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Welcome to my blog! Please join me as I journey towards finding an agent for my first young adult novel. Between writing, endless snapping of photos, sleep deprivation, taking care of two adorable little girls, and oh yes, the laundry, I'm sure it's going to be a bit crazy on the way to the awaited publication.

I'm open to any tips, critique, or random musings about the things I write or the photos I take, so feel free to email me or comment below.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Software for writing

Do you use any type of writing software? I've recently been playing around with a few of them and I would like to let you know what I have found so far. Of course, this is all based on my very unprofessional opinion after all. :)

I tried four different writing software programs and three different writing processors.

So let's get on with it shall we!

Writing Software:
yWriter5
Scrivener
Celtx
Text Block Writer

Word Processors:
Microsoft Office - Word
OpenOffice.org - Writer
Libre Office - Writer


1.  yWriter5

(Source)
Platform: Windows & Linux (although, they do have an updated Windows version available in Beta)

Price: Free!

Version tried: Windows Free version

Formatting: There's a learning curve because of so many features, but once I got a good grip by reading the yWriter5 Wiki page, I was able to format the manuscript with double spacing and indents! A must-have for me. :) From here on out, everything else is pretty easy.

Review: For being a free software, I say it's just about as good as Scrivener! It even has some features that I never found in Scrivener like all the input tabs for scene descriptions, context, characters, locations, items, goals, conflicts & outcomes. It also has a really cool tracking feature that tracks how many scenes the characters are in. If you've read any of my previous posts, you know that I like the "Big Picture" when writing and this definitely is a plus in my book. I can also re-arrange the chapters because they are individually listed as files in the left column as well as keep track of my word count chapter by chapter or as a whole text. LOVE that feature. It was very easy to upload my file and converted nicely. :)

Yay or Nay: YAY! I really, really, really love this software. Extra bonus points were earned for being free. :)



2.  Scrivener

(Source)
Platform: Windows, Mac, (& possibly a beta version for Linux soon!)

Price: $40.00

Version tried:  I actually tried the free trial beta version for Windows (which only lasted about 30 days and beta testing for it has ended).

Formatting: Formatting is really easy because Scrivener has most of the standard manuscript formatting tools... I've been finding that this isn't the case with many other software programs. For example, some programs don't allow the use of "Tabs" or double spacing, which are essential for paragraphs in manuscripts!!

Review: I have to admit, Scrivener is pretty awesome. If you are an unorganized or chaotic writer (like yours truly), this program is excellent at putting it all together. My favorite feature is the binder. This awesome feature gives you the ability to separate the chapters into individual "clickable" files in a list on the left side. Comes in very handy when you need to click & drag chapters around or figure out the word count for each chapter. It also has a whole slew of cool features that will allow you to organize, research, track, take notes, and construct your manuscript piece by piece or as one big whole project. If you are like me, I have tons (TONS I say) of research stored on my computer in various files. With Scrivener, you can upload it all along with any pictures and have it easily accessible at your fingertips in one spot. Pretty cool.

Yay or Nay: Definite YAY!


3.  Celtx

(Source)
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux

Price: Free Desktop Version (open source) or $9.99 for the Pro Version.

Version tried: I downloaded the free version for Windows.

Formatting: Let's see, how can I say this delicately? How about crap-tastic? I uploaded a partial of my manuscript and it only split the first four chapters. It also would not allow me to use tabs, or double spacing, or pretty much anything else it was supposed to.

Review: By default this is a program geared more toward screenwriting and media pre-production (which it is totally awesome at!) but does have a novel writing template. This program does seem to have a fairly large learning curve. I've read that it has a plotting feature along with character templates and pre-loaded forms in the "Master Catalog" for characters, plots, locations, scenes, and a wide range of other features in the CeltxWiki, but I just wasn't able to get passed the initial upload screw-ups of my manuscript. It has so many different things that frustrated me and honestly I quit using it after a week of reading through online manuals and tutorials. It just didn't have what I was looking for in regards to organization and functionality. Although, it could have been just total user error...or failure on my part, however you want to see it.

Yay or Nay:  NAY...just wasn't for me.


4. Text Block Writer

(Source)
Platform: Windows

Price: Free!

