Monday, April 23, 2012

My Search for the Perfect Writer's Software

Writing is fun but there are times when it also gets a bit mechanical.  Now I love new ways to write so I decided to look into using something other than Word (or its variable Mac equivalents, such as Apple Works) for my writing.  I wanted something that would keep my outlines and character portrayals in the same place as my writing.  That started my online search for writer's software. For some reason, the Fates were against me. Everytime I searched for writer's software on Google, my laptop froze up.  Hmmm.

Finally, I found some online resources:
*   -- gave a check-list of several programs
*  -- narrows the software down by category
* -- evaluated several software types

After reading the reviews, I got excited to jump in and buy something.  Then I remembered how much my laptop hates me. Really hates me.  Case in point: while typing a novel chapter the other day, my space bar decided not to comply and no matter how much I hit it, spaces were still missed. So I explained to my HP laptop that a future of being replaced by an iMac was in the cards, and so it spit at me.  Literally.  The plus/minus key skidded off and onto my lap.  Nice.  In addition, my little laptop has some Core-something error going on and is not downloading software from disks anymore.  At least not happily.  So I changed my Google parameters to search for writer's software that can be downloaded online.

At that point, I found all roads led to  I was pleasantly surprised to find that Amazon allows for software to be purchased and downloaded right from the Amazon site. There are fewer options to download than there are to buy, but it was a nice option.  I was also happy to see that Amazon offered as many options for Mac users as they did for PC users.  The top two choices I found for me were: Scrivener and Final Draft. 

Upon reading the reviews of both, it looked like Final Draft was more script focused while Scrivener was more for me - the novel and short story writer.  There was also a big price difference: $40.00 for Scrivener and $178.11 for Final Draft.  In order to see how this purchase of downloaded software would work, I opted for the cheaper, more novel writing version, so I purchased the Scrivener. 

I found the download quick and easy. I registered it online and that took a little bit of time (about 2 hours before the registration took effect and the software would let me "in").  So far, only one day into using the software, I find it good, but not great. 

Things I like:
* The note card options for characters and locations.
* The easy ability to change from note card view to normal page view.

Things I am not as impressed with:
* It's not much different or useful than using Word or AppleWorks.
* It appears that I have to convert the written product over to a Word document in order to submit it. I may be wrong about that as I've only had it for one day yet so I will update that if I find I can submit directly from Scrivener.

Going forward, I plan to continue to write with, and updating here, about my use of Scrivener for novel writing. I then plan to bite the bullet and buy Final Draft as well in order to find the perfect writing software. Now if I can just write another 5000 words to make up for the time lost in searching for writing software, I'd be really good to go. :-)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Writing in Secret

When I was a child, I preferred to write in secret. I think I did that for three reasons:

1.)  I wrote in fear that someone was going to say, "You're only writing? Oh good - you aren't doing anything important. Come over here and help me with this." I would obey but I would think: What do you mean, nothing important? I'm creating art here!  Of course, when I got back to what I was writing, I didn't want to do it anymore.

2.)  I wrote in fear that someone was going to say, "Read to me what you've written so far." No, it's not ready. You don't tell someone to take you into the darkroom while the pictures are still drying.  Prematurely reading my story out loud would lead to editing.  Editing a story too soon led to story death.

3.) I wrote in fear that someone was going to read it before it was ready and laugh at me. I could take a lot of abuse but I can't having my creative product laughed at while still in its juvenile form.

So for these reasons, I used to write in secret.  Now I find it's still a preferred way to write.  I sit at a conference table while a speaker drones on and I scribble bits of dialogue in my tablet.  I wait on a bench for a bus and I jot an outline in my notebook.  Tomorrow, I'm going to a class where I hope there will be very few group activities so that, just like in high school or college, I can slide my pen across my notebook page and watch even one paragraph come to life.  The end product will goon display but the early stages, those are just for an audience of one: me.