Favorite writing software?

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Inkstain, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. Inkstain

    Inkstain Registered User

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    I generally just use Openoffice Writer, though I am still fuzzy on how to set my margins and spacing with it (tips would be appreciated). I also recently downloaded Ywriter. However, I thought you could actually use it to write. Turns out it is just an organizer. Still, it's a good place to keep my outlines and notes.

    I was curious what software others here were using.
     
  2. JimF

    JimF Registered User

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    I use open office writer too. I love it. powerful and free software. The only drawback is no Canadian dictionary. Colour has a u!

    As for margins, in the to tool bar select Format > Page > Page.

    Hope that helps,
    Jim
     
  3. Inkstain

    Inkstain Registered User

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    Many thanx Jim. And it's armour, not armor.

    Heck, I'm from Missouri and even I know that!:rolleyes:
     
  4. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    Now you've got me wondering: Was Missouri named by a Canadian?
    Otherwise, why not Missori?
     
  5. Inkstain

    Inkstain Registered User

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    Allright you Canadians! We have ways of making you pronounce your "ou"s...:cool:
     
  6. jordanlanni

    jordanlanni Registered User

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    I've used Microsoft Word, a little typewriter program (how very fun), Google Docs and OpenOffice. The last is the only program I use now.
     
  7. ShellyS

    ShellyS Chocoholic

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    I use WordPerfect. I'll use Google Docs to jot down stuff when I'm at work, where we use the evil Word.
     
  8. ShellyS

    ShellyS Chocoholic

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    My answer double posted, but I don't see the delete option. Sorry.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2010
  9. amzolt

    amzolt Weird Writer

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    I use TreePad for initial outlining and idea-catching, Jarte for drafts, and OpenOffice for "final" drafts.

    Just got Ywriter and will use it on my current project--somewhere between TreePad and Jarte...
     
  10. MrBF1V3

    MrBF1V3 aka. Stephen B5 Jones

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    Until a few months ago I used WordPerfect. When I bought a laptop I 'discovered' OpenOffice. So far it works every bit as well, even if I had to relearn how to do a few things. Checking the word count is easier, putting a hard page stop in takes another click. There are a lot of things I haven't tried yet.

    You can always write a canadian dictionary, or request one at the website. (I stubbornly refuse to spell grey with an 'a', I don't care what color it underlines it with.)

    B5
     
  11. Susan Boulton

    Susan Boulton Edited for submission

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    As long as the computer I am working on has some kind of document program and the keyboard works, that is all I need.

    Each to their own I suppose, but really it is what you put down, not which writing software you use.
     
  12. shevdon

    shevdon www.shevdon.com

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    The challenge of large writing projects is not really what most Word Processor (WP) programs are for. WP programs are for writing reports, letters, assignments, proposals and any number of other documents, but not really novel length works. I'm not saying it can't be done, but they don't make it easy for you.

    Anyone using MS Word who has waited for it to catch up with what they are typing because it is doing something with the text in the background will know what I am talking about. Yes you can turn it off, but you'll want to turn it on again later when you have a letter to write or a report to hand in, and then you'll have to turn it off again.

    To mitigate this, for anything over about 20K words, I split the project into chapters or sections so that I can work on it a piece at a time. I generally find that around 4K - 7K words is a useful chunk to be working on. I then keep each version (a collection of files each containing chapters, notes and to-do lists) in a separate directory, so that I have versions I can go back to if I need to revert for any reason. In this way I can look back at my early drafts and cringe whenever I want to.

    The challenge comes when you try and edit large numbers of file with MS Word or an equivalent product. You are going to run into a number of problems.

    The Search Problem

    For instance, if I want to change a character name, I have to search across tens of files for that name. In most WP programs you have to open each file separately and search one at a time.

    You can use Google Desktop Search or similar, but that will tell you each instance in every directory, so you have a hard time pulling out the latest version from old versions (So if you changed a name, you will still see the old name in previous versions, even though you've changed everything you needed to in the latest version).

    What I need is to be able to search for every instance of an item in a specific directory and set of files.

    The Style Problem

    Most general WP programs allow you to change fonts, indents, styles, insert tables, images, change paragraph attributes and everything else across individual files. Consequently, you can easily end up with the formatting in one file being completely different from the formatting in another. One is 1.5 line spaced 10 pt Ariel with 0.25 inch indent, another is 12pt Times New Roman, double spaced with 1cm indent.

    When you come to stitch all the files together, the formatting goes crazy and you end up with a mess. You can spend hours trying to reset all the formatting to something sensible.

    On the other hand, plain text will not do. It doesn't handle bold, italics, underlines - things a writer will want at some point.

    Editing Multiple Files

    When I'm editing, I need to be able to edit more than one file at once - indeed I may be changing something intricate across several files. Most WP programs make you have multiple windows which then clutter up your desktop. I need multiple docs open in one window so I can click between them easily.

    The Distraction Problem

    To me, a writing program needs to have as few distractions as possible, which means a very clean interface. The more menus, buttons and pop-ups there are, the worse the distraction. Ideally I want just the text. Specifically I do not want hyperlinks inserted, words changed automatically to what it thought I should have typed, or the text messed with in any way.

