Our speaker was Steve Shepard, creator of Storyist, novel and screenplay authoring software. He created Storyist for the Macintosh, and he has just released it for the iPad. (Note from Dave: And I am using it to write my novel, The Comic Book Code. Someday I'll finish the darn thing.)
(Note from Dave: In these notes, "Steve" refers to Steve Shepard, not our fearless leader.)
Steve went over what has changed in Storyist since he was here in 2009. And he will discuss the iPad version.
Steve mentioned plain text editors (like Notepad on Windows and TextEdit on the Macintosh) vs. formatted text editors (Like Microsoft Word, and Storyist). A lot of engineering goes into a formatted rich text editor, which is what Storyist is.
Storyist provides a word processor, a storyboard with index cards (you can see and organize your story at a high level on a virtual corkboard), and a project manager (it puts all the writing for your project in one place, like the characters and scenes and, of course, the manuscript).
Steve started the talk by showing us the iPad version of Storyist. He showed the text editor (manuscript) and the index cards views of the manuscript. There is something about touching your work with your finger that makes it more meaningful.
The Storyist manual is written in Storyist. Which makes it easy to find.
You can also write screenplays with Storyist. If you are a screenwriter, you get the screenplay elements (the formatting elements, such as character dialog and scenes), and you can insert notes, like sticky notes. (Note from Dave: Which is what happens to your screenplay when some Hollywood people get their hands on it.)
Steve switched to his iPad and launched Storyist. And you see lists of projects. Click on a project, and you see the folders it contains. You write the text files--Manuscripts--for novels and screenplays. And there are folders for your characters, settings, pictures, notebook, and so on, so as said before, you have all your writing for a project in one place.
Storyist provides extended keys on the iPad virtual keyboard. Yes, the Storyist keyboard gives you cursor keys (Note from Dave: What a concept for a writer!). You can select text, and with the tools icon you can select fonts, paragraph styles, bulleted lists, and so on. Storyist will print to AirPrint, and it work with Printopia for the Mac (Note from Dave: I have printed Storyist pages using Printopia, and it is the only way I found to print reliably to non-AirPrint printers).
Steve said that people like the index card feature. You can take easily take notes, like doing a brain dump. You can color code the index cards: different colors for characters, action, themes, plot advancement.
He mentioned competing products: Final Draft on the Mac, Scripts Pro on the iPad. FDX is a reader for Final Draft files (fdx format). Storyist supports the fdx format.
The real key to a mobile writing app is quickly getting to your work. Storyist is integrated with Dropbox, with a one-tap sync feature. Dropbox is cloud (Internet) storage for your computers and mobile devices.
He showed physical keyboards for the iPad: when you write a lot at one sitting, you want a physical keyboard. He showed the Zaggmate keyboard and cover. (Note from Dave: I use this keyboard myself, it connects via Bluetooth, it provides great protection for your iPad screen, and I do most of my personal writing with it. Steve had me show it off. I wrote these notes with it, using Pages on the iPad.) Steve also showed the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. Small and comfy. He showed another Apple keyboard that, instead of Bluetooth, connects to the physical connector on the iPad. Nice, although not as compact as the Bluetooth keyboard. Steve also showed an origami case that connects to the Apple keyboard and then folds to prop up the iPad.
iPad Storyist is $10. (Note from Dave: SUCH A DEAL!!!!!)
Steve is an organizer for Nanowrimo and Script Frenzy. Nanowrimo is every November: you write a novel in a month, 50,000 words. It has open mic parties (Note from Dave: I do love open mics, I read chapters from my novel). The first meeting for Nanowrimo (nanowrimo.org) is on Halloween. Script Frenzy is every April: write a screenplay in a month. (Note from Dave: I have done Nanowrimo for years, being a rebel in that I work on my novel, The Comic Book Code, instead of starting on a fresh new book every year. Writers are very nice people, they tolerate that sort of thing.)
A couple things surprised Steve about the iPad. The battery life is NICE. 10 hours. He gets through a weekend on one charge. And he likes the portability. The iPad is wireless and portable. A former knock against the iPad was that it was not a productivity tool, you would only consume content with an iPad, not create content. Now the iPad does a good job at creating some content, like writing a novel!
