Writing Tools April 1, 2015

To create Solar on my Roof I made use of a number of software tools. Here is a list and some notes of how useful they were.

Freeplane mind map

Mind map

Initial planning was done with mind mapping software. I have both Mindmanager from Mindjet and Freeplane. Although I started with Mindmanager, I moved on to Freeplane quite early in the process. I find these mind maps are a quick way to lay out and organise the material of the project and populate the chapters.For my next book, I’ll try the more conventional card and cork board offered inside Scrivener, but the spider created by Freeplane was the skeleton that became Solar on my Roof. This mapping went through several iterations while I was deciding what needed to be included, and what could and should be left out.

I wrote in Scrivener from Literature and Latte. This software suite is indispensable to the writing process. If you have to write anything from reports to multipart novels, this keeps all your resources in one place. The results are also predictable and controllable which made it far more friendly than using Word.


Scrivener Cork board.

Scrivener allows you to deal with separate chapters and sections as separate documents but still view chapters, parts and the entire book as a flat file. It also has space for notes that do not get included in the compiled work. This was useful for making notes about what needed to be expanded on or added without needing to leave the writing task I was busy with.

At a point I tried migrating the book to iBooks Author. This was particularly attractive because the templates available, as with all Apple products, are incredibly polished and attractive. I abandoned this pretty soon though since the various companies I was looking at to get the book published insisted on different formats. This meant I would need to maintain several different formats of the book. This became a liability as the editing of the final draft proceeded as that meant editing the same sentence, paragraph or error across different formats and programs. I shelved this and went back to work exclusively in Scrivener.

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words. True as that may be, it is always interesting to note that they take up space equivalent to several hundred thousand words. For this ebook there were a number of things that are so much easier to describe with a sketch.

Early on in the process I tried to source a cartoonist or artist to do the images for me. The problem with this approach is that you have to be very clear when commissioning the artist about the exact look, feel and subject of the sketch. This was particularly difficult because I was not sure what I was looking for. To answer these questions I started sketching the images using Paper by 53.

Sketch done in Paper from FiftyThree

Sketch in Paper

As time went by I was happy including my sketches in Solar on my Roof rather than contracting the work out.

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