Write Aids

By Joe Moore

Wouldn’t it be great if we could download a software program, input some general ideas about a book we want to write, click compose, and an 80k-word manuscript magically appears? That’s certainly the Holy Grail of writers everywhere. Let the application do the heavy lifting while we just sit back and think up more great ideas. As of today, that software program doesn’t exist.

Still, writers are always looking for a shortcut. A tool that can take some of the pain away. A tool that can make the journey through the 3-act novel a bit easier. There are some programs that can help, even just a little.

Granted, the only tools needed to write a novel are a sharp pencil and a pad of paper. And some writers still use that method while others have gone on to word processors like MS Word. I prefer the latter since I can’t read my own writing.

But for those who seek a little bit of help to assist in the process, I’ve assembled a list of applications that might. I’ve never tried any of them and endorse none. But if one Zoner out there benefits from one of these, then my work here is done.

Probably the most popular program for novelists is Scrivener. Bestselling novels have been written with it and those who use it love it. You can test drive it for free.

After Scrivener comes smaller programs that focus on particular aspects of the writing process. Here’s a list. Hope you find that magic bullet in the list somewhere.

Note Everything. The ultimate note pad.

Write or Die 2. Helps to eliminate writer’s block.

yWriter5. Helps you to plan your novel.

Diaro. Advanced diary application.

Writer Pro. Professional writing suite.

FocusWriter. Gets rid of all distractions so you can concentrate on writing.

Writer. Helps you focus on your writing.

Hemingway. Helps you write bold and clear.

wikidPad. Helps you to link your ideas.

Wise Mapping. Online mind mapping tool.

MindNode. More mind mapping.

TreeSheets. Powerful note taking app.

Bubbl.us. Brainstorm or create a map for your ideas.

Sigil. EPUB editor.

Vizual Einstein. Visually develop a project.

The Writers Store. Complete source for writing software and other stuff.

There are tons more out there. You can find them with a simple Google search. So, fellow Zoners, do you use any writer aids or are all you writing tools in your head? Any programs to recommend?


Coming this spring: THE SHIELD by Sholes & Moore
Einstein got it wrong!

Writing Software

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

I feel sure we have probably addressed this issue before but I need some input on writing software options. Being an old fashioned gal, I just use Microsoft Word to write my novels and tend to compile my research in manila folders, exercise books and on post it notes:) A friend of mine recently purchased Scrivener, however, and she is now totally sold on it as a fabulous writing tool. She loves how it helps manage research, set word limits and formats everything.

I am in the process of getting a new laptop as my old one has started having those glitches that suggest PC dementia is setting in and so, before my hard drive totally dies, I am looking into a new computer…which has started me thinking about upgrading my old fashioned research and writing methods for an easier, and frankly more efficient, software tool.

So my questions to you are:
  • Do you use a specific writing software package like Scrivener?
  • Do you use a Mac or PC with it (I use a PC but have recently switched everything else in the house to Mac…so I am also tossing up a Mac vs. PC laptop as well)
  • If you do – do you love it? What are the coolest features…and what doesn’t work so well (or drives you mad) about it?
  • Have you found it helps compile and store your research for the book? Or, do you find yourself using other (pen and paper) methods too?
  • Would you recommend the software package…and if not, why not?
  • How long did it take you to master using the program? (One thing I fear is I spend just as long working out how to use the software as I do writing the book!)
Thanks in anticipation for all your feedback and help!

Tool Guy wants to know: What writing software do you use?

After Clare’s lovely dreamweaver post yesterday, I thought I’d slam us down to earth with some Tool-Guy talk (okay, so I’m a Tool Gal, but honestly. who bothers to check under the belt?).

In my own writing, up until now I have been a fan of a little program called ProsePro. It’s cheap, it plugs into Word, and best of all, it auto-formats my chapter headings, page and chapter numbers so that I don’t have to deal with them. ProsePro has few bells and whistles other than that, but I never cared.

But then in one of my Yahoo groups, someone happened to mention a program called Liquid Story Binder.

Oh. My. God.

I’ve been playing around with this new program, and I’ve discovered so many new bells and whistles that I’ve become a veritable one-woman marching band. Liquid Story Binder has got timelines. It’s got planners. And outline makers. And…and things I haven’t even discovered yet.

Yes folks, I’m in writing Nirvana.

But here’s the thing. My new infatuation with Liquid Story Binder has given me a Hugh Hefner-type roving eye for other software programs that might be out there, waiting to help me plumb the depths of the next great American Thriller Bestseller.

So I’m wondering: What writing software do you use? What is the one feature in that software that you cannot–would not–live without?