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Some issues to overcome with Storyist for NaNoWriMo


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I am trying Storyist for iPad with NaNoWriMo this month. Don't have a Mac, so no synching with a laptop/desktop. Also don't usually have wifi, so am writing while not connected to the internet.


So here are the issues I've run into. Hopefully, some of you have already got solutions or workarounds to share!


1) First and foremost, I have some discomfort about [possibly] losing data.


When I get home, I save the project and the manuscript to dropbox, which also keeps versions. But using Storyist for hours before a sync feels risky for a couple reasons:

a. There doesn't seem to be a way to create and manage snapshots

b. To export anything, you have to choose edit, and the DELETE button appears. Even having a DELETE key around scares me!!!!

c. I could be imagining things, but isn't one DELETE button in the top right corner where you usually see DONE? That scares me because my fingers tap by habit before my mind gets going!

d. The index cards don't appear to have any way of being exported, other than in the Storyist project format, which is not so easy to mine for "real" text and info

e. It's really easy to delete a lot of stuff by accident. E.g. I deleted a Chapter card and lost the whole chapter and all its scenes. No "Are you sure you want to delete the chapter and all the associated scene cards?" I was saved by the undo, but that's a situation I never want to be in again. And I don't know if undo can undo every action, or multiple levels of actions. It's really nerve wracking!


2) It's not so easy to move back and forth between screens, e.g. to look up character info or location info and go back to writing. Too many clicks. I'll probably start to store that info in iThoughtsHD or OmniOutliner or Carbonfin Outliner and use the multitasking in iOS (which itself takes too much effort, but it's not bad).


3) When I navigate back and forth, it doesn't seem to keep my place (e.g. in the manuscript). Is there a way to bookmark or go back where you were before. (Sorry, don't have all the details of what things I was doing. Just an observation.)


4) It's hard to get data into and out of Storyist. E.g. if I outline elsewhere, then I have to retype the cards and summaries into Storyist. I do it because I like having the cards available while writing, but like I said above, might force me into another tool, at least for the cards info. And once I go that far, why stay with Storyist at all? Similarly, after finishing the first draft, not easy to get the info into Scrivener for revisions. Yeah, sorry, maybe that's a dirty word here, but I don't have a Mac, so it's probably going to become my revision software of choice.


5) The word count only seems to show up on the on-screen keyboard. Because I use Apple's wireless keyboard, I have to turn it off to see the word count! Is there another place in the program to find word counts?


Sorry this is so long. Must be Nanowrimo rubbing off on me already.


I would be delighted to hear thoughts on the items, and any workarounds or solutions, or even if the item is something I just have to live with. Surely others who use this have some of the same issues I've been running into so far.



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Hi, Bob,

I can't answer all your questions, since I began with Mac Storyist and still use it by preference, only editing on the iPad. But I would note that you do not have to get your project off Storyist by exporting it, with the risk of hitting the Delete button by accident. You can go to the Settings app on your iPad, tap on Storyist, and turn on Dropbox sync. That will add a circular arrow the next time you start up Storyist. Tap it, and the app will update your changed files. If you have made changes on both the iPad and Dropbox, it will rename your iPad file and copy the Dropbox file onto your iPad, giving you two copies. Otherwise it will just sync, leaving you with the newer file.


Undo has multiple levels.


Storyist for iPad doesn't currently remember where you were. You can get back fairly quickly by pinning the outline in landscape mode and navigating to the section you want. When you get there, dismiss the outline.


We didn't have word and page counts until very recently. At the moment, so far as I know, the virtual keyboard is the only place to see them (which I like, but I don't usually use an add-on keyboard).


A .story file is a ZIP file. You can copy it and unzip the copy to see and, if necessary, work with the individual parts.

Best of luck with your writing, and welcome,


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Thanks Marguerite!


The outline works pretty well to get me back to my spot in the manuscript. Quite sufficient.


