Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday - Writing Software Options



It seems that every couple of months there's a new writing addon or program or software out there to tempt the novice writer with promises of the perfect pitch, or the perfect manuscript format.. but what are the options?

In today's list, I'll give some of the most popular programs, and give a slight overview of what they offer.  Their addition to this list is not an endorsement, and their placement is not meant to be a guess as to value.. this is merely a list of some of the most popular writing programs on the market today.


  1. Microsoft Word
    -- Probably the most popular, simply because it's the most widely available. It may not have all the pretty bells and whistles, but it's a good strong base, and it's been used for years. How can you go wrong with the program that produced the largest selling franchise in history?  (Harry Potter)
  2. Corel's Word Perfect
    -- Most people have forgotten about the program that really started the CPU writing craze. Still highly adaptable, Word Perfect is still the preferred method of writing for some old school writers, and if you don't believe me.. check out Corel's online tutorial.
  3. Scrivener
    -- Probably the most popular true novel writing software, it was exclusively a Mac program, but was recently expanded to include Windows. (Author note: This is what I'm currently using, and I like it.. but for the bells and whistles it's still just a word processor, ala Word, at its heart.)
  4. WriteItNow
    -- Similar to Scrivener, just a little more simplistic in it's interface and deliver, but that can be a good thing. Honestly I was more comfortable using WriteItNow initially, but Scrivener just had more options that I felt I could grow to use.
  5. Storybook
    -- A Free Open Source writer program, Storybook has all of the essential ingredients that make Word and Scrivener so popular, it simply lacks the polish and all of the options of the popular 'pay' products. It is, however, still a very reliable and popular program. If money is an issue, (and when isn't it?), you could do a lot worse than Storybook.
  6. Liquid Story Binder--  I know literally nothing about Liquid Story Binder, apart from the fact that it's the coolest looking program on my list.  From their own site, "Liquid Story Binder XE is a uniquely designed word processor for professional and aspiring authors, poets, and novelists. Writing software for those who require the editing ability of a commercial text editor as well as a document tracking system. It is for those who want the freedom to create, outline and revise but are tired of losing track of their work"
  7. Storybase-- Storybase seems to be designed more as a writing aid than a writing program.. what I mean is, it bills itself as a means of getting out of writers block. The program suggests ways to proceed, giving you prompts to chose between, and suggested lead in and lead outs. Personally I can see the value, but only as an occasional prompt.. if overused this could become a crutch to a new writer.
  8. yWriter
    -- Probably the best free software on the market, yWriter gives you many of the same options of the pay programs like Scrivener and WriteItNow, just without the depth and options. It does, however, offer a cork board for spitballing, an outliner, and a storyboard so you can see a visual representation of the timeline of your story.. something that I find extremely useful in outlining and 1st draft writing. Probably the program I'd recommend to most new writers simply off what it offers and the price, (free). If you try it and decide to keep using it, I do recommend that you register your copy, (pay a small fee), simply to reward the person who wrote the program, and encourage him to continue updating the program.
  9. Storyweaver
    -- Storyweaver is a good program.. it's sorta smack dab in the middle when it comes to what it offers and price, but since it's not too far to one side on either it's the perfect fit for some. It does offer a free 90 day trial period, which can be great for writing a new story. Download it just before NaNoWriMo and use it for a month of serious writing to get a feel for it.. then you'll know if you want to pay for a program or go with one of the open source/free programs instead.
  10. WriteWay-- Writeway will move you from outline to published eBook if that's what you're looking for. It has a great tool for not only formatting, but creating a cover, an author's bio, even a dedication and foreward. It even has a tool, (on the demo and the pro-version) that will read your book to you, so you can listen for inconsistencies or editing mistakes. Once you're all done, it has ebook publishing for both the Kindle and Nook built in.  A handy tool for the hardcore self-publisher.
There are, of course, many other options beyond these 10.. but from what I could find, and from personal experience.. these are the cream of the crop. Any/all of them will help you move your project forward.. but none of these programs will improve your writing style.. that's up to you.

So the bottom line is, pick on, or a few.. try it out, and then go with what best suits your desires.  THEN.. write, and write, and write. And when you're done.. write some more.



6 comments:

  1. Thanks for the breakdown. I have scrivener for windows and like it. I don't use all the bells and whistles but I do like the options it provides. I tried Ywriter and just couldn't like it even though I wanted to. Though for all intents and purposes Word works fine. I've written a few novels using it and, for the most part, it can meet my needs.

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  2. Someone recommended Scrivener to me recently. Good to know its just souped up Word.

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    1. Well, Scrivener really is what you make of it. I probably sell it short simply because I'm still fairly new to using it. My current WIP is the first time I've taken a project from outline to draft to revision on it so it's still very new to me.

      HOWEVER.. don't misunderstand me. I love that I can put my research together with my writing in one program and have 2 windows open with both at the same time in the same program. Sure, you can do that with Word as well.. but I've really found Scrivener more useful in that regard to how I used to have to do things. Plus, Scrivener has much more than what I've mentioned.

      Quite literally, you can use it strictly for a word processor, or you can use it to the entire process. I'll say this much, now that I've written on both Word and Scrivener.. I won't go back to Word. Even with my limited knowledge of Scrivener, I love what it offers me over Word. Having everything right there at my finger tips as opposed to 3 spiral notebooks and 2 programs open at the same time.. it's no contest.

      But that' just me. Obviously there are as many opinions as there are ways to write. When it comes right down to it, they're all just the mechanism to get you to the end result. Whether you use a pencil or Scrivener.. just use what gets you there in the way you prefer. :)

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  3. I think what you said about Scrivner is the reason I never consider changing. My processor works just fine, and I feel no need to spend more money. Then again, you could consider me disorganized :)

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  4. I'm a Word girl, simply cuz I have it and and have no desire to change.

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