I’ve been searching for a writing application that can do everything that I want when writing a novel. Being sick of Microsoft Word’s limitations, I decided to explore the different options available currently. The main conditions I have:
- Inexpensive – The typical writer doesn’t have a lot of money
- Versioning – The application has to be able to show me a history of edits and be able to recover between them
- Availability – My writing should be available on my laptop, phone, or wherever I go.
- Expandable – Ideally, I’d be able to store notes, charts, diagrams, and other drawings as well as organise them in a sensible way so I can refer back to them easily
- Easy to Use – The system needs to get out of my way and let me write. Little annoyances with a setup can quickly get in the way of my writing.
Keeping these things in mind, I’ll start with my first test: Bitbucket. For those who haven’t heard of it before, Bitbucket is a website (https://bitbucket.org) that is typically used to store code for programs and websites. It almost definitely isn’t what most people think of when writing novels.
As a developer, I use such programs often in my work, and so I can see the benefits of such a system, and decided to try it out in helping me revise my novel. While this may be too complex for most writers out there, it may be a perfect fit for some. Signing up for the service was free, and I created a private repository for my novel. Uploading the chapters was easy, and soon I was looking at a nice list of my chapters.
Each chapter was split into a separate file to keep things simple, and they were saved as text files so I could easily edit them. I tried uploading ODT (libreoffice) files, but bitbucket (expectedly) couldn’t deal with opening and versioning these files. Since my main goal was just revising sentence-level stuff, this didn’t bother me so much. Formatting would come later.
Now that it’s setup, I’m going to edit my novel using this method for a week to see if it meets my needs. I’ll report back with my findings as I go along. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about how this setup worked on my phone for writing.