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Author Resource Round Table > Best Software for Writing

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message 1: by Jo (new)

Jo Hogarth | 22 comments I have recently tried Scrivener as a writing tool and like it alot although it takes some time to learn. I wanted to find out if anyone else uses software designed specifically for writers and what you recommend or use?

Best Regards,

Jo


message 2: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Cardenas (aecardenas) | 44 comments I LOVE Scrivener. I used to use Word exclusively for writing, but found it too "linear" and restrictive in terms of how I write or compose. And that's the key in terms of writing novels---at least for me. When i write books or plays or screenplays, i rarely work from beginning to end, or if I do, then I need some allowance to swap scenes or insert scenes into the first part to resolve something that I've conceived in the latter half, etc. etc. Basically, writing is a non-linear exercise, as your characters and their personalities tend to influence how your story resolves itself, or might even open up plotlines that you hadn't thought of before. Also, you might want to write a chapter or scene, and keep it on the side...but don't' want to get it lost in a folder somewhere, so it's nice to have all documents accessible in one place.

One of the first software applications that actually gave me a good way of handling my material was a product called Z-Write, which allowed you to work independently on a number of chapters/scenes, outlines, reference material, etc, and then merge them later into one cohesive output file that you can then reformat and make publishing ready. Unfortunately, they stopped developing it.

But fortunately a new product came along that did everything Z-write did and a lot more...and that's Scrivener.

What I like about Scrivener is that it allows me to be a writer with it, meaning it gives me plenty of space within the program to do my notes, outlines, have my research files (images, videos, text, html, etc.) in one place, the ability to compose scenes, have various VERSIONS of those scenes, select and choose which part of the scenes I want to keep in the final version, and be able to compose all of these elements into a particular form, such as a Novel, a screenplay, a stage play, a comic book script, etc.

And the best part is that you can do it all in one program, that way you're not searching around a folder for a ton of different word documents or excel sheets.

You can go to Scrivener's website and see for yourself the variety of different features it has. For me, its the best bang for your book. It's a program that was designed with "Writers" in mind, rather than have the writer forced to use a specific application or format.

But I do have Microsot Word, which is great for finalizing your finished document, by the way. It's got some very advanced editing features that are pretty nifty. And that's ultimately what I use Word for. Once I've "written" the book, then I compile it into RTF (you can actually, by the way, compile your work into a variety of different formats, such as PDF, HTML, .epub, or just plain manuscript ready submission, etc. etc.) and then use Word to "finish" the book, creating table of contents and then make it ready for publication if you self-publish, or make it manuscript ready for an editor or publisher.


message 3: by Jo (new)

Jo Hogarth | 22 comments Anthony,

Thanks so much for your insight into Scrivener - I've been happy with it so far, I just thought I should ask around and see what people are using.

Thanks again.

Amanda


message 4: by Heather (new)

Heather James (makexbelieve) | 8 comments I first heard about Scriviner in the back of a novel and have been curious about it ever since - after reading what you've both written I think I will definitely check it out for my next project (I think mid-series it might be more of a hindrance to transfer all of my notes!)

At the moment, I use LaTeX because it's fairly easy to format (just google and the answer's normally there). It's also easy to organise chapters and swap things around as necessary.

It doesn't let me sort notes etc. though, which is where Scriviner might be useful.


message 5: by Allan (last edited Apr 03, 2013 12:52AM) (new)

Allan Ashinoff (AllanJAshinoff) | 16 comments Glad I stumbled on this post. I currently use Word 2007 and have been entertaining finding something to write with. I'd like something that coverts cleaner into Amazon format. I considered OpenOffice but I've been skeptical to relearn something when what I have isn't broken. Besides, open source always holds some concerns for me.

I just looked at Scriviner (thanks for the recommendation) and think it appears visually similar to MS's OneNote which I already own, used briefly, and gave up on. Anyone ever compare the two?


message 6: by Jo (new)

Jo Hogarth | 22 comments I haven't compared the two but scrivener really does seem easier for compiling into a readable document ; )


message 7: by Willett (new)

Willett Thomas | 39 comments Anthony wrote: "I LOVE Scrivener. I used to use Word exclusively for writing, but found it too "linear" and restrictive in terms of how I write or compose. And that's the key in terms of writing novels---at least..."

What a great post, Anthony! I'm in the process of starting my next novel, and already have so many one page, Word docs that it's already getting hectic. I will definitely take a look at Scriviner. I really am not in the market for something beyond $100 dollars, but still you've sold me on at least taking a look.

Thanks!


message 8: by John (new)

John Hancock (JohnGregoryHancock) | 135 comments Scrivener and Word was what I used to make my short story book, and it worked very well.

