microsoft word

wordprocessing software

I’ve had a whole slew of intresting questions come my way, some in the comments and some by email. So I’ll be answering them one at a time, in no particular order.

Do you use a novel-writing software? (Or something like Final Draft, which has a novel-writing component.)

To start with a bit of trivia which still amuses me: I wrote my doctoral dissertation with WordPerfect 1.0. So I’ve been fooling around with word processing software since the beginning.

When WordPerfect gave up on the Mac platform, I had to switch to Word, which I did with a heavy heart. I use Word everyday for various things, and all of the novels were written with Word. On a Mac.

However. I have been trying to find a good alternate for novel writing. What I want, ideally, is a solid word processor, a way to organize notes into categories (and to overlap categories — a venn diagram kind of thing would be perfect), the ability to see multiple things at once (two different chapters with the relevant notes, images, lists, etc); the ability to see the document in an outline form and to drag elements from one spot to another. I also want some kind of user forum so I can get quick answers to things that mystify me, and there has to be reliable customer service.

I try just about everything that comes along, but mostly the programs I’ve tried have some big flaw, or just aren’t fine tuned enough. A partial list:

From the Mac people, the iWork package has a word processor called Pages. I had high hopes for Pages, but there are some seriously shortcomings. Like, no auto-save. I keep an eye on updates, but I think it will be a long time before Pages is a viable alternative to Word, for my purposes at least.

CopyWrite is another newer program that advertises itself as a project manager first and a word processor second. I tried it, I bought it, I found problems with the category setup that may have been my lack of insight, but there’s no forum and emails to the developers went unanswered. So, into the storage closet.

I own a (quite pricey) Tinderbox license, but I use that exclusively for mapping ideas and concepts. It’s something like a Venn diagram on steroids, but it doesn’t work for me as a word processor.

FinalDraft is really good for writing any kind of a script, and I have used it for that and liked it. The novel-writing part? Meh.

I’ve been using Scrivener for about a week and it’s very promising. It does pretty much everything I need. I’ll let you know how that works out. If Scrivener doesn’t pan out, I’ll be going back to Word, and watching the horizon for the perfect combination of features.

If you’re as much of a technogeek as I am, you might be interested in a list of all the software I use. Here’s the link to my page at iusethis.

unit coordinator

this is what it’s like to be obsessive. I find that since I confessed my interest in clerking in a hospital ward, I couldn’t just leave it at that so I did a little checking. You can take courses. You can get a certificate.

Unit Coordinator and Medical Computing Skills

AHWC 9183. Unit Coordinator
Advise: ABE 2071
Practical skillls and techniques in transcribing and processing of medical orders; maintaining chart forms; requisitioning diets, therapy, laboratory tests, and medications; and admission and discharge of patients. Emphasis on communication skills pertinent to patient care.

AHWC 9188. Medical Computing Skills (90 hrs)
Instruction in a variety of computer applications related to the health care technology field and utilized by the Health Care Technology Department. These programs are Microsoft Word 2000, Corel WordPerfect Suite 7, Nutrition Interactive, Delmar’s Administrative Medical Assisting, and Delmar’s Medical Terminology for Health Professionals.

Of course, this makes perfect sense if you look at my Myers-Briggs Personality assessment, which puts me in the 2% if the population which is ENTJ, or (their shorthand) The Field Marshall Personality. One definition:

ENTJs “tend to be: friendly, strong willed, and outspoken; honest, logical and demanding of selves and others; driven to demonstrate competence; creative with a global perspective; decisive, organized, and efficient. The most important thing to ENTJs is demonstrating their competence and making important things happen.”

Add in my deep and abiding love of office supplies and bits of paper, and I wonder how it is I didn’t end up doing this for a living. I’ll probably be pondering that for a while today, until I can get myself to sit down with my laptop and look at the mess the characters have got themselves into. There is also news about the endpaper maps for Fire Along the Sky. Next post.