I haven’t posted on here for a while as several things seem to have got in the way of that. One of which is that I finally decided to purchase a laptop and use that instead of our desktop computer; not that I have anything against the desktop. PC’s have served me well over the years since I purchased my first one about 1991; a Gateway with a ground breaking 33mb hard drive for storage and floppy disc drive to backup any precious documents.
What I have found, however, is that I find I have more opportunities to use the laptop than I ever did with the PC. Even though we moved the PC from the small bedroom/office upstairs to the corner of the dining room a couple of years ago, I still didn’t use it as much as I could. With the laptop I can crank it up in no time and effectively scribble a few notes and ideas quicker than writing them on paper then transferring them to the PC, anytime I chose to leave the comparative comfort and warmth of my armchair and sit in the dining room. Also, often the piece of paper with the idea can be misplaced or lost along with it’s content but once it’s on the computer it’s on and can be worked with, reworked or deleted anytime.
The other thing which has come into my writing life is specialist software. I suppose I thought, like lots of other people, that word or similar word processing packages were the programs of choice that writers used to produce their all important manuscripts. Until recently, all my work has been produced this way. Microsoft, however have this habit of constant upgrade and change. Nothing wrong with that, you might say, but sometimes the compatability of different versions can be a problem; along with formatting issues on longer documents. I am currently trying out Scrivener which I have downloaded on a 30 day free trial, which is the full version, and yWrite which is totally free.
Scrivener seems to be my preferred software, of the two so far but I’m only 4 days into the trial. Impressively the trial means the 30 days you use it, so if you only use it 2 days a week the trial lasts 15 weeks; very useful when you are trialing other programs too. The software comes with an excellent tutorial which took about 2hrs to read from beginning to end but is pretty comprehensive. It boasts that it will complile your novel into several formats PDF or E-reader and also Word, if that’s what the publisher wants but I haven’t tried that as my novels nowhere near that stage. (I wish !!) So far I like the features, particularly the full screen mode, where it almost fills the screen and darkens the rest of the area to stop distractions. The text is always in the middle of the screen as you type, unlike Word where it gets to the bottom and jumps up a couple of lines. Its a small thing but it works for me. Lots of other useful features including adding notes and assigning them to a character and it feels well built and solid but time will tell.
yWrite is the other program I downloaded and have been working with but I have had less time to use and evaluate. It is freeware with the option to contribute financially to the updating of the software. It has been designed by a published writer who also can write computer programs. It looks like a spreadsheet and each writing section is divided into chapters and scenes which are listed as they would be in Excel. It all seems to work fine as it’s fairly easy to understand it once you accept its spreadsheet styling. It appears that you need to add a character before you write them into a scene but I could be wrong as I need to play with it more.
Both programs have the ability to store, text, pictures, web pages all in the one place. Its a bit like saving a collection of word documents together in a folder but much easier to access as they are all on one screen. They also have many more features that I haven’t mentioned but I’ll add them as I find out how useful they are to me.
When my Scrivener trial is completed I post and let you know how things are with the software and what I have decided to use. In the meantime I’ll look out for some other programs and try to evaluate them too.
Watch this space