Category Archives: Other Media

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Writing a Scene in yWriter6 (yWriter vs. Scrivener, Part 7)

Congratulations!

Yep, that’s my way of saying that you’ve made it to the end of the yWriter vs. Scrivener series. (You have been watching the videos and reading the articles, right?)

Before I close, I want to remind you that using either yWriter6 or Scrivener works only if you plan to write an actual story or, at the very least, plan a story. If you use them only for pretending to work on a story, just putting them on your screen whenever you have company over instead of writing the story, well, that’s not effective use of either program, nor is it an effective way to tell a story. So, don’t be that guy.

But, I know you’re going to use them to write your story. Why else have you gotten this far if you don’t intend to use them the right way? That would be insanity! Right?

So, to celebrate the end of the series, I want to show you what it’s like to write a scene in yWriter6. Now, if you’d rather use Scrivener, or even Microsoft Word, to write your scenes and chapters, that’s perfectly fine. Part 7 of yWriter vs. Scrivener isn’t really about yWriter6 or Scrivener. It’s about how to turn your outline into a scene by watching me do exactly that.

Yep, this is your chance to see my brain in action. It’s also a way to stand over a writer’s shoulder and watch him write (and justify his choices).

This is, by no surprise, the longest video in the series, but it’s also the one you’ll get the most out of if you care anything about writing, reading, or creating characters out of thin air. So, be sure to take some time out of your day to check it out. It’ll be worth it. Yes, I say that subjectively. It’ll be worth it if you like writing or reading. Hopefully!

Also, please let me know if you want to see more of Pop Goes the Waterbed, which is the story I’m writing in this video. I may make a separate series out of it on YouTube if enough viewers are interested.

For now, that’s it for yWriter vs. Scrivener, but I’ll be back with another article about books and book reviews soon. Subscribe at the blue button below to find out more about that. You’ll be glad you did! I say that subjectively, of course.

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Finding and Using Custom Templates on Scrivener (yWriter vs. Scrivener, Part 6)

Once you’ve had a chance to explore the differences between yWriter6 and Scrivener, you’ll see where both programs shine, and what both programs lack. It may be that you’ll develop a preference for one of them (assuming you’re not a Microsoft Word nerd who swears by its sexy software-giant sleekness and believes that all other programs are but peons in this vast digital soup), but you’ll certainly benefit from using both (or all three, again, if you’re a Word nerd) in creating your masterpiece (or your disasterpiece if that’s the case—hey, the world needs those, too).

But, in this digital highland, when it comes to versatility—and winners—there really can be only one. Thanks to Scrivener’s template system, I’d say the winner in this battle is clearly decided.

For those who missed yesterday’s article on Scrivener templates, the short version is that Scrivener comes with a few built-in templates designed to help writers format their novels, nonfiction essays, screenplays, commercials, etc. accurately and efficiently. But, what the article doesn’t cover is Scrivener’s network of rock star-level users who have made and uploaded their own templates to accomplish development feats that range from detailed outlines, to character creators, to world-building tools, and to genre fiction beat sheets to name a few choices.

In Part 6 of the yWriter vs. Scrivener series (on YouTube), I’ll show you how to find some of these templates, briefly go over how to use them, and I’ll even show you one of my own templates-in-progress that can help manage a writing career. By the time you get to the end, you’ll see just how much more you can do with a Scrivener template than you can with just about any other document type, including anything you’ll find in that oversexed Microsoft Word program.

Granted, you’ll still have to bring your imagination with you. At the end of the day, it’s still an overview. But, it’s a fine overview indeed.

Just watch the video. You’ll learn something about planning a story if you do.

Also, don’t forget to leave a comment if you have any Scrivener templates you’d like to see. Leaving comments is a great way to make yourself even more important!

The Fiction Template on Scrivener (yWriter vs. Scrivener, Part 5)

For anyone who has ever explored Microsoft Word thoroughly, he or she will find that the beauty of Word is not in the user’s ability to type in a bunch of words on a document and hit save, but the ability for him to type in a bunch of words on a pre-rendered template and hit save. For students and professionals, this beauty is a hottie.

