When it comes to going off the laptop and onto mobile devices, writing and putting together a novel can be a little tricky when it comes time to synchronise the content. The ability to export all your stuff back to laptop mode is the functionality you want.
Note-taking and writing platforms have been already covered here:
Below are the most useful apps available for Android and Apple for structuring and planning out your story.
Pluot is purely a character and story planning app for writers.
It allows you to build plot scenes which you can reorder through drag-and-drop, develop characters with profiles and attributes, create locations, construct plotlines and link them up, and add images.
And once you’re ready to write you can export your outlines to text files.
Novelist is a writing assistant that will help plan out your novel from a nascent stage into a published book. I give you the ability to brainstorm, add research, develop characters, and outline every aspect of the story.
It’s even got a web interface application that can help you stay on the platform and continue writing multiple drafts till the finished book.
Most important of all, you can export to epub, odt, and HTML.
Web-browser based Wavemaker runs on virtually anything. It works offline or it can be installed and run on any device, allowing you to sync your devices up using google drive.
You can plan and structure your book into chapters, scenes, and make notes.
Export as Word (DocX)
There a planning board and data base function as well as a snowflake tool.
Export as HTM (.html) for sharing to the web, creating e-book or for openning with Word.
Export is also avdilable for Markdown (.md), Word (.docx), ePub (.epub) and Rich Text Format (.rtf)
All three are practical enough to get your project fleshed out from idea to complete novel, and if you want to move to a fifteenth platform they each have yhst all important export facility.
The tower defenders dismantled the upper terrace, using the stone bricks to drop upon our heads. With burning oil and arrows, the misery brought on us by the Greeks plunged my fellow knights, my brothers, into despair. Heaven’s determination to punish our great transgression with this fierce deluge of rain, sent us scampering like mud rats back towards the Bosporus.
To add to my humiliation, a limestone block struck my head. The helmet does me no good. The neck feels it, but tis the collarbone that suffers the true damage. My right arm weakened, I grip my sword with my other, lesser hand, vowing never to abandon it. It was all that was left of my pride as I witness my kinsmen in disarray, panicked like foiled thieves facing slaughter.
“We’re going to require more knights,” yelled Henry, a noble general, crusader, my brother. He seemed adamant to fulfil his plan to demolish the northern wall to allow us entry into Blachernae quarter – with its abundant churches and opulent palace. I could hear the bells echo from behind the rampart, toiling to galvanise the defenders, but also to mock us.
As I succumbed to the pain that flared greater than my shame, I longed for the homeland; the hills of Artois, the ports of Vlaanderen. I longed for my daughters, one of which I have yet to behold.
I resolved to fight on, but the sight of Varangians entering the fray along with my broken shoulder compelled me back to the water, where the burning remains of the Nordengeest lay sunken in the shallows. Wading into the water, I look out across the Golden Horn. A heavy mist had befallen upon us – a condemnation from God.
This punishment I accepted; we defied our creed, we had become mere pirates. How do I return to my country? A heretic? A barbarian? “My lord, I repent,” I told the waves slapping at my belly, as arrowheads pierced the water. “Forgive me for entertaining the greed of man. For believing the lies of the Old Man, of pandering to the corrupt whims of the Duke of Montferrat, for my own beguilement by the young Greek prince.”
A gust of cold wind pushed against my face. I heard shouts, not the jeering from the outer wall, but from the north. The sun broke through the clouds, for the first time since Easter.
“Your true Emperor is here,” cried a voice. The fog dissipated and several galleys bearing the Lion of Saint Mark emerged from the fog. The Old Man had taken to the bow of the San Luciatia to proclaim the restoration of the Latin crown. Joining him was the golden prince with his band of loyal warriors.
“Behold Alexios Angelos the Fouth,” declared the Old Man.
The fleet, using the northerly winds, surged towards the Queen of Cities, fearing not the shore’s rocky jaws, for the Venetians were hastening to beat the Greek fire.
“Let the will of God bring justice back to the bastion of Christendom.”
