November 20, 2019, 03:37:40 PM

Author Topic: Writing Software Recommendations  (Read 2635 times)

Offline ryanmcgowan

Writing Software Recommendations
« on: January 30, 2019, 01:39:27 PM »
Hello all,

I’m currently spreading my writing between notepads and an ipad with Microsoft word and finding its slowing my progress, with notes and ideas on different pages/documents and having to jump around back and forth a lot.

I’m trying to bring my writing/organising to a higher level and as such an thinking it’s time I brought my writing tech up to date also.  Can anyone recommend software they have genuine experience with, preferably Apple compatible.

Cheers all
It's the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears.

Offline Justan Henner

  • Barbarian who pronounces are, our and hour all the same way
  • Writing Group
  • Auror
  • ***
  • Posts: 1061
  • Total likes: 590
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2019, 01:47:52 PM »
I use Scrivener and love it. Some features I love:

1) It's easy to set up and use on a windows PC and Iphone (I don't have any experience with a tablet or apple computer), which means I can work on my iphone, and it will update fairly painlessly through dropbox to my laptop and pc allowing me to work on any of them. The basic free dropbox has been enough space for me so far, so it's also no additional cost beyond buying scrivener.

2) It has screen splitting capabilities, which is nice for working on one chapter while referring to an older one.

3) It allows you to organize several files into a single document, so that you can have a notebook separated already into scenes and chapters.

The comments and notes features are okay. In some respects, I prefer word's layout when it comes to commenting/highlighting. The font and formatting is less familiar to me than word, so it can get bothersome (and I've not had to format an entire book yet), but overall I really like it and wouldn't go back to word.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 01:56:26 PM by Justan Henner »

Offline Magnus Hedén

  • High Lord of commas and Grand Master of semicolons
  • Godling
  • **
  • Posts: 264
  • Total likes: 218
  • Gender: Male
  • My name is Magnus. I make stuff up.
    • View Profile
    • My Patreon
Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2019, 05:18:40 PM »
I use Scrivener for PC. It's great but I can't wait for Scrivener 3 to be released for PC, as it looks to be a much-needed update. That being said, I love it. It's helped me organise projects when they get too big to just have in one document, or a folder full of documents that you tab around between. It takes some learning and some time to find a way to use it that suits you, but it's a lot easier to get an overview with. I even write my flash fiction in it, these days.
You can find stories on my Patreon
I'm also on Twitter and the Book of Faces

Offline cupiscent

Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2019, 11:30:17 PM »
I'm another Scrivener user and lover. I know I don't even use half the potential functionality of the program, in terms of organisation and keeping my notes in it as well. (I use Evernote and also physical notebooks for planning and research.) But it's just so easy and helpful. (And the auto-back-up is so reassuring.)

And as I understand it, Scrivener for Mac is actually bigger, better, smoother, awesomer than Scriv for Windows!

The software does come with a price tag, but half-price coupons for it are handed out to NaNoWriMo winners, so if you ask around, someone may have one they don't need... :)

Offline J.R. Darewood

  • aka Duckly Breadgood
  • Writing Group
  • Master Namer
  • ******
  • Posts: 2499
  • Total likes: 1467
  • Gender: Male
  • Zork. And it was all downhill from there.
    • View Profile
    • Nerd Empire
Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2019, 03:48:45 AM »
I missed the half price coupon!

I have scrivener and I have both a PC and a Mac.  I couldn't really tell you about the differences b/c I've never been very successful at using it.  I remember thinking "This would be good for complicated non-fiction projects" then never using it.  The only time I've ever really used it was as a substitute for Final Draft when i needed to format teleplays and scripts.  i guess having a file in a format I can't just read anywhere makes me a little uncomfortable.

I, like the OP, have a sprawling fantasy series and have written scenes and outlines for for future books I may never get to when inspiration hits in notepad, word, and wordpad.  I have been trying to organize them chronologically somewhere but I'm just a mess.  There's a lot, and at some point MS Word's spellcheck stops working if your document gets too big. So I tried splitting it in half.  And then as I ran it through my 9000th beta reader at some point i converted it into 2-chapter chunks, a series of 17 google docs.  This has actually worked out pretty well for me.  if I want some advice from someone, they can just look at the link, and see the piece in the latest condition as well as note what other readers have commented and either agree or disagree.  I love having it on the web where I don't have to worry about my HD failing or something.  Eventually I'm going to consolidate everything into a single doc, hopefully after my latest run-through. Google docs is like the perfect level of simplicity-- I don't need the heavy load of Word, but I need italics and bold which I can't do in notepad.

So I'd say I'm pretty happy with google docs.


Offline cupiscent

Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2019, 07:25:15 AM »
I used to write in Word (before Google Docs existed) with one chapter per document. It kept things manageable and I could just print/send the parts I wanted. But then I needed to do a big edit of the whole novel (cutting 50k words). And it seemed like a completely impossible job until I put it into Scrivener, and could see the whole thing at once, and move scenes around and mark the ones that needed to be cut, or trimmed, or rewritten entirely, or where new ones should be. I've never looked back. (Though I do sometimes do a "zero" draft in Google Docs for the portability, depending on the circumstances I'm in when drafting.)

