Update on Novel Writing Software

…Specifically yWriter and StorYBook.  I wrote an indepth review of each, but I wanted to give a quick commentary on some hands-on writing experience.  I’m using both just to see which I’ll prefer in the long run.  So far I like them both for different reasons, lol.  I love the ease and friendliness of StorYBook.  I love that I can have multiple strands organized in a storybook format.  What I’m not crazy about is the customer service  – I’ve written the developers twice and have had no response.  Maybe I’m doing something wrong or they’re on vacation or… I really hope it’s not that they just are not available and could care less.  There is a forum so I’ll try to ask my questions there…

In regards to yWriter, I love that the developer is totally on top of questions – he doesn’t have a lot of time, but he always manages to respond to requests for info.  Plus, everything in yWriter is very easy to find and use.  I can’t wait to write more just to see what it will do.

And that brings me to writing… I’m in research mode still and will be there for a while.  It’s tough when your fingers are itching to just WRITE and yet you know you CAN’T because there is too much info you still need.  Frustrating!  I do have some great chapter quotes that are accumulating though… Will try and post one or two tomorrow.

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Update on yWriter

So, after getting nowhere on the Google yWriter group (contradictory info), I emailed Simon, the creator of the software, directly.  Here’s what I asked him:

Simon,
 
I’m sorry to bug you but I’ve got a burning question about your awesome yWriter that I can’t seem to answer on my own.  I apologize if I missed this somewhere.   I did pose the question to the Google group but cannot make heads or tails of the answer.
 
I’m wondering how to view multiple subplots in a way that makes sense.  On StorYBook, this is a built in feature (sorry to bring up  the competition).  I can’t see how to do this on yWriter –  I see I can click “subplot” on the scene card, but then the question is… how can I manage and edit these subplot scenes at a later time?
 
Since you’ve created the “subplot” option, I assume there’s a way I can use that information later – like viewing the subplots in a chart or screen view?  On StorYBook, you can name the Plotline (e.g. “Danny’s Subplot,”  “The Detective’s Subplot,” etc.) and then write scenes directly into those plotlines.  Is this somewhat possible in yWriter?
 
His response:
 
Not yet, but it is planned. At the moment the program only allows you to mark scenes as primary or subplot.

No problem mentioning competing software – usually the best way to illustrate what you mean!

Cheers
Simon
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Until he can get the multiple plotline views worked into a new version of yWriter, I’m guessing I’m going to be using both StorYBook and yWriter, respectively.  Since I’ve never used writing software before, I may start out with StorYBook simply because it’s so user friendly.  To get a bird’s eye view of how the intensity is playing out across my novel, I’ll then enter brief scene descriptions in yWriter and look at the chart.  Hopefully by the time a newer yWriter is released, I’ll have learned how to use the dang thing.  🙂

Assessing Novel Writing Software

I’ve been playing around with the idea of using writing software.  I like the logical approach to drafting a novel, but the choices out there are a little overwhelming. 

For fun, I downloaded StorYBook, Write It Now, and yWriter 5.

Exploring them over the last couple of days, here’s my take…

The big plus for StorYBook is that it lets you see multiple plotlines in an easy and color coded way.  You can see all the scenes for each plotline and if you think one scene needs to be switched into a different plotline, you can drag and drop.

The minus is that it doesn’t appear to let you indicate tension levels in scenes… see my comments in yWriter.  I consider this a big deal because I need to know if I’m keeping my reader hooked with appropriate “gotchas” and varying levels of intensity.

The plus with Write It Now is that it is a friendly format (especially compared to yWriter).  It feels more “doable” from a newbie author standpoint.  Like StorYBook, it has nice charts and is easy to navigate.

However, it appears to be the most limited of the three… It definitely doesn’t let you rate scenes by tension level… and even the Event Timeline feature is by time, not by chapter… which just seems pointless.  I mean, on the one hand knowing what happens when to your characters is good, but from the perspective of writing a novel, I need to see where events fall in chapters in order to know if I’ve spaced things out well.

The yWriter is pretty much the best of the three.  The thing I love the most is the ability to rate scenes – and to see a chart showing how the scenes fall across the length of your novel.  At a glance I’ll be able to see if most of my scenes follow the “M” type pattern of rising and falling action or if they’re all fairly low key.  You can even indicate whether the scene is humorous or not… and then see if humor is maintained throughout.

The cons… there is a lot to learn!  Luckily there is now a tutorial, but still.  There’s a definite learning curve.  Plus… so far I haven’t been able to discern whether you can write scenes according multiple plotlines.  I never thought about how important that might be until seeing StorYBook.   I’ve left a post on the Google yWriter Group so hopefully I’ll get an answer there.  If not…

Then I plan to learn how to use yWriter, and if necessary to use StorYBook as well.  Until I can figure out an alternative …