First, a little honesty. I built Atomic Scribbler for myself, not for the market. It’s the software I want to use when I write fiction. Every feature, every style choice, every must-have that I left out — all decisions made because of my own personal tastes and requirements.
I’ve tried just about every writing software package on the market, and I’ve found them all lacking in some or in many ways. I find Scrivener too complex and the user interface too old fashioned. I like pretty things. I find PageFour (which I built myself 12 years ago), to be even less pleasing on the eye than Scrivener, and too basic for my needs. And before you ask why I didn’t simply change that rather than start afresh, well... that’s another blog post.
I find every web based solution too unresponsive and limiting, and I don’t trust the companies behind them to store my work properly and securely in the cloud. Some might find this view overly paranoid, but my day job in Ireland sees me working for a range of multi-national companies that store sensitive user data — and almost all treat that data in a less than ideal fashion.
I don’t use tablets or smart phones to write on, and don’t understand why anyone else does. I work on Windows lap tops or PCs and that’s what I want from my software.
All of which is why Atomic is Atomic and not Google Docs, or Scrivener, or Ulysses, or Storyist, or WritewayPro, or an iPhone app, or even Microsoft Word.
My requirements are simple. I want to work on my novel scene by scene, and I want to be able to easily move those scenes around. I want to work in a modern word processor that feels close to Microsoft Word. (Blasphemy, I know.) I want to be able to attach notes to everything and to have those notes sitting right there in front of me as I write. I want to be able to easily pull every scene together into a single Word document at the end of the month or whenever I’ve reached a milestone, so I can email it to an editor or to a beta reader. I want some way to store unused scenes or bits of scenes that I’ve discarded but might use later.
That’s most of what I want, and all of that is in Atomic Scribbler version 1 — the beta that’s currently available.
Do I want anything else? Yes, but everything else is secondary to the above, which means it won’t appear in Atomic until version 2 or 3.
I want a research section so that I can build up links to websites that have a bearing on my story, attach documents and PDFs, store images that have some meaning to a location or character, etc. I want a character section so that I can build up character information such as name, age and hair colour; keep notes on plot points for that character, attach nuggets of character descriptions or dialog that I scribbled one evening but might never use. I want auto backups that send a zipped up backup to my Dropbox folder each time I close a project in Atomic. I want better control over deleting scenes, so that they go into a trash bin where I can undelete them later.
And I want all this in an attractive user interface that is not hard work to use. A user interface that I don’t have to think twice about, that doesn’t get in my way.
This is Atomic and what Atomic will become over a short space of time. All my basic requirements are in version 1. I hope to have all my secondary requirements in version 2, but no guarantees here. Priorities change, life happens, and promises, when made, have a habit of being broken.