Scrivener & HTML

I’ve finally downloaded the latest upgrade to Scrivener for Windows, after putting it off for several weeks. Normally I download Scrivener’s upgrades as soon as they are available, always on the lookout for the frequent small improvements the programmers at Literature & Latte send out.

This time, however, the first item on the change list was the announcement that Scrivener would no longer include HTML coding on clipboard output.

To be honest, I had no idea that copy-and-paste from Scrivener included HTML, but I had noticed that as soon as I began writing my blog posts in Scrivener and copy/pasting them into WordPress, my WordPress posts appeared in 14 point rather than 12 point type. I habitually write in 14 point Times Roman in both Scrivener and Word, much easier on my eyes, but trying the same copy/paste from Word only produced 12 point type in WordPress.

So when the Scrivener upgrade said it would no longer put HTML on the clipboard, I realized what was happening. Sure enough, when I looked at one of my WordPress postings in the “text” view (rather than the “visual” view which I use to finalize posts) it was loaded with HTML coding, way more than I would ever have the patience (or knowledge) to do by hand.

I was pretty sure I had seen something in Scrivener that would allow me to export individual documents in a variety of formats (rather than go through the rather complicated Compile feature), and after searching through most of the menus I finally found it (in the most obvious place): File/Export/Files (or Ctrl+Shift+X, for the keyboard-oriented).

Unfortunately, that didn’t work. It produced a file that opened with Internet Explorer, but when I copy/pasted it to WordPress, none of the HTML coding came along.

So I went to the Literature & Latte web site forum section and hunted around until I found a post from someone dealing with the same question, where I learned that there is a “copy special” item on the Scrivener edit menu that allows copying several different formats to the clipboard. After several attempts I have discovered that Edit/Copy Special/Copy as HTML will get me most of what I want, if I paste it into the WordPress “text” editor rather than the “visual” editor. Then it took a trip to the WordPress forums (via Google) to learn that it takes “Shift+Enter” to add a blank line in the visual editor.

I don’t know why the clipboard output in Scrivener has been changed. From the description in the change list, I’m guessing it must have been causing a problem for people copy/pasting to Word or other word processing programs. I’ve spent way too much time finding a work around this morning—but then, time spent learning something new is never wasted.

Scrivener Features: Links

This afternoon when I was cleaning out my email (a never ending task), I ran across one I had marked to save because it had several links to web sites I was interested in reading. Rather than bury the list in my inbox, I thought I’d start a file for the topic, and rather than open yet another Word document, I opened a new text item in the Research folder of my Scrivener Miscellany project, where I stash blog posts and book reviews.  I had downloaded and saved a PDF file from one site, and I pasted the addresses of the other three sites into my new document. And that’s all I had—addresses, not links.

Being inherently lazy, I wanted links, not addresses that I’d have to cut and paste (again) into my browser. I knew this was possible in Scrivener, but I didn’t know how to do it. I tried right-clicking on an URL; that brought up a menu of formatting options, including “Scrivener link,” but I didn’t want to connect to anything within my Scrivener project. I wanted the outside world, or at least my computer files and on line sites.

So I went poking through menus and found what I wanted under Edit/Link. That brought up this little box:

Link 2

When I cut and pasted the URL I wanted to save into the box and hit “okay,” I had my working link.

To link to the PDF file I had saved to my computer, I opened the link box, changed the source to “file” and dragged the file name into it.

Link

Now I can build my own catalog of references, each accessible with a click of my mouse.

The latest update of Scrivener for Windows was released last month. I printed out the Refinements and Changes notes, but I haven’t begun to scratch the surface. Scrivener Ace Gwen Hernandez has posted an overview of the new release here, along with scads of useful information on the program.

Fun with Technology

I seem to be having all sorts of wrestling matches with my computers and related technology lately.  I got a new computer at work in September, with a scanning program that reads documents fed through the fax machine and turns them into pdf files.  It worked without a problem until a couple of weeks ago when it suddenly decided there wasn’t enough memory (somewhere–the program wasn’t specific about exactly where) to scan at 1200 dpi.  Fortunately the two or three documents I scan each week work perfectly well at 600 dpi.  This week the program started randomly producing blank pdf files; now I have to scan some papers twice and check the files before I send them on.  I have no idea what’s going on there.

