Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Write Aids

By Joe Moore
@JoeMoore_writer

Wouldn’t it be great if we could download a software program, input some general ideas about a book we want to write, click compose, and an 80k-word manuscript magically appears? That’s certainly the Holy Grail of writers everywhere. Let the application do the heavy lifting while we just sit back and think up more great ideas. As of today, that software program doesn’t exist.

Still, writers are always looking for a shortcut. A tool that can take some of the pain away. A tool that can make the journey through the 3-act novel a bit easier. There are some programs that can help, even just a little.

Granted, the only tools needed to write a novel are a sharp pencil and a pad of paper. And some writers still use that method while others have gone on to word processors like MS Word. I prefer the latter since I can’t read my own writing.

But for those who seek a little bit of help to assist in the process, I’ve assembled a list of applications that might. I’ve never tried any of them and endorse none. But if one Zoner out there benefits from one of these, then my work here is done.

Probably the most popular program for novelists is Scrivener. Bestselling novels have been written with it and those who use it love it. You can test drive it for free.

After Scrivener comes smaller programs that focus on particular aspects of the writing process. Here’s a list. Hope you find that magic bullet in the list somewhere.

Note Everything. The ultimate note pad.

Write or Die 2. Helps to eliminate writer’s block.

yWriter5. Helps you to plan your novel.

Diaro. Advanced diary application.

Writer Pro. Professional writing suite.

FocusWriter. Gets rid of all distractions so you can concentrate on writing.

Writer. Helps you focus on your writing.

Hemingway. Helps you write bold and clear.

wikidPad. Helps you to link your ideas.

Wise Mapping. Online mind mapping tool.

MindNode. More mind mapping.

TreeSheets. Powerful note taking app.

Bubbl.us. Brainstorm or create a map for your ideas.

Sigil. EPUB editor.

Vizual Einstein. Visually develop a project.

The Writers Store. Complete source for writing software and other stuff.

There are tons more out there. You can find them with a simple Google search. So, fellow Zoners, do you use any writer aids or are all you writing tools in your head? Any programs to recommend?

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Coming this spring: THE SHIELD by Sholes & Moore
Einstein got it wrong!

18 comments:

  1. My own recommendation is to download trial programs first and see what works for you before spending any money. I've tried some of these out and found that quite a few aren't all that friendly for writers who don't outline.

    I use Scrivener for Windows, which is great for pantsers, because it doesn't require the writer to follow the system. They can use parts of the problem they want and ignore other parts. I also use Evernote, and that's for research notes.

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    1. Good advice, Linda. And I've heard great things about Scrivener. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I've been playing around with Mr. Bell's "Knockout Novel." I like the tools and that it is web-based so I can log in anywhere and not have to use a port-key to have my story with me. Swapping it among computers really jacked my formatting.

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    1. Terri, thanks for a heads-up reminder of Jim's Knockout Novel. Anything he offers will make you a better writer.

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  3. Thanks for the great links, Joe! And I like @Linda's reminder to download trials.

    I plot with Excel spreadsheet, which has limitations, so I'm playing with the OneNote program that was included with my MS Office bundle. A quick Google search on "OneNote for novels" turns up several how-tos. I'm also hoping someone will comment here about it.

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    1. Thanks for that tip, Cate. Didn't know OneNote could be used for novel writing.

      Chris

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  4. PS - I missed the 2-part presentation, at Sleuthfest last week, on using Scrivener for writing. Fortunately, it was taped and is available as an MP3.

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  5. There's a fun app called Story-o-meter, which is like a virtual story-generating wheel--it includes prompts, inspirational ideas, organized notes, custom character names, auto generation, outline export and more. I haven't done much with it yet, but it seems fun and useful.

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  6. I like Pro Writing Aid. It's like Hemingway, but with more features.

    Thanks for the list! A lot of tools I need to check out there.

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  7. I may have asked this before, but does anyone know of any Word add-ons that will format a doc with chapter headings, running page numbers, and a title page? I was using ProsePro but it doesn't seem to have an upgrade available.

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  8. I bought Scrivener and tried to incorporate it into my writing, but found the learning curve rather steep, plus I didn't go in with a clear idea of how I wanted to use it.

    Haven't tried anything else, preferring to muck along with MS Word, although I took a course geared to writers on how to use Word and now I have a much better understanding of how I want to use it.

    Chris

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  9. Joe--
    For some of us, it's a hardware, not a software problem. But I'm not ready yet to go under the knife. Still, I will hold onto the useful list you've put together--and thanks!

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  10. What an excellent list of aids for writers, Joe! Thanks for compiling and sharing this list!

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  11. Thanks everyone for your comments and additional suggestions. There's no silver bullet here, but if you find something that helps you plan and writer your story, it's worth looking into.

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  12. Wow, Joe. Nice resource list. Thanks for this.

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  13. Wow, this is great. I need to try Scrivener. Some of my writer friends swear by it. Thanks!

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  14. Thanks for sharing these great resources, Joe.

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