General Q & A Session For The Authors

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Kill Anna, Sep 3, 2021.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I have yet to try Track Changes in LibreOffice. It appears to have the capability, at least. I hope it's fully compatible.
     
  2. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    Oh OK, I didn't realize Word was standard, now I don't feel so bad about using it.
     
  3. James Swallow

    James Swallow Writer Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    The caveat here is that I pretty much enjoy all Star Trek (admittedly, some to a lesser extent than others), I try to take each bit of the mythos on its own merits; and as TOS was my gateway to the Final Frontier, it's always going to be my top pick from the TV incarnations.

    Favourite Trek movie (overall): The Wrath of Khan
    Favourite TNG Trek movie: First Contact
    Favourite Kelvin timeline movie: Star Trek (2009)
    Favourite Trek TV show: The Original Series


    Mostly Microsoft Word, occasionally LibreOffice when I'm on the go, and on rare occasions Final Draft. And sometimes while working on videogames I have to write in Microsoft Excel, which is as horrid a task as it sounds,
     
  4. Jim Johnson

    Jim Johnson Writer Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2004
    Location:
    Alexandria, VA
    For my fiction and non-fiction, I conceptualize, outline, and noodle on stuff in Scrivener project files. I draft everything on an Alphasmart Neo and then import the text into Scrivener for editing and finalizing. Then that goes over to Vellum for ebook generation and print interior layout.

    For the program management, editing, writing, and proofing I do for Modiphius on the Star Trek Adventures RPG, it's all Word documents until it gets to layout, then I'm reviewing and editing with Adobe Acrobat.

    Google suite for various tasks as well.
     
  5. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Location:
    Lancaster, PA
    Going old-school, I do all my plotting and brainstorming using index cards, legal pads, and sharpened pencils. Plotting a book, or even a chapter, usually begins with me brainstorming with pencil and paper, jotting down ideas and bits of business on index cards, and then shuffling the cards until I have them in the right order. Then and only then do I sit down at the keyboard and start typing into a Word file.

    It's funny. My more technophile friends sometimes like to point out that there are now computer programs that mimic notepads and index cards and such, and I'm always like, "Or . . . I can just use pencil and paper like I always have." :)

    Not every task requires the latest, state-of-the-art technology.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
  6. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2017
    Location:
    United States
    Ha-ha.:lol: True. I think people sometimes try to be helpful thinking maybe it will go faster or be easier for you. But really, when you're just jotting down notes then whatever system works is the way to go. As long as the final product is done the way it's supposed to be, why does it matter how you get there (unless it's a method that causes them to miss deadlines or something).

    I'm reading some of the comments and the programs some authors use and I've never heard of some of them. But then I suppose since I'm not an author then I'd probably have no reason to use some of those programs.

    How do you even do that :guffaw: I find Excel equal parts amazing and mystifying. It can do some great things, if only I can figure out how to use the damn thing :wah:
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I tend to do all my story notes in big, sprawling Word files. I prefer computers to handwriting because my handwriting has always been a mess and a backspace key works better than an eraser.

    When I started doing some freelance copyediting work a few years back, I discovered that Word's "heading" feature let you create an index on the side of section headings that you could jump to by clicking on the list, and that's become indispensable to me in navigating my big sprawling story note files with all their different subsections. (My story notes document for the Tangent Knights trilogy is 41,000 words, long enough to technically qualify as a short novel in its own right. Although that includes drafts of all three outlines and deleted scenes that I've saved in case I could cannibalize them for later.) Using heading format for chapter numbers is also handy for navigating a novel manuscript.
     
    SolarisOne likes this.
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I only use Excel for a few things, like my Trek chronology, which became too sprawling to navigate as a word-processor file. The frustrating thing about Excel and LibreOffice, though, is that they on imposing a date format on my date entries, so that if I want to enter a date as, say, 7/9/86, it'll parse it as 1986 instead of 2386, as well as doing other things that prevent a date from displaying the way I want it. Sometime I think I need to reformat the whole way I enter dates into it, but that would be more trouble than it's worth to redo the whole thing.
     
    SolarisOne and IronWaffle like this.
  9. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2017
    Location:
    United States
    Yeah, I find Excel does some things that causes it to fight with you basically. The program thinks it's trying to help you but it's not.

    I've seen people do amazing things with Excel, but I'll be damned if I can figure it out. I get excited when I can just create a table in Excel that says what I want. When I was a manager I had to use Excel sometimes and I wanted to throw my computer out in the street :scream:. I'm glad I don't have to do that anymore.