Above me, plumes of fiery smoke rained across the grey sky, but the waves pushed the fleet out of harm’s way.
“God wills it!” The voices came from around me, from brethren lions, who once despaired, now witnessed redemption. I watched my knights raise their swords and turn back to the wall. My agony fled. I too raise my sword, my unclean hand now blessed, and marched towards the Gates of Blachernae.
If you’re like me, you probably have hundreds of story ideas floating around inside your head. The good ones, as Stephan King once said, are the ones that you can’t shake from your memory. I found this to be true, but having access to a pool of ideas, concepts and research is still a valuable tool for any author looking to create content using free tools for writers.
Keep is a tag (label) only system, so if folders are your thing Keep doesn’t make it easy. But tags are folders anyway. There is no text editing, just input. There are no categories in Keep. Instead, you can group notes into a small selection of colours. What makes Keep useful is that it’s fast and simple, you can add images or drawings, and it has the ability to convert a note into a Google Doc when an idea is ready to be expanded. The mobile app integrates well, ideas can be written, voiced, and pictured straight to keep, as well as webpage links.
Part of the outlook and Onedrive ecosystem, Onenote is crammed with features. Just one notebook can cater to your whole library. Each notebook has a section, and in each section, you can create pages. The desktop version has subsections and subpages, but this causes a problem as the two are somewhat incompatible. The text edit box is as Microsoft as one can get. This has everything one would ever need. Major downsides; slowness, like all Microsoft online products, the lag between opening up a basic note is a big drawback. Plus there’s no exporting to anything else. The phone apps are okay, but the desktop app is a little convoluted in regards to how the files are stored.
Simplenote is just simple. It’s a tag only system, so no folders, but that’s the same thing really and Simplenote makes this look and feel the same anyway. There is no text edit box, just text input, but it supports Markdown extensions. There is a version roll-back capability. You can back up by downloading a zip file. It’s as basic as you can get.
Box is well integrated with Google Drive and Onedrive, but with a 50 gig storage, it’s not really relevant, unless your exporting notes to another platform. Still handy though, because you can use the full functionality of the Microsoft Word and Google Doc create your notes. There’s also Box Notes which has a good but basic edit box with version history. With no tagging system, folders are the way to go. Both apps are available on iOS and Android devices.
With Dropbox, you can create folders and word documents using your own Microsoft online account, but with Paper, you can do this natively. Paper has numerous features to take advantage off. It is folder based, and it has a basic and easy to use pop-up text edit box. You can export to PDF, Word or Markdown. Its small storage is its downside, but even a gigs worth of notes is still a lot of notes. Available on iOS and Android devices.
Apart from creating a library of notes, Evernote has the added feature of behaving as a research tool via is clipping app extension. You can create notes, organise them into notebooks, and organise those into stacks. The editing interface is not bad, although there is no undo function. The free service is not that limiting, you get 60 MB upload per month. As for backup, you need to use the Evernote desktop app, and there’s no ability to export to a different format. There is functionality to revert to a previous version.
With Gnote you can create folders and then add notes or checklists. You can sort via tags as well. Extremely simple, fast and basic and there are few add-ons but there’s no exporting of notes. Even though a premium service gives you expanded usability, the free version doesn’t impede much in your note-taking. It is alsosupported by Chrome, Android and iOS app.
Supernotecard is designed for writers. You can organise notes under projects and type (fiction, non-fiction, scriptwriting, flashcards) it allows one to export notes to a good selection of formats. You can send a project to other writers. The platform is easy to use. Downside; there are limits on the number of projects, notecards, categories, and references that you are allowed to create. Also, over the long term, if supernotecard disappears, you may have to migrate your notes.
All of the above are decent for building an Idea Library. So it depends on how simple or complex one needs. This also should take into account what drafting platform you decide to use and how you want to integrate the process going from conceptualisation to writing that novel or screenplay.
What if I were to tell you that a vast galactic civilisation exists, much older than ours and that this space-faring society was a great consumer of things such as art, food and resources…
…that we Earthlings are a newly discovered delicacy and that a vast market waits?