Version tried: Windows Free version

Formatting: Less than desirable for manuscript writing. It's mostly a way to organize your index cards that are full of info.

Review: Mainly, this software seems appropriate for those who have tons of notes about a story and need to organize them. I wouldn't be a fan of writing a whole manuscript with this program even if I could.

Yay or Nay: Nay, not enough tools for manuscript writing.


Now if you really don't care for all the actual writing software programs, and trust me, there are tons out there ranging from FREE to HUNDREDS of dollars, there are other options. I can't imagine spending a ton of money on a program when there are perfectly good free ones out there. But if none of them are for you, Microsoft Word, OpenOffice or LibreOffice are easy to use. I should mention that LibreOffice has the look and feel of a Mac program which is pretty cool.

The very best thing that I absolutely love about OpenOffice and LibreOffice are that they are open-sourced programs that are free! If you don't have Microsoft Office, download one of the above and they work just as well as the very expensive Microsoft Software. The free stuff comes with a whole suite of processors to fit your needs.

So tell me dear readers of mine, what do you use to hammer out your manuscripts? Is there a writing software out there that you absolutely love? Tell me about it.  :)


©Alynza Smith 2011



39 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting all of these! I've actually been looking into Scrivener and seriously considering it, so I'm glad you had a good experience with it!

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  2. I love yWriter5! I use it when I'm feeling ambitious. Other than than that, it's Word and Textroom for me. :) Great post!

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    1. Textroom? Hmmm something new for me to try out! :)

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    2. It's very minimalist and perfect for a first draft with no distractions. :)

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  3. Great post! I have always heard such great things about Scrivener but not being very techy, I'm chicken to try it. I'm still just using a word document. Maybe one of these days I'll take the leap!

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    1. Yes I really really like Scrivener, but if you're feeling frisky, give yWriter5 a try. It's completely free and has a similar concept with manuscript composition as Scrivener, just with some different features. If you like it, then you'll love Scrivener. :)

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  4. I love Scrivener! I was lucky enough to get on board during the beta testing and was able to get a discount on the software after the beta testing thanks to NaNoWriMo. For 40 bucks, it does a lot of stuff that is amazing! Outlining is easy (you can use index cards or an outline format), you can write by scene and move them around as needed, and formatting for how you want your MS to look is easy! I haven't tried any of the others except Word which came with my computer. I knew Scrivener was for me as soon as I started using it though=)

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    1. That's awesome! I signed up towards the end of the Beta testing so I wasn't able for a discount but I've seriously considered purchasing it now that they've released a Windows version. :)

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  5. This is a fantastic post. Thanks! New follower and fellow group 3 memeber *waves*

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  6. I've never understood the need for these kinds of programmes, so thanks for explaining a little bit more. Since I've got a good handle on Word, Excel and Access (of which I use all 3 for my writing) I don't think I need anything else. At least I understand what other people are talking about now!

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    1. I started out using only Word and Excel. I wanted a way to separate my chapters & Word only gave the option for Bookmarks, which was frustrating. So I tried using Excel and it still wasn't quite what I needed. So I got curious and tried Scrivener and was so sad when the Beta trial expired. :)

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  7. I've read about so many writers using Scrivener. I've been hesitant because I've always - ALWAYS, I say - just used Word. But it would be really nice to have all my research in a great program to help me when it comes to doing re-writes and what not.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with these produces.

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    1. That's exactly when I tried using something other than Word was when it was time for re-writes. :) It was taking way too long with Word to try and move chapters/sections around when needed. With Scrivener & yWriter5, it's click and drag and oh so easy. :)

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  8. I'm very curious about Scrivener, just haven't taken the time to investigate. I've even heard of a few well-established authors starting to use it.
    Thanks for stopping by earlier to say 'hi' from the Campaign!

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  9. I have a friend who uses Scrivner. I use... Word. I pace out my basic plot, brainstorm my character and story arc, then start writing. Not super organized - but it works for me.

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  10. Great info here. I'm tweeting this post. :-)

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  11. Great rundown on the options!
    I use Scrivener and don't know how I'd revise without it. The snapshots and storyboard have saved me hours, maybe weeks, of time :)

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  12. Hi - I'm a group 3 campaigner as well and I'm all for Scrivener. I even have free Scrivener templates anyone can download from my blog that are based on The Hero's Journey, Classic Mystery Strucutre, and the Beat Sheet.
    Anyway - this is a nice comparison and I'm glad to meet you.