What I did was work on each short story as a separate word document, That way I could jump from one story to the other as I worked pretty quickly. Then, when I had honed each story to what I wanted, I Carefully formatted each using the standard word styles for headline and copy, etc. imported each word file, making them function like chapters. Then, when Scrivener exports the file, Its pretty much formatted.

I also used Word because it was easier for me to insert illustrations before some of my stories. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to do that in Scrivener. Everytime I tried it, and used the help instructions, it didn't seem to work WITHIN scrivener. But I placed the art first into word, then imported word, it worked.


message 9: by Allan (last edited Apr 03, 2013 02:07PM) (new)

Allan Ashinoff (AllanJAshinoff) | 16 comments John wrote: "Scrivener and Word was what I used to make my short story book, and it worked very well.

What I did was work on each short story as a separate word document, That way I could jump from one story t..."


Good to know. I've installed Scrivener and so far its pretty impressive. I already imported the manuscript for my published book and separated it into chapters. It was so much easier to identify flaws in small(-ish) chunks than scrolling through 300+ pages or searching by chapter number.


I found MS OneNote to be annoying tedious, particularly when bring information into the program. The only similarity I can see between OneNote and Scrivener is in the most basic layout and capabilities.

Scriveners export tool puts it over the top for me. I can add my cover when I upload to Amazon.

Question to Scrivener users: Does the license you buy cover more than one system. I do some of my writing on my desktop but the large majority is on my Laptop. Anyone know if one license can be made to cover both systems (neither are mac)?


message 10: by Jo (new)

Jo Hogarth | 22 comments That's a good question, I only use it on my laptop. However they have what they call a Household License so that you can actually install it on a few. It's noted on this page of their website. http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scr...

Hope that helps.


message 11: by Allan (new)

Allan Ashinoff (AllanJAshinoff) | 16 comments Jo wrote: "That's a good question, I only use it on my laptop. However they have what they call a Household License so that you can actually install it on a few. It's noted on this page of their website. http..."

Thanks! That answered my question. The below is an excerpt from their license agreement (they misspell license! Is it an English thing?).

"This licence agreement enables you and your family members to use the Software on your own respective computers within your household but you may not copy or transfer the Software to any other computer or hard drive. Any members of your family not residing at your
address for eight months of any year or more are not family members for the purposes of this licence agreement must purchase a separate Software licence."

Thanks again!


message 12: by Christie (new)

Christie Meierz (christiemeierz) | 6 comments I own several (expensive) programs that allow me to install them on precisely two computers, perhaps because many folks (myself included) have a desktop and a laptop and want the same software on both. If Scrivener doesn't allow that much, I'll probably give it a miss.


message 13: by Jo (new)

Jo Hogarth | 22 comments it does allow it, so its great actually and under $50.


message 14: by Çisem (new)

Çisem well, I'm a high schooler, so I got money near to none, so I use OneNote, and yWriter. They're all free, and easy to use. I use OneNote for explanations and pictures to use for my characters/locations/items/etc. and I use yWriter to create character profiles, background information, store my researches, create new chapters, scenes, and join them together when I get the inspiration. MS Word is good too, although I haven't used it since I got yWriter cover everything up for me.


message 15: by Jo (new)

Jo Hogarth | 22 comments I hadn't hear of yWriter before - I'll check it out. Thanks so much.
Jo


message 16: by James (new)

James | 3 comments I haven't hear of Scrivener. I might check it out. I'm old school, being that I still like a pad and pencil, then when the good thoughts come to me, I run to the computer and have been using MS words for long time and it has worked very well, although, one of these days, probably sooner then later, I should update to the newest version. I have always found when you update, there are new good features.


message 17: by John (new)

John Hancock (JohnGregoryHancock) | 135 comments James wrote: "I haven't hear of Scrivener. I might check it out. I'm old school, being that I still like a pad and pencil, then when the good thoughts come to me, I run to the computer and have been using MS wor..."

then you'll like scrivener, because one of the interfaces looks like post-it notes on corkboard.


message 18: by Jo (new)

Jo Hogarth | 22 comments it's true Scrivener allows you to create that same 'paper' creative process on the screen. I found it less intuitive at the beginning than say a mac type program but now that I have the hang of it it's fantastic.


message 19: by Alan (new)

Alan Dean (raincoastfiction) Has to be Scrivener, and for plotting/organising ideas, Scapple is very useful. In beta stage just now, but is fully functional. Well worth trying out: Scapple


message 20: by Jo (new)

Jo Hogarth | 22 comments Thanks for this ; )


message 21: by Tim (new)