Then there was the Excel file that suddenly sprouted large, unexplained, and unnumbered gaps the other day.  Fortunately I had the good sense to close it before I saved any of the anomalies.  When I reopened the file it was perfectly well behaved.  Sometimes frequent saves are not the answer.

Meanwhile, the (admittedly old) printer sometimes refuses to print from the sheet feeder (which we use to print checks and labels) and the (also aging) copy machine suffers from paper jams in the morning.  We’re doing our best to work around these problems, because we’re planning to reorganize the office and replace the printer, copier, and fax machine in the foreseeable future.

My computer puzzles at home have been solvable, for which I am grateful.  This morning I found my computer rebooted and waiting patiently for my password, and when I logged in I discovered that Internet Explorer 11 had been downloaded during the night.  It looks exactly like IE 10, but apparently it works on touch screen computers.  I don’t have a touch screen computer.  It didn’t change any of my settings, so no harm, no foul.

I’ve been resurrecting an old manuscript to enter in the RWA Golden Heart contest (it’s an addiction).  My work in progress stood no chance of being finished in time, so I pulled out one that I’ve always liked but haven’t really looked at in some time.  It did well in contests some years ago, so I decided to give it another shot.  And some editing.

I went through the whole manuscript, making generally small edits, and liking what I read.  It had been long enough that I’d forgotten many of the details, and I actually enjoyed reading it, as though it was a novel I’d read (rather than written!) years ago.  But it needed some work, and after sending the first three chapters to a couple of writer friends, I did some more editing, and decided I needed to combine some scenes, split some others, and move some chapter breaks.

It would have been so much easier to do in Scrivener, but the contest deadline is looming, and I didn’t have time to move the manuscript from Word to Scrivener and back.  Fortunately there was relatively little full-scale rewriting to do (for now, at least–if an editor ever says, “I’ll buy this, but you need to turn the time line inside out,” I’m there), and I did it on paper and in the Word file.

But I still had those pesky chapter breaks to shift around, and that’s where my large computer monitor proved its worth (not for the first time).  I discovered that Word could show me at least eight pages at a time at a resolution clear enough to read, which made judging the length and breaking points of chapters surprisingly easy, and perhaps even more visual than Scrivener.

Chapters

Believe me, I’m really not complaining about any of these little hassles.  I’ve kept records in ledger books rather than Excel, made copies on mimeograph machines after typing the masters without a ribbon, and typed whole novels on a typewriter, so I appreciate everything I do on a computer.  But there are times when I have no idea what’s going on–it might as well be magic.

New Toys for my Computer

A few weeks ago I started having problems with my email program running away with me.  I was sending empty emails, and duplicates, and I had no idea why.  And the problems spread to the web site I usually use to look up the TV schedule.  I’d click on a program description, and the box would snap open and shut too fast for me to read it.  Same thing with Twitter–it took several attempts to open a picture (Twitter was invented to disseminate pictures of cats, right?).

In due time I realized that the problem had to be related to my mouse.  I went to the control panel and tried adjusting the click speed, but that had absolutely no effect.  I tried googling terms like “hair trigger mouse,” and found nothing.  Then last weekend, I finally figured out what was actually going on–the mouse was randomly sending out double clicks when I was sending out single clicks.  Not every time, but often enough to be really annoying.  By then it was even affecting my attempts to select text.

When I googled “mouse sends double clicks,” I found plenty of folks who’ve had the same problem with aging mice (and mine was coming up on four years of steady service).  It makes sense–even optical mice must have some sort of physical mechanism for transmitting clicks.  I found instructions on taking a mouse apart to fix it.  Yeah, right.  Back in the day, I had no trouble removing the ball from the underside of a mechanical mouse to clean it, but that day is long gone.  The obvious solution to this problem, and the most common advice, was “buy a new mouse.”

