll get done this week. If we explore using another writing software, we’ll let you know. For now, we’ll stick with Google Docs and Microsoft Word. We appreciate your patience and we’ll keep you posted. Thanks for sticking with us.
Anne, Nancy, and Eric