But, for the average storyteller, Microsoft Word’s templates are—how shall we say?—quite limited:

word template books

Sure, Microsoft has made the effort to recognize the average novelist by providing a manuscript template that’s great for those who aspire to publish traditionally. For a $300 piece of writing software, it had better do at least that.

But Scrivener has that exact same template, too, and it offers that template because it knows it’s made for writers, not just for business professionals and academics who think a thesis is supposed to be nothing more than a list of three arguable points and a loose interpretation of how those points fit together.

scrivener template example

Yes, Scrivener considers that writers of fiction (and non-fiction and scriptwriting) want the templates to do the job right, but they also want the tools to organize the job so that the scenes and chapters fit into the manuscript format seamlessly. They also want to do all of that stuff while having the freedom to cram all of their research materials (including character and setting sheets and templates) into its own folder where it cannot corrupt the story document, nor can it get lost through the unfortunate process of misnaming the research files and putting them in the same place where you put all of your old college literature critiques from 20 years ago, which you think might be in My Documents 1998_a2_crit lit alpha, but it could also be in that folder you refuse to open because it’s labeled “In the Event of My Kidnapping,” which you created during your intense paranoia stage (or your quarter-life crisis) in the early 2000s (not to imply that I would ever do such a thing…).

But, Scrivener goes one step further: It allows you to compile that manuscript into the appropriate format and includes self-publishing formats for e-books, if you’re inclined to skip the process of pandering to the traditional publishers.

All of this for a sixth of Microsoft Word’s cost.

In Part 5 of my yWriter vs. Scrivener series on YouTube, not to be confused with my Microsoft Word vs. Scrivener series that does not yet exist, I show off the fiction template and how it can help writers stay organized within their chosen parameters. This part will also serve as a foundation for tomorrow’s follow-up video, where I explore other templates in Scrivener.

Exploring and Using Scrivener (yWriter vs. Scrivener, Part 4)

Well, so far we’ve learned quite a bit about yWriter6, about how to use it, and about why we should use it. But, I think we can begin to see its limitations when we consider the things it can’t do. For example, it can’t feed the cats for you. Nor can it pay your bills. It also doesn’t do the writing for you, which, I think, most of us want in a versatile writing program.

Scrivener, on the other hand, can’t do these things, either, but it can provide a much larger viewing field with zoom options, more robust tracking analytics, greater visual and tactile control of the story’s layout, as well as plenty of other features to make sure the writing gets done, and that it gets done well.

Conceptually, Scrivener has everything the writer’s toolbox demands. It even has a built-in dictionary for checking word usage and a project manager that can track your writing progress (which is great for participants of NaNoWriMo). The more you explore Scrivener, the more you realize that, even though you never knew you needed this stuff, you know you definitely need it now!

yWriter6 can be versatile, too, but most of its special features are component-based and require additional downloads and spotty success at modding the program to get them to work properly (assuming most writers are as bad at installing components to existing programs as I am). Scrivener provides the majority of these features out of the box.

Scrivener is also the most widely recognized and trusted writing software for budget-minded writers. For $49 (as of this month), the writer can gain access to a complete story management experience that includes having a canvas to actually create the story along with organizing, structuring, and planning the story.

The drawback with Scrivener, of course, is that the writer needs to create his own resources to make the most of the software. But, that’s sort of the point of Scrivener. It isn’t about fixed rules. It’s about flexibility. Its main purpose is to give writers a place to store all of their ideas in an effort to craft the best stories they can. Where yWriter is fairly narrow in its design (you basically fill out the fields to create your story), Scrivener spreads its wings and flies, giving you the freedom to do what you want in your stories.

Really, the trick to using Scrivener well is to learn how to fly with it.

In Part 4 of my yWriter vs. Scrivener video series, I’ll show you Scrivener in action. But, I must deliver a warning: Scrivener has a steep learning curve. I can’t possibly show off everything that it can do in a single 16-minute video. To get the full picture of what Scrivener can do, I’d recommend Joseph Michael’s “Learn Scrivener Fast” to see what you’re not yet doing.

