Writing Software vs. Publishing Software
PieceWorx Writing Studio is writing software. It is intended to facilitate the creative
writing process, particularly for novelists. Most word processing programs like
Microsoft Word are what I call publishing software. They allow you to control every
jot and tittle of how your content will appear on the printed page. But all of this
control can be a distraction when all you want to do is get in touch with your muse.
Think of Microsoft Word as a Swiss army knife and PieceWorx Writing Studio as a
scalpel. No one would say that a scalpel is bad because it does not contain a corkscrew.
A scalpel is the exact kind of precision instrument a surgeon wants when performing
delicate and detailed work. The distraction of a corkscrew might prove problematic
for the surgeon. So it is with PieceWorx Writing Studio.
My goal was not to usurp word processors. Sure, PieceWorx Writing Studio contains
many features which, arguably, could be considered publishing features like printing,
fonts, paragraph formatting, etc. But the decision to include these features, and
to what extent, is based on whether they support the creative writing process. Indeed,
I believe some reasonable level of support for publishing features is useful.
Word processors may be desirable when finalizing your manuscript for submission,
but until then, PieceWorx Writing Studio provides an environment tailored specifically
for novelists and other creative writers for maximum simplicity and creativity.
PieceWorx Writing Studio is designed with the idea that you will start up the program
at the beginning of a writing session and close it at the end. This is not a requirement,
but several features are designed around this notion. A session
as the time from when you open the program to the time you close it. Session monitoring
calculates the duration and word count since you opened the program. Also, session
statistics can be automatically displayed upon closing the program so you can see
the duration and word count for your session.
Additionally, all of your layout settings, preferences and the current notebook
file are preserved between sessions so that when you open the program you can pick
up right where you left off. Automatic backup can be configured to backup every
time the program is closed so that closing the program at the end of each session
ensures a backup associated with that session.
Closing the program at the end of each writing session is also a good idea if you
write on multiple computers and share the file over Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox
or Google Drive. Closing the program reminds you to save your recent work, but also
prevents the possibility of syncing issues which can occur if you leave the program
open and make changes on a different machine. PieceWorx Writing Studio will warn
you when it detects that your notebook file has changed since the last time it was
opened and gives you the opportunity to cancel, overwrite or save with a different
file name so you don't lose any changes.
You will notice that PieceWorx Writing Studio has no top menu bar. All typical menu
items can be found in right-click context menus.
You will notice that items near the bottom of the context menus are more general
and used less frequently, whereas items near the top of the menus change based upon
context. For example, when you right-click in the editor, the topmost items in the
context menu will be editor actions. Items associated with a different context like
the Notebook tab will not be visible.
More general menu items such as Settings will always be available toward the bottom
of the menu regardless of the specific context where you opened the menu.
PieceWorx Writing Studio was designed so that all but a very few actions could be
performed without the mouse. It is very friendly to those of us who enjoy hotkey
shortcuts. Most actions, layout changes, format changes and dialog windows can be
controlled by hotkeys.
When you are learning the program, you will no doubt use the mouse to explore various
features. Take note of the hotkey hints found in the right-click context menus and
in tooltips when hovering over a button. This should make it easy to learn hotkeys
for the actions where you find them most useful.
When assigning hotkeys we attempted to preserve common standards for Windows programs.
For example, Ctrl+S saves, Ctrl+C copies, Ctrl+P prints, etc.
However, we have implemented a few additional guidelines which, if you know them,
will help you to remember hotkey sequences.
Hotkey sequences which control layout generally begin with Ctrl+Shift+Alt
- Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Space - Toggle full-screen mode
- Ctrl+Shift+Alt+M - Fiddle hiding or showing of all bumpers
- Ctrl+Shift+Alt+B - Fiddle hiding or showing of bars, the format bar and status
- Ctrl+Shift+Alt+1 - Organize layout mode
- Ctrl+Shift+Alt+2 - Edit layout mode
- Ctrl+Shift+Alt+3 - Create layout mode
See the hotkey reference page for more layout hotkey combinations.
Window related hotkeys
Hotkey sequences which control the opening or movement of windows will generally
begin with the Alt
- Alt+W - Open editor width dialog
- Alt+S - Open settings dialog
- Alt+K - Open statistics dialog
- Alt+Left - Change alignment of editor window
- Alt+B - Open matte background customization dialog
- Alt+H - Hide editor window
Many different themes can be applied to PieceWorx Writing Studio depending on your
mood or other preferences, giving you a great deal of flexibility in the ambience
of your work environment.
Different themes will assign different colors or textures to user interface elements.
These changes apply to windows, frames, tabs and the editor window itself, including
the text color and background color.
Some writers prefer a white background with black text, others a black background
with chartreuse text.
Applying color themes to the editor window has the side effect that custom font
highlight colors cannot be supported because they would be changed when you change
your theme. As a result, we do not currently support highlighting of text with custom
If you wish to mark or highlight a section of text, this can still be done using
other font formatting techniques such as underline, italics, bold, font style or
The only way to complete a novel is one piece at a time.
Not only that, it's a good idea to break any large project into many smaller pieces.
It helps organization and motivation, but it also optimizes the use of PieceWorx
Writing Studio for the most flexibility and best performance.
Specifically, consider creating several pages in your notebook, perhaps one for
each chapter in each draft. You can imagine a hierarchy of pages which might look
something like this:
- Plot elements
- First Draft
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Second Draft
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Final Draft
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
The most important aspect of this outline structure is that your chapters, the pages
you will eventually be merging, are at the same level in the outline.
Specifically, all of the Chapter
pages are siblings in the outline. Right-clicking
on Final Draft
would present you with a merge option which would allow
you to merge all chapters into a single document for your final, complete work.
If you don't start out with this type of structure, that's OK, you may find that
something different works better for you. Besides it's always easy to copy pages
and move things around.