David Hewson on Revising with a Tablet

David Hewson is a gifted, hard-working writer who uses Scrivener so much, he’s written a book on the topic: Writing a Novel with Scrivener.

He’s also got a blog where he offers advice to authors. To avoid carrying around 1000-page printed draft of his latest book, a novelization of the popular Danish crime drama, “The Killing,” he tried an iPad and a Kindle, but both came up lacking. Here’s why:

Instead, he uses Scrivener’s epub export to create a book-like editable draft for a 7" HTC Flyer tablet. What’s the difference? It has a digitizer pen and understands the difference between it and your fingers.

In short, because it is able to tell the difference between a pen and a finger, the HTC Flyer functions just like paper. You flick pages with your fingers. You write notes with the pen. Here’s his conclusion.

Just keep in mind that, like he said, the HTC Flyer isn’t cheap. It’s currently $383.51 at Amazon U.S.

amazon.com/HTC-Flyer-Android … B0053RJ3F8

Perhaps other tablet makers will learn from this and give their tablets the ability to distinguish pens from fingers.

You can find his blog post along with a video demonstration here:

davidhewson.com/blog/2011/10 … works.html

Keep in mind that what he’s talking about is late-stage revision rather than the editing and proofing done in Scrivener. At this point, the novel is nearly done but needs to be read in a format much like that the readers will see and in a context different from all those earlier hours sitting with a computer. That different context helps to bring out problems in plot or wording that missed earlier.

And I’d add that his blog is well worth following. I’ve certainly benefited from it and his book.

–Michael W. Perry, Untangling Tolkien

Thank you! This was extremely useful and I’ll have to give it a try. I have a HTC Evo View that came with a digitized stylus called the HTC Scribe. It’s pretty much the same as the Flyer except that it has 3G/4G service through Sprint. (It’s only $299 with a 2-yr service agreement.) I love it so far and have been trying to figure out a way to really use it for my writing.

I’ll definitely go check this out :slight_smile:

Don’t Sonys also have a pen?

The Evo isn’t available in the UK but it does the same thing I gather. It will also do pdfs (and keep the ink with the pdf). If you compile a pdf in Scrivener using the paperback book format this works really well with the Flyer, though for revision I think I’d change the line spacing to something like 1.3 or 1.4 instead of 1. The only other Android tablet I know that has a digitiser pen is the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet which isn’t cheap and doesn’t have an ink-friendly epub reader as far as I can see.

HTC’s 10-inch Android Jetstream tablet has Scribe too I gather but isn’t yet available in the UK. When Windows 8 tablets come out next year I suspect a lot will have digitiser pens which frankly I think are essential for proper book revision on one of these things. I just can’t manage it on an iPad. It’s important to understand the distinction between a proper digitiser and an ordinary capacitive stylus which has that blunt end that’s not great for writing.