Monday, April 30, 2018

Useful Writin’ Stuff

Recently, I have added a couple new tools for writing. Both of these are free, as well as being useful.


This is an extension for OpenOffice/LibreOffice (alternative search is a another useful extension but we won’t get into that one here) that produces quite usable ebooks in the epub format. If one uses OO or LO for writing — as do I — this is an excellent tool, if only to create a preview of how ones formatted ebook would appear.

However, the ebook itself is completely professional. If one wishes, it could be further edited in a program such as Sigil but I would have no qualms about offering a novel produced in writer2epub for sale. It’s not so good for poetry, I must say — that would require more editing. The ebooks it creates use the reader’s default style rather than imposing a typeface. I prefer this. Smaller files, less to go screwy.

I admit that I continue to use my distributor’s (Lulu) online converter for the ebooks I offer for sale. For now. I am limited to a trio of fonts there, which are specified in the ebook’s style, so I go with Garamond for everything (the alternatives, Arial and Times NR, are not fonts I would generally care to use, though they might be okay for some titling). I don’t like this much but the ebooks look okay and I run into no problems with them.


Text editors such as notepad++ or gedit (and a bunch of others) are popular with folks who write code. I have not done that in many years nor am I likely to again. However, an editor that goes beyond (far beyond!) the capabilities of the Notepad app included with Windows is more than just useful for a writer. If nothing else, I can use it to create plain text backups of everything I’ve published, in a format anyone will be able to read on computers pretty much forever — no proprietary software required.

In truth, notepad++ offers all sorts of extras I neither need nor care about. Just being able to drag and drop blocks of text was enough to sell me on having a ‘super’ text editor. Now I find myself using it more and more for jotting down my notes and that sort of thing. To be sure, there are some drawbacks to working with plain text, such as defaulting to ‘typewriter’ style quote marks and that sort of thing. I know the ‘alt/number’ codes to type in, if it matters to me, or I can pick them by double-clicking on a list of characters. Both slow me down a little but sometimes I just need that punctuation.

I would not actually use it to write fiction. Maybe for poetry. Maybe for songwriting. Indeed, I am making sure to have text versions of all my songs, both for backup and so they might be readily shared. I always type out and save my songs, in whatever format, in a monospaced font — the ubiquitous Courier New — so things will line up properly whoever opens the file. Chances are I shall be putting text files of some of my work online for download eventually.

notepad++ can be downloaded from

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