23 April 2009

Free software for writers

I am something of a sucker for new pieces of software, particularly programs that promise to make the writing process easier and don’t cost anything. So here for your edification are some notes on some free programs that I have come across in my continuing search for the perfect piece of novel writing software.

My current favourite is yWriter. I have already said a bit about it in previous blog entries (here and here). It is now into version 5 and just keeps getting better and better.

Chapter by Chapter is an interesting alternative for folk who really must work in Word. Essentially it is an add-on for Word, which does much the same as Word’s Master Document feature but does it better and far more reliably. Very useful if you want to keep track of a project that consists of multiple Word documents. In fact, I may start using it for journal editing.

Celtx describes itself as ‘the most complete media pre-production software program available anywhere’. It probably does more than the average writer will want, but if you are interested in screenwriting this is definitely a program to look at seriously.

At the other extreme, for people who like a simple text editor without any bells or whistles to distract them from their writing, there is Q10. I seem to recall Gary Gibson recommending this program a couple of years ago. Not really my thing.

I have recently come across a piece of writing software that takes quite a different tack from the above. It is called Papel and works with a really intriguing visual metaphor. Essentially the various elements of your story are represented by icons that can be shuffled around on a storyboard and organized in a variety of ways. I am very tempted to give it a try (perhaps because I’m an inveterate mindmapper). It seems like quite a mature product, which is just as well as the author seems to have stopped developing it in 2006.

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