Thursday, 4 November 2010

To use or not to use, that is the question? Can anyone recommend a writing software program?



With NaNo moving along at a cracking pace - is it Day Four already? - my thoughts turn again to whether I should be using a specialist software writing program. At the beginning of NaNo last year, my NaNo group suggested we should use a dedicated program and recommended some free programs to try, like YWriter. I downloaded it but after a bit of fooling around, decided it was too complicated and just plugged on with Word which I'm very familiar with.

So in the lead up to NaNo this year I read different recommendations again, and found Scrivener highly recommended by NaNo writers (you get it 50% off if you are a NaNo winner). I downloaded the beta version (you have to pay up on Dec 12) to try. I even worked through the tutorial, but have not used it for my new novel. Back to good ole Word and comfort.

I must admit, editing my first novel in Word is a bit of a nightmare, with the need to keep everything in different files, blah, blah, it can get a tad confusing and I know there must be a better way.

So, out there in the blogosphere, all you dedicated writers, I'm asking you what program do you use to write your novels? YWriter, Scrivener, Dramatica Pro, Storybase, Contour, Power Structure, Power Writer, The Writer's Software Companion, Writer's Blocks, Master Storyteller, Story Weaver - no wonder I'm confused.? Or are you a Word afficianado?

Please let me know before NaNo gets too far along...please, please...


33 comments:

Unknown said...

I'm like you. I've tried many but found them too complex and in the end, I'm still using Word. Maybe there's a better program but I haven't found it.

CD

Emy Shin said...

I constantly switch between Word and Scrivener. Although I really like everything Scrivener offers, sometimes, I just find Word to be more comforting and easier to write it.

Denise Covey said...

Clarissa and Emy: So I'm not the only Word lover. I'm sure even Word can do a lot more than I use..:)

Laura Eno said...

I never understood ywriter and gave up. I only use Word and I like it. I'm not sure why you mentioned having to keep things in different files while editing?
One thing I do is build the 'shell' for a novel first as a blank chapter format (6x9, margins and gutter, font and size) and write inside of that so I don't have to reformat anything at the end, but that's because I'm an indie author.

Jenny Beattie said...

I imported the first draft of my novel into Scrivener and found it all really uncontrollable. But I was in the middle of a novel and wanted answers instantly... So my plan is to get a tutorial from a friend and then start the next novel in Scrivener from scratch and with some knowledge. Meanwhile I'm back to Word....

Joanna St. James said...

i heard the scrive ahoey is really good. that said can pantsers really use any of these programs? it can make you plot and lose all interest. That is what Ywriter did to me.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I have never used any of these software programs. Guess I'm just an old fashioned kind of writer. Just having a laptop is thrill enough. I wrote the first few drafts of Uncut Diamonds on a typewriter.....Now i don't even own a typewriter. Does anyone LOL? But I'd love to try one of these programs.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Word is the winner :p

I'm trying to get used to Scrivener, but Word keeps calling my name. I'm with Emy, I'm just too used to Word and what it offers.

Sara {Rhapsody and Chaos} said...

I love Word and Scrivener both. I say if Word works fine, you don't HAVE to use anything else. But I do love what Scrivener offers--and I still have a lot to learn...

Colene Murphy said...

I'm partial to WordPerfect. Word is expensive so I don't have it yet. But might just have to break down and get it.

Unknown said...

I use WriteItNow, a very inexpensive programme that I find works well and can be downloaded and tried before purchase.

Rachael Harrie said...

I use Word, though it's only because I'm not familiar with any of the other problems. I'm thinking I might try Scrivener when it comes out properly for Windows...next year sometime I believe.

Rach

Ellie Garratt said...

I don't realise there where so many programmes! I'll think I'll stick to Word for NaNo, as trying one now might distract me from my word count. Thanks for listing them all, though.

Good luck with your NaNo!

Jules said...

Word is Word :) I do use Windows Live for blogging though.

Now "Rah, Rah" to your NaNo effort :D
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Francine Howarth said...

Hi,

I don't know about specific writing software, I've always used Lotus Smart Suite/Lotus WordPro, which is far superior to Microsoft Word. But then, MW is a direct cr*p steal from Lotus: the latter around when all microsoft originally had was MWorks.

But, most publishers expect files to be in MW or RT, and MW always f*cks up Lotus formatting/text sizes, which entails rechecking every darm aspect of a ms. Even the MW add-ons like grammar/spell check etc., are cr*p compared to Lotus.

So yes, I'd say get hold of Lotus if you can.

best
F

Sandra Patterson said...

My last book was written in Word which is fine until you have to do a massive revision. It's not ideal for handling large amounts of text. I've tried most of the ones on your list, but I'm now using Scrivener. it's not a word processor as such - you still have to export to Word or some such - but it's great for moving scenes around and storing research. I wouldn't use anything else now.

Denise Covey said...

