Tag Archive: writing


Scrivener Writing Program

If you’re anything like me, I’ve downloaded and tried almost every available writing software program available in hopes of finding something that suits my specific writing needs. Being a faithful Microsoft Word user my entire life, I never realized how competitive the writing software industry was. I mean, there’s even software that claim to write the story for you. What’s that all about?

While visiting one of my screenwriting forums, I stumbled upon several people mentioning how good Scrivener was. I decided to search it, and found it was perfect for what I needed. Scrivener is an organizational writing tool, for Windows and Macs, focusing on non-linear writing, developed by the folks at Literature and Latte’. It is geared for any kind of writing, from screenplays, short stories, novels, or school projects.

What attracted me to Scrivener was that it doesn’t impose a specific structure. You maintain the ability to customize it any way you choose.

All files are easily subdivided into sub-folders for partitioning off Parts, Acts, Chapters, and Scenes, for working on each individually. After completing, you can compile them into one document for easy viewing.

Another great feature I like to use is the split screen and snapshot feature, horizontal or vertical, which allows for revisions or taking notes from my research folder in the binder.

Scrivener was designed by writers, for writers. Although there are many templates to choose from (or you can design and save your own), Scrivener won’t ask you about birth dates, personality quirks, color of hair, height, favorite food, or what side of the bed is slept on. You’re the writer, so outline and write. Oh yea, it does have an outlining feature as well.

If you need to access an on line dictionary or thesaurus, you can easily access it directly from Scrivener. One of the best features I like, is never having to leave Scrivener to search for files or research. It’s all there in one program with the touch of a finger.

If you choose, you can complete the location and character descriptions, as well as download photos of them. Like most programs, there is a learning curve. It took me about two hours to learn everything I needed, but it’s actually ready to go the minute you install it. To be honest, I only use it for what I need, but the capabilities are endless.

Other features include target word counts, and the capability to keep you on track daily, according to the days you write and total word count estimation. When I come across an idea I need for better organization, I simply type it in the help box, and sure enough, there it is.

The spell check feature is nice. You can set it so it suggests misspelled words for you, and even correct them as you type.

Scrivener provides various templates to choose from, but all can be customized in the fashion you prefer; imposing no unwanted structures. The binder and other screens are collapsible for undistracted writing. There’s even a research file to help create character profiles, location profiles, and the ability to upload photos.

If you’re a self motivated writer just looking for a program that suits your specific needs, then I urge you to download the demo which as a more than generous time period. The price for the Windows program is $40, and the Mac program sells for $45. Both prices are extremely low for what you get, and compared to other programs.

As far as support goes, they lead the pack. Depending on which part of the world you’re in, the response time is much quicker than other programs. You can also search the internet for tips and tricks from other users to get ideas how others use Scrivener.

Good luck and happy writing!

P.S. I do not work for Literature and Latte’, nor am I being paid to write this. I’m just trying to help out fellow writers.

Author: Ken Kuhlken

Writing and the Spirit is an inspirational book that helps combine the joys of writing with the love for Christ. The abundance of thought provoking material on attitudes, habits and practices are not only inspirational, but helps a writer gain perspective of the spirit as she performs her craft.

Reading about the Holy Spirit, and at the same time being told to relish the uniqueness in even the most sinister of antagonists was quite the paradox. We are quickly directed to what The Old Testament tells us, that beauty resides in all things. A dark and sinister character should be developed in such a way that reminds us to avoid passing judgement on them. Like Dostoyevski, we should strive to truly know and love all our characters. Everyone has a background and uniqueness, and their motives and quirks should be presented in such a way that reminds us to avoid passing judgement on them. Emulate Dostoyevski’s dramatic structure where every scene has a character suffering a setback, reversal, or disaster.

To better express our uniqueness as a writer, and allow ourselves to be open to the spirit that moves us, we should abide by 1 Corinthians 2:16 which tells us, “But we have the mind of Christ.” We should minimize the cliche’s of sentimentality, propagandizing, and pornography, and accept the capabilities Christ gave us to tune in and accept his divine hope. We must realized what Joseph Campbell suggests, that following our bliss and promises without fear, doors that we didn’t know existed will open for us.

If our hearts are open to the spirit, it will deliver us with wisdom, but it is our job to deliver that wisdom. Making writing our top priority, the spirit will seek out those who can help and guide us, Blessing those who have helped guide us. We must allow the spirit to drive us, filling our hearts with the qualities of Christ.