Note: There’s a basic version of Joseph Michael’s “Learn Scrivener Fast” on Udemy if you’re on a budget but still want to learn something useful. I believe the Udemy version is the first module of the complete program.

Note 2: I like Udemy. You should like Udemy, too.

Note 3: It’s my birthday today. Leave your birthday wishes in the comments below if you want.

Advanced yWriter6: Storyboards (yWriter vs. Scrivener, Part 3)

One of the advantages to using dedicated story software over traditional writing software is that traditional writing software, like Microsoft Word, gives you just the blank document to work with. Now, sure, that document can contain mountains of information and unlimited supplies of inserted media and special formatting to bolster that document’s information, but these elements tend to consider the needs of the student or the business professional while keeping the needs of the novelist as an afterthought.

This isn’t to say that Microsoft Word is terrible, though. No, no, no! Such an accusation is unfounded! But, it is severely limited in what it can accomplish for the novelist (or the fictionist if you want to include all types of storytelling).

For example, let’s say I want to write an article for a blog. Let’s say I want to write this article for this blog. If all I’m doing is typing my thoughts and linking them to Internet resources, then Microsoft Word is plenty fine, as is the case right now as I compose this article (on Microsoft Word).

But, what if I don’t want to write an article? What if I want to plan a story? And what if I need a storyboard for that story? Am I going to find such a luxury embedded in the $300 word processor I had to buy from Office Depot when my old computer crashed (along with my tried-and-true copy of Word 97 that I’d been using for 15 years)? No!

Instead, I’m going to get that option for free in a program dedicated to writing fiction, called yWriter6, for…er, free.

You can see how that option is true in today’s installment of yWriter vs. Scrivener, a seven-part video series I’m doing this week at my companion YouTube channel, Zippywings. Check out Part 3 to see storyboards in action. Then come back and complain about how I didn’t show off enough of it!

Note: In fairness to Microsoft Word, it does provide numerous templates for business-related documents, like letters and résumés, for example—things you’ll never find on the writing software I cover in this series. So, it’s still worth the $300 (or the subscription if you’re on Office 365). You’ll also find as you watch the series that I prefer to integrate Microsoft Word into my writing regimen, but let’s take this one step at a time.

Exploring and Using yWriter6 (yWriter vs. Scrivener, Part 2)

Now that you’ve decided you want more out of your writing life than just clacking at a keyboard while Microsoft Word is open and hoping for the best, it’s time to check out a piece of writing software that can help you make your dreams of writing a novel come true.

It’s time to check out yWriter6.

yWriter6, in a nutshell, is a stripped-down story development tool that allows you to outline your novel, flesh out your characters, keep track of your important items and locations, manage your storyboards, and, most importantly, write your scenes in a way that makes sense.

Within the program, you can store bits of information on any element you find useful to remember and then organize those elements until you find a layout that works. You can also keep track of revisions, scene lengths, word counts, and the usual essentials you might expect an expert writing software to have.

The creator of the program is a writer himself, and he designed the program to create better works of fiction. But, thanks to his recognition that such ingenious software should be shared by all, he’s provided the software for free so that all writers can benefit from the very same tool that benefits him.

He also has a mobile version that you can find at Google Play for $5 if you’re all about spending money on free stuff.

For a detailed walkthrough of the program using real-time development of an idea, check out Part 2 of my yWriter vs. Scrivener series on YouTube.

An Introduction to Two Awesome Writing Programs (yWriter vs. Scrivener, Part 1)

Are you looking for a more efficient way to write your story? Have you labored over Microsoft Word in vain as you stared at that blinking cursor taunting you over the persistently blank screen that you have before you? Do you wish there was a better way to get your thoughts on paper or the ether than using whatever poor excuse you have at your disposal right now?

Well, fear not. Spacejock Software and Literature and Latte both have solutions to your advancing problems.