So yesterday I stopped at the local Office Depot and found myself staring at a display of at least thirty different mice, about two thirds of which were wireless.  I wanted corded–this was for a desktop computer that never moves, and a corded mouse doesn’t require batteries.  I thought I might as well pick out something a bit higher up the scale than the simple mouse that came with my computer, so I settled on an ergonomic critter with some extra buttons and features (Logitech model M500).

The trickiest part of installing it was tracing the old mouse cord to the back of the computer to detach it.  I don’t know what I unplugged on the first try, but it wasn’t the mouse.  Once I had the new one plugged in, Windows took over and made it work.  There were a couple of features that needed the Logitech driver, so I downloaded that, but it wasn’t needed for the basic mouse functions.

The new mouse solved all the problems I had attributed to the old one, and even a few I hadn’t recognized.  It has a control that switches the wheel from free spinning (and very fast) action to line-by-line motion.  And it has two buttons on the side that function as back and forward clicks on web sites.  The Logitech driver lets you program various buttons to do all sorts of things.  Highly recommended for right-handers.  If there’s a leftie version I did not see it at Office Depot.

I have a new piece of software to play with, too.  The folks at Literature and Latte, the source of Scrivener, have released Scapple for Windows.  I’ve been envious since they released it for Mac, and this fall I downloaded the beta version of the Windows release.  The full release came out a few weeks ago for the princely sum of $14.95.  Scapple is a brainstorming, note-jotting, what-you-make-of-it program that turns your computer screen into an expanse where you can make notes, move them around, connect them, and generally play with them.  My first Scapple file is full of plot notes and ideas for the story I’m working on, thrown all over the screen.  A friend recently showed me the extremely neat plot outline she’d made with Scapple on her laptop.  You can pull Scapple files into a folder in your Scrivener project, too.  Here’s a sample:

Scapple sample

 

 

Next Week, RWA13

Back in late March when I learned that Jinn & Tonic is a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart contest, the conference in mid-July was a long way off.  Suddenly it’s next week, and I’m not ready.

Oh, I’m not totally unprepared.  I’ve tried on my conference clothes, and they still fit.  I’ve bought a few new things, some of which will actually make the packing cut.  I should be making a packing list.  (Last year I forgot the evening bag I intended to carry to the awards ceremony; this year I bought a new one and left it sitting out where I can’t miss it.)

I’ve decided how much cash to take, based on what I spent in New York City and Anaheim (thank you, Quicken), but I haven’t been to the bank yet.  I’ve registered (and paid) for the conference and for two events sponsored by on-line chapters that I belong to, the Golden Network Retreat and the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter Gathering.  I’ve sent RSVPs for a couple of party invitations.   I have my airline and hotel reservations.

Lucky 13 pinsA couple of weeks ago I opened my mailbox and found the Lucky 13 Golden Heart pins designed and made by one of our number, who writes historical romance as Eliss Baker and designs jewelry as Lisa Confetti.  The smaller one will go on my conference badge holder, along with my Golden Heart pins and my Starcatcher (2011) and Firebird (2012) pins.  Badge bling is a fun part of the conference.

Plans for the conference–workshops, receptions, appointments, dinners–are filling up a spreadsheet on my computer.  I’ll print that out, and probable scribble on it, because I’m not taking a laptop with me (I don’t even own one).  I know some of my friends are building schedules on their smart phones.  My phone is only moderately intelligent, and I’m still trying to learn how to access my email on it.  I’ll be using paper schedules and a spiral bound notebook.

My email inbox is overflowing with chatter from friends making plans to meet for dinner or drinks, information on the local restaurants, attractions, and transportation in Atlanta, and I’m afraid to clean it out for fear of losing some essential bit of information not yet transferred to my spreadsheet.  Meanwhile, I’m compiling a mental list of all the things I’m putting off until I get back (get the car serviced, have the roof inspected, make an appointment with the eye doctor . . . ).  I probably should put that list on paper, or at least in a computer file.

I’m frazzled, and semi-organized at best, but I’m also looking forward to Atlanta.  This will be my third RWA conference in three years.  I can’t wait to see old friends and new.  Atlanta, here we come.

