Writing software.

Daniel Hetberg

Reader of Books
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No idea what I did there... and I also can't remember what thatr link was supposed to point to, but the second link actually has all you need, including a template header file for a quick start.
 

Daniel Hetberg

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Jan 24, 2007
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109
'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).
Update. I got it, and let me tell you, it's nice. Regarding writing, some nice little features are (in no particular order):

  • dragging and dropping marked pieces of text to the margin, where it will stay as a little post-it note, in case you need it later.
  • marking discontinous pieces of text
  • damn good spell checking (german though)
  • impressively good grammar checking (german, too)
  • customizable thesauraus (yay!)
  • customizable dictionary, you get to choose which particular dictionary(s) to use when spell checking and which dictionary to "add" a word to
  • small application, minimal memory footprint, runs really fast
  • can be run off a memory stick, does not need to be installed
  • automatic whitespace correction when cutting andpasting text (you don't know how badly you always wanted this until you have it)
  • select all text of (font) (size) (bold/italic/normal) and change the style of the thus selected discontinuous block at once
  • Adjustable quotation marks ("Blah", <Blah>, >Blah<, ...), can automatically be replaced in full text at a later time.
  • Pretty kerning and typesetting. Almost as good as LaTeX.
  • Option to "mummify" text passages and get them back later. Generally markup options that will not show up in print, like chapter comments and stuff.
In short, I really like it. By the way, the above are all features (I think) of the standard version. The most valuable "author" upgrade for me is the style checker. Basically, you can check any of up to 10 or so style checkers, like "mark all adverbs and adjectives to see if they just bloat the text and can be omitted", "mark all conjunctions", "mark all long sentences", "mark repetitions of words within N words distance", "mark lazy verbs (like 'do' and 'be') to check for more appropriate expressions"... all with customizable lists of words they look for.
 

kcartlidge

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Jul 21, 2010
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14
It sounds a little bizarre, but for longer works (multiple chapters) I use Visual Studio, the software development tool from Microsoft. It works fine for all file types, is fast, supports projects with multiple files and search/replace across them all, plus with a developer thing (Subversion source control) I get online backups with versionings so I can see (and compare with) previous versions of the text. I do a scene per file.

For creating the basic plot, assuming it's more action than dialogue, I also use Sophocles (CeltX is a free similar alternative) which is really for scripts but by writing my first draft as a script I can concentrate on the content rather than the dialog and keep moving faster.

One last thing, someone mentioned Latex. For presented output it's superb and if you use Lyx as your 'document processor' it's a great combination.
 

Anne Lyle

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You definitely want a Word-compatible word processor, because RTF/DOC is the default format for electronic submissions. Beyond that, it's purely a matter of personal choice.

I use Scrivener because it's a fantastic manuscript-organising tool - it uses TextEdit, OS X's built-in editor, for word processing, and exports to RTF or DOC, which I then check in Pages (OpenOffice screws with the line-spacing, for some reason...). All Scrivener really does is save your individual documents in a tree hierarchy and allow you to add meta data like synopses, PoV labels, and research notes - but it does so beautifully!

On Windows, there's a very similar application called Liquid Story Binder - haven't tried it myself, not having used Windows in years, but I hear it's very good.
 

Spectra

New Member
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Jul 27, 2010
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Although it's nothing like Word (in fact, it's not even a word processor) Outline 4D by the Write Brothers has become my new secret weapon. It's new, and rough around the edges, but once you eventually get used to it Outline 4D is incredibly powerful.

I'll admit that it takes a lot of work to figure out, but the tutorial and examples help a lot. And it's worth the effort. Everything I write these days now begins with planning on Outline 4D. It's just a shame it doesn't have a trial version.
 

Mandorin Anamor

Bodybuilding book addict.
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Jan 1, 2007
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86
Just in case anyone was interested, I finally located that novelists software I'd used before, it is in fact called "Writeitnow".