Introducing yWriter6, the latest generation in writing software from a bygone era where writing was about putting words in a box and making them dance. It’s direct, it’s efficient, and it’s free. But, is it for you?

Introducing Scrivener (for Mac and Windows), the answer to the writer’s prayer: “Can there be a way to write and organize my documents easier than relying on Microsoft’s a la carte systems?” Why, yes, there can be! For the low, low price of $45, you can have all of your writer’s needs come true (except for the one where the program does the writing for you).

But, which software should you choose? Well, both have benefits. Both have drawbacks. Both require some learnin’ to do before use. So, how do you decide on which one’s the best?

Introducing yWriter vs. Scrivener, the seven-part video series that shows you a sample of the many uses you might find in both programs and why adopting a regimen of juggling both (along with Microsoft Word) can maximize your writing potential.

Check out Part 1 of the video series today and be sure to come back tomorrow for links to the next one!

The Best Article on Marketing I’ve Read in a Long, Long Time

A few days ago, several of the indie publishing whisperers I subscribe to started touting the latest writing and marketing bundle to hit the indie community this year, a $49 package of courses, books, and services that normally value at $5000 (a 98% savings, according to the featured website Infostack.io, even though I think the math leads to 99%, but I studied writing, so what do I know?) called Write Publish Profit 2.0, and I must admit that with these courses focusing on marketing plans, 10 types of story hooks, developing scenes, and other good stuff, as well as e-books I would read and discounts for services I actually want at some point when money isn’t so tight, I was tempted to drop that half a C-note (yay, slang!) and have this wonderful bundle for myself. And, if not for the realization that I’d have only 12 months to download or access these products before they expired (for the record, I still have to finish watching a series of writing and marketing interviews that I paid $97 to watch “whenever I want” back in December 2016), and if not for the fact that this summer I would really like to get that graphics card I’ve spent the last two or three years dreaming about (something I haven’t been able to do because I spend too much money on books and online courses every time I get close to buying that card), I probably would’ve gotten it. I must admit that the promise of getting book trailer software in the bundle was almost too good to pass up, even if it did consist mainly of PowerPoint slides and sound files (and likely just one series of slides per genre).

Fortunately, I chose to spend a couple of days researching the products that came with the bundle and ultimately decided that it contained mainly subjects and strategies that I’ve already paid for in other books and courses, so I thought that, in spite of the ultra-steep 98-99% discount, I probably wouldn’t get my money’s worth. So, I left it on the table.

The next day, I read this article. I think it confirmed the wisdom of my decision. It’s the best article on book marketing I’ve read in a long, long time. I think it confirms everything I’ve suspected about this industry (and about product psychology). It’s worth a read if you have any interest in selling books. It’s also worth a read if you think you’re wasting money on your marketing strategies. Warning: The article does contain strong language in places, so do with that knowledge what you want.

Also, in my research, I found myself on YouTube discovering real writing and marketing talents that have decent followings and that I’ll likely subscribe to, if I find that most of their videos are consistently useful. Why does this matter? Most of the people providing products in these Super Stacks, as much as I like them and their styles, barely have a fraction of followers (on YouTube at least) that some of these other talents have. At the end of the day, I’d rather spend my time learning from people who attract crowds than those who have a hard time proving their strategies in the metrics, so that’s what I’m going to do this summer, for free.

That said, I still like the information this channel provides (and it has the social proof to match), and I recommend subscribing to it if you still dream of indie publishing after reading the above article.

I’ll be back tomorrow with news about my own limited YouTube series I’ll be launching soon. Here’s a hint: Scrivener! Okay, you’ve been warned.

Cover Image: Pixabay

Why Do We Watch TV?

May 13, 2014:

Every month, my television, Internet and phone provider charges my family about $200 to keep our services. Seems like a steep price for basic amenities. But let’s face it: they’re important. Without a phone, we can’t communicate with the outside world (unless we leave the house—Heaven forbid!). Without the Internet, we can’t find out what’s going on with the outside world (again, unless we leave the house or pick up a book somewhere, which is stupid). And without television, we can’t eavesdrop on the outside world (because everything that happens on television is far more interesting than anything that’s happening in my regular everyday life). Seems like the escalating price of services is well worth the needs they meet. Right?

