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Having written stories in Markdown, LaTeX, and ReStructured Text, I have come to realize just how much easier Markdown is to use, and how much I love using it. This very post is written in Markdown with StackEdit (link at the bottom), and you can see the raw versions of some of my posts on the new Github repository I am using to keep backups.

The syntax is very simple and readable in its plain text form. *text* or _text_ are used to denote italicized text, **text** or __text__ are for bold text, and ***text*** or ___text___ for bold and italics. You use two spaces at the end of a line to denote a line break (<br /> in HTML), a new line between paragraphs (<p></p> in HTML), and a new line with no spaces at the end of a previous line to continue a paragraph (for hard line wrapping, such as the use of 80 character limits for a single line). There is a lot more, and I highly suggest reading the syntax listing on Markdown’s project site if you want to know more (linked above).

When I write, I typically use only as much markup as I absolutely need. For the template, I use a first level header for the title, a second level header for any subtitle, and italics with line breaks for front matter information–copyright information, author information, etc…, and then a horizontal rule to separate the front matter from the inner matter. For the interior, I try to limit myself to only using italics, bold, horizontal rules, line breaks/paragraphs, and block quotes. The only time I use a table is if I need to show something tabular as one of the characters see it, for example.

The reason for these limitations is that it keeps the document extremely readable no matter what screen it is seen on. I am able to write on my laptop/desktop (StackEdit, Notepad++) or my phone (Draft, Jota+) while syncing with Dropbox (which I use solely for my writing, at least until I can afford Dropbox Pro).

It also makes it much easier to import single files into Scrivener, which I use for very large projects. Scrivener is currently only available for Windows and Mac OS X (and Linux in a beta), so there is no way to use it as a web app just yet. However, using a Markdown editor to write ideas and importing the Markdown is a very useful bit of workflow I had been using during my Mac OS X days–though back then, I had been using Mou (formerly free, will be $30 soon). There is also MDCharm for Windows and Linux, or
StackEdit if you want to use something on the web.

Perhaps I will do some tutorials or something later on, though it is not really needed. Markdown’s simplicity is what makes it such a beautiful thing1.

Written with StackEdit.

  1. Unless you are Jeff Atwood, at which point, the unambiguous specification drives you to try and hijack the standard and name without permission, then throw a fit about it on Twitter when you are called out for the actions, and finally settle on a fairly decent name that should have been used without the drama. :>

August 2015

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