[For those of you interested in Scrivener, I’ve added an Introduction to Scrivener for Novelists to the article section of the site.]

Scrivener Features: Auto-Complete

I stumbled across the Auto-Complete function the other day when I was doing a menu-crawl around Scrivener’s nooks and crannies.  It’s not the same as Auto-Correct, which I’ve had to turn off.  Either Auto-Correct is too imaginative or I am: when I had the feature turned on, Scrivener kept changing my characters’ names and “correcting” other words that I didn’t notice until I reread my pages.  Or worse, until I read them to my critique group.

Auto-Complete, on the other hand, only does what you’ve told it to do, offering up long or difficult-to-type words or phrases when you type the first letter.  For novelists, I imagine this would most often be character or place names.  In my collection of unpublished novels, I have a parallel worlds tale set partially along a Texas Coast dominated by the Aztec Empire.  Tenochtitlán popped up from time to time, and I was glad to have whatever word processor I was using at the time let me assign a short-cut key to it.  And the words Señor and Señora, with their tildes, were all over the manuscript.

AutoCompleteScrivener allows you to set up a separate Auto-Complete list for each project (under the Project menu, or with ctrl+shift+4).  When you type the first letter of one of the words or phrases on your list, up it pops in an unobtrusive little box.  If that’s what you want, hit enter.  If not, just keep typing, and chances are you won’t even notice the pop up.  Say you’re working on an essay on American history—just how many times do you want to spell out Articles of Confederation?

I didn’t find much on Auto-Complete in the Scrivener documentation, so it took a little experimentation to make it work.  You enter the words you want to escape retyping in the Auto-Complete list box (to get the accent on Tenochtitlán and the tilde on Señor I typed them in my text, using the Character Map located at the bottom of the Edit menu to find my special letters, and then copied and pasted them into the list box).  But you also have to go to the Corrections section of the Options box (under the Tools menu) and make sure that “suggest completions as you type” is checked.

OptionsCorrections

You may never have to look up that pesky accent or umlaut again.

Scrivener Features: Project Targets

Earlier this year, I was asked to give a talk on Scrivener to the May meeting of the Houston Bay Area RWA chapter.  When I finally got around to putting it together last weekend, I had done so little writing in the last couple of months that I found myself practically rediscovering the software.  The program more than proved its worth, if I had any doubts, when I used it to organize and write up my talk.

In the process I also discovered that it is very difficult to compress a piece of software as large and complex as Scrivener into a relatively brief presentation.  I probably confused my audience (which fortunately wasn’t large), but I got some laughs, and some questions, and two people in the group have told me they are trying Scrivener out, so I must have done something right.

If a tour of Scrivener is a stretch for an hour’s workshop, it’s certainly far too much for a blog post.  But one feature at a time, now that’s doable.  So let’s start with one of my favorites, Project Targets.  This little widget floats anywhere on your screen.  Project TargetsDepending on your point of view, and/or your progress on your manuscript, it will either inspire you or kick your butt (hopefully into gear).  Here’s an example lifted from my current work-in-progress; as you see, I haven’t been making much.

To use the Manuscript Target section, you simply fill in the number of words you’re shooting for in your manuscript, and the widget shows you how many words you have, and where you are on a scale of zero to completion.  The bar starts out red and gradually changes color as it fills in; it turns to yellow and then green as you approach your target.

The Session Target is for more immediate word counts.  If you have a personal target of x many words per day, or you need 5,000 words to meet your editor’s deadline, just fill in the number and Scrivener will tell you exactly where you are.

In the same section of Scrivener (the Project Menu), you will also find the usual word processing info.  Project Statistics gives you Words, Characters, Pages (Printed) and Pages (Paperback) for the complete project and for the document you’re working on.  The Options tab lets you adjust which documents are included in the project count, the word count per page, etc.  Text Statistics gives you Words, Characters, Paragraphs, and Word Frequency for the document you are working on.

Eyes lit up in the audience when I talked about Project Targets at our meeting the other night.  Clearly I’m not the only writer who needs a measure of her progress, and Scrivener makes it easy to see.

Now I just need to make some progress worth measuring!

Novelists5

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