Thursday, March 27, 2014

March meeting of Tooele Writers

Two software programs were discussed Wednesday evening as members of Tooele Writers met to learn about novel writing software and how it can ease the writing and publishing process.

Krista Wayment, who tried several novel writing programs before she settled on YWriter5, presented her experiences during the first part of the meeting.

“This was the one I liked the best,” she said.

 During the last part of the meeting Cindy Whitney showed attendees how to use Scrivener.

“Things are organized as if you had a paper binder,” she said.

While both novel-writing programs simplify the creation and publishing process, they also have unique features that set them apart—especially when compared to simple word-processing programs.

In both programs:
  • As writers begin a work in either program, they can immediately organize their ideas into chapters and scenes (in Scrivener, chapters are called folders and scenes are called text).  This allows writers who plan to make detailed outlines in advance, while discovery writers can simply write scenes or text and organize them into chapters later.
  • The real writing is done in the text (Scrivener) or scenes (YWriter5). 
  • Both programs make it easy to import and export the entire project—or just a part of it.
  • Authors can view one scene at a time, one chapter at a time or the entire work at once.  Word counts for the part of the project being viewed are listed, as well.
  • Authors can view more than one scene at a time.
  • Writing can be viewed full-screen, and the backgrounds can be faded to eliminate distractions.

More on YWriter5:
  • In YWriter5, authors can add descriptions as they add chapters to the project. Later on those descriptions can be compiled in a report, creating a simple and immediate synopsis.
  • YWriter5 also allows authors to import outlines they’ve already created for projects they hope to work on, and YWriter5 allows authors to track what stage portions of their manuscript are in and mark them as outline, draft, done, etc.
  • Authors can rate four aspects of their writing they want to track (such as tension) for each section and view reports to help them identify whether those aspects are balanced through the manuscript.
  • Characters, locations and items can be highlighted and tracked in YWriter5, which means authors can see how balanced these things are in the story, as well, or find them quickly if they need to make changes.
  • There’s a read-aloud button for authors who want to relax and let the computer read their story back to them (or who use vocal readings during edits).
  • YWriter provides a story board option for helping organize manuscripts.
  • If authors write something and then decide not to use that particular piece, it can be toggled as unused rather than deleted, and the authors can come back to it later.
  • YWriter5 is free.

More on Scrivener:
  • This program has a fun color-coding system that helps authors keep track of things like point of view, chapters, scenes, front and back matter, etc.
  • Document notes to the right of the piece authors are working on allows them to immediately jot down new ideas or even place pieces of writing they cut out of the text.
  • The cork board—where scenes, chapters, etc. appear as if on index cards pinned to a cork board. Anything you move on the corkboard is automatically moved in the binder as well.
  • Authors can attach images to their index cards, too, and when the manuscript is compiled these will be compiled with it.
  • With project targets, writers can set goals for their total word count and word count per session.
  • When the project is completed and all folders, texts, etc. are in order, a simple click on the ‘compile’ button pulls it all together.
  • Scrivener manuscripts can be exported as Mobi files or Epub files, which simplifies self-publishing.
  • Scrivener costs $40, but Tooele Writers members can get it for 20% off until August 31, 2014. Contact Cindy Whitney on the Tooele Writers Facebook page if you have any questions about this.
  • Cindy provided three really great links for ways to use Scrivener. And here they are!

Google Drive was also mentioned in passing as a good tool for novel writing, although it wasn’t discussed during the meeting.

Thanks to Laura Bastian for hosting the meeting and to Krista Wayment and Cindy Whitney for presenting.