Saturday, May 19, 2012

Software for Writers


I've been alternating my writing with MS Word 2003 and OpenOffice's Writer and, so far, I don't have much to complain about. MS Word opens much faster than OpenOffice (OO) but I like OO's convert-to-pdf feature  which Word 2003 doesn't have. I know Word 2007 has this feature built in already but I haven't  got the finances to upgrade at this time.

One of the things that I had been looking for in both Word and OpenOffice is a continuous word counter. A lot of authors track their progress by counting how many words they've added to their work on a daily basis. With these text editors, you get the word count by selecting a menu item and the word count is displayed for you. There's no way to get a running word count.

When I tried my hand at writing short, 200-word articles for an online company, I was hampered by not knowing how many words I had been typing. Most times, I thought I had completed 200 words but had actually fallen short. Occasionally, I would exceed the target by a huge margin. Less than 200 words is unacceptable by the company but more than 20% over 200 words was unacceptable for me since it meant I was doing more work for the same pay. So, I started looking for another editor that provided a continuous word count.

yEdit2: If you're looking for a simple editor for making simple, specific-length articles, this is a good program. It's small and portable (you can run it from a flashdrive), and simple to set up. You set the target word count and, as you type, you get a running word count as well as a "words-to-go" countdown.

yWriter5: From the same person who created yEdit2, yWriter5 is a novel writing program. It allows you to divide your novel into chapters and scenes which are stored in a folder as separate files. Each scene has tabs where you can input who are characters  present in that scene; the location/s where the scene occurs; items or objects that are present in the scene; and tabs for scene descriptions and notes. There's also a Goals tab that I haven't investigated yet.

After using the program for more than a week, I've come to appreciate the way it had been designed. I had been having problems keeping track of my characters and even had a problem with timing. I had one event happening before a previous event when it should have been the other way around. yWriter5 provides a way for you to keep track of time frames which is really handy when your story gets complicated. One feature I really liked was the simulated sound of a typewriter as you work. For some reason, it helps me keep working. That might not be true for everyone but it does for me.

Both yEdit2 and yWriter5 are available for free downloading at Spacejock. The creator is Simon Haynes, an author as well as a programmer. He doesn't ask for payment but he is willing to take donations which, he says, is used to improve his programs. I am unable to donate at this time, so I'm doing the next best thing. I hope you like it as well as I do.

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