I actually liked it so much I had no qualms about paying the 9.99 for it. It's excellent as a basis for planning, making notes and referring to background info all in the same window. I use it exclusively to write in now, and simply copy and paste text to word 2007 for reviewing.
It has an explorer style drop down window, with pre-designed tabs for locations, characters, notes, ideas, and the chapters tab is well designed, allowing you to split chapters into more manageable scenes.....
As well as very detailed character reference sections, you can create character relation charts and timeline charts, all more of a fun extra thna being actually useful, but prompts you to enrich characters and the worlds they inhabit.

I have writeitnow4.....really want to try that outline 4d thing as well, see how it compares.

:D
 

kcartlidge

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Jul 21, 2010
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The price for WriteItNow appears to be a fair bit more these days ($60 whereas you mention 9.99), but it *does* look good. There is a similar but less featured open source (free) one called "StoryBook 2" for those on a budget - it's limitation being that it is aimed at managing your novel during construction not replacing your editor.
 

J Riff

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Well..I finally had to install Word. At long last I got my mitts on a version that actually runs on this PC. Word 2007.
Now... it drive crazy me! !%!$$ formatting... I sent offa couple stories and they showed up skewdged! Yet when I open 'em here- in 3 diff. progs- they look fine.
Just wondering if there is a simple tutorial that covers the more annoying, or at least important functions of Word. Not like a computer idiot here - but for some reason my teeth grind and my leg twitches when I try to set up standard formatting in Word.
 

J Riff

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More to the point - having just watched a few tutorials on youTub..
Maybe people who write...who use standard %@!%!$! manuscript writer-type submissible formats... can post some favorite tips.
It took me forever to turn off the annoying squiggly lines under words..I think it's grammar or spellchek.. but when you go to the options there are a dozen 'replace smart quotes w/ etc." and other stuff.
There's just too many commands...and super and sub-script and stuff that seems useless. Standard manuscript format - font12 etc. and how can that be difficult? Yet it is. Mental block of some kind praps I will go watch more know-it-all tutorials.
 

mosaix

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Well..I finally had to install Word. At long last I got my mitts on a version that actually runs on this PC. Word 2007.
Now... it drive crazy me! !%!$$ formatting... I sent offa couple stories and they showed up skewdged! Yet when I open 'em here- in 3 diff. progs- they look fine.
Just wondering if there is a simple tutorial that covers the more annoying, or at least important functions of Word. Not like a computer idiot here - but for some reason my teeth grind and my leg twitches when I try to set up standard formatting in Word.

I think you may find that submitting in RTF (exported from Word) will help.
 

Ursa major

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Well..I finally had to install Word. At long last I got my mitts on a version that actually runs on this PC. Word 2007.
Now... it drive crazy me! !%!$$ formatting... I sent offa couple stories and they showed up skewdged! Yet when I open 'em here- in 3 diff. progs- they look fine.
Just wondering if there is a simple tutorial that covers the more annoying, or at least important functions of Word. Not like a computer idiot here - but for some reason my teeth grind and my leg twitches when I try to set up standard formatting in Word.
Could you be a bit more specific about what became "skewed"?

It took me forever to turn off the annoying squiggly lines under words..I think it's grammar or spellchek.. but when you go to the options there are a dozen 'replace smart quotes w/ etc." and other stuff.
There's just too many commands...and super and sub-script and stuff that seems useless. Standard manuscript format - font12 etc. and how can that be difficult? Yet it is. Mental block of some kind praps I will go watch more know-it-all tutorials.
The red squiggles are from spellcheck; the green ones are, I believe, from grammar check. (And it does take some time to find what you want in Word2007, particularly if you've got used to earlier versions of the program, as a change in the philosophy of command presentation came in with Word2007. But, eventually, you get used to it.)
 

Dale_M

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Feb 7, 2010
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The power of the layout engine that you get for free with any web browser these days should not be overlooked.

Speaking for myself, I write in Emacs Org mode (Google!) and view in the same web-browser I use to view Chronicles... the big advantage is that you can see how the words end up in any format simply by resizing the window and watching the text jiggle around on the screen. A very simple bit of CSS2 allows me to define margins and general presentation options with infinite flexibility, and you can do that on-the-fly with Firebug on Firefox.

