Tech Cafe: Writers Tech Tips

Phil Rees

October 22, 2014



  • National Novel Writing Month
  • Plotting vs Pantsing
  • Distraction Free Editing
  • Plotting Tools
  • Gamification


  • decide whether you will be participating in NaNoWriMo this year
  • identify yourself as a Plotter or a Pantser
  • distinguish between a writing tool, a wordprocessor and a desktop publishing system
  • identify a tool used for plotting
  • identify a tool used for pantsing
  • select a tool that matches your writing style and technical abilities
  • describe a writing workflow
  • give two examples of writing gamification
  • create a plan for winning NaNoWriMo


Wendy Beasley

Municipal Liaison

Plotting and Pantsing


  • You know where you're going
  • You know who you're dealing with
  • You know the cast
  • You know the location
  • You know what happens


  • You're flying by the seat of your pants
  • Something will happen
  • You don't know what
  • You don't know who
  • It's a ride


About You

  • Plotter or Pantser?
  • Geek or Meek?

Distraction Free Writing


  • Every interuprion costs five minutues of focus.
  • Two children.
  • They interrupt me once every five minutes.
  • Each.

Wordprecessors: All The Things

  • Graphic Design
  • Typography
  • Illustration
  • Data-mining
  • Web Design
  • Collaboration

Software Versions

  • Can you send it to me in Version 6?
  • It was fine on Windows!
  • The text is all squiggles!

Use Plain Text

  • It works everywhere
  • You can't break it
  • You can't make it look better
  • You can focus on your writing

You Want To

  • Write
  • Edit
  • Revise
  • Get Published
  • Self Publish

Lessons From The Past

  • Wordpress
  • WordPerfect

Distraction Free Editors

  • Many Available
  • Focus Writer
  • Draft


Writing Prompt: Ganges Mood Music

Think of a mood or emotion. Write a paragraph about a location you passed on the way to the library. Reflect your chosen mood in the language used in the description.

  • mood | emotion
  • location
  • description

An Example

Grey wind rattles ropes against masts. Boardwalks shimmer, a thin film reflecting the sky. Beside the empty park the market hunches, tents drawn tight against the threat of rain. Weighed down. Battened down. Waiting to call it a day.

  • Fortitude

Focus Writer


  • TXT, basic RTF, and basic ODT file support
  • Timers and alarms
  • Daily goals
  • Fully customizable themes
  • Typewriter sound effects (optional)
  • Auto-save (optional)
  • Live statistics (optional)
  • Spell-checking (optional)
  • Multi-document support
  • Sessions

Good For

  • Pantsing

Written By

My name is Graeme Gott, and I am an open source programmer as well as an avid Linux user since 2001. You might know me as The FocusWriter Guy, or perhaps The Whisker Menu Guy. I live with my wife, Jenn Gott, and our pampered cat. Like any good geek I love Doctor Who, the Discworld series, and ridiculous action movies.


The Corkboard

  • Writer as detective
  • Castle
  • Usual Suspects
  • Getting Organised
  • Doing Research
  • Getting Inspired

Exercise: World Making

  • Genre.
  • Two Locations.
  • Four Characters.

Exercise: Character

  • Name
  • Age
  • Background
  • What they want
  • What's stopping them getting it
  • Notes

Scenes and Sequences

Knowing our characters and locations, we're going to start building a story.

  • Scene | Some characters in a place at a time
  • Sequence | A small collection of linked scenes

What Else Does It Do?

  • keywords
  • labels
  • notes
  • printing
  • publishing
  • e-publishing

Who Wrote It

I used to say that Literature & Latte is not a software company. I said this because I didn’t set out to run a software company; I was just a guy with lofty writerly ambitions who had just happened to develop a piece of software that helped me in my own writing processes (I know that makes me a geek, but that’s something I have to live with). - Keith Blount


  • Special version for NaNoWriMo
  • Extended Trial
  • 50% Discount for Winners
  • 20% Discount for Others


Self and Others

  • You
  • Friends and Family
  • Other Writers
  • Beta Readers
  • Editorial Services
  • Your Publisher


What It Does

  • Distraction Free Editor
  • Version Control
  • Editorial Workflow
  • Accept of Reject Suggestions
  • Hemingway Mode
  • Markdown

Who Wrote It

CEO of Highrise. Also founder of two YC companies. Engineer for President Obama’s re-election campaign. Makes the awesome writing software Draft. - Nathan Kontny


  • Split into groups
  • One scene per group
  • Write a scene in Draft
  • Typist
  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Interruptors
  • Share the finished scene with me

Bonus Content

Hemingway App

  • free computerized critique


  • Badges
  • Magic Spreadsheet

What's Next

It's Up To You

  • Will you do it?
  • Pick your tools.
  • Launch Party!
  • Writers' Nook.
  • Write Ins.
  • Pick Phil's Brains.