So, for this year’s NaNo, I decided to step out of my Scrivener comfort zone and try a new app. Partially, this was because I wanted to be able to write on my tablet as it is significantly more portable than my big, heavy, elderly laptop. Paired with a BlueTooth keyboard, it works well as a writing-on-the-go solution. I just didn’t have an app (other than GoogleDocs) to write in and thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try a new writing app.
I had tried out most of the apps on special offer through the NaNo website over the years except for one, Dabble, and its web app looked to be one of the easiest to use after using Scrivener for so long, PLUS, it auto-syncs your wordcount with NaNo, which I always forget to update (that, and my Goodreads read shelf). It is free for the month of November, so I thought I would try it out.
For anyone familiar with Scrivener, Dabble looks very similar, with separate sections for your manuscript and character/setting notes and research. It also has an interesting Plot Thread organizer that I like quite a bit. I usually use metadata and color coding for plot threads in Scrivener, but I liked this means of sorting much better. It’s visual, easy, and intuitive.
The one part where Dabble didn’t work for me was, unfortunately, one of the reasons I wanted to try it out in the first place. It’s online (and therefore updatable anywhere) and this turned out to be both pro and con for me. I loved being able to write on the go, but I also have occasional issues with focus and having the internet browser open to write in also meant having the internet browser open, which was, sometimes, counter-productive and no writing actually got done. This last weekend, in order to meet my writing goals, I had to take myself completely offline just to concentrate and then copy and paste what I wrote into Dabble later.
This is, of course, a fault of the user and not the app itself. Though Dabble isn’t fully tested for use with tablets, I have had no problems working with it either on my desktop, laptop, or tablet. It’s worked great on all three, and on different browsers, and the desktop app worked well too. If you want something that has a cloud-based option with a desktop app, I definitely recommend it, with one caveat: It is subscription-based, at $9.99/month. I am not a huge fan of software-as-service, but as this app is cloud-based I will admit that the model makes sense for them. For myself, I doubt I will subscribe at the end of the month. It’s a great program, but other than the cloud-based, browser-based writing app, it doesn’t offer me much that Scrivener doesn’t already give me, and as I said, sometimes writing in an internet browser just doesn’t work for me and provides entirely too much opportunity for distraction. However, for those of you who can focus and do want a browser-based option, this may be exactly what you need.Cover photo by: Nick Morrison