Writing software.

The Ace

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Word is the standard by which all others are judged, but there are a number of word processors out there. I personally use Open Office (one of several which are free to download) but you could try googling. As long as you work in plain text, there shouldn't be a problem with others reading it. The watered-down version of word included with Microsoft Works can have some compatibility problems, though.
 

Daniel Hetberg

Reader of Books
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Jan 24, 2007
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I can heartily recommend LaTeX. It's basically a scripting language that does the formatting for you.

To keep this short, let me refer you to what I wrote here and here concerning getting set up.

A quick google for a comparison of the optical impression of MS Word and LaTeX yielded the following: somebody wrote the same text (it's in german, a speech by some university professor that the writer considers to contain nothing of importance at all), once in Word and once in LaTeX. On his web page, he explains the rules of his comparison (simple text, nothing fancy) and explains in which typographical details LaTeX is better, which the lay person can just generally discern by gut feeling. The results are the following (PDF):

Result with Word Result with LaTeX

I think in order to see and feel the difference you should have both open and compare identical segments of the text, or even better, print them out. Look at them from a bit of a distance (in all likelihood you can't read german anyway). It's probably nothing where you cry out immediately, but all in all I find LaTeX much more comfortable to read, since the typesetting is smarter and more pleasing to the eye.

Ah, found a page in english that explains some of those typographical details: clicky. Especially check out the points 1, 3 and 6 (kerning, common ligatures and line breaks, justification and hyphenation) which are common and do make a difference, the rest falls into the exotic/propaganda category.


"But I want to be published and they want stuff in Word!"

Copy and paste your text from Latex into Word, remove the \chapter commands and you're done, basically. Normal text does not use all the fancy stuff LaTeX can do, so you don't need any commands and your script will consist of at least 99% plain text anyway.


Main points why you should use Latex, or at least give it a try
- looks better
- free
- open source
- better performance (I have yet to see an editor crash out on me or do unexpected stuff, even in long documents, which is a real problem with Word from what I hear)
- tons of free packages for specialized tasks

If you want to try it, feel free to PM me and I'll help you get set up.
 

iansales

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All word processors are much of a muchness. The actual presentation of the manuscript - the DTP aspect - is completely irrelevant, unless you're intending to publish yourself. Use whatever you want, or whatever you're used to - MS Word, Open Office Writer, Wordstar, WordPerfect, AmiPro, Google Docs... It doesn't matter - as long as the software can save as Rich Text Format. Pretty much all editors or agents will accept .rtf documents.

If, on other hand, you're interested in novel-writing software - i.e., software designed to assist you in structuring a novel... There are quite a few available, such as Scrivener or Writer's Café. I picked up one - Novel Writer, I think it's called - from a local 99p shop. It's rubbish.
 

hlywkar

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ha ha... Well I am content with continuing with Word. I was just curious. I wouldn't mind seeing it formated to roughly the same as it would be in print, just so I could see how many pages I am pumping out and how it would look. I would be really upset if 25 pages suddenly condensed to 8. lol.
 

davveruk

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I use Abiword mainly as it's free and compatible with Word. It's a stand-alone WP and has all the bells and whistles, without the bloat of MS Word. If you're happy with Word, then stick to it, I just prefer Abiword.
 

Moogle

Professional Student
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I use Abiword mainly as it's free and compatible with Word. It's a stand-alone WP and has all the bells and whistles, without the bloat of MS Word. If you're happy with Word, then stick to it, I just prefer Abiword.

Agreed, Abiword is a marvelously free program and not nearly as bloated or resource heavy as MS Word or even OpenOffice.

That said, I've been fiddling around with a program called yWriter for sometime now, it's mainly targeted at an author who is planning to write a novel, but it is very modular. As mentioned, I haven't really used it as a serious tool yet, but you're welcome to take a look and see if it suits your needs.

yWriter4 - word processor for authors
 
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Ghost of Harrenhal

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All word processors are much of a muchness. The actual presentation of the manuscript - the DTP aspect - is completely irrelevant, unless you're intending to publish yourself. Use whatever you want, or whatever you're used to - MS Word, Open Office Writer, Wordstar, WordPerfect, AmiPro, Google Docs... It doesn't matter - as long as the software can save as Rich Text Format. Pretty much all editors or agents will accept .rtf documents.

If, on other hand, you're interested in novel-writing software - i.e., software designed to assist you in structuring a novel... There are quite a few available, such as Scrivener or Writer's Café. I picked up one - Novel Writer, I think it's called - from a local 99p shop. It's rubbish.

Damn after checking out Scrivener in your link I read about it and it looks really useful but it says it is only compatible with Mac OS X :mad: That's the first time that has ever happened to me! :(
 

Laerten

Aspiring Writer
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Jun 29, 2006
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I enquired about novel writing software a while ago but didn't have much luck with any suggestions. I have since received New Novelist 2 as a present and have found it quite good since my initial scepticism. The way I have found that it works for me is almost like a computerised notebook for storing all my notes, individual chapter outlines, character descriptions etc.

