For Writers

Improving Your Writing

Article #2: Fantastic Writing Software by T. A. Grey (July 2011)

Are you a bit of a nerd? I think there’s a bit of one in each of us. For me, I absolutely love software (and many video games). Trying out even a demo of software gets me pumped with excitement—almost like buying a new book. Naturally, I have taken my love for writing and my love for software and combined those. I have tried, literally, nearly a dozen different kinds of writing software, and today I’m going to show you the best ones I’ve found. Also, most of these programs are FREE!

Some of the writing software might even be something you hadn’t thought about! By the way, if you know of writing software that I haven’t listed or that you think I’ll like, drop a comment and leave a link for it! Me love software!

yWriter 5

by Spacejock Software

I LOVE yWriter 5. For one, this program is FREE. If you’re read my other article onImproving Your Writing, then you already know a little bit about this. For those you who haven’t, then read on. yWriter is a program written by a writer and programmer. I think this makes the program even greater because it’s truly done for a writer’s needs.

In this program, you create a project, and then add chapters and scenes as you write. It comes with an autobackup feature, a word counter, easily moveable scene and chapters, character, item, and location development. What I mean by this development is that you can add as many characters as you want and fill in their Bio/Notes/Goals/Pic/Name. Note: this program is not a text editor, meaning if you want to check for errors you must export your project (very easy to do) and then edit it in Word or whichever program you choose.

Check out the software here: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter.html

Storybook

Storybook is fantastic for writers who outline and plan or use index cards. This is also

FREE. Storybook is a fun program where you can add ‘threads’ that follow your main characters. For instance, in a novel you might have a thread for your Hero and Heroine. You then fill in the Title on the ‘card’ and a paragraph detailing the scene. You also have many different settings on how you can lay your cards out. As a side note, just know that I’m calling them cards because to me that’s what they look.

Storybook also allows you to create detailed information for Characters and Locations. It is also a great way to outline or view your Scenes and Chapters. It is very nicely organized into Parts –> Chapters–>Scenes.

Check it out here: http://storybook.intertec.ch/joomla/index.php/download-top

CollageIt

I must admit, I haven’t had the pleasure of trying this software yet; however, I am reallylooking forward to it! I found this software because for my next big series I want to have many visual cues. I thought that having a collage of images of the locations, people, and items in my story might improve my descriptions. (And who knows, maybe it will be inspiring)

CollageIt is simple to use though. You simply add in the images you want and then you customize the layout of the images until you are satisfied. Now, if only I had a good color printer, I could print this out and keep it next to my laptop. This program is also great for Mac users since it’s available for both Windows and Mac.

Check it out here: http://www.collageitfree.com/

WriteWay

This is what I’m currently using! I have stopped using yWriter simply because this is veryaffordable and I LOVE it more! WriteWay is designed by romance author Lara Adrian’s husband! How cool is that?

This program comes in two different editions. Download the 30-day demo (free) first and see if you love it as much as I do. I mean really, I loooovethis program. This program has so many awesome features that I’m not going to list them all here, please just visit their site to see them all. But I am going to talk about a few of the awesome features.

Storyboarding, great scene organization, and Character worksheets are some of the key features to this program. The storyboarding allows you to create little index like card (like in the Storyboard software) and view them as you write in a neat little box or in full view. I love this because instead of keeping 2 programs open, I just need one. You can also organize your project into Acts–>Chapters–>Scenes and develop your Front/Back Matter in the program. Additionally, if you have research you can do this in the program which includes clipping in images/text and browsing the internet through the program.

Sounds great, right? It is! That’s why I bought the pro version for $49. For the price this program is so worth the money. The standard version looks just as great though and it’s even cheaper!

Check out the demo if you don’t believe me: http://www.writewaypro.com/product_info.php

I know this article was long, but I hope you found something interesting! Let me know if you end up trying any of these programs, and be sure to tell me ow they work out for you! Also, keep an eye out in the next week or so for Dark Awakening: The Kategan Alphas 2 is on the way!

Happy writing,

T. A. Grey

Article #1: Turn off the spell checker by T. A. Grey, June 2011

What! Are you nuts? Turn it off. But I’m a horrible speller and I’m constantly making mistakes, plus if I just edit it as I go then it’s less work when I’m finished.

You heard me. Turn it off. When you sit down to work on your novel, your movie/play script, or your poetry just turn off your spell checker first. Why you ask? Because the green, blue, and red error squigglys interrupt your create thought process. In fact, it does it constantly! If you have your Proofing settings in word set to default then every time you write a sentence fragment you will have nasty green stuff all over your screen.

Take a look at this example:

“Stop that. You don’t know what you’re doing.” Erin reached to grab the wrench from his hand.

“Oh, really? Like you know how to fix a leaking faucet any better. Just leave me to it.

Now picture all those bold words squiggled with green lines because they’re a sentence fragment. And while it’s not the most riveting dialogue, it’s convincing. It’s also convincing because it’s a fragment. People talk in fragments all the time, so it’s natural to write it. That doesn’t mean every sentence is a fragment either though (note the others).

Back in my degree program, I had several courses that taught professional editing using the Jet Propulsion Levels of Editing (invented by NASA).  One of the great things I learned was to separate writing from editing. Separate the whole thought process. When you’re working on your novel, lock away the editor and focus solely on your story and characters.

When to edit

When your story is completely finished, then you edit. Turn on your spell checker and scan your entire document for errors. For those who still believe that editing while writing is the best way to go, you’re just hurting your creative process. You also have to edit your manuscript at least once before sending it off to your agent/publisher/Amazon, because even with the spell checker on, it doesn’t catch everything.

For instance, it won’t catch this:

“I’ve been so blew lately.”   = blue

“Let’s go chase a movie.”  = catch

So if you don’t read through your draft at least once, you’re going to make some really glaring and embarrassing errors that will only hurt you.

Awesome writing software

A few months ago, I found the greatest writing software. I like it for many reasons. But mostly I love it because there is no spell checker. None. At all. Want to edit your work? Then export your completed document/chapter/scene and edit it in Microsoft Word or some other program.

The program is called yWriter and it’s FREE. The author of the program is a software developer and writer. The interface is plain and simple and doesn’t distract me like working in Word does. I used to just turn off all spelling and grammar checkers and write, but somehow the top ribbon and its colors always distracted me. (No, I don’t have ADD or anything, but it made me feel like it).

Conclusion

So, what’s to be concluded from all this? Well, it’s up to you whether you want to leave on your spell checker, but don’t. Turn it off. You don’t need it while you’re writing that amazing thriller or romance novel. At least give it the old college try. Let your creative process flow naturally and lock the editor in the bottom drawer until your manuscript is finished. Then let it out and find those mistakes!

Note: I have a B.S. in Professional Writing. I’m a young writer, but I have some experience and knowledge in editing, writing, planning, and design. So even if you don’t agree, just try it out. It might help! I’m not a super expert on anything, but I know this advice has worked for me and others.

Coming soon and not in any particular order:

  • How to edit your manuscript.
  • Recommended reads.
  • Software programs to help you write.

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