How to Write a Novel With Ulysses, Part II: Research, Editing, and Export

Cover of Matt Gemmell's novel TOLL

Matt Gemmell is a thriller writer from the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. He wrote his recent book, TOLL — which was published less than two weeks ago — using Ulysses. We invited him to share a few details of his writing process and how he uses several of the app’s features to help him. Last week, he covered his project structure, the manuscript’s organization, and the writing process; plus he explained his use of keywords and word count goals. In today’s post, Matt shares how he is going about reference and research related to his novel and treats the subjects of editing and export.

Reference and Research

When I wrote my first novel, I didn’t fully plan it out beforehand, and I ended up having to do an enormous rewrite after the first draft. It was a horrible process, and it dented my confidence (and motivation). I learned my lesson! For the second book, I fully outlined the entire novel before I started working on the first scene, and the writing process was much, much easier because of it. Read …

How to Write a Novel With Ulysses, Part  I: Organization and the Writing Process

Cover of Matt Gemmel’s novel TOLL

A Guest Post by Matt Gemmell

Matt Gemmell is a thriller writer from the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. He wrote his recent book, TOLL — which is out this week — using Ulysses. We invited him to share a few details of his writing process and how he uses several of the app’s features to help him. In this post, he covers his project structure, the manuscript’s organization, and the writing process; plus he explains how he is making use of keywords and word count goals. In a second post, Matt will talk about how he is going about reference and research related to his novel, and treat the subjects of editing and export.

TOLL is the result of two years of work, and is the second book in my KESTREL series. It’s around 100,000 words long, and required a great deal of planning, research, and organisation. I used various tools for the planning stages, but ultimately I moved almost everything into Ulysses, to keep all my book-related material in one place and easy to access.

Here’s how I went about it. Read …

Forget About Copy-Paste, Make Use of the Share Extension!

You read about a subject and collect information about its essential aspects — that’s how many writing tasks begin. If the research is taking place on the web, the share extension is a helpful little tool to make it easier. It has been part of Ulysses for iPad and iPhone for some time; with Ulysses 14 we integrated it in the Mac app as well.

You can use the share extension to send text, links, and images from Safari and many different apps directly to Ulysses. It is easy as pie: Select the content you want to share, execute the Share command (via a toolbar button or a context menu), then choose Ulysses from the list of apps. This will open a share sheet where you can add notes or a description, or edit the text directly. Moreover, you can select the Ulysses group to which the content should be sent. Finally, click Send, and the content will be added to Ulysses as a new sheet. For a closer look at how to use the share extension precisely on your different devices, check out our new tutorial.

Ulysses 14 on iOS: Let Siri Do Some Work for You

iOS 12 has arrived, and, on schedule, a new Ulysses version for iPad and iPhone! Ulysses now supports Siri shortcuts. Here is what you can do with it.

Do you keep a notebook or a diary in Ulysses, where you jot down ideas and reflections on a regular basis? Or is there a book project you keep coming back to? If you find yourself doing the same thing over and again in Ulysses, Siri shortcuts are for you. In Ulysses for iPad and iPhone, you can now add voice commands to selected recurring actions. Read …

Preview Images in Color

You may have missed this one, as it is a minor change introduced with the latest Ulysses version: We now let you preview your images in full-color!

Editor with colored image preview

While before, you could – when working on Mac – select a preview to see it in color, you now have the option to show all previews in color, at all times and on all devices. The default, however, is still set to black and white, as too many colorful images can easily turn into a distraction.

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Use Colored Keywords for a Better Overview

Categorizing your Ulysses sheets with keywords can help you keep track of your writing. With the latest Ulysses version, things got even better! You can now also assign colors to these keywords, which will be applied to all its occurrence in your library. With a colored keyword, a tagged sheet is much easier to spot.

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Saving Lifetime: Quick Open

With Quick Open, you can search your entire text library within seconds, and instantly open a sheet for editing — you don’t need to navigate through your group hierarchies. Sounds like a small thing? Hey, if you only save 10 seconds per sheet thanks to Quick Open, and you’re looking for six sheets per day for the next 30 years, this sums up to 8 days in total! You could spend this time on vacation or use to write a short story, for example.

So, if you usually click or tap through groups and subgroups before you start writing, today may be the day to change your habit and embrace Quick Open!

Read …

4 Ways to Use Ulysses’ Attachments to Organize Your Freelance Writing

Although I’ve spent most of my working life as an employee, from time to time I’ve taken freelance writing jobs. Since I work here, my favorite tool for these is… well, you guessed right. One reason for this is Ulysses’ attachments feature. So, while I believe attachments are helpful to almost any writer out there, I would like to share some special tips for freelance writers, taken from my own experience.

For starters, Ulysses attachments can be keywords, goals, notes as well as images and PDF files. They belong to a sheet, but not to the text on that sheet, i.e. they will not be included when you export. You can access attachments via the paperclip icon on the editor toolbar.

Attachments
Access attachments in Ulysses for Mac (left) and iOS (right)

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How to Open, Import, and Export Text Files on iPhone and iPad

Apple’s Files app, released with iOS 11, allows you to access and manage your files from different sources in one place. Dealing with files and documents is now easier and much more transparent than before. You can open text documents for editing in Ulysses and import Word documents into Ulysses. You can of course also export your texts from Ulysses, and store them in a folder of your choice. Here is all you need to know.

Preparations

Before you start, you may want to add your preferred sources to Files. Open Files on your iPhone or iPad, go to Locations, and tap Edit top right. To make your storage providers of choice accessible via Files, turn on the respective toggles.

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Ulysses 12: Small Refinements for More Productivity

In last week’s announcement post you already learned about the most important new features in Ulysses’ latest version. There are a few further refinements we would like to point you to. Even if they’re about small details, they may – depending on your workflow – improve your working with Ulysses every day.

Use Shortcuts to Move Paragraphs

During the process of editing, you may realize that rearranging the order of your text is necessary. So far, you needed to cut paragraphs and paste them to their new location. With the new version, you can use the following shortcuts to move a paragraph up or down in your text:

  • ⌃⌘↑ (control-command-up arrow)
  • ⌃⌘↓ (control-command-down arrow)

Note: It does not matter where in your paragraph the cursor is placed, these shortcuts will move the entire paragraph.

Even if you don’t mind reaching for the mouse — try it out, it is much more convenient than the traditional way.

Read …