One guy's wife played games on her iPad, another guy used it when he was traveling for business. Another guy used his iPad whenever he moved around his home (used it at TV, as a wife-to-do list).
Steve mentioned Calibre for reading eBooks: calibre-eBook.com. (This should be available on the iPad.)
The Mac version of Storyist will create eBooks in Kindle or standard eBook (epub) format. So if you write a book, you do not have to go to paper printing: you can go eBook. (Although it is nice to go into a bookstore and hunt down and hold your book in your hands.) With eBook publishing, you can cut out the middleman. You get a bigger cut of the profits on eBooks (note from Dave: especially with correctly priced indie eBooks), but you do your own marketing.
Like the Mac version of Storyist, the iPad version has the index cards, and has an outliner. He showed the Storyist manual in the outliner. Then he selected export to epub to create the manual. (mobi is the Amazon/Kindle eBook format). There might be an Android version of the Kindle eBook reader later this year. (Note from Dave: The rumors are strong that this reader will be on the market by the time you read this.) Anyhow, you enter the publisher information like title, author, and other stuff you need (like maybe a catalog number).
You can keep your Storyist manuscripts on Dropbox, syncing with your Mac and your iPad. If you edit the manuscript in both places, Dropbox will save a version number of the manuscript; it does not do merging. Steve showed Dropbox (www.dropbox.com). You download the Mac (and the iPad) client and install it. Dropbox lets you sync files between multiple computers. Others can share those files. Steve showed his Dropbox, lots of files were there, and previous versions of those files were there also. (Text does not take a lot of space). On the Mac, you get an item in the Finder and in the menu bar for Dropbox.
Steve showed that you can undelete files in Dropbox. (One guy was SURE!!! that if someone else deletes a shared file in Dropbox, it's gone, but there is undelete and this only applies to shared in Dropbox. But he did bring up a point that Steve discussed: Dropbox stores where you want, where iCloud stores where it wants.)
(Note from Dave: Okay, at this point I raised my hand to get us back to Storyist, jogging the audience a tad. Jogging a bit like Andre the Giant did in The Princess Bride.) Storyist has customizable forms for plot, characters, and settings. He showed the Protagonist character form. You can track the characters in such forms in the manuscript. This form is like an internal wiki for characters, plots, and settings. There are similar forms on the iPad, and naturally these transfer back and forth from iPad to Mac.
The outline and index cards represent the same information in your manuscript, but show it differently.
Steve set up a coupon for $45 for the Mac version: smug2011. Go to checkout and type the code to get the discount. Actually, it is 25% off, so if you get the boxed version of Storyist instead of the electronic version, you pay a little more.
iPad is pretty much the only game for tablets right now. Android has a little share, but not real big now. (Note from Dave: We will see if the upcoming Android Kindle tablet has any effect on this.)
People have written Twilight fan fiction with Storyist. Also some famous people have written books with Storyist and gotten them published, but Steve might not be allowed to mention those names, so we'll take his word for it. (Note from Dave: Steve is very honest, but if he has any such names he can share, he is welcome to edit them in here.)
The Storyist website, www.storyist.com, has screencasts, such as how to create Kindle versions of your Storyist book. Apple's iBooks is rather behind in available titles.
There are restrictions on where you hold rights to your book, but if you write your book, you generally have worldwide rights.
What about illustrations? Storyist handles images just fine. When you convert to epub, the format of the content is like html with pub stuff in it. epub does not handle video well; outside of iBooks, video is hard to do. And epub did not do well with page layout (like with children's books); it was hard to keep pictures with the text.
(Note from Dave: I love Storyist on my iPad. Steve will be releasing upgrades to iPad Storyist, I believe. I am still writing my novel, The Comic Book Code, I started my next one, Like Teeth In The Night, and I wrote a little bit of the next one after the next one, a time travel story, all starring my superheroine Holly Grail (the Superwoman who wants to stay a writer), and my hero/sidekick California "Cal" Smith (the intellectual Batman and teacher). I started on the Mac, and transferred them all to my iPad. I back up my iPad Storyist files to my Mac. Sooner or later I will publish, and I will sing Storyist praises while doing so. I am free from a laptop when I write using an iPad, Storyist, and an external Bluetooth keyboard, and I can write for hours and hours and hours without looking for a wall power plug or getting a sweaty lap.)
Dave Strom, SMUG Vice President