This is topic Software in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by Marianne (Member # 1546) on :
Does anyone use any of the writing software I see advertised in magazines? They seem to promise so much, but I am skeptical.
Posted by SiliGurl (Member # 922) on :
Hi! Yeah, those ads are always very enticing... though the price tags rarely are! When I'm stumbling in my writing, I tend to reexamine those ads in hopes that they'll help me get over whatever hurdle I'm facing. I've downloaded demos of several programs (I think the URL I've used is, and haven't been impressed. HOWEVER, I'm currently looking at a demo for Power Structure. It seems to be really cool and I like it a lot... I'm not sure that it meshes with how I create my novel, but by the same token, I've never finished a novel so perhaps I should work through it? Anyway, it seems to work for me and has some nifty features. I'd give it a whirl if you're interested.

Good luck!


Posted by Straws (Member # 1559) on :
Heheh, good ole MS Word and a legion of editing friends serve me just fine. Though if they actually do help out, let me know- I've got the spare cash lying around.
Posted by srhowen (Member # 462) on :
They can help--but they are akin to typwriter vs computer. You can do the same thing, type a ms with a typwriter, youjust have to check spelling, ect. by hand.

The writing software programs take hte place of your index cards, character bibles and notes. They help organize them in click easy format and perhaps are easier (once you master them) to use and keep track of.

Word to the wise--back up often. It's one thing to lose your ms in a crash but to lose all your notes ect--yikes.

I'll stick with my index cards and paper notes for now.


Posted by DragynGide (Member # 1448) on :
Do Not --I repeat-- Do Not buy the program Dramatica (or any of its ilk; I had Dramatica Pro). This program does offer places for you to put in notes on just about every aspect of a novel, but it does so much more. It is not an organizer so much as a How-To book, where you have to write strictly by its rules and theories. And while its theories are rather fascinating (I did learn a bit from them, but I could have learned the same things much more comfortably from a rather cheaper book), the rigid structure of implementation left me wrung dry of any spontaneous creativity at all. The program codifies everything, and tells you how your book and characters should be based on questionaires you fill out. It tries to lend clarity to your own structure and ideas, but every time I tried it, all it did was rob me of my instinctive knowledge of what was best for my book. I will never trap my own creative process inside that program again, and I strongly suggest nobody else does, either. I wish they'd just publish a few of their theories in a book, though-- some of them were worthwhile.


Posted by Marianne (Member # 1546) on :
I downloaded a demo for Power Writer...made by the same folks who make Power is 99 bucks. I tried the outlining feature which was pretty cool, but that was all I had time for today....I am looking for something that can hold reference material, outline, world themes and have them at a fingertip. I know that MS Word will work this way if you open a lot of windows, but this seems more organized.
I also seem to be getting buried in hard copy. My binder is full of story notes, emails, critique notes and conference flyers. Storage on a floppy seems so tempting
Posted by TJ (Member # 1558) on :
Storing something in a computer file is a great idea -- assuming you'll have the computer handy whenever you want to use the notes! My basic rule: Store only what you will use when at the computer. Everything else goes on paper. I can read it then, whether I'm at the computer or not!

Does this make me a technophobe? No, considering I hold university degrees and manufacturer certifications on technology related topics. But I realize the limitations of computers, and I work around them.

BTW, those software programs that help you create? I know several people who've written such programs. Their skill is in writing computer code, not stories, articles, or entertainment. I've found the stories they create more strongly resemble a flowchart than a novel -- and are about as entertaining.

[This message has been edited by TJ (edited January 08, 2003).]

Posted by Straws (Member # 1559) on :
Something that flows will put the reader to sleep in no time, a big mistake for many over-orgagnizers. But that idea might be somewhat akin to my prejudice against any form of order in works. This is also why I dislike writing any poetry other then full free verse.
Posted by SiliGurl (Member # 922) on :
I'm still in the early stages of trying my Power Structure demo, so won't attest to it. But as to the hardcopy v computer debate, I use both. I've got ALL of my notes (worldbuilding, backstory, etc) on my laptop hard drive; I periodically archive it on disk and then archive that on my desktop which I never use. And because I'm such a paranoid freak when it comes to my hard earned novel, I print everything out every so often. Like most of us, I'm terrified of a massive system failure that'll wipe out my world...


Posted by Straws (Member # 1559) on :
Print out a few copies from time to time. It helps.
Posted by Jonsul (Member # 8227) on :
Sorry for resurrecting an old thread just found some interesting software that should be posted for anyone else searching the forum.
Didn't want to open a new thread for this.

All this software is free.
OpenOffice: Free alternative to Word

Ywriter: Free novel writing and organization software. Organize information on characters, settings,
scenes, completion date. Set goals and track progress. (I love this one)

Storybook: Novel organization software. Organize every aspect of your novel and track the main
storyline and each character's story line.

Sonar: Article, novel, and short story manuscript submission tracking software. Organizes
with market, sold or rejected, and which are earning income. Allows filtering based the categories.

FreeMind: Mind-mapping software that helps get ideas clear and organized. Great for brainstorming.(Thanks Skadder)

Thought if anyone was interested they would enjoy these. Sonar is especially awesome.

[This message has been edited by Jonsul (edited April 09, 2010).]

Posted by skadder (Member # 6757) on :
I use sonar3 to track submissions (have done for a couple of years) and I have scrivener (mac only), but I always end up using word to write in.

Mindmap is great for outlining and I use mac stickies for storing ideas.

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