Is this a bad eventuality for mankind or a good one? If a taste for humans takes off, if this becomes more than just a fad, to feed such a vast market, how many billions of people would need to be exported to meet such demand? Billions more would be required to be bred to sustain supply. Humanity will eventually be farmed on other planets across galaxies.
A shortcut for humanity to spread across the stars, yes?
What if I were to tell you that the wretched and corrupt among us were to abandon resistance and flock to these new overlords, selling out their fellow humans in a mad scramble to secure their own individual survival, to carve out their own suzerainty over the helpless, clueless majority?
A while ago, after finishing my novel A Hostile Takeover, I took on adapting my screenplay ‘The Bad Samaritan’ into my next book project. It turned out to be an ordeal, with convoluted plots ending up driving me insane, but in the end I had myself a completed draft.
With Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series inching closer to television screens, a question resurfaces, a question I’ve been asking ever since first reading these two works of classic science fiction, both of whom have been fighting an eternal battle for the number one spot on my favourites list.
What makes these stories so great?
For me, it’s the scope of these novels. It’s how the authors infuse a multitude of scientific disciplines and morph them into the plot. This little project is intended as a study guide for me to use and others if they choose, and aims to list as many topics and fields of study as possible. It’ll be an ongoing process as I probably will miss a few academic disciplines along the way.
Science fiction is an art form, and visual art and science fiction have complimented and inspired each other from the beginning. From cover art of Jules Verne’s novels and Amazing Stories to the mind-bending number of sci-fi influenced artworks in existence today, to the contemporary music inspired by this muse called sci-fi, it is a shame art doesn’t feature as much inside sci-fi stories as science does. Film and television do combine the two formats (art and literature), a synergy that creates its own standalone art, but there are few stories that explore art as a theme or as a science. How many authors pose the question, what is art?
Science fiction, to me anyhow, is about exploring new concepts, and neglecting to explore such a vast aspect of human behaviour is always going to be a missed opportunity. As humans, we possess a range of sensors that can be aroused by art or information. Our eyes have pictures to lust over. Our ears have music to listen to. Our tongues have gourmet food to explore. Our skin has fashion; our noses, perfume and smell. Our inner ears give us balance, so is not defying gravity an appreciation of its beauty?
How else can humans make art? How would aliens make art? How else can an author explore the endless possibilities of art?
Apart from the SETI researchers who search for signals that are millions of years old, not one person today is a practising xenoarchaeologist. How can they be when there are no artefacts for them to study. This should not stop an author from giving it a go. The discipline can be monumental or incidental to the story, whether it’s uncovering an unknown civilisation, humanity’s alien origins or finding relics predating the cosmos, what better way to give a story some background than to have xenoarcheologists research the history of a place or people, here on a future Earth looking back at its past, on some exoplanet, or in deep space somewhere.
Is it the architects leading the writers, or the other way around. Either way, whether you’re a human, transhuman or alien, you have to live somewhere.
From bionic architecture to autonomous buildings nothing sets the scene better than creating unique habitats for your characters to live in. Functional spaces can add synergy to any plot whether they are based inside subterranean slums or in space palaces.
After I published “A Hostile Takeover” I was exploring ideas for a second book. At some point, I entertained the thought of adapting one of my screenplays that had been sitting on the shelf, collecting dust for over a decade. How easy. The basic story and material were there. All I had to do was tweak this, rewrite that, so I committed to writing it, setting a target to keep it short and simple.
The screenplay was called ‘The Bad Samaritan’ and it was turned into a guerilla film back in 1999 by me and a few associates. Its one and only release was at the 2001 Melbourne Film Festival, and it’s been buried ever since. I felt it was a natural step for a novel to come out of it.
In hindsight, I was naive about how easy it would be. In my writing experience, nothing goes down as planned. With me stories evolve, ideas get bigger, themes dig deeper. And when I decided to turn what was originally a serial killer horror thriller into a serial killer science fiction horror thriller, I entered a world of hurt.
The original story idea still resonated with me, enough for me to decide to revisited it again. The challenge being; how do I take this to another level?