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Writer's Cafe Offers Novel Approach to Writing - page 3

The Quest for Literary Greatness on Tux

  • November 9, 2006
  • By Rob Reilly

Writer's Cafe has an application set called Scrapbooks. Scrapbooks are made up of "scraps." They might be little text tidbits. The could be a .jpg, a .gif, or any number of other images. As many writers now do research on the Web, the Scrapbook also has a place for URL scraps. All of these are simply copied from the user's desktop clipboard and pasted into the appropriate Scrapbook category. As a scrapbook is built up, scraps can then be copied and pasted into cards in Storylines.

Collage scraps, are created with a simple vector based graphics program. You can draw circles, squares, and other shapes, along with text. If you are familiar with mind maps, the program lets you connect the shapes with lines that re-route automatically when you move a shape. Mind maps are also a good brainstorming tool. If you need to make pretty charts or diagrams, draw the shapes and lines, then make everything neat and tidy with the alignment buttons.

Writers will find the built-in notebook and journal handy, too. As you would expect, the notebook is organized as consecutive pages, whereas entries in the journal fall under consecutive dates.

Two other tools you should know about are the slide show and timer. Both can be found on the menu bar under the View tab on the main Writer's Cafe screen.

Click on the Scrapbook, then the slide show menu item to view all the images one by one. The program was a little clunky, because upon starting, the slides would flash by at about � second intervals. I couldn't figure out how to adjust the speed. Also, the only way I found to cycle through all the images was to right click on an image and choose the file name to display. After that step, the slides would rotate through the order with the up arrow key. I couldn't get the other arrow keys, or the page up/down keys to do anything, which was odd.

The timer can be used to give yourself a writing time limit. Some people like that little extra incentive to get a paragraph or page done in a certain time. The timer also shows when you bring up the writing prompt program (under the yellow star button on the main Writer's Cafe screen). Read the line of text, start the timer and write about it. A great way to limber up your writing noodle.

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