Some of you may remember that I once blogged about Storybook. I was just trying the program again before I posted that blog post, and my article turned out pretty disappointed. Now it turns out that the program very nearly died – it only survived due to the charity of the lovely open source community. So it still exists. However, I’m not here to talk about that program. I never found it much fun (although now I’m curious about whether the community has fixed it).
I’m here to talk about another writing program entirely.
Writing App is smooth, portable, and – in my opinion – fun. It costs $3, and I’ve used it long enough for it to have earned every cent. If there’s one downside to the app, it’s that it is only available on the Apple store. That bothers me a tiny bit (what will become of me when my aging iPad dies?), because I’m not a fan of Apple policies, Apple prices, Apple cables, Apple formatting, Apple hype, or apples. Well, okay, apples are fine. This app probably means that I’ll be scouring eBay for an unused old iPad when mine dies, but if it continues to deliver, I’m okay with that.
The app lets you create a project. This can be either a short story or a novel. I only ever pick novel, due to the type of writing I do (I either write novels or collections of related short stories). Within your project you can add characters, items, places, notes, and chapters. Each item – except chapters – has sub-pages, such as eyes, hair, strengths, weaknesses (for characters), descriptions, etc. These are totally optional, but I use them to help me flesh out the stories and characters. It’s no secret that an author should know a lot more about his world and characters than the reader does. After you have whatever information you need, just add a chapter and start writing. (Oh, and it has a fantastic font for fantasy writing: Bradley Hand.)
Kudos to the app developer, Thomas Sillmann. I’ve chucked several comments (including bug reports) and compliments at him, and he has responded every time. Generally within a day or two.
The app has a clean interface. None of that messy jumble we get with half our apps these days (what do all the little buttons do?). The menus are easy to navigate, the sidebar makes swapping between characters/items/chapters easy, and saving is automatic (I had a lot of problems with that with other apps). As messy as we writers can be, it’s important to keep at least a reasonably clean writing space.
Dropbox integration. That means you can upload entire projects straight to Dropbox to access them on your computer. You can also upload each file individually to Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, or an email address.
The Dropbox integration is currently a little buggy. An update to the app did something weird, and Thomas is working on fixing it. Individual files still upload correctly, but project backup is out of the question at the moment. Bit sad, because I like to look over my project on my phone when I’m on the run, but I’m looking forward to the update.
The chapter-writing interface isn’t necessarily as pretty as I’d like. Some authors (myself included) get a little dazzled by blank white pages, and this is about as white and dazzling as they get. Put a paragraph or two on it, and it’s fine, but I’d really like some kind of border option (on the sides) or something. Or a slightly crinkled parchment backdrop. Ooh, that’d probably even kick a few extra dollars out of me. Well, anything but an absolutely blank page.
4.5 stars. I’m finding the app very clean, as well as helpful for sorting information and writing short pieces, and I’m impressed by the developer’s swift responses to my questions. Customer support is one of the most important aspects of the app market, but even more so when a writer is having trouble with an app and needs to keep his pen to the paper.