48

IDE-like tools exist for writers. Scrivener is a powerful general-purpose tool (also with questions here). Madcap Flare, aimed at technical writers, has good support for updating links, defining "snippets" (xinclude blocks, essentially), variables, conditionalization, advanced build options, and more. Arbortext Epic is another tool in that vein. There ...


43

I'd argue that quotation marks like “ ” are the ordinary ones, and quotation marks like " " are the strange ones. :) But if you prefer typewriter-style quotation marks, that's fine. According to the OpenOffice wiki, you can change this behavior by opening the AutoCorrect options, clicking the “Localized Options” tab, and un-checking the “Replace” option in ...


22

This sounds like Google Docs, perhaps combined with Trello (for the Kanban board and calendar view), would do for you. It's got live updating -- I don't think it tracks edits by author exactly, so you could agree on a convention -- like my students on one team devised a rule where each of them owned 2 colors. (4 students, so like light blue and dark blue ...


20

There are two concepts in git that can help: branches and tags. Tags. Think of a tag as a name for a specific revision. Any time you want to remember a version, create a tag for it. For example, when you finish a draft, you can tag it like this: git tag first_draft When to use tags. Tags are good for marking any version that you might want to remember ...


18

I use Google Docs revision history. True version control systems like SVN and GIT are too complex, requiring knowledge of the command line, and are really designed for collaborative teams, working on dozens of different files, all at the same time. They're overkill for writers. I use Microsoft Word for writing, and every time I save Google Cloud Connect ...


18

Custom Meta-Data in Scrivener. You can do some custom fields in Scrivener. See the "Custom Meta-Data" button at the bottom of the inspector (it looks like a little tag). Here's a photo where I added a few fields: You can add fields by clicking the gear button. When you add a metadata field, it becomes available for all documents in the project. You can ...


16

If you want to work within emacs, I would consider org-mode; it's what I'm currently using for writing projects (amongst other things). First and foremost, it's an outliner, with facilities for structuring your document(s) hierarchically. If you want to plan a story out into acts, acts into sequences, sequences into scenes, maybe scenes into beats......


16

At the least, just the ones I know about are Scrivener and Organon. More generally, these are called "plot management" or "scene management" software. Either one will easily handle enough scene entries for a very, very long novel.


14

I have been using Calibre to format my e-books, and I have been very happy with it. However, as PseudoCubic noted, it will not accept a Word document as input. Ideally, you should convert your file to html first and then format it with Calibre. If you convert your Word document to html, make sure you choose the Web Page, Filtered option. Otherwise, Microsoft ...


14

None of them. There is no commercial grammar checker that I know of which even approaches the ability of a halfway-competent native speaker. If you're thinking that grammar-checking software will help you with your typos and grammar mistakes, think again. This is one thing that still requires human intelligence.


13

Scrivener can compile to various formats including EPUB and Kindle formats, and gives you lots of control over formatting. Here is a video tutorial showing how it's done. It is available for both the Mac and Windows, with a Beta version for Linux.


13

Scrivener does have a Comment or Sticky-Note function. You can also use a Highlight to mark big swathes of text, change the color of inserted copy, and Strike-Through to cross things out. As John Smithers wisely points out, Scrivener isn't just for writing the draft. It also allows you to gather notes, keep audio and video with your story, create outlines, ...


13

If part of your editing is checking continuity, it becomes difficult to search through 20 separate files for previous mentions of "Allen" to see if his hair (or lack of it) has been mentioned before Chapter 21, or if there was another character called "Allen", or if the receptionist was called "Mary" or "Marcy" the first time we met her.


13

Forget your story for a moment and revel in how this loss makes you feel. A loss of treasured words is a pain which every writer eventually encounters. It is agony, but it is also an opportunity. In this moment, while sadness, anger and self-reproach are burning within you, put pen to paper and capture how you feel. Use first person perspective and go ...


13

You need to go to Tools - Autocorrect - Autocorrect Options - Localised Options. There you can pick the kind of double quotes and single quotes you like. (Source. Note the source tries to do the exact opposite - get the curly quotation marks. Shouldn't make a difference though.)


