This is probably just a passing fancy (and definitely a way to procrastinate), but I recently downloaded a couple of pretty convincing cursive fonts from abstractfonts.com and have been using them in my daily “free writing” session in Scrivener in order to have the look (but not the feel, obviously) of pen-written journal entries. It’s kind of interesting to seen what looks a lot like a handwritten journal that can be edited and so on. I also have the vague sense that perhaps there could be value in this as a visual way to distinguish among the various stages and pieces of a project, with notes and earlier drafts in cursive, later drafts in a typewriter-looking font, and final drafts in Helvetica or whatever. Different colors of “ink” for the cursive fonts might also be nice.
Has anyone else played with this? If so, what are some other good fonts? I’m currently favoring something called “Prophecy Script”, with “Dawning of a New Day” a pretty close second (both from abstractfonts). But I haven’t really looked hard for cursive fonts.
I have tried using cursive fonts, with much the same rationale which you present. I gave it up for two reasons, neither of which need influence other writers.
First, the finished product – the images, on screen or on paper – were far too neat and orderly. Too legible. My own handwriting, if I take care, is decipherable but inconsistent: no two m’s or g’s will be the same; with a cursive typeface, they are always the same, so precise they destroy the sense of spontaneity which hand writing can produce.
Second, a big reason – perhaps the biggest – for hand writing is to feel connected to the tools. Fingers dancing (or trudging) over the keys, and remote images popping onto the screen: it’s what most writers today are most comfortable with, but I still want occasionally to FEEL the words being transferred from my brain to the page.
I use a custom font for this purpose which I had made from my own handwriting.* Great investment. I heartily recommend. Based on my experience playing with various pre-fab handwriting fonts, there is nothing to compare to something which encodes your own handwriting. My personal handwriting font is not a cursive font, however.
The companies strategy for cursive fonts was pretty smart, too: My wife and partner does write cursively and we had a font made for her. The typeface had three versions of each lowercase letter – for when the letter in question would start a word, end a word or occur in the middle. When you type, only one of these letter sets would be used, but there were two means to get the more natural hand: 1) The postscript code for the font had some simple but clever extra programming in it so that printouts would have the correct versions of each letter contextually determined and substituted in, and 2) there was a little utility program you could run on some text to get the same result on screen. It is hard to compare ones own handwriting font with another’s for obvious reasons, but I am not convinced that the cursive font works as well as my own handwritten print font. (Her font is working at an incidental disadvantage: we used the fine point felt tip pen the comany sent to make the handwriting samples for hers; when I did mine, I used my own favorite ink pen; result? her font is too heavy.)
I have WriteRoom set up to use my personal handwriting font, so I can jump into that mode whenever the writing moment needs that personal touch.**
** Via a macro, I can switch WriteRoom to customized font of my own*** which is based on a very early alphabet. It has a forever cool look on the screen and pretty much greeks whatever you are typing for the casual passerby at the café, yet is still entirely legible for the one who is typing.
*** I am still mourning the recent waning of my last computer which could run OS9/Classic and hence the passing of my beloved and trusty Fontographer software.
I suspect this might be solved by better cursive fonts. The main thing that determines that no two m’s or g’s will be the same in my writing is that they will fall in different places in the word and around different letters (an e that joins to another e comes out different than one that joins to a z, for example). I suspect that OpenType and a seriously dedicated designer could use ligatures to fix that.
For me the main thing is just that it looks like pretending. Yeah it looks like handwriting but you know you’re not handwriting it.
I do like the idea of using various fonts to determine where the text is in the workflow though.