In the spirit of the money should flow TO the writer rather than FROM the writer, I wanted to pass on a pretty cool utility. It is particularly useful for outlining, but in actuality, you can use it as your primary word processor as well.
I have never been much for investing in software and other tools which are generally overpriced and written by folks who don’t actually write…they may have English degrees and big on writer’s conferences and theory, but they don’t drag ass out of bed every day with a cup of coffee, push the needy cat off the keyboard and start typing toward that daily wordcount.
There are some spectacularly expensive software packages that are supposed to help provide creative assistance like some Greek Muse in a box. I have looked at a few of these and I have never been impressed. Most break down to some system that could be expressed in a bulleted list of steps and could be accomplished with a pen and paper sitting in a coffee shop somewhere….even one without power outlets and wifi.
Don’t get me wrong on this. Some folks love Dramatica and Scribners and those other software packages, and if that is what makes you pump out the pages then good for you! But I would suggest that most writers don’t need all that. If you are just starting out I cannot emphasize enough the importance of investing your TIME and EFFORT on writing and NOT your MONEY!
It takes some organization. I suggest that at least some level of outlining is good for ensuring that you don’t end up wasting the small amount of precious writing time you have. The “snowflake method” is great. But again, you don’t need software to help you accomplish this. (Here is a link detailing the steps of the snowflake method…print it out. It is ALL YOU NEED. http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/)
You don’t need to take a class. You don’t need a dozen conferences. You don’t need to buy a supercomputer with a 3D gaming video card and a sound system with ultra mega bass speakers and a processor that you need to use liquid nitrogen to keep cool. A simple, cheap, slow computer is fine for word processing….because that is what you will be doing….entering words into a document. A few every day until you have a finished product at the end of the journey. You need to WRITE.
That being said, some things help you organize your work. If you are a full time writer, it is not too difficult to keep the scope of a novel solid in your mind. However, if you are a part timer, or a weekend warrior, you write half of a great scene, then have to go to work and deal with the drama and projects and deadlines, then you run to the store and make dinner for the kids and get little Johnny to band practice and then,…oh shit! It’s Mary’s birthday! I forgot…you run to the store and get the least lame present you can think of…finally, you get a free hour and your turn your computer on.
What the hell were you doing? What was that character’s name? I could have sworn I knew why I put the gun on the mantelpiece in chapter 3, but I can’t remember…..
Sometimes you need organizational help so you don’t waste all your writing time catching up to where you left off, and worse yet, solve the same problems you had already solved perfectly but forgot to adequately document so you have to start over.
Often you do need the help of some utility programs related to organization and outlining. But, you don’t have to spend a fortune, and please don’t listen to the sales pitches and hucksters that prey on writers. There are some are some great FREE apps out there.
This is one of my favorites. It is called “YWRITER” it was written by Simon Haynes, an Australian SF writer under the company name of SPACEJOCK SOFTWARE. It is a great outlining tool, and if you want, you can even use it as your primary word processor. It has more bells and whistles than you will likely need. I am attaching a link to the free download site as well as a link to a youtube tutorial on how to use it for outlining.
(I get no cut, by the way….I tried to negotiate a 25% of the $0 cost but this division by zero thing happened and it almost opened up a gateway to hell….film at 11.)
Link to the tutorial: (Watch it first to see if you are interested…)
Link to the software: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html