Life used to be so simple for authors. A quill, some ink and parchment and you had everything to be the Shakespeare of your day. Only a matter of years ago a sturdy Remmington Typewriter and a ream of 80gsm would be sufficient to create a best selling paperback. But now, in the world of computers and apps there is simply too much choice.
If you want to write the next ‘Girl who did something a little bit strange’ series, you could use software specifically created for you. And, quite helpfully, the software divides itself neatly into Mac and Windows flavours. Almost.
Prior to this year if you had a Mac then de facto software was Scrivener. This wonderful piece of software allowed you to plan your novel with a virtual reconstruction of a corkboard. It’s basically an index card system that allows you to research, collate and then add to text to your notes.
If you were of the Windows or Linux persuasion, then you could get a similar, if less pretty (but hey, isn’t that all that Mac software is?) piece of software called yWriter. I have used yWriter for years. The software was created by an author, so if you like the way he creates his novels, then you’ll like the yWriter.
Normally that would be a done deal, however, Scrivener is about to launch for Windows. I used the demo version to win NaNoWriMo 2010, so I have experience of both pieces of software. There isn’t much to choose between them. Scrivener does allow you to export to ePub format, but then MobiPocket creator is probably the better option to create eBooks.
Personally, I prefer yWriter, but that was the first piece of software I used. I’ll let you decide, because they are both great. And if you want to try Scrivener for Windows then follow this link.
Focus on writing
Another issue for writers is the need to shut out distraction and get on with the actual writing. One of the problems of computers is that they multitask. Unfortunately, whatever you have heard, we don’t!
Well help is at hand for you too. FocusWriter (available Win/Mac/Lin) is a sufficiently powerful word processor that’s main aim is to shut out distractions. I love the way this is light, portable and very simple to use. My only issues are that it doesn’t offer background music (or I haven’t found it yet) and that functionality is pretty much available elsewhere.
Any word processor worth its salt has a full screen option. If it has this then you have a distraction free environment. If it has an outline option then you also have a story planning piece of software.
What I am saying is that if you have a decent word processor do you really need any of the above? If you don’t then take your pick from those listed. They all work and are great at what they do. But, don’t overlook what you already have! Both Google and Microsoft offer very good online, cloud storage option for writing and saving your novel. My NaNoWriMo effort for 2010 was a collaboration between Scrivener and Google Docs.
The way forward
Start. It is easy to put off writing by taking too much time wondering what piece of software you should use. The software is out there. You novel is in there. It is time to mash up the two of them. I’ve given you a list above, it’s up to you to create. And if I’ve missed anything, please let me know in the comments. Over to you.
‘. a long time ago in a galaxy not far away.’