    The File Format Problem

    Every now and then, the WP programs change their file format. I do not want this, but they do it anyway in the name of progress. I want a simple standard format that contains text and only text. I do not want tables, images, links, or any clever stuff, I just want text, and I want it standard across all my files.

    I do not want curly quotes. They are pretty, but many programs do not render them properly and you end up with strange characters in your text. Straight quotes are perfectly adequate.

    Furthermore I want to be able to work on a Mac, a PC, a Linux machine and anything else I fancy and still be able to cleanly edit the files without them getting messed up. I want to have my files replicated and backed up between machines so that they are not corrupted by the receiving OS.

    RTF is the format of choice. It handles simple formatting and is platform neutral. Also, it doesn't handle embedded binary (in the simpler versions) so it is virus-unfriendly.

    Reliability, Speed, Robustness, Safety

    I want my writing program to be reliable and not crash on me and lose my work. I want it to echo the characters when I type them, not two seconds after. I want the program to load quickly and to end quickly. I want it to remind me to save open documents and preferable to automatically save at some pre-configured interval.


    DEMANDING, AREN'T I?


    Fortunately I am not alone. Other very talented people have recognised these problems before me and come up with solutions. There are a number of programs you could try. YWriter is one, but for me it over complicates the writing process by adding in meta-data into the files. I just want a really good rich text editor.

    On the PC, the answer for me is a program called RoughDraft created by Richard Salsbury (http://www.salsbury.f2s.com/).

    It's a clean writing interface that loves lots of files. It can search across those files and give you a set of results you can work with. It standardises formats between files so they are the same. It handles straight and curly quotes. It saves in RTF and it allows you to add on notes by creating a plain text file with associated notes - crucially not affecting the original.

    It also has 'modes' for screenwriting and other things, but I can't say I've ever used them.

    This is a really good piece of software. Richard no longer maintains it, but it just seems to work, so that's not a problem. It's free - no really, this excellent piece of software is free and available for download, though you are invited to provide a donation if you like it - it's worth it. It's only disadvantage is that it is PC only and I'm on a Mac these days.

    If you are on a Mac, you should try The Bean (http://www.bean-osx.com/), which again is a really nice simple word processor. It's handling of multiple files isn't quite so elegant, and you can't search between files, but the writing interface is very clean and you can actually have just text on your screen, nothing else.

    Those are my recommendations. I hope that's useful to anyone who is struggling with large writing projects.

    All the best

    Mike
     
  13. Scorpion

    Scorpion Registered User

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    I use MS Word, and Liquid Story Binder - a great porgram made for authors (google it!)

    It's funny because everyone seems to have problems with Word, but I don't have these. Is this just a prejudice because of screwed up earlier version of Word? Are you using Word 2007? (Btw, 2010 coming out soon...)
    I like Word because:

    - It has a clean interface.
    - I don't have any pop ups.
    - It shows you your word count and % all the time.
    - It saves automatically without disturbing you.
    - You can add new words to the dictionary with 2 clicks.
    - It doesn't have formatting issues (which I experienced A LOT with Open Office).
    - It's easy to use.
    - It's available for Mac and PC.
    - It has good reviewing options, for people who like editing on the computer (I don't.)
     
  14. James Barclay

    James Barclay Moderator

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    I use Microsoft Word (Office 2007 version). Pretty much always have. It just works well.

    I have none of the problems other people have mentioned. You can search a whole directory or list of files using the windows search funciton if you want to, by the way. It isn't perfect but it will identify which files have the term you are after and which do not.

    NOM
     
  15. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    Writing Software

    Having just finished my novel "Spirit Thorn," written in MS Word '03, I believe I'm ready for a change.

    What's my problem? I'm a "What I see is what I've got" person, which isn't how MS Word functions. MS Word, if used at even 50% of it's potential, requires a fair amount of time spent in the embedding of commands. Are any of the writing programs more intuitive? I would like to simply choose one command, such as "Fiction Manuscript," and be done with it; then, assuming I want to create a PDF version for a publisher, choose a "Convert to PDF" command, then maybe an "Internet Publish" command.

    In other words, I want the computer, not me, to remember all of the formatting.

    Have any of you used such a program?

    -- WB
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  16. jordanlanni

    jordanlanni Registered User

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    OpenOffice can convert directly to PDF with one click and save. I don't know if it can publish to the Internet because I've never needed it. By "fiction manuscript" do you mean a document style? Those are fairly easy to tweak to your tastes and can be applied through the style window.
     
  17. Loerwyn

    Loerwyn Staff

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    I'm a user of OpenOffice, too.

    Does what I need just fine :)
     
  18. Susan Boulton

    Susan Boulton Edited for submission

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    Confused a bit here. Never had to produce a PDF for a publisher most have just wanted either a RTF or a straight doc.
     
  19. briangula

    briangula New Member

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    I sometimes use open source software such as Openoffice and Google Docs.
     
  20. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    POD outfits often prefer PDF files. From other comments, it sounds as if Open Office does this quite easily.