At least I now don't have to search through over 20 notebooks for a bit of information. I would suggest this software to anyone who is looking for something to collate all their information.
 

Daniel Hetberg

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Writer's Cafe is the first piece of shareware I ever paid for in order to get the full version. This StoryLines tool is especially useful, basically an electronic version of 3x5 index cards that you can arrange as multiple interweaving plot lines with extra tabs for characters, location, blah, that I always kept erasing, writing over, erasing again, etc. in the paper version.
 

Mandorin Anamor

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hmm, yeha i'm also annoyed about that Scrivener one being for Mac OS only. damn, it looked really good as well.
Does anyone know the software Robert jordan used to use, i read in an interview once where he said he ahd a bad experience with word and started using somethign else, but cant remember what it was :(
 

iansales

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Here's a good one - yWriter. I downloaded it and tried it out. It has its foibles, but it's not bad.
 

Mandorin Anamor

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yah, cool, i just downloaded that one. It does seem rather good.
Its annoying, there was a realllly good one I found a while ago.
called something like "Writeitnow" i think.
It was really useful, well laid out witha good tab system.
only problem is, you had to buy it, tempting though.
Ywriter seems good so far :)
Thanks.
 

Xwing Mom

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ha ha... Well I am content with continuing with Word. I was just curious. I wouldn't mind seeing it formated to roughly the same as it would be in print, just so I could see how many pages I am pumping out and how it would look. I would be really upset if 25 pages suddenly condensed to 8. lol.

Word Perfect will do that for you...you can lay out your pages in a subdivided format, just like a book. It can even print them out nice and neatly numbered (which you wouldn't want to do unless you are into self-publishing).

Personally, that's one reason I prefer Word Perfect over Word. It's more user friendly as far as lengthy manuscripts go. I like knowing where my page ends and how it's going to look visually to the reader.:)

It also has a nifty little "widow/orphan" feature to prevent leaving one line of text at the top or bottom of a page.
 

Daniel Hetberg

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'Papyrus' seems to be a pretty straight-forward writing application. A german SF-Author I'm quite fond of (Andreas Eschbach) who also used to be a rocket engineer and programmer was involved in developing an author add-on that helps with editing, has a really good spell-checker etc. This version is due out sometime soon, BUT I'm not sure if there will be an international version.

Apart from that it's a slim text application (10MB or so) that will not slow down or crash with big documents. Haven't tried it yet, but I'm really tempted to get it (about 100€ + 50 or so for the author add-on).
 

fixmaster

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Dec 30, 2008
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Haven't seen it mentioned yet hope I didn't miss it. RoughDraft is a good free program designed for writers. hope it helped

Sorry i am a newb cant post links yet. I have no affiliation with that program just a happy users and the price is right. just type in RoughDraft in google and you will find it easy.

 

SNG

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Haven't seen it mentioned yet hope I didn't miss it. RoughDraft is a good free program designed for writers. hope it helped

Sorry i am a newb cant post links yet. I have no affiliation with that program just a happy users and the price is right. just type in RoughDraft in google and you will find it easy.


RoughDraft seems to be quite writer-friendly, perhaps even more so than MS Word (still trying it out). Really like its simplistic layout, the "Pad" feature; plus it's freeware.
 

limubai2000

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I've been using ywriter and then dropping the text files from that into Word for final editing. I love ywriter because you can edit chapters and scenes individually and it presents your work to you in much more organized fashion than staring at a megalithically long word doc.

OpenOffice is coming of age but it's not quite there for me yet.
 

jezelf

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I have New Novelist - though I have had a play about with it, it seemed a bit too formulaic at first, but good to begin with and get the process going and get some structure in place, then work into it.

Mostly using Open Office Org - it's free! (version 3 out now). I like Word, but have yet to get the spare money for MS Office. OOOrg is just fine for me at this time.

I generally hand write lot my inital ideas in my A4, 400 page lined,hardback books I picked up at a book shop (and on more mobile friendly pocket note books) Then copy those notes to my OOOrg doc, adding more detail refining and cross references etc - means you can add photos or other inspirations or reference, sketches into your notes as you go. It's amazing how much depth you can add doing something like this.

I look forward to getting all my notes on my laptop, so I can cut and paste and cross reference and index things so they are easier to find, edit, refine and not forgotten - will take a while though! Start refining and you create half a dozen background characters, which inspire their own little stories. can be quite fun, though.
 

J-Sun

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Oct 23, 2008
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I can heartily recommend LaTeX. It's basically a scripting language that does the formatting for you.

To keep this short, let me refer you to what I wrote here and here concerning getting set up.

Your first link doesn't work and, if it was intended to go to another thread, I'd be happy to follow it.

I haven't used LaTeX, as I think of it as being particularly suited to typesetting mathematical formulas but, yeah, plain text or marking up plain text is the only way to go (I use vim as my text editor).
 

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