Writer Tools

I started to write some craft related blogs and I was talking about some different tools I was using and realized… Not everyone is going to know what I’m talking about! So I figured I would do a one shot tools for writers post. Not that this won’t be updated in time, but for now this is my list.

There are several different schools of thought for what program to write your novel in. I’ve found that some people don’t really care, while others will fanatically try to draw you into their cult-of-whatever. I’ve tried a few options myself, but I chose to keep it simple and write in Word. Boring, I know huh? But that works for me, so I don’t mess with it.

For a while, I did use yWriter during NaNoWriMo because I wanted a no nonsense word processor that just allowed me to write. yWriter does not notify you of things like misspelled words, sentence fragments or anything fancy at all. For a challenge like NaNoWriMo I used to need that focused approach as far as writing goes. However, yWriter has some seriously cool organizational tools outside of the word processor. In each project, as the novels are termed, you have tabs to record important Items, Locations, Characters, Notes and divide your scenes and chapters up for easy navigation. You can even keep track of each Scene as far as the Goal:Conflict:Outcome, or the day and time. yWriter is provided free by Spacejock. For something you don’t have to pay for, it’s seriously cool.

Scrivener has been out for some time for Mac users, but has recently come out in a Windows version. I used the beta for a while because it was free and shiny and neat. It has a lot more bells and whistles compared to yWriter, with some specially designed tools for novelists. It’s much more like Word than yWriter, and allows for more functionality during writing.

WriteWay is the newest version of writing software to me, though it has been around since 2003. I’ve heard some really great things about the reporting function within the program that interest me, but sadly I’m a creature of habit and haven’t become that interested in trying it out. That said, if I were to self-publish, I would be very interested in this program because of it’s ability to publish directly to file formats for nook and kindle devices.

Knowing what you want to do with your writing can often help you chose the venue for your writing. In my case, I chose to write in Word because I can type directly into a novel template that immediately puts my book in my publisher’s format. For me, that’s invaluable. I’m ultimately lazy and prone to messing details up.

The one program I am almost fanatical about is Microsoft’s OneNote. Think of having an electronic binder where you scribble down all of your brainstorming and tape pictures of clothing, locations and people that make you think of something in your book. You can divide your projects up with tabs. A lot of people organize and use it in different methods, so I’ll spare you how I set mine up for now. I’ll do some blogs later on how I set mine up. It’s a handy program to paste and organize things in. One of the things that stole my heart about it is that it saves automatically. You. Never. Ever. Have. To. Press. Save. Because it’s already saved it for you!

Excel is another Microsoft program that I use a lot. Besides tracking sales, I use it to track words and pages written. I referenced a template I’d created when I talked about my Book In A Year bracelet for my local RWA chapter, but if you’re interested in taking a look at these templates for your own use, have a look. (XLS version | XLSX version)

This bit isn’t a program, it’s a template provided free of charge by the amazing Lynn Viehl, author of science fiction and romance and tons of other genres. On the Freebies section of her blog, she has her Novel Notebook template in .pdf format for free. I’ve copied this and pasted it into OneNote to create a template which I use whenever I’m going to start a new book or series. While I don’t always need to use all of it, using the template makes me slow down and really think through the book, setting, details and whatnot. I think I’ll also step through using this at a later point.

Dropbox. Oh man, how my life was incomplete until I found out about this! Dropbox is a free service that allows you to have a shared file between computers. You can even share that file between several computers, or even lots of your friends! You can trade music, video files, documents – anything! It’s super handy and you don’t have to keep those USB drives nearby anymore.

Carbonite is another option similar to Dropbox, however it is not a free program. It automatically backs up your computer and allows for some file sharing. I’m not entirely sure how the sharing works, as I only have it on my work laptop. I has proven immensely useful for backing up my laptop when I needed to revert to another version. I am considering purchasing this for my writing laptop. My poor machine is several years old and I’m beginning to worry about it.

So that’s it. I’m going to reference a lot of these tools during my craft blogs, and I’ll undoubtedly have updated versions of this post to offer in the future.

Do you have a software or a program you prefer to use?


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