Regular readers of my blog know that I write my novels and stories on a Linux laptop. I use the Ubuntu operating system and the program that I use for writing is Plume Creator. This week the programmer behind Plume Creator is releasing his latest version. I’ve been helping Cyril work out the bugs in this version and I can attest that this is the best one yet.
As you can see from this screenshot, I have over 28K words on this latest book. The program handles this load just fine and I don’t have any doubt it will continue to do well as I get closer to 100K.
This review/update will focus on the newest features of Plume Creator and how a writer would use them in action. First up is the word count and progress meters.
In the lower left hand corner of the main editor, you have the word counts for the Project, Book and Chapter. Directly under the currently edited scene, is the word count for what you are working on at the moment. To the bottom right hand corner of the editor is the current word for this session. So you can see here, I’ve only written twelve words new on this current scene.
This feature is nice as you might be altering several scenes during your writing session and still want to know how many words you have actually written in total. I can imagine that those who participate in NaNoWriMo will use the heck out of that feature.
Staying with word count and time on task, let’s examine the Timer Tool, which I have placed under my Project Tree.
Here you can set a session timer to monitor how long you’ve been making the fiction. It also has a clock for the current time. This is not a feature I use, but lots of writers will put it to good use.
Now we get to the areas of Plume Creator that I use. Starting with the Attendance tool and Manager. Above is the Attendance tool docked to the lower right side of my Plume editor. You can see that I’m in Scene 34 and that I have just added a new Character – Bianca to the scene. The scene already has a Point of View character – Devon Ardel.
I can also add Items or Places to this scene as I see fit. When I’m done adding things, I hit the down arrow in the middle of the app and it gets smaller to better display the items and people in the scene. The Eye icon button sets the POV character for the scene and the Person icon opens the Attendance Manager as seen below.
This is the heart of the Attendance Manager. It lets you add, delete and describe your cast of characters, important items and places or locations. The more complex your novel becomes, it’s easy to get lost in all the people, places and things you are writing about. This program is designed to help you keep things straight. I don’t know of any novel writing software that includes this useful feature in an editor. Usually a separate program manages these things. I always set up my scenes first with this tool.
The Notes section is another very useful feature of Plume Creator. This is where you write the Synopsis of your scene and jot down any specific notes you need about the action that needs to occur. If you outline your novels, you can outline inside Plume with the Outliner tool. When you do this, you have the opportunity to give each scene a synopsis, notes and set the POV character. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Outliner next.
This shows Chapter 9 of my novel in the Outliner. The other chapters are reduced to demonstrate that you can show and hide chapters and just see their Synopsis, if they are filled out. In this case they are not. This lets the Outliner work very much like a spreadsheet. You add your chapters and scenes here and they magically appear in your Project Manager.
I have outlined about half of my novel using the Outliner in Plume. I still maintain an outline in my spreadsheet, but that tool is becoming more and more obsolete as Plume keeps adding features that I track with it. New to this release is the ability to export your outline in CSV format. So you can import it into a regular spreadsheet any time you like. Also worthy of note, the Outliner app is a separate UI from the regular editor. This lets you put the outline up on another monitor or another desktop while you write.
I sometimes do my writing on my lunch hour at work. We have a web proxy to get out to the internet. Plume now manages my proxy settings beautifully.
A quick word about the style feature in the Settings Dialogue. On Linux you have the choice to pick your window manager style, but if you run Ubuntu with Unity, you should leave this on Plastique (KDE). Plume is written in QT, a toolkit used by the KDE desktop and I have found that Unity handles KDE apps better when they are set to be straight KDE apps. If you chose another toolkit, you may experience bizarre UI glitches.
This is by no means a complete exploration of the features in Plume Creator. There’s a whole full screen mode that I didn’t even get into. If you like the idea of Scrivener but run Linux like me, then Plume is perfect for you. Give it a try! If you run Windows and want to try a different novel editor by all means download Plume and give it a spin.