After a crazy weekend of blogfesting my brains out (and no, I’m still not done reading some of the posts), I’m eager to get roaring on my current WIP so I can get around to finishing the biggest edit ever on my first MS. Yes, I have some great ideas to get myself in a happy place with it. Finally—whew!!
My second WIP seems to be in better shape than my first and I think it may be that I actually incorporated a little—and I mean teensie—bit of outlining this time. The story arc and character arcs are all improved. Now that I’ve worked out this method of plottsing (or is it pantsotting? It all sounds weird.), I know how I want to edit my first MS.
I noticed a few blog posts from writers who were having some trouble finding a system for outlining or organizing their scenes, and though I’m a big fan of the old bullet list, I don’t think anyone else is all that enthusiastic about it. So I thought I’d look at some creative writing tools to try out.
I found plenty of programs to choose from. The most pricey was Dramatica Pro at $200-$220. From what I read, this software could just about write the story—well, if you can figure out how to use it. It asks you about a few hundred questions and then maps out the story for you down to the bitty details. It has just about every feature available in a writing software program including structure templates, brainstorming tools, outlines, reports, conflict, plot and character development tools, and a built-in word processor. I thought I’d laugh when I read it has no spell check or word count capability. Sounds like some geeky engineer student oversight to me.
If you want to save a bit, but still keep most of the features, Power Structure has just about all the same features at $149.95 except it’s reportedly a lot more difficult to use. It doesn’t come with tutorials so you’re on your own with it.
If you want to save even more, $29-$99 or so will buy you WriteWay, Power Writer, or StoryWeaver. These programs give you nearly the same number of features as the other two programs, but for under $100, although the features lean more to the word processing side than to the story development side. They’re also easier to use for the less experienced writers (like me!) as well. On the down side, the first two programs don’t work with Mac. For Mac, Scrivener looks pretty darn good and at such a low price.
If you’re anything like me and flock to anything that’s free, you could try an open source program. I’ve found a couple with some good reviews. Storybook can help with structuring your book with tools to manage chapters, scenes, characters and locations. It offers several different views of your work and instantly saves data as it’s entered. You can also export in a variety of formats, txt, pdf, html, rtf, etc. yWriter is another one developed by a writer and earning positive remarks. Rough Draft is no longer being updated, but the software is still available for download. I personally have Celtx, an open source screenwriting program that allows storyboards, etc., but all I ever do with that is play around with it.
The basic thought behind these programs is that a simple word-processing program is inadequate for longer pieces of fiction and stories with complex plots or characters. After looking at a bunch of the screenshots, I can see how some of the views might be beneficial, but I’m at my best when working simplistically, often with just a pen and paper. Maybe I haven’t found the right program for me yet.
How about you? Do you have a favorite program you use or do you just prefer a basic word-processing program like Word? Or is it pen and paper, too? What’s in your writer’s toolbox?