For the record, Scrivener saves all your "bits" (scenes, notes, documents, scraps; everything that's a page with words on in the project) as .rtf files within a folder structure, though admittedly the files are not named intuitively (numbered in order of creation, as far as I can tell). But it does mean all of your words are available; I've pulled my files up through Google Drive outside of Scrivener before, but it's not an easy way to work.

One thing Word and Docs have over Scrivener, for sure, is working with tracked and tracking changes at the reader / edits stage. And Docs capacity for sharing is fantastic.

Offline J.R. Darewood

  • aka Duckly Breadgood
  • Writing Group
  • Master Namer
  • ******
  • Posts: 2499
  • Total likes: 1467
  • Gender: Male
  • Zork. And it was all downhill from there.
    • View Profile
    • Nerd Empire
Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2019, 08:29:24 AM »
Wait you can see it all at once in Scrivener? I thought you could only see one chapter at a time unless you write it all in a single thingy

Offline Magnus Hedén

  • High Lord of commas and Grand Master of semicolons
  • Godling
  • **
  • Posts: 264
  • Total likes: 218
  • Gender: Male
  • My name is Magnus. I make stuff up.
    • View Profile
    • My Patreon
Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2019, 09:07:43 AM »
Yeah there's a toggle to see all selected documents together.

Pretty much anything you might want to do, you can do in that program, is my experience. You just have to figure out how. Going through the tutorial is highly recommended.

It is vastly superior to a bunch of Google docs, in my opinion. And I set the save folders in my Dropbox folder, so it's backed up nearly instantly to the cloud. I wouldn't dream of only keeping copies on a single computer.
You can find stories on my Patreon
I'm also on Twitter and the Book of Faces

Offline Rohan_Vider

Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2019, 08:36:42 AM »
Anyone use ProWritingAid? Whats your thoughts on it?

Offline Matthew

Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2019, 09:16:30 PM »
The OP did state a preference for iOS so I'd have to agree with Scrivener (definitely seems better than the Windows version at the moment - though I did try the beta this month and it's looking good too).

For people not on Mac who want something for free, I've been using Quoll Writer for a while, both on Windows and on Linux through Wine (A pure linux version is due out as well). It has many of Scriveners features, and while it misses some, especially when it comes to compiling options, it has a few little gimmicks of it's own that work well (the UI being even more customisable for example.

Offline Nora

  • Dropped in from another planet avec son sourire provocateur - et Hades and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4584
  • Total likes: 3529
  • Gender: Female
  • The Explorer
    • View Profile
Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2019, 09:47:58 PM »
My personal preference goes to Ulysses. In dark mode it is perfect. Completely free of distraction, with all the tools at hand, you can write chapters indepandantly and merge files, keep things in folders and it all looks very neat.

See, full screen, when I write :



You can choose to see everything, like bellow, or only the column of pages. It's rife with shortcuts too, but I use the very minimum and it's god enough. 100% distraction free and gentle on the eyes, I've used it for years and no complaint.



And F* yeah it's pirated, sorry pals, that's not a free or even cheap software, like many beautiful designer things on mac... Totally worth the money I didn't pay for it though  :-X :-[ :P
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline J.R. Darewood

  • aka Duckly Breadgood
  • Writing Group
  • Master Namer
  • ******
  • Posts: 2499
  • Total likes: 1467
  • Gender: Male
  • Zork. And it was all downhill from there.
    • View Profile
    • Nerd Empire
Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2019, 07:12:12 AM »
@Nora that interface looks beautiful!!! I'm jealous.


Yeah there's a toggle to see all selected documents together.

Pretty much anything you might want to do, you can do in that program, is my experience. You just have to figure out how. Going through the tutorial is highly recommended.

It is vastly superior to a bunch of Google docs, in my opinion. And I set the save folders in my Dropbox folder, so it's backed up nearly instantly to the cloud. I wouldn't dream of only keeping copies on a single computer.

I move around a lot and I have 2 competers and a tablet (one Mac docked at home, a travel PC for going to cafes down the street and a super tiny Microsoft surface Go for being in South America or whatever. Google file stream allows me to have a local version in a file folder that syncs automatically when connected to the web. Having lost/broken computers and flash drives and hard drives multiple times you can't beat drive for access, backups and writing on multiple platforms. Plus I love that I can jump into an internet cafe and pull up my chapter I'm writing atm

Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2019, 08:47:50 AM »
I'm so not a cool writer, I just use Word.

The Traitor God & God of Broken Things

Offline NedMarcus

Re: Writing Software Recommendations
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2019, 01:53:15 PM »
I'm so not a cool writer, I just use Word.

Me neither, I guess. I outline with pens of various colours and use Pages to write.