Among the many people and things that are keeping this crazy summer project of mine afloat (thanks to all of you out there btw!) I have to say that the very best in the software/tool category is yWriter.
I’ve harped about yWriter before. If you don’t know yWriter and you write, make sure you check it out here. It’s free and it’s unbelievable.
This WIP has been very chaotic to say the least. I had a few days to brainstorm and start writing for July 1st, then I commit myself to go for 100k words. This crazy headlong rush has been exhilarating but it has also led to some serious story problems along the way that if I had been writing in OpenOffice or Word, I would have been pulling my hair out.
Why do I love yWriter? Let me count the ways:
1 – yWriter is easy: It’s easy to just jump into it and get started. You don’t NEED a huge tutorial, just follow the new project wizard and the rest can be figured out along the way. It’s easy to just start writing and use the obvious features, then discover the bells and whistles later.
2- It’s got features: Let’s talk about the features. I like bells and whistles, I love bells and whistles. If you throw in doohickeys? I’m your author! That’s why I was first attracted by Scrivener but found it too obtuse to get into and write. yWriter has most of those bells and whistles but they don’t get in my way. The big feature I discovered this week is the storyboard, which is a visual representation of your various POV among your characters. Neat, but I don’t NEED to set it up or use it. Just like the character lists and notes and such, they’re there but I don’t need to list and outline all my characters before I can start writing. I really like that. It appeals to the discovery writer in me.
3 – It forces me to keep organized: I do outline, really I do, but they usually aren’t as detailed as I’d like them to be. yWriter works by splitting up your WIP by Chapter and by scene. You don’t have to enter all the details for each, but you need to work by scenes and it forces me to think about my outline and what happens when. The added advantage to this is that I can easily shuffle scenes around. Yesterday, I came to the conclusion that a kick ass scene I wrote on Sunday was appearing much too early in my story. It was easy to grab the scene and chuck it a couple of chapters further down the line with only a few notes and adjustments. I know this is possible in Oo and Word but I doubt it’s as easy without a lengthy and technical setup.
4- It’s free: Ok, I am a cheapskate sometimes. I have to be. I’m a (relatively) new homeowner and my wife and I have a 15 month old child. I can’t afford to toss 50 bucks, 100 bucks or more on some wizbang writing tool that I’m not sure I’m going to absolutely love. I was thrilled to try the Windows Beta of Scrivener and I tried the demo of Writer’s Cafe but both seemed a little clunky to me (I’m sure some people are perfectly comfortable with either but for me, the UI and tools seemed to get in my way). For the money, yWriter does the job.
I have to say, as crazy as this project has been, yWriter has been essential is saving me time and hassle that would otherwise maybe put me over the top. It allowed me to focus on the real issues: my writing.