Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tools Revisited

I've posted about writing tools here before. However, I found myself replying to someone else's post about differences between Scrivener and yWriter and it started to get a bit lengthy. I thought it might be time to multitask and revisit the subject with my current state of affairs. Admittedly a lot hasn't changed. 
I've used yWriter5 for several years now. I've completed several short stories and have several novels under way. I got yWriter originally because it was free, and yes, I'm a cheapskate. Free is excellent. yWriter does everything quite well. 

I started using it on Windows XP, then Vista and now Linux Mint 17.3. There is no native yWriter for Linux yet, however the instructions they give on the yWriter website for running it on Linux work very well. I keep several backups of my work on backup hard drives and flash drives. My main files stay on Dropbox. I have very rarely lost any of my work but it has happened. A sentence maybe, or even a paragraph once. My fault, usually.

I've looked at Scrivener for PC. I have the free intro and start it up now and then. It's very slick, but so far I haven't seen much that makes it worth paying for above yWriter. Scrivener does have a Linux version.  I have also tried Power Structure and Storyweaver (paid) software. They seem marvelous, but really don't seem to work intuitively for me the way yWriter does. (Side note: Storyweaver is worth the price almost just for the informative newlsetters and free lessons they will send you after you sign up.) 

Another one I have that has possibilities is Writer's Cafe. That is more like a suite of writer's programs that looks interesting and useful. It has free and paid versions.

I occasionally write plays, for those I use Celtx. They have a nice bundle of applications for scriptwork, mostly paid and online. However I use their free version locally on my laptop since I don't need to collaborate particularly. Check them out if you have interest in screenplays and film production, though.

I've also played with mind-mapping software. It intrigues me as a brainstorming tool, but I can't really seem to get into it.

For collecting ideas I like to use Evernote, since  it is fast and easy and works on all my devices. There isn't a Linux version, but there is an online version working through both Firefox and Chrome that works quite well when I'm on my laptop. That's okay because if I'm using my laptop, I'm usually on wifi, if I'm not then it's only a little less convenient to check Evernote on my smartphone.

For some of us, though, and I do mean me, the proliferation of tools often means we spend more time playing at organizing than we do actually writing. If you just want to get the story down, and especially if you're a pantser as opposed to a plotter,  then a regular word processor will let you do that. I still use Word a lot. I have Word 2000 that still works quite well and I run it on a Windows emulator on my Linux machine. I also have Libre Office, a free alternative that is much newer and compatible with Word documents. I just know Word the best and I'll keep using it as long as it works. I'm stubborn that way. Old dogs/new tricks and so on.

Beyond that, there are programs such as Zen Writer and Omm Writer and the like that give you an even simpler text editor with even less formatting options and buttons to get in the way. Just fire it up and write in a clean space with no distracting choices to keep you from composing. Some even offer quiet music for the background.

I've dabbled with all of these now and then, and still play with them a little. However, since my novels and shorts have been parts of series it really helps to have a tool like yWriter that keeps things like storyboard, characters, places, objects and so on easily available. 

On my Android phone and Fire tablet I love having apps that I can rely on to access my work whenever/wherever I want to. I have the aforementioned Evernote, Celtx Script and Index Cards, Google Docs and Hancom Office which serves to read/edit Word or other Office type documents that come my way. I also have The Brain. 

I also consider the ereader apps on those devices as  important tools as well. I have the Kindle app on every device for Kindle books and Moon Reader for any non-Kindles I may find (and I find a lot). Of course, the Kindle Fire tablet actually is a Kindle reader from the start. It took a bit of finagling to get a non-kindle reader to work on it, but nothing serious. Amazon has a lot of books for the Kindle, but there are lots that are in other formats as well. I ALWAYS have something to read!

Okay. There you have it. Two of the three "R's" covered. Readin' and 'Ritin'. One good EMP and I'm officially back to the stone age again!

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