Friday, March 25, 2011


The process of writing has something infinite about it.  Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation.  

~ Elias Canetti


I've been posting recently about tools for writers, but the best news is new today: there's now a version of Scrivener for those of us in the overwhelming majority with Windows PCs (not Macs).
Yes, we sad little Windows people may be retro chic rather than authentically latte-geek, but we can now get our hands on one of the most popular and most powerful tools for writers, formerly purely the province of Mac users.

So what's Scrivener?
It's a combination word processor and organising tool. It allows you to bring together and reshape the many fragments that make up most of our working manuscripts, so that you can easily keep track of what's where and who is in which scene. Depends how you work, of course. Some people start at the beginning and work straight through. Scrivener or other similar packages may help you out a little, but they are a godsend for people who write snatches here and there, and have to keep the structure altogether in their heads while scrolling back and forth through a long Word document. It includes an outlining function as well as index cards for characters or places, and integrates with EndNote, for we fools who are doing academic writing.

There's been a free beta version out for a while, which I tested and which converted me pretty quickly to the Scrivener way. It has basic templates for short and long fiction, academic papers and scripts and, importantly, can synch with mobile apps like Index card, import documents you've already begun in Word (or whatever), and export to other programs such as Final Draft or Word.

The latest beta version is due out 25 March 2011 (that's the date here already, so I guess tomorrow in the US).  [NB This was amended - I misunderstood the timeline when I first posted]

When the production version goes on sale, it will cost about $40.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Book crafting

HarperCollins is finalising the internal design of Act of Faith and come July, even if I do say so myself, it's going to look gorgeous.

It has to, really, because it's a book about books; about printing and publishing and defending beautiful crafted books. Mind you, plenty of publishers wouldn't put the effort into it for a paperback.

But the designer, Jane Waterhouse, publisher, Lisa Berryman, and I spent hours last Friday choosing 16th century Venetian and Dutch printers' devices such as colophons and frontispieces from the wondrous Sticht collection of the State Library of Victoria (which is also where I work a few days a week).

These will adorn the front matter and chapter openers. I just can't tell you how appropriate it is, on so many levels, because you haven't read the book yet.

But you will. Won't you?

Friday, March 04, 2011

New favourite book

The Blazing World.

Great title, for a start. Sounds like some new literary fiction, doesn't it? 

But in fact it's by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (born 1623, died 1673): infamous Restoration poet, philosopher, playwright, orator and all-round hellhound.

Bless her little cotton toga.