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Non-fiction writing software/tips

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Postby boredoom on Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:18 am


So I'm thinking of writing a non-fiction book, but I don't have the first clue about how to do that, other than do what I do at my job, which is to sit in a chair and start typing into a modified version of Word. Is there some software that would help? Is there some good book or online guide that would help.

I do need to worry about footnotes and don't need to worry about a plot, otherwise I don't see how the software requirements are much different from fiction writing. I think I'm shooting for about 80,000 words. Gulp.

I have my research organized in Microsoft OneNote.
What happens in Vegas... haunts us with the march of minutes into eternity. ~BaronHelix
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Postby Pillar on Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:21 am


I don't really have good advice, except that Microsoft Word is horrible if you want to generate things like images,charts, graphs or such.

In our academic papers, we almost always use LaTeX (or a variant) for layout and writing, because it makes it relatively easy to make systematic changes across the whole document, makes handling footnotes/endnotes/references a breeze, and can be easy to collaborate with. LaTeX is also free, and you can get free front-ends that work on Windows/Macs. However, LaTex has a pretty step learning curve; I expect there exists other commercial software out there that is easier to pickup right away.

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Postby Evilyn on Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:51 am


http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

Tipped from Flojin, I've been using Scrivener to write cookbooks from here. I have looots of random pages, recipes, research and files floating around so this has helped me endlessly to organize my thoughts.

It's like a whole operating system, with tons of features for creating an customizable organization system. You can store any kind of web-based research including web pages, pdfs, sounds, images, etc.

I love the interface: you can see your folders and subfolders, assign all kinds of metadata tags and sort/search it all. There are tons of ways to view your stuff including on corkboards & filecards or lists and folders or icons. It's pretty neat.

I like writing in it too: there's a Composition window that minimizes the background stuff.

In general I hate writing drafts in Microsoft word, though the most recent edition is vastly improved. With Scrivener you can do a very detailed exporting of your draft into a bunch of formats including Word and EPub.
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Postby Evilyn on Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:55 am


It also includes many templates that will help you get started organizing stuff. You can try it for free for 30 days, after that it's about $50 but considering how much I use it I think it's totally worth it.

If anything I wish there was a smoother bridge between Scrivener and the iPad, but many users have figured out systems that if you're interested in I can link you to.

I guess I really love Scrivener! And this is coming from someone who wrote previous cookbooks on GoogleDocs!
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Postby mumblethrax on Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:59 am


What I like to do is generate an infinitely long string of random characters and then discover my work within it. It's kind of tedious dredging through all the Shakespeare, though.
"From what I've observed some birds are pretty gay." ~ Evilyn
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Postby boredoom on Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:01 am


Scrivener looks good, but I see the PC version is in beta. Might be worth a shot, though. It sounds like they're close to releasing a commercial version. This page says PageFour is the closest PC equivalent that's mature. http://www.literatureandlatte.com/links.php Anyone tried that?

I guess I shouldn't be shocked to find that long-form writing is Mac territory...
What happens in Vegas... haunts us with the march of minutes into eternity. ~BaronHelix
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Postby Jeppe on Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:07 am


Great topic Boredoom. I'm gradually beginning work on my dissertation, and I really need to use something else than Word/Pages. Scrivener looks like it might be the right way to do it!
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Postby Jeppe on Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:08 am


Evilyn wrote:If anything I wish there was a smoother bridge between Scrivener and the iPad, but many users have figured out systems that if you're interested in I can link you to.


:help:
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Postby Frank on Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:22 am


I've just started using Zotero to keep track of sources. I don't have enough experience with it to give a good review but so far it's doing it what is says it does.
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Postby IngredientX on Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:29 am


I write my game rules in Lyx, which is one of those LaTeX front-ends Pillar mentioned. It's nice for rulebooks, because it handles diagrams very easily, and I don't have to worry about where the diagram will go in the page flow; I let the program handle that for me. If I cut or add a paragraph, I don't have to spend 10 minutes making sure the diagram is exactly where I want it.

The only thing that stinks about it is that for Prolix, the game artist wanted the rulebook in a .doc format. Le sigh.

EDIT: Dammit, Mumblethrax.

===
"I HAVE A STYROFOAM CUP THAT I SCREAM PROFANITIES AT. I GL?UED GOOGLY EYES ON IT AND DREW A SAD MOUHT. SOMETIMES I THINK IT LOVES ME. IT IS A PRETTY GREAT WIRELESS ROUTER." - mumbles
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