The Write Tip

The Write Tip

On September 11, 2012, the document editor in Google Docs (now part of Google Drive) finally became useful to me for use in writing groups. The web app has long had a feature that enables users to create, reply to, and resolve comments in a Google document, much like the commenting system in Microsoft Word. But the Android app lacked these features until now.

Why You Should Use Google Docs and Drive in Your Writing Critique Group

No longer will I have to sit in front of my computer to read (not as pleasant as reading on a tablet) and comment, or read on my tablet only to return to my computer periodically to record my reactions (to the best of my memory), or switch between documents or apps on my tablet (a pain). Finally, I can open a writing-group partner’s chapter on my tablet, sit back and relax and read through it, and insert my reactions as I have them directly in the document — all without having to be anywhere near my laptop. This being Google Drive, the rest of the writing group will be able to see my comments as soon as I save them.

If you do all of your (early draft) writing in Google Drive anyway, most of what follows may not be all that useful to you. All you need to do to use Google Drive in your writing group is share your document with the other members and enable commenting. No need to email Microsoft Word documents or RTF files back and forth. No need to print out multiple copies of your story, exchange them with your group, and then receive multiple marked up copies back a week or more later. Just share a link, and everyone’s comments will appear in your single document.

Google Drive and its office suite, Google Docs, are perfect for online writing groups, but writing groups that meet in person can also find them useful.

If you prefer to use a different word processor for your writing, you can still use Google Drive in your writing group to share documents and comment on them. There will just be more steps involved in exporting and importing your files to and from Google Drive. Below I’ll lay out the steps for doing this, with a focus on the Scrivener for Windows app because it is such a fantastic writing tool and the process involved with it is a little more complex than, say, for MS Word.

Before launching into the tutorial, allow me to first plug our community forums. If you’re a liberty-loving fiction author or aspiring fiction author, you may be interested in exploring and participating in a set of forums we created just for you. In these, you can discuss the craft and business of writing, participate in writing groups, and showcase your work.

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