    P.S.--Middle management sucks. Everything is your fault but you don't have any real power to do anything about it. Trust me. Don't do it. :crazy: 4 years of my life I'll never get back.
     
    TheAlmanac likes this.
  10. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Location:
    Lancaster, PA
    I also sometimes suspect that some sci-fi folks, being sci-fi folks, just think doing things a more futuristic way is cooler.

    "It's an index card -- but it's a virtual index card!" :)
     
    Damian likes this.
  11. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2017
    Location:
    United States
    There is a certain bit of irony I guess in using an old school system to write a book about the future :lol:
     
  12. Csalem

    Csalem Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2006
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    Interesting that people don't use Google Docs.
     
  13. ColdFusion180

    ColdFusion180 Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2021
    Don't know if it may help, but using 'Text' format for relevant cells displays dates exactly as they are entered.

    Pencil and paper are great! Words and ideas seem to be much more creative and flow together more smoothly when physically writing instead of typing. Transcribing them into accepted formats on the other hand...

    What are the authors' preferred writing genre(s) and/or subgenre(s), if any? What do authors' find to be easier or more difficult to write? Do professional writers ever write just for fun?

    Thank you authors for writing such great stores and taking the time to answer questions!
     
    Kill Anna likes this.
  14. Kill Anna

    Kill Anna Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2015
    Location:
    Kilana2
    Great questions. And also thanks for all the answers.
     
    Damian likes this.
  15. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2007
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    LibreOffice, which is similar enough to Office/Word to be compatible with it, but doesn't demand money with incessant nagware when I want to get on with things.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    That would only work with adding new dates. The problem is that I originally created the spreadsheet in Corel Quattro, and when Excel converted it to its format, it displayed the dates I entered, but when I reset those cells to "Text," it displays them as the raw computer code numbers it uses to represent them in its program. So I'd still have to redo the entire chronology from scratch to fix the problem globally.
     
  17. James Swallow

    James Swallow Writer Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    With difficulty! Excel is often used by games studios for dialogue scripts because it can be easily organized into specific sections for voice actors in the recording booth, and it can be directly translated into "robo-voice" temp tracks during the development process. But it's not really a writer's tool. Personally, I prefer to write something that looks like a proper script for the actors, because it gives them more context and nuance...

    Yeah, I have dozens of notebooks filled with scribbled-down ideas and random stuff - imagine Indiana Jones's grail diary, but with more beer bottle labels and stickers in there. Notebooks are where my first pass, germ-of-an-idea stuff lives, which I later write up on my computer if it's usable...

    My main genres are science fiction (as evidenced by my Trek stuff, et al) and thrillers (see my Marc Dane novels). I've also dabbled in steampunk weird westerns, horror and fantasy. I write what I like to read, and as for how "difficult" it is, that's more a function of what the story is rather than the genre. As for writing for fun, when I have a rare moment of downtime, I'll sometimes work on a bit of short fiction or a script just to keep my skills sharp.
     
    SolarisOne, TheAlmanac and Damian like this.
  18. Jinn

    Jinn Mistress of the Chaotic Energies Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2015
    Have you tried ctrl+h-ing the numbers to letters (so 7/9/86 to g/i/hf), then convert to text and re-ctrl+h the letters to numbers? If they're still displaying as 19XX you could copy the dates row into word and use more advanced ctrl+h feature to change 19XX to, for example, 22XX by imputting 19^#^# into the search bar and 22^#^# into the replace bar, (so you'd avoid replacing all the 19ths with 22nds). That should at least be reasonably efficient for the "main" Star Trek centuries; maybe not so much for stories set in the past and the future.
     
  19. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2017
    Location:
    United States

    This is why I find Excel so confounding :lol::crazy::ack::wtf:

    Every time I try to do something fancy with it I swear another brain cell just died
     
  20. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2007
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I think of myself more as an action thriller writer than an SF writer, though most of my fiction is published as SF. Over the past 8 years or so I've found my favourite thing, though, to be writing nonfiction, especially military history and mythology with a twist.

    And I do enjoy doing a bit of media nonfiction, such as, for example, the Gold Archives announced today.

    Hard to say which is easier- when I get on a subject it'll flow, and making fiction up is easy flow, but research is tiring on both counts...

    And, yes, there are things I write for fun, which sometimes will turn up in charity anthologies and suchlike.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2021