Well, I have my own phone plan with another company, so I don’t really use the phone service that my television and Internet provider offers. And the Internet, I do use (I plan to use it when I post this journal onto my blog site later), but I have plenty of public facilities where I can access it for free, so it’s not that essential here. But having phone and Internet is convenient, and convenience equals necessity in most first-world nations. Because I live in a first-world nation, I need my convenience, even when everything is overpriced. It’s my right! Right?

Television is convenient. It allows me to compare my life to the joys and miseries of others. Do the rich seem particularly happy today living in their big houses and playing with their big toys? Let’s measure what they have against the things I don’t. Has that EF5 tornado that blew through that Midwest town thoroughly decimated every historical or sentimental building belonging to it? Time to measure my good fortune to those who are now homeless and desperate for help. For just $77, I get the U200 television package from my provider, which includes nearly every basic cable station from the Chicago stations to the History Channel to FXX, and a DVR in which to ensure I have time to watch whatever I want whenever I want, up to four shows per time slot. For an additional $10, I get to watch my favorite shows in high-definition. Factor in state taxes and service fees, and I get to watch whatever I want, whenever I want, how I want, for the low, low price of about $100 a month. And that’s without the premium stations. If I were to spend another $30 or so, I could even get Showtime or HBO (two different packages) and have access to blockbuster movies all the time. Convenience to the core.

But here’s my problem: With everything “convenient” costing me more and more by the day, and with necessities costing me more and more each day, and my income consistently remaining at the same low, low price of “not enough” each day, paying $100 a month for television is unreasonably high, so the programming better be darn worth it. And thanks to the list of cancelled shows that hit the news this week, I’m beginning to think that paying even $10 a month for television, much less a hundred, isn’t worth it.

Ah, yes, the list of cancelled television shows hit the news this week, and I finally got a chance to read it today. Among the latest casualties caused by lame executive decisions to cut good shows in favor of keeping crappy ones to maintain a backwards ratings system that hasn’t been relevant since Seinfeld was still on the air, include my favorite show, Community, which has been on the bubble since its debut five years ago, and a new show I really like, Growing Up Fisher, which has a great premise, a great cast, and, according to the furious comments posted to various news sites that published the list, is one of the few great family comedies to come out in a while, a claim that I fully agree with, and amid a slew of trashy television shows, it was truly a breath of fresh air, and its cancellation is truly a slap to the face. Every year, the networks end a series worth keeping, and this year, they really went full teen horror movie on their quality programming. The cancellation of these two shows alone causes me to hate the involvement that men in suits have over the fates of my favorites. But between that and the cost of television in general, it leads me more to question whether it’s even worth investing my time in these network-sponsored games of teasing in the first place.

Imagine this: You join a club for singles. You’re new to town, don’t have any friends, and you’re the kind of person who hates being alone. You join this club, meet a few nice people, but really click with only one. You and your new friend hit it off. Within weeks you’re seeing movies together, feeding birds together, and laughing about the stupid jokes you heard on your way to work. Your friendship grows and thrives for months. Then suddenly, in the second week of May, less than nine months after the two of you meet, your new friend dies a horrible death at the hands of some mysterious businessman who dwells in an ivory tower. You two won’t be hanging out again, ever. The future you looked forward to, even believed in, has been snuffed out. Forever. Who killed her? That ugly, angry man in the gray suit who works for a television network’s executive branch. Cold, remorseless killer who has no regard for your feelings. He killed her because he decided it’s cheaper for him and his company if she doesn’t breathe another breath. He thinks you’d be better off with a less interesting friend who breathes less often, but has more potential than the one he’s trying to replace because she costs less to make you laugh. But he’ll only keep that new “friend” alive if she doesn’t overrun his budget for the year, according to the antiquated system that determines her popularity with certain peer groups who have nothing better to do than to stay home and watch television at a certain time. The Internet you’re paying $50 a month for can’t save your friend’s life because the system isn’t designed to track her popularity on Facebook. It only tracks how many friends she sees in person each week. If she doesn’t hang out with x-amount of friends by Saturday night, every week from September to May, her time on earth is marked for termination. Whatever amazing story she wants to share with you a year from now, you’ll never know about it. Kinda makes you wonder if your heart can handle the stress, right?

