20 May 2009

More software for writers

Scrivener is widely regarded by creative writers as an indispensable tool for bringing order to the chaos of multiple files that seems to be an inescapable part of writing with a computer. As Gary Gibson points out, ‘Using the Mac-only Scrivener software has helped a lot for organising the manuscript and giving me a better overall sense of the book's structure than I've previously managed to get using more standard software like Microsoft Word’. Unfortunately it is only available for Macs and the developer has made it clear that he has no intention of developing a Windows version.

Now it looks as though PC users’ dream of a Scrivener-like outliner are about to be fulfilled. Rob Oakes, who blogs at Apolitically Incorrect, has just unveiled an early alpha version of an outliner for LyX. For anyone who has not heard of it, LyX is a graphical front-end for the legendary document processing system LaTeX (effectively a LaTeX-based word processor). At the moment, LyX-Outliner is little more than a demonstration, but it promises much for the future.

This post was originally going to be about LyX-Outliner on its own but I have just come across another piece of software for writers that looks really interesting. Storybook is a piece of Java-based freeware which offers writers a way of outlining their stories based on storyboards. Java-based programs have a reputation for being slow, but I am tempted to try Storybook out while awaiting developments on the LyX-Outliner front.

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