Tim | 23 comments Allan J. wrote: "they misspell license! "

Yup it's an English thing. Americans spell it with an s, everyone else spells it with a c. Well, two cs, IYSWIM ;)


message 22: by Alan (new)

Alan Dean (raincoastfiction) Tim wrote: "Allan J. wrote: "they misspell license! "

Yup it's an English thing. Americans spell it with an s, everyone else spells it with a c. Well, two cs, IYSWIM ;)"


British English. Verb: License. Noun: Licence


message 23: by Jo (new)

Jo Hogarth | 22 comments Yes as a Canadian we get this confused all the time. I actually have done work for corporate clients on 'canadian' editing.


message 24: by Kaine (new)

Kaine Andrews (KaineAndrews) | 48 comments There's a lot of interesting notes regarding Scrivener on here - and I went to go check it out, for curiosity's sake more than anything else - but I feel the need to chip in a dissenting opinion. (I'm a contrary creature, what can I say? XD)

I use Apple Pages for the majority of my work, and if you're into a more "minimalist" approach, I suggest giving it a try. Pages pleases me because it's got all the bells and whistles I might want but nicely tucks them into the background for when I just want to write. Plus I used to have an iPad and tended to bounce back and forth between my system at home and the tablet when I was out and about. Pages will also export to just about any format I might conceivably need and doesn't bork my formatting too much in the process - except going to ePub, which tends to become an issue since I no longer have an iPad to double check the files with and calibre doesn't seem to like Pages' ePub exports for some reason.

I can see why some folks would be in love with Scrivener, but I honestly think having all those extras would drive me batty. I tend to have Pages open, and Chrome open behind it in case I need to Google something - quick reference, spelling of a famous name or place, alternative word, that kind of thing - and prefer that lack of clutter. I think my brain would melt down and I'd spend more time clicking around and diddling with the different windows and options than actually writing which seems counterintuitive, especially if I spent money for the privilege of doing so... XD

But, again, my brain is defective and tends to run off on it's own. I started with a typewriter, then migrated to ancient relics of the word processing past, such as T/S Word and Deskmate Type; I learned to get by with such tools and long ago grew accustomed to shuffling things around via cut/paste and massive amounts of deletion. XD Changing how I do things at this point would likely be more impediment than benefit. But hey, just my 2 cents.


message 25: by Chelle (new)

Chelle Ang (ChelleAng) Bought Scrivener and tried using it but it's not as user friendly as some say and I don't have time to fiddle around and figure it out so I just use Pages especially since I like to have Firefox open at the same time for quick research etc. Though I'd give anything for someone to show me how to use Scrivener.


message 26: by John (new)

John Hancock (JohnGregoryHancock) | 135 comments Chelle wrote: "Bought Scrivener and tried using it but it's not as user friendly as some say and I don't have time to fiddle around and figure it out so I just use Pages especially since I like to have Firefox op..."

true, but to me the advantage is when it formats and exports. Since I formatted my own book without help, Scrivener was invaluable.


message 27: by Raymond (new)

Raymond Esposito | 148 comments @robert - I tried most of the writing programs out there. Liquid sky is a very "cool" program but you can get lost playing around with it. It really is designed for the graphic novelist who needs to keep story and art together. After trying several different products, I settled on Scrivener as it had the visual organization of liquid sky but was more tuned to the traditional novelist.


message 28: by Gamal (new)

Gamal Hennessy Can some recommend a writing tool that can be used on an Android phone. My lifestyle lends itself to a guerrilla style of writing. I wrote my first anthology and my last two novels that way. Evernote is a great basic tool, but I'm wilking to explore other options.

Thanks in advance.
Gamal


message 29: by Philip (new)

Philip (Phenweb) | 157 comments Scrivener for me I have tried Writer Cafe on the PC plus basic word processors advanced word processors and so on. Now Scrivener rules!

I agree some of its features can be daunting and I certainly don't use all of them, but fro writing simple organising and formatting I find its very straightforward. The tutorial and web site help as do forums and some published guides


message 30: by Raymond (new)

Raymond Esposito | 148 comments Gamal wrote: "Can some recommend a writing tool that can be used on an Android phone. My lifestyle lends itself to a guerrilla style of writing. I wrote my first anthology and my last two novels that way. Everno..."

