Indecision


Expertoys 1/6 Scale Hand Tools Set (Colour)

I think I mentioned last week I have a hard time deciding what tool to use when I sit down to write.  This isn’t always the case, but lately, more and more often I find myself staring at the screen, wondering what the heck software application to open and write in.  You know, when I actually do the writing.

For features, it’s really hard to beat Liquid Story Binder XE.  It does everything you can imagine, from mind maps to planners to sequences to note cards to construction of the manuscript.  Amazing bit of software, designed for writers to immerse themselves in the writing.  It even allows you to make playlists and download images and wallpaper to help set the tone and mood of your writing.

It can be used in a scene-based way, but it’s true nature is chapter-based.  I don’t have a problem with that, but it really throws some people off, and some folks asked the developer to incorporate a method for easier scene writing processes (which he did, and there’s tutorial for it on their website, too).  It’s really amazing, and sometimes it overwhelms me just a teeny bit.  So I don’t always use it.

Next favorite is yWriter.  It’s similar to LSBXE, but it’s actually scene-based.  You have to have an initial chapter and then you can create as many scenes as you like in that chapter, but it’s mostly scene-based.  It’s also very complex in how it provides details of the project.  Is the scene action or reaction?  There’s a place to set up almost every aspect of the scene you can imagine, including time elapsed, location, characters and items involved, etc.  I ignore most of those powerful features – I’m not that smart.  So I just use it as a lightweight word processor, include chapter- and scene-descriptions as appropriate, and then do the writing.  Very cool.

But again, overwhelming sometimes.  So I don’t always reach for it.

I also have one called Page Four, which is a tabbed software with the ability to keep “notebooks” and “pages” within the notebook.  In this way, you can construct the project however you like.  You can make each page a scene, or each page a chapter of multiple scenes, or whatever.  But it’s all in a hierarchy of pages and notebooks.  Not as feature rich as the aforementioned packages, but very cool and easy to use.  Easy on the eyes, too.  This was the first “writing” software I used, and I love it to this day.  But it’s got a different way of outputting files, so I don’t have a lot in it, and nothing’s in it that resides in other software.  It’s just not as easy to get to it as some of the others, I found.

And I use a myriad array of text editors and full-screen text editors, just to get things done.  My preference is for those which allow font selection and reduction into a windowed mode.  I don’t always like full-screen mode.  So, I like Write Monkey and Dark Room best, but Q10’s pretty cool too.

In the end, though, the one I find I reach for more often than any other when I just want to crank something out and not fuss with it too much is Rough Draft 3.0.  It’s a lightweight word processor with four different modes: screen writing, prose writing, stage/radio play writing, and normal mode.  These have to do with how it handles the enter key and tabbing.  I just use normal mode, personally.  And it lets me just flow.  If I want it, there’s a spell checker, but no grammar checking utilities.  Nothing to get in the way of your words, your way, and no annoying green underline or red squiggles if you muck up something.

Once in a while I’ll use Word because of it’s more powerful spelling and grammar check utilities.  But Rough Draft also runs from a thumb drive, and if you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I love me some thumb drive apps.

But man!  I gotta find a way to just … decide and stick with one of them.  The choice of tool takes longer than the writing, and sometimes stops me from getting to the writing.

What special tools, if any, do you ply in your hobby, craft or trade?  Do you have a favorite thing you reach for before anything else to make the magic happen?

-JDT-

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5 thoughts on “Indecision

  1. And besides the time spent deciding, don’t you then have to import from the other tool you used before? Or is there a way to automatically do that? Or do you just choose an editor and stick with it till you’re done with the story?

    Generally, I have whatever the tool is output things into an RTF file (my favorite, and almost universal). The transitions aren’t a big deal or time consuming, as I recall. (It’s been a while since I did this, remember.) But yeah, generally, I stick to whatever I started with when I’m writing a longer piece.

    I’ve been using yWriter for this stage. I used to dislike having my work in pieces, but it’s been making it easier this time. Might have just been a matter of getting used to it. I think once I have all the scenes written, I’ll put it in Word for the final stages of revising.

    yWriter has some cool features. It’s very complex and writerly, though, so I’m not as smart as the software requires to get its full benefits. I like the pieces; they’re helpful. And yWriter DOES output to RTF, so you can always manipulate in Word (my favorite for editing/revising chunks) if you’d rather. 🙂

    • I think the importing to yWriter has been my biggest problem with the program. It’s very unwieldy, because you have to have the correct characters between each scene in order to import them correctly.

      Hm. I think if you just import them as a single chapter you can go along and add the scene break delimiter and re-save in yWriter, and then it will automatically break up the scenes for you. Won’t it? Never tried this, so I can’t say for sure.

  2. I’ll tell you a secret bud. The result of some in depth research I did at Horror Realm with the likes of Maberry, Recht, Paffernoth and my cohorts at the Library. They all use Office or Open Office. Nothing fancy. Nothing special.

    Just Office or Open Office.

    Hey, Ben, good to see you! And thanks for sharing what you’ve learned.

    I don’t think (THINK) I could do that. There’s too many aspects of planning and writing not covered with just Office (and I wouldn’t use OpenOffice if they PAID me to do so). The sequencing of scenes isn’t possible that way, the layout of timelines would be sort of haphazard, although I suppose you could use Excel for some of it. But I like having my stuff all in one program, in one place so I can reference it all at once, and I despise the idea of using hand-written note cards or things like that. So for me … no, no, I couldn’t do it. But that’s JUST me. No two writers have the same opinion. 🙂

    So I came home and tried it. I don’t miss Q10 or Write Monkey or yWriter or the others. I was shocked…

    Good for you! I’m glad you found something that works for you!

    UPDATE: Hey, while we’re at it, feel free to come back and explain how they showed you to use those tools. Not everyone is like me and wants it all in one single package, so maybe sharing the technique(s) with other writers would be of benefit to them. And thanks again!

  3. My newest writer-toy wish: an AlphaSmart NEO.

    They’re a little pricey for what they do, I thought. But they’re very cool and writerly, aren’t they? 🙂

    And you shut up about OpenOffice.org. It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. 🙂

    HA! Not. If. They. PAID. Me. Okay, maybe if they paid me ENOUGH. 😉

  4. Hmmm…I know nothing of this software. Guess I learned something new today. Which one of these do you think would help an unfocused, unmotivated, slacker like me? I looked at LSBXE, Page Four and yWriter. They are all downloads & I just crashed a computer with a download so I’m a little concerned about that. Granted, it was an illegal download, but it still makes me nervous. LSBXE has lots of bells & whistles, but I don’t know if my adult ADD needs more distractions. What I really need is a ball and a chain.

    Well, you can try one of the full-screen text editors. They’re designed to help you eliminate distractions. Simple, blocks out everything but what you’re typing. I like Write Monkey best of those so far; yes, the downloads are safe. I can attest to them all.

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