Laura: You sound stitched up and Word works for you..:)

Jenny: Scrivener/Word. I think I just don't like the time it takes to work a new program out but maybe I should and get long-term benefits..:)

Joanna: Oh, you pantser. I know what you mean!

KarenG: WoW! I can still remember the old correction tape and how hard it was to press keys!

Erica: Go Word!

Colene: I used Word Perfect once but have only used Word for years now..:)

Carole Anne: I haven't heard of that one. Will have to check it out..:)

Rachael: I thought it was earlier than that. The beta version I have is for windows..:)

Ellie: Word wins the day. Go NaNo!

Francine: I haven't heard of Lotus for ages - didn't know it was still around, but who has the power of Bill Gates, eh? The latest Word (7) has many more bells and whistles so I should take the time to work it out. If you've got to format in Word anyhow it sounds like a pain to use Lotus..:)

Jules: Looks like the Word is Word. Thanks for NaNo. You too..:)

Sandra: Yeah, that is what I was talking about - revisions/editing in Word can be a huge task..:)

Eric W. Trant said...

I use word. I added some Visual Basic macros to highlight weasel words -- which helps alleviate those bad habits like these: like, had, just, there, to-be verbs, etc.

Now if you want a good, free HTML / scripting editor, use Arachnophilia. I've used that one for years, for programming if not for writing.

- Eric

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

oh dear.. I didn't even know there were that many different programs. I've always stuck with Word (hides face)

Marieke said...

I'm using Word atm and it works just fine for me, but I'm thinking about trying Scrivener. If only because it looks amazing and I've heard many wonderful things about it! :D

Kristal Shaff said...

I use Word. It is easily transferred and almost everyone has it.

Easier for critique partners and submission.

Denise Covey said...

Eric: Thanks for the intro to Arachnophilia. Never heard of it. Like the highlighting of weasel words..:)

Lynda: Looks like you're in the majority, Lynda..:)

Marieke: Be interested if you try Scrivener..:)

Kristal: That's a good point. Saves formatting probs..:)

Amanda said...

I use Word...but having read all the comments I may now look into Scrivener!

Denise Covey said...

Amanda: You can download the beta version free and try it..:)

Francine Howarth said...

Hi,

Pain or not, by using Lotus I'm forced to read through every ms before I think of sending it off to a pub: thanks to Word. So in some respects it ensures a full read through rather than skippety-read and a hope for the best attitude.

Thanks for putting up Twisted Fary Tale banner. ;)

best
F

erica and christy said...

Wow. I had no idea there were this many programs. I'm not doing Nano, but may someday. I'll have to refer back to this post then! I use Word. Anything else would probably really throw me for a loop. Best of luck to you all, whatever you use to write with! christy

Amie Kaufman said...

Right now I'm in Word, because I carry my word around on a memory stick and use a minimum of three different computers to write on. That said, I'm planning on trying Scrivener in the future. It's been really interesting to read the comments here.

The Words Crafter said...

My newbie-ness is showing-I don't know the first thing about writing software. I'm using Word, even though it can be aggravating. I'm going back later to catch up on the vampires. I'm visiting blogs once a week and posting twice. It's the only way I can do this nano thing!

Good luck-with nano and with finding software!

Jai Joshi said...

I've never used any of those. I just use Word. Maybe because Word is comforting and I'm used to it and it's such a hassle to learn another program. I don't have the time to learn something else either.

Jai

Denise Covey said...

Francine: I'm so looking forward to the twisted fairytales...I'd also like to know more about Lotus..:)

erica and christy: Yeah, Word seems to get the vote..:)

Amie: Yes I've learned a lot too. Seems to be eithr Word or Scrivener. I use a thumb drive a lot which means having a compatible program on each computer..:)

The Words Crafter: Isn't is amazing? There are more, you know. I hope you read the vamps and good luck with your NaNo-ness..:)

Jai: You're right. It all takes time and we're all time poor..:)

Dee Martin said...

If you are using a PC there is an opensource word processor (free) called abiword. It will let you save in several formats, including word if you want to switch back at some point. It is very basic without all the formatting and frills that Word has. I use it on the pc and Bean on the mac for the same reason. I use a lot of software in my daily life and when I write, I don't want to learn a lot of fancy stuff - I just want to write. Both will let you save as basic .txt files which is handy if you want to be able to load your text into a preformatted template such as Lulu.com has.Both are again, free. Abiword can be downloaded at http://www.abisource.com/download/

DL Curran said...

I had written a big crazy over-the-top love note about Scrivener, but blogger froze and has saved you from that torture.

So, Scrivener works well for me. I like the ease with which I can click between my documents for notes, ideas, character sheets, settings, and actual writing. Works the way my mind works (so that in itself should scare everybody off!) ;)

Denise Covey said...

Dee: Thanks so much for that info. I'm going to give it a go. There's always something else..:)

DL Curran: You explain the things about Scrivener which I like the sound of, but having the time to fiddle!