SparkyGetsTheGirl

Scrivener->Dropbox->Android Writing App

In Fiction on August 28, 2014 at 7:56 am

Update: Here are the files I promised.

Lately I’ve tried to create a better workflow between Scrivener and my mobile—a brand new HTC One. The problem I’ve had is that Scrivener exports to only 3 formats: TXT, RTF and FDX. I’ve never used FDX (Final Draft) files before, TXT format removes all the formatting, and RTF is not really recognised by the majority of Android writing apps. I really want to be able to revise my novel on-the-fly or when the mood strikes.

What I’ve managed to do (Mac only, sorry) is setup Scrivener to sync to Dropbox and link up to Dropbox with Draft, my favourite writing app. Draft makes this process very easy.  Then I output my files as RTF files to Dropbox and then use a few bash script files I’ve created—that include Python scripts that others have created under the GNU license—to convert between the RTF and Markdown formats.

What is Markdown? It’s a new format that uses * and _ and # (as well as other characters) to emphasise a document’s format and layout in a way that can be easily converted for blogging or a web page, but has enough flexibility to be applied to other types of documents. I find it easy to use and intuitive in a way that Word etc. are not.

To implement this workflow, here’s the step-by-step process:

To begin: Download the files and extract them to the same directory in Dropbox you sync your Scrivener documents to. For example, if you sync to Dropbox\Project, extract the files there. This only needs to be done once. You also need to have the Dropbox application installed on your Mac, so if you haven’t done this, I’d set it up first.

  1. Sync Scrivener to this directory. Remember to select RTF as your format for external files (in both dropdown boxes—only needs to be done once).
  2. Open a Terminal window (the Terminal program usually exists in Applications->Utilities).
  3. Type ./rtf2md Draft/*.rtf to convert all the RTF files in the Draft folder; then ./rtf2md Notes/*.rtf to convert all those in the Notes folder.
  4. Now all the files are ready in the MD format. You can leave home and load up your writing app on your phone and write away like a demon.
  5. When you arrive back home, go back to your Terminal window and type ./md2rtf Draft/*.md and/or ./md2rtf Notes/*.md
  6. Your files are now converted back to RTF. Sync Scrivener and your done.

Caveat: Markdown format uses some escape characters. An escape character is a character with a \ next to it, like \#. What this indicates is that the # character is a special Markdown character—indicating header size, in this case. If there is a # in the original Scrivener document, to avoid confusion a \ is appended to the # when converted. Be aware of this when editing your .md files (some writing apps take care of this and don’t show you the \, some do). When you convert back to RTF and sync to Scrivener these \ marks disappear and the text appears as normal.

I’m sure I can automate the process further: perhaps doing a check for files changed that day in the directory and only converting these, or creating another directory in Dropbox and a script that runs when a file is changed so new files are marked when synced. The sky’s the limit.

Yrs,
SparkyGetsTheGirl

Update 29/07/14: Genesis

In Fiction on July 28, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Dear Readers,

Ideas are fickle/funny little critters.

In an attempt to create a world enriched by characters with actual dimensions (my initial draft ravelled out tangled), I conducted another brainstorming session this evening. Tumbled images poured out of my heart and head until I stopped upon the idea of a seedy pool bar hidden behind an underground comic book store. Sounds too fantastical, right? Well, it’s since developed into a kind of dream place my character imagines when they want to relax, a place of control, a place of warm familiarity. Far more appropriate.

I sat for a few minutes and tried to trace back the root of the idea. Where had it come from?

Then, shazam!

In 2008, I taught singing part-time at a large musical studio and to a colourful cast of students: the aged, pre-teens, Asians, Jamiacans, metalheads, and popstars-to-be. One of these students was heavily into the self-help movement and in a moment of shared interests recommended ‘Psycho-Cybernetics’ by Maxwell Maltz, a classic self-help manual written by the grandfather of the genre.

I surprised myself. I read the book through and really appreciated the techniques outlined within (how to handle stress, what causes stress, how to relax under adverse circumstances). One of the chapters focused on how to construct your own locus of relaxation: what this created place should look like, what elements to include, feelings and colours to incorporate, and how to enter and leave. As an example, my ‘special’ place was an attic with couches, a bed, a fireplace with a rug and a window that overlooked the ocean. I could actually feel coolness radiate off the walls as I one-stepped up the narrow stairs to its entrance.

In my creativity, I’d plucked a snippet of my life from years previous and twisted it into a new and unfamiliar shape.

Add my character’s interest in comics and then a former interest in bar-crawling and you’ve got the rugged skeleton of a catchy idea. And that, my friends, is priceless.

Yrs,
SparkyGetsTheGirl

Update 18/07/14: ‘Don’t Look At The Man Behind The Curtain’

In Editing, Fiction, Personal on July 17, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Dear Readers,

Whether you write a story or a poem, a blog entry or a tweet, a speech or a novel, a novella or a letter [death threat, Dear John, or cheerless goodbye], trim the fat.

(Just a quick post. Back to my novel I go.)

Yrs,
SparkyGetsTheGirl

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