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  13. Thanks for the comparison info. I've been keeping my novel in one giant word doc, and that's just not working for me anymore. I've heard great things about Scrivener, and with another Yay in it's corner, I might have to finally break down and try it.

    I do use Celtx for writing screenplays, and I love it. But I've never tried it for novel writing.

    Looking forward to Campaigning with you!

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  14. Great information! I've written 4 books using word. I'll have to investigate these further.

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    1. Four books! Wow, congrats on that alone!

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  15. Great post! Visiting from the YA Campaign group, thanks for following my blog. I've tagged you to answer some questions about yourself www.melissaddean.com.

    I love yWriter! I tried Scrivener beta version for Windows during NaNoWriMo, and it crashed, deleting all my words. So, now I'm so scared to use it again. But after your post, I might need to check it out again.

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    1. Oh no! It crashed? That stinks...hmm, I wonder if all the kinks have been worked out since the actual version has been released out of Beta. I remember them strongly suggesting to frequently back-up in case they missed any buggy issues. I'm so sorry you didn't have a good experience.
      :( My computer crashed in the middle of edits before just using Word...needless to say I lost six chapters worth of edits! I was so angry I wanted to throw something at it. :)

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  16. Thanks for all the information. I've thought about trying one of these programs. I currently just rely on WORD. I appreciate being able to read what another person found useful in each...you're as good as Consumer Reports. :)

    Michelle
    www.michelle-pickett.com

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  17. I just stick with basic Word, it suits my needs. Plus I hate learning new programs. Lol.

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  18. I know some writers who swear by WriteItNow. http://www.ravensheadservices.com/

    I've never tried it, but I've heard it's very similar to Scrivener. Personally, I use Scrivener and I like it, although I have yet to break out all the bells and whistles.

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  19. Because I know Word well, I've stuck to it. I have heard that those who use Scrivener love it.

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  20. I've always used Word, and my own handwriting on notecards taped to the walls and in notebooks. I've heard great things about Scrivener, though the rest of these are new to me.

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  21. Wow, that's a lot of research. I've heard good things about Scribe. Thanks for the info. Also, you've been TAGGED! The 11 Questions get-to-know-you game is being passed around by the Platform-Building campaigners. You can pick your questions up at this link: http://rungwenrun.blogspot.com/2012/02/11-questions-from-platform-building.html

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  22. I'm stopping by from the Campaign. :)

    I really have been wanting to buy Scrivener. It sounds ideal for the plotter I am. I think I'll get it before I plot out my next novel.

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  23. Hey there! Thanks for the follow! I'm returning the favor. :)

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  24. I have Scrivener beta, but I didn't give myself time to use it. I'd love to figure it out, though. I've been using Word for the longest.

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  25. I stick to plain old Microsoft Word, though these programs have definitely piqued my interest before. If I have too many things to play with I get distracted and don't write, so it's better for me just to venture out onto the open page.

    I had some friends try out Scrivener though. They liked it, but once they tried WriteWay most of them switched to that saying Scrivener had too many options to be productive. To each their own! Thanks for this post. =)

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  26. WOW! Great post. Thanks for the information. :)

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  27. I think it would have taken me forever to really try out all these programs. Thanks for doing all that work and sharing your thoughts on them. That's awesome. I'm a huge fan of Scrivener, myself. I love pretty much everything about it, especially the snapshot tool. Way better than saving a million versions of each scene as a separate file in word. :D

    I'll see you around the campaign.

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  28. Hi Alynza, I'm stopping by from the YA group at the Campaign!

    This is an awesome review, I'll be honest that I hadn't heard of any of these besides yWriter, Scrivener, Word, and OpenOffice.

    The writing software I use is WriteWay, and it's very similar to Scrivener, it was just built for Windows instead of Mac. I love it :)

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  29. Great informative post! I just bought Scrivener last week. Downloaded the free trial and realized that it's worth the $45. Still learning how to use the program though, which can be frustrating at times. I really like that there are so many options, and I love that it converts into epub and mobi files types.

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