I could recommend that you get an Iphone LOL. Check if there is an Android version of Textilus. It is from the folks who brought us Scrivener and sinks between the two.


message 31: by Alfred (new)

Alfred (alfred_duff) | 9 comments On a side note I find it useful to hear my work read back to me. I sometimes use IVONA reader or mini reader. Its a pretty good text reader (text to speech) program which uses a very human voice, complete with different accents - male or female. I use it to spot any missing full stops or commas or when my eyes get too tired to concentrate on the screen!

http://www.ivona.com/en/reader/


message 32: by Raymond (new)

Raymond Esposito | 148 comments Alfred wrote: "On a side note I find it useful to hear my work read back to me. I sometimes use IVONA reader or mini reader. Its a pretty good text reader (text to speech) program which uses a very human voice, c..."

I bet my novel would sound really "smart" if read back in a British Accent


message 33: by Raymond (new)

Raymond Esposito | 148 comments Speaking of Software - I'm thinking about getting a new computer. I have been back and forth on the pros and cons of a Mac or a PC. Although I've been a PC user forever, the MAC would go well with my Ipad, Iphone and I hear Scriv is actually better on Mac. Any thoughts?


message 34: by Philip (new)

Philip (Phenweb) | 157 comments I finally dumped my PC earlier this year and now am Mac completely, well almost I run Parallels on the Mac to keep some apps available that just aren't on the Mac. Word is almost gone replaced by Scrivener, which is available for PC as well. What I can't shift my addiction to is Outlook so I do have MS Office for Mac. My Mac gets rebooted once a month maybe, My Parallels Windows every other day sometimes more often. Windows apps need updating continuously but so do iPad appas and some mac apps I just don't have to reboot to install.

The transition was relatively straightforward, but it does take time to learn different aspects even simple copy and paste are different cmd v instead of ctrl v, but I still have to ctrl v from inside Parallels and my new work laptop will be windows so I can't completely give it up. In the end one isn't better than the other it's just what suits, you could always try a Linux!


message 35: by Raymond (new)

Raymond Esposito | 148 comments My wife...being the IT guru is always talking about Linux...none for me thanks LOL. I also don't use shortcut key so it sounds like it might be an easy transition. And like yourself I have the corp computer which will probably always be PC. One concern I have is I do conduct all my final edits and formatting in Word. Are you using the Mac version of Word at all?


message 36: by Philip (new)

Philip (Phenweb) | 157 comments Raymond wrote: "My wife...being the IT guru is always talking about Linux...none for me thanks LOL. I also don't use shortcut key so it sounds like it might be an easy transition. And like yourself I have the corp..."

Yes I have it for letters and I had to use it for some Smashwords formatting where Scrivener let me down or Shamshwords did, I haven't transitioned to Pages, Numbers or Keynote yet from the MS Office equivalent, as for Windows to Mac for Office no problem at all in fact that made the mac easier because I kept Office. After all I couldn't care less about the OS I just want the Apps. I use Parallels less and less and really only for Paint Shop Pro, a media interface called Zappiti and an old version of MS Money I cling onto. I still have my old PCs sitting switched off and silent should I ever need to fire them up. I have an iMac so everything is neat and tidy on one large screen.


message 37: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Graybosch (matthewgraybosch) | 24 comments I'm a Linux user, and I do my drafts as plain text files formatted with Markdown. Each scene gets its own file, with each chapter going to a separate folder. I then put everything together with the cat command, and run the result through pandoc to generate an OpenOffice Writer file I can use for revisions and submissions.


message 38: by Raymond (new)

Raymond Esposito | 148 comments Unfortunately I'm allergic to cats...and plain text files :)


message 39: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Graybosch (matthewgraybosch) | 24 comments Raymond wrote: "Unfortunately I'm allergic to cats...and plain text files :)"

Nothing wrong with that, but since my day job involves software development using Microsoft tech for Microsoft platforms, I trust that company's software about as far as I can throw it.

Look at it this way: George R. R. Martin is still mucking about with DOS and WordStar 4.0. I just go a few steps further than he does. I can read and revise my drafts on any machine capable of handling Unicode text files.


message 40: by Grumpy (last edited Nov 26, 2013 09:07AM) (new)

Grumpy Writer (GrumpyWriter) | 7 comments I have tried yWriter (which is FREE) and Scrivener, but found Write It Now to beat both of these in terms of tools and usability. (Characters, Notes, Submissions recording, Timelines, Locations and more)

But for those that just want to WRITE, without all the bells and whistles, Scrivener is probably a better bet. There are a lot less distracting options, and you won't find yourself spending hours playing with character relationships and locations etc.


message 41: by Feliks (last edited Nov 26, 2013 10:15AM) (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) Jo wrote: "I have recently tried Scrivener as a writing tool and like it a lot although it takes some time to learn. I wanted to find out if anyone else uses software designed specifically for writers and what..."

