Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Know Nothing, But I've Heard It's Good Stuff.

Okay, here I am writing about something that I virtually know nothing about. We're all here to learn, right. Let us delve into the wonderful world of software together. In this month's Writer's Digest there is an article on Software for Writers. I read it and gleaned what I could that would apply to my computer. I have a PC. If you have a Mac, you may want to get a copy of the August 2008 Writer's Digest to analyze, because I didn't want to make this blog three yards long.

After looking through the article, I decided that a newbie such as my self would have to stick to the free or budget friendly software, so those are the ones I wrote about. I labeled them in the same format that the article did. First there is software that helps you tell your story. For about $55.00 smackers, New Novelist is a program that will help you develop your story by prompting you to track items such as character's physical and personality traits, as well as details of scenes.
Write It Now, for a similar price tag, includes a submissions log, and asks you to fill out details but in a more categorized manner.
Visually simple to use, YWriter is also free (bonus). This program helps you to structure your story by breaking it into chapters, with a word count for each. You can see whose viewpoint is used, the location, and a brief plot description. This makes reorganizing and editing easier.
If you have lots of random ideas floating hither and yon and you need a place to collect them all and organize them, that would be what an 'idea database' is for. Plotcraft was made for cataloguing ideas and best of all, it's free.
For character development check out Character Writer. It is based on a personality typing system and will cost you about $40.00.
Editing help can be pricey. Writer's Workbench at $100.00 or StyleWriter at $160.00 will analyze your work and and look for writing style problems. For a little less, Editor, at around $50.00 will help you learn good editing practices rather than finding them for you.
Can't be bothered with those outdated books, try Word Menu. For about $35.00 you can be the owner of a combination dictionary/thesaurus program filled with words you never knew you knew.
Write Track and Sonar are both free submission tracking programs, 'cause who has time to keep track of submissions, eh.
Last of all, don't forget to back up your baby. Syncback is a free program for backing up files. (the small print says SE version $30.00- sounds a bit cryptic). Norton Ghost will back you up for $70.00 or so. You can't see them, but they want to see some green.
Scott Rhodes has a great website with a section on writer's tools. I have put it under my Links for Children's Writers section. Under writer's tools you will find his list of free software. He has had much more experience than I have. Give his site a look it is a lot of fun, and good luck learning about how to use software for writers.


Scott said...

Nice overview, Cathy. You left out some useful stuff, though, that's completely free and can be used for everything from planning to writing (including an excellent alternative to Microsoft Office)to submitting.

Also, because a computer isn't the most creativity-inspiring thing in your office, there are ways to customize your computer to make it more personal.

I've written about some of these on my own blog. Check out and click on Free Software in my categories list.

And of course, remember, not all software, free or not, will meet the needs of everybody. But if you find something you like, it's priceless. Literally, in the case of free software.

C.L. Beck said...

Nice job on this list. I've got Editor, and am just now learning how to use it.

As you pointed out, software tools can make a writer's job so much easier--especially when it comes to planning or editing.

Thanks for a great list.

C.L. Beck said...

Oh, and thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on Emily's story!

ali said...

That is awesome Cathy! Thanks!

Darvell Hunt said...

Hey, I read that article, too (on the plane from Las Vegas to Chicago on Monday).

I am thinking I might invest in one or more of them. Thanks for reminding me.


Charles said...

Add one more to the list of submission tracking software worth considering:

Luminary Writer's Database is a web-based program for tracking submissions.

It's free, and includes cool features like daily word count graphs, and sharing market listings with other users.

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