It does have a steep learning curve though...
 

J Riff

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Skewdged. Like the paragraphs break up worngly when opened elsewhere.
See i have what is it?... PolyEdit lite..and it opens umpteen tabbed wips. good, fast, easy.
Word is huge and opens a separate instance for each file. AND I use .rtf. and word likes docx better it seems. But there it sits... 195 mb. vs. 3.8 mb! 195 MB!!!! Irritating..endless sub-commands for clip art and twenty other commands for every one I use and no way to get rid of them...a huge ribbon of commands eating up hard drive space and why? So I can format in standard MS form? 3.8 MB seems about right for that.
This is the only problem I have with writing... the &!&!^% word processors.
 

RoninJedi84

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Dec 16, 2010
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I had used OpenOffice until looking through this thread. I downloaded yWriter and have to say that (so far, at least) I love it. Using OpenOffice, everything was a separate document; character lists/outlines, plot summary, chapter outlines, chapter drafts...you get the picture. With yWriter, I can have all of it together in one project, right there to access at the click of a button. Thanks to those of you who mentioned this software, as I think I just found a new favorite, and very powerful tool.
 

Dale_M

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I was intrigued enough by this thread to download yWriter and try it for myself. I work entirely in Linux, and I'm afraid to say that in this environment yWriter is entirely broken software. A pity because I can really see the potential. But there is no way I'm trusting my hard-won words to this piece of amateur goo.
 

J Riff

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OK... !%%!1 ... Now, what I have to do..is open the text in Word.. make oh-so-difficult maneuvers.. likie centre the title etc. then close it and PooF! ...it's now twice the size..32k becomes 64. Then I go back and save it in my usual prog and it shrinks back down...then re-open in Word to make sure it still looks OK. 185MB to do basically nothing except move a bit of text around.
I'm still waiting for someone to make software that is actually for writers... instead of just slapping every bell and whistle on it. It should have a half-dozen pre-set common formats and nothing else. No kerning, no inserting graphs no endless options for useless fonts...
I've tried all of them..Open Office nearly killed my PC. A dozen others, ending with PolyEdit lite which is not bad if you want a fast prog that allows many tabbed wips.
 

Hammerhand

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Jan 26, 2011
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Harrogate
I use NewNovelist 2 at them moment. It is pretty good with all the notes sections and resources, but there is a few niggling shortfalls. The text editor is okay, but not perfect by any means and there is no word count for some reason and the thesaurus is pretty poor. The export and print function seems to go belly up when the story is over 50 or so pages so I have to export it chapter by chapter which is a bit annoying, but not unworkable and it is nigh on impossible to format it into a standard manuscript layout in the programme settings. It certainly has it's charms though and I find the plot guides an immense help in shaping the story into a decent structure. Interesting to see they have released a version 3 that seems to have swept up all the issues from V2 and even has a Word 2007 style interface and an automatic manuscript formatter as well as dictation and read-back functions. I am sorely tempted to buy it!
 

Malloriel

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YWriter is definitely one of my favorite programs. I had tried using StoryBook, but as much as I wanted to take advantage of the time line tool, the fact that it was programmed with the assumption that all books written by people using the software would be written using real world dates. This is supremely inconvenient when I'm writing in a fantasy world that doesn't use any dates similar to the ones we have real-world side. In the end, I replaced it with YWriter, and though I lack a true time line feature now, I've gained so much more that it never has felt like a problem.
 

psychotick

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Hi,

I just stick to Word as well (2000 edition, simply can't be blowed spending the big bucks to upgrade - Microsoft might sell a lot more product if they reined in their prices a little). But I do have an ancillary program Bookshelf, also microsoft, which is magnificent. Dictionary, thesaurus, quotes, encyclopedia etc all in one reference disk. Its a great companion, pity its 97 but they stopped making it when they brought out Encarta.

Cheers.
 

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