Raymond Carver suggests we write every day without anxiety or ambition, which only takes away from our imagination and the spirit that moves us. Writing requires peace of mind, leaving our thoughts of ambition outside the door from which we write. We need to listen to Alan Ginsberg who suggests, we loosen our minds and accept contradictions without aggressively grasping for answers. Trusting in the magic of chance is accepting the generosity of the spirit that moves us. Nothing drives our attitudes, habits and challenges more than the opportunity to write in peace.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” We mustn’t fear our writing or the results it produces, but write for the love of writing.

We must write like journalists, focusing on painting pictures with words, and clarifying the obscure and simplifying the complex. We must incorporate brevity, taking out every paragraph, sentence and word that does not propel the story forward. While adhering to the rules of writing, it is for our betterment that we realize the reason for the rules.

It was obvious the author was a Dostoyevski fan, as the ending of the book was more of a summary of The Brothers Karamazov, which was difficult to tie in with the major content of the book.

Although a short book, just under seventy pages, it is is not meant to be fast read. There are too many passages that leave one to stop and ponder about ones own perceptions of writing and the Holy Spirit. For me, it was a reminder of how important revision is. Like a story continuously being rewritten and revised, so shall we do with our lives, allowing the spirit to exhibit truth and honesty so we can love, write, and become more of a person in the eyes of Christ.

Writing and the Spirit is a good read, and I recommend it for Christians and people of any Faith.

Elements of Style

I became familiar with Elements of Style in my journalism class while attending Perelandra College. Since then, it has remained as my “go to” guide when I have a question about English grammar.

Elements of Style was originally written in 1918 by William Strunk Jr., as a textbook for his Cornell English class. Resembling more of a condensed reference book than textbook, Elements of Style touches on the most common mistakes found in writing including: basic grammar rules; punctuation usage; principles of composition; matters of form; and even the most commonly misspelled words. Nearly all explanations are rife with examples. Listed below are ten rules from Elements of Style that I try and apply; improving myself as a writer.

1. Determining apostrophe usage with possessive singular nouns.

2. Omitting needless words; making my writing tighter with more clarity. For example, avoiding “who is,” and “which was,” and other superfluous words that can are deemed verbal camouflage.

3. Maintaining one tense throughout.

4. Distinguishing between the usage of comma’s, colon’s, and semi-colons. For example: enclosing parenthetic expressions between commas (if the sentence can stand on its own without the parenthetic expression then commas are necessary); and replacing a comma with a semi-colon when joining two or more independent clauses.

5. One piece of dialog is a single paragraph, even if its one word. Often times I see: “Let’s go Jim,” said Joe, then continued, “we’re going to be late.” This type of sentence breaks the rule. Is this correct?

6. The active voice is more direct and vigorous than the passive voice.

7. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating, and non-committal language. Use words that are more concise and positive.

8. Shorter sentences are preferred over longer sentences.

9. If it is obvious who is speaking, there is no reason to say, “he said,” after the dialog.

10. Most of the words and expressions. For example: all right; whether; certainly; and fewer instead of less.

Elements of Style continues to endure its reputation as the premier handbook for English language usage today. As long as I write, Elements of Style will be by my side.

On Writing Well

 A sacred testament to writers of all forms and abilities, William Zinsser’s, On Writing Well, continues to thrive today as it has since its first publication in 1976. Though Zinsser emphasizes writing tools and techniques for writers of nonfiction, fiction writers reap substantial benefits as well. Just over three hundred pages, the adrenaline rush of information kept me reading from cover to cover, completing highlights and notes, in less time than it takes to cook a twenty pound turkey.

Zinsser informs us that a writer needs to treat his craft like he would any job; setting a schedule and sticking to it, even when he doesn’t feel like it. No excuse for calling in sick when you’re a writer. Like any job, a writer needs his tools by his side; a good dictionary, thesaurus, and E.B. White’s, Elements of Style.

Similar to a writer of nonfiction, a fiction writer needs to recognize the difference between clutter, or “verbal camouflage,” as Zinsser refers to it. He expresses the importance of word choice, distinguishing between nouns, active verbs, adjectives, and those poisonous adverbs. In addition, all writers need to have a command for punctuation, which he briefly reviews.

While On Writing Well, is geared for the creative nonfiction writer, Zinsser dedicates several chapters to stressing the gravity of structure in ways from which a fiction writer can surely benefit. He also points out that a good writer of any genre needs to maintain unity of POV, tense and mood, propelling the reader through comfortable paragraph lengths towards a surprise ending. He reminds us that, “the essence of writing is rewriting.”

On Writing Well is rife with examples all writers should heed. As Zinsser quotes: “You will write only as well as you make yourself write.”