When you spend as much time on the computer as I do it’s important to have the best software tools for the job. I’m a programmer and web/graphic designer. I also create video courses, and I’m writing a series of children’s books.
I have an arsenal of software for each of those areas and I’m always on the lookout for programs that might improve my work flow and efficiency.
As a self-published author, one of the things I’ve found most challenging is locating a reasonably priced, competent editor. When I reviewed a few of the early books in my series several years after they were published, I was dismayed to see errors that an editor should have detected. I began to wonder if there might be software that could help me find and correct many of those errors — before I sent my stories to an editor. That’s when I found SmartEdit.
Since I didn’t use Microsoft Word, I purchased the stand-alone version of SmartEdit. It was helpful to have the proofing capabilities it offered, but juggling text between my word processing software and SmartEdit was less than ideal.
A year or two later, I received an email announcement about a new program, Atomic Scribbler. The fact that Atomic Scribbler was created by the same programmer who had developed SmartEdit caught my attention. Immediately, I could see the advantages of combining the two programs.
I had already been using software developed for writers, but the combination of Atomic Scribbler and SmartEdit would be enough to make me switch. It wasn’t long before the two were integrated and I became a convert.
For my books I use Atomic Scribbler for storing and organizing ideas as well as for writing first drafts and making revisions. I love the simplicity of the software and its scene-based approach. Writing the next scene is much less intimidating than writing an entire chapter. The outline or tree structure shows an overview of the scenes and allows you to easily rearrange them. You can attach notes to any scene or chapter, add images, links to websites and other research information.
Even without SmartEdit, Atomic Scribbler is an amazing program. But SmartEdit makes it even better. The two work seamlessly together. I can run the SmartEdit checks on a single scene or on the entire document. I can run all the checks at once or select them individually. The results appear, nearly instantaneously, in a window on the right.
One of the checks I find most helpful is repeated words — I just can’t seem to stop using the word just repeatedly in my writing. SmartEdit counts the occurrences of repeated words and highlights them in their context. Double click any of the occurrences, and the cursor appears in that section of the scene allowing you to make a correction. There’s even a User-defined Monitored Words & Phrases list where you may enter your own problematic words for SmartEdit to track.
Another of my favorite checks is Sentence Start Words. I ran this check on a scene I recently finished and it showed that twenty-one of my sentences began with the word, she. By scanning the results window I can see where best to change some of those.
The last check I use frequently is Dialogue Tags. This shows the usage of tag words, such as said, replied, explained, added, and so forth.
I’m a member of an online writers’ group. We periodically submit chapters for the other members to critique. The required format is doc or docx. Atomic Scribbler allows you to export a scene or your entire document in either of those formats, as well as rtf, txt, and Open Office’s odt format.
When I receive a critiqued chapter from other members I view that file using Libre Office Writer. That program allows me to see the revisions and comments added to the docx file. I then make changes based on that feedback to my scenes in Atomic Scribbler.
I continue revising and refining the text in Atomic Scribbler until the work is ready to submit to an editor. At that time, I export the entire document in the docx format.
I would again revise my text in Atomic Scribbler, based on recommendations from the editor. At this point, my text is in nearly final form and ready to move to page layout software. I don’t apply any text formatting in Atomic Scribbler. I use QuarkXpress to create the print-ready versions of my books and do all formatting within that software. To transfer from Atomic Scribbler to Quark, I export chapters or just copy and paste the text.
Although Atomic Scribbler was designed as software for writers, I find it useful when I create video courses as well. For my courses, I begin with a tentative sequence of topics. That’s a natural for Scribbler. The script for each video goes into a scene, making it quick and easy to rearrange them as needed.
My current writing project is a study guide that incorporates many small chunks of information. I can’t imagine creating this project in typical word processing software. Once you’ve used something like Atomic Scribbler with its organized, modular approach to writing, anything else seems rather awkward in comparison.
A guest post from Vicki Watson (July 4th, 2018)
Vicki Watson is the author the Sonrise Stable series of books for children. As well as being a prolific writer she runs Homeschool Spark, a website offering courses and information for home schooled children in the US. Vicki is also a teacher, computer programmer, and video course designer.