Yes, indeed. I knew you could unzip, but until now I didn't have enough file to make the pattern obvious. The text is there in pretty good shape. I could probably use regex to pull out the text by sections if I needed to. That means I don't really have to keep saving both the project file and the text. Excellent. Unfortunately, Story.rdf with the index card content doesn't appear to be in the same order as the index cards, so it's only of limited use in a recovery scenario. And, come to think of it, the text being in order could be accidental because I'm writing it in order so far. Hmm, I'll have to experiment with that at some time.


As you say, Undo has many levels. That's great news. Does anyone know what the limitations are in terms of levels or types of operations?


Dropbox sync is great for when I have wifi connection, and then I get version "snapshots" for free, but my greatest concern is if I lose something by user error while I'm writing offline. Here's my current workaround - email the document to myself. That would seem to store it in the outbox waiting until I get a connection. Haven't tried multiple versions that way, and don't know how reliable it is, but it feels like it's another level of safety for me. I do also have some data connectivity options like adding the hotspot feature to my phone (expensive and a pain in the neck because I'd need a power cord for it to write for any significant amount of time.)


Well, so far, I'm really enjoying the Storyist/iPad combo. Storyist is a very pleasant alternative to laptops, and the aesthetics of the iPad w/keyboard, plus the long battery life make it fun to write. If I can just get over the concern about losing information. Maybe after I've used it longer, I'll get more comfortable.


Thanks again for the answers!!!!

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You can also save version snapshots while you're not connected to WiFi by exporting to iTunes. Steve can confirm, but I'm pretty sure that the iPad stores files destined for iTunes in a different location from the files you are editing in the Storyist app. That's why you have to import/export instead of just opening and saving. You can also rename the file when you export to iTunes, giving you as many copies of different stages as you want. I often do that just to ensure I have another backup stored somewhere.


That does mean dealing with the Export button again, though.


Storyist also has a great find feature (under tools) to help you relocate within a manuscript.


I think the RTF file that stores your manuscript text within the zipped .story file always represents the latest state of the manuscript. The card descriptors aren't in order, as I recall. But notes are saved as individual RTF files within the zipped archive. But it's a long time since I unzipped a .story archive (not since we were beta testing version 2.0), so Steve should probably weigh in on that, too.


In the Mac version you can export most of the story elements, including characters and plot points, where the information on the index cards matches the information in the summary fields on the sheets. But if you have a Windows PC, your options are more limited. :(



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Yes, I did try export to iTunes. It's another way to get a snapshot, so it's another tool in my Storyist writing belt. But if you save a second time, it will overwrite the first copy (with a warning).


Awesome about the find feature. I was struggling with lack of search (e.g. when renaming a character). That's a big help and I can't wait to try it out.


Also, I discovered the word count feature is available under that same tools menu. Something like Tools...View...Document Info. If I remember correctly, it shows words, paragraphs, characters, non-space characters, etc. So I don't have to turn off the bluetooth keyboard to see word counts anymore! An option to put it in front of me all the time like on the screen keyboard would be nice in the future, but no big deal. I might end up turning it off anyway.


I found a developers' section in the Storyist site that has information about the format for developers. It's likely that the basic info I'm curious about will be there, so I just have to do some reading and thinking about how to make use of the info without doing too much programming.


Ah, when talking about writing tools, it always seems to come back to my unsatisfied MacBook Air lust! I thought about a "Hackintosh" but that's just too time intensive. I guess I just need to wait until technology becomes cheaper and better (as all day battery life and mobility is extremely important to me.)


Thanks Marguerite!

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Hi Bob,


Just to second what Marguerite said, you can use the Copy to iTunes command to copy a version of your Storyist project to a different folder, but as you noted, you overwrite the existing one.


You could also send yourself an email with your project as an attachment.



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Unless you rename the file. :)


1. Tap the name of your iPad file (say, nano). Call it something evocative (nano1, nano3Nov). The app adds the .story extension.

2. Export the renamed file to iTunes.

3. Restore the original name or wait for iTunes to whine about replacing the file before you back out and rename the draft, then export it again.


Thanks for the confirmation, Steve,


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