Ben Wilson, Author

18 March 2024

The Tech Behind My Novels: Choosing Between Typora, Obsidian, and Scrivener

This morning, Microsoft asked me if I would recommend Windows. This may sound like heresy, but I said I was a promoter, and explained why.

I’ve only willingly had three Windows computers. I built my first computer in 1998, and not knowing any better I installed Windows. Then I built my next Windows computer in 2018. Then in March 2024, I bought my current daily driver, a Dell XPS 13-inch. From 1998 to 2009, I preferred to run Linux in various flavors. Because of Scrivener, I turned to Apple from 2009 to 2024. But I think I’ve said that before. But as I said last week, I’m switching back to Windows from Apple.

My computer naming convention includes the year I built or bought the device. I bought my last Apple laptop (an M1 MBP) in 2020. Heck, I built my previous Windows computer in 2019 as a rebuild of the 2018 computer but for Flight Simulator 2020. I’m gobsmacked about how fast the 20s have gone. I put a lot of money into technology in the 20s.

This past week, I’ve been experimenting with Typora for writing, taking a break from Scrivener. I even added to a fantasy RPG draft I’ve been noodling on. It’s got bits of FATE, FUDGE, Savage Worlds and Traveller—all the games I adore. Typora’s cool, but a bit too simple for my taste.

Next week, I’m giving Obsidian a whirl. I’ve dabbled with it before, but I’m diving in deeper this time. And guess what? I’m bringing back aText into my writing tool kit, so I’m not missing out on much from Scrivener. ProWritingAid works both with Typora and Obsidian.

Oh, and I tried running Civilization V on my new Dell, and it might just be a no-go. Might have to say goodbye to a 30-year gaming streak. But I’m getting into Ultimate General, so not all is lost in the gaming department. Maybe I need a second account on the computer for gaming?

If it seems like there is not a lot of novel writing going on, that would not be entirely true. Both with Typora and Obsidian (a bit this morning), I’ve read through the current work in progress. I’ve made a few edits trying to warm back into the story line.

A podcaster recommended a sci-fi series that really stank. He had a decent premise, but the editing was terrible. The author head-jumped with impunity, and used dialog tags that were very distracting. Unfortunately, the author published in the early teens and appears not to have kept going. He feels like me about a decade ago.

The difference is he aspired to a 75-novel series and completed about fifteen. I only aspire to a 16-novel series and have completed four of them. I’ll peruse his last novel to see if he improved. If he did, I’ll send him an email and encourage him to keep going. This is also a self-reminder to keep going.

My beta reader finished my second book in my alternative history series. Even though it was not his genre, he liked the story. Only one big mistake. So I have a second thread to pull.

The weather is almost warm enough to walk again. I dragged my daughter out for a stroll around the neighborhood. It’s a nice break from all the tech and writing.

And in a bit of good news, I got the green light from my wife to head to RailsConf 2024. Yeah, last week I said I was going to TravellerCon. This might be the year of conferences for me. I’m thinking of driving there. Should be an adventure!

So, there you have it. My life’s a mix of writing, tech experiments, and a bit of gaming. It’s a wild ride, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Ben Wilson, Author