I’ve talked about my favorite software for writers before, but I want to focus on the tools I use to help me organize my writing. One of the things that I am still amazed by even after over 20 years is the fact that I can write as many documents as my computer has the memory to hold. To me, that’s an amazing thing. The software I use is equally, seemingly endless.
NOTE: All of the software I mention, I own and use regularly. I am not affiliated with any of these products.
Here are my favs:
As I have written about Scrivener in the past, you might know that I use it for everything I write – eventually. Anytime I am working on a nonfiction piece, I use Scrivener to keep my chapters in order and everything nice and neat.
I know that I don’t use it to its fullest application. There is a Facebook group for Scrivener users, and they are always asking questions about the software that is so far out of my ability to understand that I usually ignore those conversations. I’ve found that the software is as easy or as complicated as you would like it to be.
Scrivener can be used as a series of notepads, which is what I use it for, or you can use the templates to build a story. It has a bit of a learning curve, and since I use other software, I’ve not gone that far with the tutorials.
Software for writers can compile text to document format
Once you’re done writing, you can compile the entire manuscript into several formats. The part I like the best is the tree on the side where I can see my chapters and get to them easily. I can’t do this in word or google docs.
I am trying to write fiction. I spent hours and many dollars reading books on how to write a novel, how to outline a novel, how write from the seat of my pants, and hours of trying to understand acts and beats.
It wasn’t until I gave The Novel Factory a trial run did all the things I had read fall into place. I wrote the first part of my very first novel in word until I couldn’t see my way through the fog. That’s when I started looking for something to help me stay on track. The Novel Factory software does that.
I bought the software as a standalone on my desktop, and I moved my first novel into it, and was able to finish it. It’s a mess that needs to be rewritten since it’s way off track, but I will get to that.
Keeps the story on track
The book second in the series started in The Novel Factory and it went very smoothly without any of the problems I ran into the first time. With the outlines and templates to work with or modify to meet your needs, it’s much easier to stay on course and wrap up the story. Both of those novels are 60K plus.
You can build your own outline/beat sheet or use pre-designed templates that are free to download. In fact, I had downloaded the free templates before I bought the software. I liked them so much that I decided to buy the software.
If you’re struggling with your plot, you might want to look into The Novel Factory. No, it does not give you cookie cutter stories.
More Software for Writers for Increased Organization
Plottr is a plotting software that I had to modify to get it to work the way that I wanted to use it. In its simplest form, it is a glorified excel workbook. That being said, it’s much more than that.
The outline below is a list of my current and future projects and different series using a template by another author who needed an organizational chart.
Here is what it looks like when you plot a book:
My complaint in this format is that it’s hard for me to follow the chapters. I think I might be the only one though since everyone loves this software. I used it halfway through my first novel, and it kind of helped me get things and people organize, but it still was hard for me to follow. This is why I moved to The Novel Factory.
Choose your view
I used it to lay out my second book, and once I flipped the view, I found it much easier for me to follow. Here is the flipped version for the second book:
Now I can see where in the story these things happen.
I have J.K. Rowling to thank for this because someone posted her spreadsheet worksheet and it was laid out in the same format, but she had the chapters off to the left.
There’s nothing expensive or sophisticated about her method. In fact, it’s not even a lined accounting spreadsheet. Just a piece of notebook paper.
Inexpensive Software for Writers
This is the first software I bought about 12 years ago. I used it to start my first novel, and at the time, I couldn’t afford Scrivener or anything else expensive, so I bought this software. I love the heck out of it. It’s easy to use, and it helped me to keep my story semi-organized.
Build character with photos
I think the part I really liked was that I could build my character pages and add photos. I could lay out my scene maps and make notes. It was everything I wanted that kept everything orderly and ready to use.
I confess that the story is still in its original condition, and I have not gone back to write on it for almost 8 years, but it is still a story I will go back to. What I didn’t know when I started writing was how plotting was important, so this is a seat of your pants story from beginning to end.
I am only a quarter of the way into the story, and I don’t’ know how it will end, but I have a good idea that it will continue to be a seat of the pants type story.
The story has gone from word to Liquid Binder to Scrivener back to word, and one of these days, it might go to print. It’s a story I really want to write, and I daydream about it when I am supposed to be doing something else.
Plot or seat of your pants software for writers
Even though her mom was absent from her post, she could see her father sitting in his old, worn high-back leather chair. The ancient leather was worn thin in places and cracked in others. The sun had faded out half of the chair from buttery, gold leather to a pale, pink color. Her father had molded the cushions to suit his body from years of use to the point the no one else found it comfortable. That was one way to keep the guests out of it.
Although the hearth was cold and the fireplace clean, she saw her father sitting with his feet up on the hassock before it as if the temperatures were subzero and the Montana winds were bearing down on the old hotel.
Sandy noticed that he appeared to be talking to himself. On second glance, it seemed more likely that he was having a conversation with someone only he could see.
Her deep sigh reflected the sadness she felt about the loss of her father to his disease.
These are my favorite software for writers that have kept me sane and moving forward. Hopefully, you will find them helpful for productivity.
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