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Emacs for Writers (2015) [video] (youtube.com)
99 points by tarboreus 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments

I have several Emacs for Writers links in my GitHub notes:


That video helped me get Org Mode working in a usable way. It's worth spending a weekend on setting it up, especially capture templates.

The following lines from my makefile illustrate two tricks I enjoy.

%.pdf: %.text

pandoc -F pandoc-zotxt -F pandoc-citeproc $< -o $@

%.draft.pdf: %.text

pandoc -F pandoc-zotxt -F pandoc-citeproc --template=draft $< -o $@

(1) Automatically grabbing citation details from Zotero. (2) Using the extension of the requested output file to choose the appropriate template.

Not emacs specific, of course.

His emacs customization apparently: https://github.com/incandescentman/Emacs-Settings

I once tried to write a novel, and I used emacs, too. It was fun, at least the emacs part, but I was already a loyal emacs user at that point.

IMHO, Emacs is a very good text editor, and that is what writing is all about, is it not?

It is, but unless you're doing it all on your own, writing a novel is also about working with editors and typesetters. (Or formatters, or whatever you want to call the typesetter equivalent for an ebook.) In my experience, at least in the fiction world, these folks are going to expect you to be using Microsoft Word, and you'd better have a tool that can generate Word-compatible files formatted to the industry standard -- and that supports Word-compatible comments and revision tracking well enough to "round trip" documents transparently.

I'm a big fan of open data formats and plain text markup, and I write a lot of fiction in Markdown. I love this notion in principle. But I suspect it's a lot easier to put into practice when everyone involved in your book's production is down with your toolchain -- which may mean everyone involved in your book's production is you.

(For the record, I convert the Markdown to rich text and do final formatting in Apple Pages for manuscripts that I'm submitting somewhere else. For novella-on-up length work, though, I'm one of those annoying Scrivener converts.)

With Pandoc you can convert from many formats to many other formats, including DOCX and PPTX.

Nothing prevents you from using Emacs, or Vi(m), write in Markdown, Org or whatever and deliver a DOCX.

The amazing thing is that you can even work with people that use Word track changes, while staying in Emacs, Vi(m) or any other text editor and using Pandoc.

Pandoc is an amazing tool! I've used it to convert both Markdown and DOCX files to TeX for typesetting.

But, using a plain text editor and Pandoc for conversion is a lot like using Scrivener and "compiling" to DOCX: it's a one-way process. If your editor gets back to you with a marked-up Word file, you're going to need to address those comments/revisions in Word. (Or Pages or LibreOffice or something else that can round-trip those.) And from that point on, keeping your original "source document" and the Word document in sync becomes a bit of a juggling act.

really? i did not know that. that's cool. are there resources I can look at how this would work with comments/edits tracked by collaborators?

Pandoc can be given instructions on what to do with changes and comments on a per-document basis, but not a per-change and per-comment basis. It does mark the changes/comments in the output file, though, so they could be processed in other ways. Personally, it's not really useful for my workflow, but it might work for some others.

Suck it up and use Word. Your editor is going to want to back-and-forth that manuscript with you, adding annotations as necessary, and it's much easier to just do it all within Word than to import/export to some other tool that cannot guarantee 100% compatibility.

When it comes to producing text for humans to read, there's a tool that virtually everybody uses and that's Word. You will simplify your life considerably by using it, too.

I am all for pragmatism, and if I was to try to publish a novel, I would probably use .docx.

But if you discover a good text editor, be it Emacs or Vi or something else, it changes the way you edit text. There are things that a good text editor does exceedingly well that are painfully hard - if even possible at all! - in a program like Word. Some of these are specific to programming, but some are specific to editing text -- Which kind of is what writers do, isn't it? ;-) -- and once you crossed that barrier, going back to Word - useful as it may be - is like going back to chiseling your writing into slabs of rock.

There's no reason why my editor would see I'm using Pandoc in a back and forth exchange if we use a decent DOCX template. Furthermore, DOCX is an open format, and I don't have the luxury of a Windows or Mac machine plus an Office license.

In fact, all documents I typeset with Pandoc -> DOCX look like really carefully typeset documents on Word because the style is so consistent and in line with what latest versions of Word encourage: separation of content and presentation.

You probably want then to exchange both the .org file and .docx file and let them make changes to the .org file. They will quickly see how the docx file looks very much the same to the .org file Then you can diff the modified .org file with the original. Using git you incorporatecthe changes

That's the ideal situation, but I'm often interacting with people that have trouble using Word, let alone Git! They don't even know what a VCS is.

I did not get to the point where I would have contacted a publishing house. I was just writing it for myself, mostly, so I had no restrictions/requirements imposed wrt file format. I used LaTeX and generated PDF from that.

So everyone was down with your toolchain. :) I've also done the LaTeX->PDF thing for several books for my publisher, but that was after everything got finalized in Word.

Org does export to ODT (not loaded by default), but the output reqquires tweaking.

I love vim but i want orgmod (or equiv..) badly. :(

I should bite the bullet and learn EVIL...

I made the jump from Vim to Emacs about 6 months ago and org-mode was a major reason. It is very much worth it IMO. Evil supports all the Vim commands I was used to, and org-mode has been a revelation. It gave me that one place to put all my tasks, meeting notes, brainstorms, etc, and with useful workflows for keeping it cohesive. It took me an afternoon to get Emacs set up as my daily driver. It took longer (weeks/months) to dial in my org-mode workflow and knowledge to a point where I was satisfied with it, but org-mode was still a net improvement from day one. I continue to discover cool features in Emacs and org-mode on a regular basis. Don't wait, try it!

Spacemacs makes the transition nearly painless, I'd highly suggest it.

Have you tried https://github.com/jceb/vim-orgmode plugin?

There's really not much to learn!

I switched from vi/vim to emacs just for org mode. Took about a year but now I can't see going back. Its not that bad, and org mode is definitely worth it.

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