Losing my favorite shows is not like losing a new friend, but it does trigger an emotional response that equates to a sense of loss. For me, I was really looking forward to Community’s sixth (and final?) season, which the creator had been hyping for several years (six seasons and a movie), because I just want to see a show like that reach its natural end. But then, I’d like to see every show of decent quality reach its natural end. I’ve spent a long time with Jeff, Abed, Shirley, Annie, Britta, Troy, Pierce, Dean Pelton, Chang, and the extensive cast of crazies that make up the student body and faculty of Greendale Community College. A couple of them have already reached the end of their respective story arcs, but what of the others? Now that the show has been cancelled, I’m supposed to believe they had all died in a collision between earth and an asteroid? I know that’s not the real ending, but what is the real ending? I don’t know because NBC did what NBC does and cancelled a great show before it was truly ready to ride into the sunset. (And the other networks are just as willing to cut a good show off before it’s had its chance to finish baking in the oven; I can’t blame NBC for every bad television decision made since the dawn of time, even if I can blame it for about 80 percent of them.) Unless some other eager network champs at the bit to give the show its sixth season and proper ending, I, and many fans like me, will be stuck wondering how the other members of the study group will phase out of college, assuming a show like Community can find its natural ending, which, if you know anything about Greendale Community College, is an ambiguous question in of itself, as no one ever really seems to graduate from Greendale. Sure, they can get their diplomas, but it says nothing about how valid those diplomas are. It’s the black hole of education. Maybe NBC was making its own creative statement by canceling it—there is no end to the vicious cycle that is Greendale. But I doubt it. I think they cancelled it because they are uncreative businessmen who look at numbers from an abacus rather than storytellers who look at numbers only during an out-of-body experience. They don’t experience an emotional connection to their programming because they don’t actually watch their product or care how good it is. They just know that reality shows are big among those who want their programming for free, and most everyone wants their programming for free. I’m speculating, of course. I’ve never run a television network before, so I could be wrong on all counts. But I do know that I’m the recipient of its products, and lately its been making questionable decisions about its product line, and I’m greatly concerned about how well it knows the very product it’s selling.

That said, I’m no longer convinced television is worth the emotional investment. Sure, a few new shows I like made the cut this year: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Goldbergs, Resurrection, and About a Boy to name a handful. But how long will they last? At what point will the networks decide they are no longer fit to live and whatever story they had left to tell me will forever die with them? How deep will the networks trick me into feeling an emotional connection to these characters and their lives and situations before they take a hacksaw to them and laugh their way to the bank with their newfound savings as they leave the raging mess behind? I think the time is right to stop myself from giving them the opportunity. I don’t have to watch their precious torture bait. I don’t have to feed their wallets. If they’re not gonna give me (the customer) what I want (a complete series with natural ending), or update their marketing system to account for the many ways that people invest their time and energy into programming these days (it hasn’t been 1954 for sixty years now—man has since been on the moon), then I don’t need to give them what they want (my time and money). I can just pick up a book instead. At least those are required to have an ending.

But those dang execs know I got to see how Parks and Recreation ends next year, and they know that I gotta come back in September to find out. And they know that I got to see how those cliffhangers they left me with in these other shows get resolved when they also come back in September. It’s like they hire writers to infuse medication into their story lines to keep me teased and addicted. Jerks. I guess the better question is, Why do I blog about why we watch TV? Just like watching television, the blog’s ending makes the rest of my story a waste of time. Maybe we should all just go to bed at eight o’clock at night and save ourselves the redundant headaches.