12

For the Mac, try Aeon Timeline. It's being developed by a Scrivener user, so a key feature is being able to import your timeline into Scrivener. I used a very early version for my last book and it was pretty easy to use and had all the features I needed. Some nifty features include custom calendars (for those non-Earth settings) and a way to track which ...


12

I suspect people will object to me saying this, but still, wanted to give some food for thought: Why not just keep plain text files, or documents made in whatever word processor you prefer? I'm 32, and I've been writing on a computer since I was 18, so I have about 14 years of character and worldbuilding documents built up, for several different universes. ...


12

For internal documentation I've found wikis to be quite useful. A wiki has several useful features for this task: built-in change-tracking doc can be structured as several pages (e.g. one per major section) for easier management; individual pages can then be edited without any need to merge changes into a master document some (most?) wiki platforms detect ...


12

I'll borrow an idea Memor-X pointed out to me in my question Are there tools that can aid an author in writing a branching storyline?: yEd It's a free tool that allows you to create flowcharts. I'm currently using it to create part of my D&D campaign. You can easily create for example a box/star/... in different colors and add a text as a description....


12

In English, the “ordinary” quotes are the “upper 66” quotes for opening and the “upper 99” quotes for ending a quotation. In other languages, it's often “lower 66” for opening quotes, or «quotation marks» or »quotation marks« (French and German). The straight quotes are not correct in any language I know of; they have been invented for programmers. (They are ...


11

My personal setup uses Vim, but a large part of the stack would be applicable to any sufficiently advanced text editor. (Note: "sufficiently advanced text editors" are basically just emacs and Vim.) I don't know of any existing package that does all of this, but writing this for myself was actually pretty easy since it's just a matter of stitching together ...


11

Before Lauren shows up, let me provide an answer from a non-evangelist ;) ... it looks to me like a cross between an outliner, a note organizer, and a word processor. Yes, more or less. Scrivener is an all purpose writer tool. It tries to replace all other tools an author would need to write a book, or better: to finish the first draft. All other drafts ...


11

This is the definition of "your mileage may vary." Some people work better on paper; you are clearly one of them. I was blocked for years until I found Scrivener, which for whatever reason helped get all my creative juices flowing again. Scrivener clicked with me. Some people work better with absolutely bare environments. Some want all the bells and ...


11

Use a wiki Many people are using a wiki when they are creating their worlds, as can be seen by this answer to the question What software is available for keeping and organising notes about your world? on WorldBuilding.SE. The biggest one is MediaWiki (the power behind Wikipedia). MediaWiki can be private, and it's not too hard. See this tutorial for ...


10

I use git for version control, and it's terrific for writing projects. I've used GitHub to share work in progress while collaborating with a friend. We wrote plain text files in markdown format. GitHub also has an Issues tracker that can easily be used to assign, accept, and track individual tasks. My friend and I didn't need that to collaborate, but I'...


10

Any decent word processor software will allow you to insert cross-references. I've used this quite frequently in Microsoft Word when writing technical documentation for software. It produces a link that the user can simply Ctrl-click to navigate. You can link to a variety of different items within the document. If you export the document as a PDF the cross-...


10

Allow me to introduce you to Scrivener. Scrivener is a word processor which allows you to create unlimited documents within a single project, and see all your documents in a nice document tree in a side pane. You can create folders and subfolders, drag items around from here to there, link documents within the project, tag documents for easy searching, and ...


10

A standard manuscript page has about 250 words on average. Standard manuscript format is this (or a minor variation): 8.5" x 11" 1" margins top and bottom, left and right. 12 point Courier font. Double spaced. If you have significantly more or fewer than that on average, your document is likely not formatted in the standard manuscript form. Here are a few ...


10

I use git for fiction. Sometimes I'll save versions at various milestones, such as when I finish a chapter). But more often I forget, and save a version only when I finish a draft. Some other times that I save versions: Before and after I apply my editor's edits. When I finish creating a book cover, book interior file, or epub file. Whenever I want to try ...


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