I've examined almost every writing software out there, at one time or another. Specifically for novelists, I would add a vote to the others (above) for the free tool YWriter5. Like Scrivener, it keeps chapters secure in their own files in the Windows directory for safety. If it does a 'compile' process in the background, that happens invisibly, and exports very nicely to a number of formats.

If it only had a script engine like Scrivener or FinalDraft (instead of just novel format engine) I would rate it the best product I've ever seen. But the creator is a novelist and so that's how he slanted it.


message 42: by Grumpy (new)

Grumpy Writer (GrumpyWriter) | 7 comments Feliks - I didn't get on with yWriter. I still had to store some things outside of it, and gave up in the end..,


message 43: by Feliks (last edited Nov 26, 2013 11:23AM) (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) Like images or reference materials? Other filetypes? I simply put that elsewhere in the project folder using Windows Explorer.

Scrivener (mentioned by several people above) is certainly competent but I feel it needs just a little more 'under the hood'. More outlining tools; more type of hierarchical trees; more helpers, trackers and places to pre-fill-data in, beforehand.

Oh well. Seems like no software (I've reviewed at least 50 packages) does it all.


message 44: by Jodi (last edited Nov 26, 2013 01:02PM) (new)

Jodi Ralston (jodiralston) | 2 comments Hi all. I'm new to this discussion and group, but I wanted to jump in on this thread. I used to use RoughDraft for my first draft, but now I use One Note. I like the older version better than 2010 version (I think it is). I like being able to write on part of the screen and make notes besides it on another part. Or keep all my notes at hand in another section tab.

I still use Word for later formatting.

Jodi

ETA: The only thing that I do dislike is you can't have normal paragraphing. But I do that formatting later.


message 45: by Tracey (new)

Tracey | 2 comments Hello all. Newbie to this group. I'm editing a non-fiction book (a sort of "how-to") by an author for whom I will probably edit several more books. He knows his subject matter but is a poor writer, so I do a lot of reorganizing and moving things around. I frequently either change bulleted or numbered lists to different number levels or just ditch the bullets. I use Word for Mac 2011, but it seems to be-how do I say this--fussy, contrary and sometimes passive aggressive about the changes. It ACTS like it's going along with me, but then the whole page seems to go wonky. (Sorry for the personification, but it seems apt here, and since this is a writer's forum…)

Since it's non-fiction, there's not a lot of creative stuff going on. Just your basic writing. He also uses a different Word file for each chapter, but it's a real pain for figuring out if he's used a certain term before, because I need to go back and do a word search through every chapter. Maybe my expectations are too high, but it just seems like it could be done more easily with something else.

Any comments or suggestions would be welcome and appreciated.

Tracey


message 46: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (Dzerzhinsky) Sounds typical. MS Word makes you a prisoner of that 'page style' engine. Tons of formatting invisible-to-the-eye; which remains stubbornly in place. Even after you think you're commanded it to subside; it re-emerges like a hydra. Definitely switch to something else. OpenOffice, perhaps.


message 47: by Grumpy (last edited Nov 29, 2013 11:44AM) (new)

Grumpy Writer (GrumpyWriter) | 7 comments Tracey wrote: "Hello all. Newbie to this group. I'm editing a non-fiction book (a sort of "how-to") by an author for whom I will probably edit several more books. He knows his subject matter but is a poor writer,..."

Editing, as you know is different from the original writing, and as it's already been written (bar the changes you're making), I'd say that Word is fine for formatting and final 'laying out' of his work (tabs, bullets, etc) and, with it's strong dictionary and other spelling 'help', I'd say stick with it.

It SOUNDS as if he's using different tabs, different formatting per file, and this may be contributing to the 'wonkiness' you're experiencing.

If YOU are the one editing things, why don't you import all the chapters into one file? That way you have everything in one place. Spend some time creating your 'body' and 'heading' (or whatever you need) in a blank file, import his stuff as plain text, and formatting style (if not his questionable content) is a breeze.

MY suggestion, for what it's worth, would be to get HIM to use a different application (Scrivener, yWriter, Write It Now). These allow him to write his different chapters, whilst still 'keeping them together'. When he's happy, he can export each chapter as RTF for you do do your magic...


message 48: by Mark (new)

Mark Alan Trimeloni (markalantrimeloni) | 18 comments Hands down. Microsoft Word. Enough said.--mark :)


message 49: by F.W. (new)

F.W. Pinkerton (FWPinkerton) | 5 comments Must admit I write my chapters in word and then paste them into scrivener. As scrivener is great for the formatting stage.


message 50: by Justin (new)

Justin (JustinBienvenue) | 2048 comments I once tried Wordpad because everything else was down...yeah I DO NOT recommend wordpad at all! Lol.


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