Sunday, October 9, 2011

Writing Software Solutions

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian Friends :-)

As a new writer, I find it challenging to keep my book ideas organized and when your book in being written in a word processing program, such as word perfect it can be easy to lose track of the various plot points and scene by scene plays.

In addition, and I'm sure this happens to every writer out there, I find that new ideas come to me all the time that would be great for the next book I would like to write.  I've been looking for software that will assist me in my writing and not detract from it. I don't want a complicated program that will take me months to learn how to navigate.  That being said, I would like one central program that I could use to keep track of plot lines, character profiles, and scenes. It would also be nice to "store" future story ideas in an electronic format instead of in a tattered notebook.  To address this, I spent some time looking around at what is out there and thought I would share my findings.

New Novelist 2.0

It's said that with New Novelist 2.0 you are never faced with a blank screen or piece of paper, great for those that suffer from writer's block, because there are prompts and help at every turn.  In addition, you don't have to start with your introduction and work until you reach the end of your book. Instead the software allows you to jump from one part of your project to another (e.g.; character development, plot turns) or if you like you could even write your book backwards if you want! Dance around as your inspiration takes you knowing that your work is being collected in one single file together with the background, and research notes for each section. Very cool!

The New Novelist 2.0 is said to be simple to install and fun to use. It has spell check, thesaurus, Internet search, audio read back text, USA or UK dictionary selection, full word processor functionality and many more features. You can also move chapters around and fully organize your writing, write short stories or full-length novels.

The Sunday Times of London, England says "The Magic of New Novelist 2.0 is that it doesn't feel as if you're writing a book".

Practical PC Magazine says "New Novelist 2.0 should be considered an essential purchase for anyone who is ready to start a Novel".

One drawback -- only good for those that use PC's -- to bad for us MAC users :-(

Storyist 2

It seemed only fair that since the above software was only for use with PC, I would look at one that is only for use with MAC :-)

So why would I want to buy Storyist 2? I can write fiction with a word processor, right? One reason that may be worth it is because my word processor won't automatically format my novel or screenplay for submission. Something, believe it or not, I've been a little worried about since I've never submitted one before and I've been told that if the formatting is wrong it will be rejected.

It would seem that writing and formatting are only the beginning of what Storyist 2 can do for writers and it's big strength is its ability to keep you organized. For example: Orson Scott Card once wrote about a lovely scene he constructed in which one of his characters called his mother on the phone; then, during revisions, he remembered he'd made the character an orphan. He began keeping a "bible" listing all the decisions he made in the course of a story. With Storyist 2, he would have that "bible" at his fingertips, right next to the manuscript and fully searchable, so he could find out in a flash whether his character had parents or siblings. And if he discovered that it got in the way of his writing, Storyist 2 has a full screen mode that would allow him to banish it from view (but it would still be lurking in the background in case of need). Again, very cool!

Some of the other tools available in Storyist 2 includes organization of characters, plot, and settings but all the miscellaneous ideas, notes to self, reference sources, web links.  It offers multiple windows where you can display alternate views of the manuscript. You can import pictures of your characters and settings (or just generally into the notebook) and, once there, drag them into as many locations as you like. You can also link sections to characters, notes, plot points; import and export files to standard formats; link notes to one another; set up your own categories for outlines and timelines. The program comes with ample help files and a printed manual, and if you get stuck or just don't like reading manuals, you can find instant support on the Storyist 2 forums--often from the developer himself. It's said that the program is intuitive enough to start using right away, although it takes a while to master all the options it offers.

Writer's Dream Kit 4.0

As with the other two solutions, the Writer's Dream Kit 4.0 is a complete step-by-step fiction writing system designed for the aspiring writer. The good news, this product will run on both PC and MAC!

I've read that if you thrive on the angst-ridden masochism of neverending writer’s block, then you need to read no further. However, if you seek sound solutions to story development dilemmas, then your search is over––the Writer's Dream Kit 4.0 is the tool for you. As your creative writing partner, it takes you to a special place—a story development environment where together you’ll solve the plot and character problems that prevent many stories from becoming great enough to sell.

You’ll cast and build your characters, plot out your story, layer in themes with universal meaning, and put it all together into scenes to form a solid step outline. And as your mentor, the Writer's Dream Kit 4.0 will do something no other writing program can do—it predicts parts of your story based on creative decisions you make! You’ll be inspired to incorporate those ideas into your developing story and make it even tighter—with no plot holes or character inconsistencies.

I think of the three solutions reviewed, I like what Storyist 2 has to offer the most, which doesn't surprise me since it is the most expensive solution reviewed. My next best, which is probably more affordable for me, would be the Writer's Dream Kit 4.0.

Which one most appeals to you? If you have used one of these solutions, please leave a comment (in favor or against) and share your experience with other readers.

Have a great day!


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