Category: Novel Writing Software

Editing Software for Writers — How is SmartEdit Different?

It doesn’t tell you what to do. That’s the biggest difference between SmartEdit and so many of its competitors.

SmartEdit is the tool, you’re the writer. It’s the machine, powered by ones and zeros. You’re the human being, full of thoughts and ideas, and fueled by bursts of creativity.

Would a brush rise up and instruct a painter on his choice of colour? Would a guitar question a musician’s chords? Of course not. Then why do so many software products designed for writers feel the need to instruct the writer and tell him what he’s doing wrong?

You’ve used the word ginormous twelve times. Consider removing four of them.

This paragraph has three adverbs. Remove two.

Every instance of the word gowpen has been highlighted in red, so you can see how close together they are and do something about it.

Endeavour is a poor word choice for your YA novel. Replace it with try. It’s easier for teenagers to understand.

SmartEdit does not instruct the writer in any way. It provides you with sets of information and then steps back while you decide what, if anything, you’re going to do about it. There are no green lines under adverbs, no suggestions to help the faint-hearted writer unable to trim his beloved sentences.

It’s a glorified spell checker, only it comes without a squiggly red underline, making it easier to ignore. It shows you what you’ve written, presents your own work to you in different ways. There’s something about seeing your novel broken down into a less comfortable format that makes spotting areas that might need changing a little easier.

The not-quite-right sentence in the middle of an almost perfect chapter stands out when seen in isolation, removed from the cover of the well crafted paragraphs and dialog that surround it.

Have you used the word beautiful eighteen times? So what? Take a look at all of those sentences, sitting side by side, and maybe you will decide to go with a different word in one or two cases. Or maybe you’ll decide that it’s such a perfect word choice that your short story would benefit from a few more beautiful’s.

But don’t take my word for it. Try out SmartEdit for yourself, and see if it suits your writing and editing style. It’s not for everyone, not even for most writers. I was describing SmartEdit to an Irish poet a few weeks ago in Galway and she did everything but turn up her nose. The upward nasal tilt did arrive towards the end of our conversation, but by that time I’d reached the subject of self-publishing and Hugh Howey, so it wasn’t really SmartEdit’s fault.

The trial version runs for ten working days, so you have plenty of time to take it for a test run before deciding it’s not for you.

02 Apr 2014

Novel and Story Writing Software and Tablets

I do a little work on the side for an eCommerce website owned by my brother and his wife. The most recent work involved a re-design of their website to properly handle display on tablets and smart phones. Six months ago this was a job that I planned to look into in a year or more, but in June of this year I pulled the website stats and saw that over 40% of the site’s commercial traffic was coming from mobile devices of one kind or another.

Tablets are the future of eCommerce. Everyone is using them these days. Hence the re-design.

Most of the software aimed at creative writers runs on full PCs or Macs. It either doesn’t run at all on tablets, or has a dumbed down version that runs on tablets and syncs to larger computers. But the figures for tablet use don’t lie.

What does this mean for writing software? Should all this software be re-engineered to run on tablets?

My own feeling is no. For the most part, tablets are used by consumers of content. By people who want to read the books you write, watch the videos you make and upload to YouTube, listen to the music you create in your garage.

The actual creation of that content is still carried out on regular computers. Sure, there’s always the outlying case, the exception: the writer who thinks that tapping in 10 words on his smart phone while waiting for a bus is a sure fired way to finish that 200,000 word novel, the wannabe movie producer who prefers an iPhone to a more useful and versatile camera, etc.

Serious content creators use serious tools, and these tools do not yet exist on tablets, and probably never will. Can you imagine the cramp that would develop if you typed for 5 hours a day, every day, on the screen of your iPad? Why would any professional writer do this when they can use a larger screen and a real keyboard?

Porting software for content creation to tablets and smart phones is likely to prove a mistake. The technology is moving so fast that the work would be never ending — always playing catch up with different versions of Android. Not so with desktops, which have remained relatively static for years. Old software designed for Windows XP often runs without problems on Windows 8. On top of which, it’s by no means clear if real content creators will ever use tablets or smart phones to do real work. Sure, the amateur enthusiast will get all fired up, but how many published authors are tapping away on their smart phones, eager to be mobile as they work on that new chapter? A tiny fraction of 1%, I’d guess.

And then there’s the question of payment. Users have no problem paying real money for desktop software. Scrivener sells at $45, SmartEdit at $60, etc. What’s the typical price of an Android app? Can you see any app buyer paying that $45 or $60 for a cut down version of the same software?

Mobile devices are great for consuming content, and that’s what most people use them for. That’s what they were designed for. The creation of that content still requires a larger computer, and that’s unlikely to change.

A tablet version of SmartEdit is not even on the long term plan.

13 Aug 2013