I tried four different writing software programs and three different writing processors.
So let's get on with it shall we!
Text Block Writer
Microsoft Office - Word
OpenOffice.org - Writer
Libre Office - Writer
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. :)
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!
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.
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