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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-04-09, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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Default The Writer's Circle – Week #9 [Software On The Cheap]

The Writer's Circle – Week #9 [Software On The Cheap]

Hello everyone! And thanks for stopping by for Week #9 of the Writer's Circle “Software On The Cheap.” If you've ever been interested in writing software to help you write your stories, this is the article you should read. What would you expect to pay for writing software that comes with an exorbitant amount of features, an easy user interface, and are available for use on many different OS's. I'm gonna guess you'd pay quite a bit, if you bought from the box. But what if I told you that you can get all of the software you would ever need, cheaper than you would pay at a major chain store, on the Interwebs for a really good price? What if they were free?

Well they are. And the article for this week gives a comprehensive run-down of the best software available online right now. Written by Scott Rhoades, this article appeared in the May 2009 issue of The Writer magazine. Lets get started shall we!

Great Software That Won't Cost You a Dime
and you don't have to be a techie to put these applications to work
By: Scott Rhoades

Quote:
Whether you're a seasoned techie or a reluctant newbie, you can use your computer to manage your writing projects like a pro, from inception to submission. Free professional-grade software can help you capture that first flash in you mind, plan you work, write it, share drafts with your writing group, and submit your beautifully crafted prose so that the rest of us can enjoy it.

Building your software toolkit can easily cost you more than most writers make in a year. If you know where to look, however, you can find everything you need without spending a cent.

This article introduces seven free applications that work on Windows, and sometimes on other platforms. And while you do have to read the instructions carefully, you do not have to be a geek or technical guru to use them.

PLAN YOUR PROJECT

FreeMind
http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki....php/Main_Page
(Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)

In Plot & Structure, James Scott Bell recommends mind-mapping as a way to tap your creativity. If you're not sure how mind-mapping works, visit the Mind Map Library at www.mappio.com for some fun examples. (And see the article about using mind-mapping to develop personal essays in the March 2009 issue of The Writer.)

Even if you don't have a story yet, FreeMind can help you find one. Start with a word that means something to you, then write down connections and associations. Before long, you'll probably have several ideas.

You can use FreeMind to storyboard your plot, plan your characters, and think through troublesome parts of the story. I even used it to help plan this article.

KeyNote
www.sourceforge.net/projects/keynote
(Windows)

I bet you have stacks of notes on your desk, notebooks with pictures and bits of paper jammed between the pages, and dozens of bookmarks in your Internet browser.

You can use KeyNote to place your notes, pictures, Web links, and all that other stuff scattered all over your hard disk into a single computerized notebook. KeyNote can help you plan your work, or even write first drafts of your scenes. When done planning, you can easily export your notes to a word processor.

Although it's starting to show its age, KeyNote is my favorite of several similar programs. If you want notebook software that is newer or that runs on your Mac, search for “tabbed notebook” to find something that meets your needs.

yWriter
www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html
(Windows)

yWriter developer, writer Simon Haynes, calls his creation a “word processor for authors.” Although it can be used for writing your novel, I find it most useful in the planning stages because it forces me to think in scenes.

yWriter makes you consider what your characters do and why they do it, as well as the conflict and the outcome of each scene. You can plan your characters and view a storyboard of your scenes, organized by viewpoint. You can even set up yWriter to slap yourself on the virtual wrist when you write those troublesome words you always overuse.

Plot-development software can easily set you back a couple of hundred bucks ['quid' for those of you across the pond -CP] or more. When it comes to plotting your scenes and sketching that first draft, yWriter is all you need, and it's free.

KEEP REVISION NOTES TOGETHER

Stickies
www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/stickies
(Windows)

You're a writer. That means your desk and monitor (and probably your walls, your keyboard, and maybe your cat) are covered with sticky notes. You probably have so many that you no longer notice them. They've become part of the scenery in your work area.

Stickies doesn't merely transfer the mess from your desk to your desktop. It kills the chaos and puts your notes where you need them.

You can attach Stickies to specific documents, directories and even Web sties. When you open your current chapter in OpenOffice.org Writer (or in Word, if you insist on spending your money on software while your cats circle hungrily), your chapter notes pop up. When you close your file, the notes go away and stay gone until you open your file again. Try doing that with those paper stickies.

WRITE THE THING

OpenOffice.org Writer
www.openoffice.org
(Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)

A word processor is the most important tool in any writers toolbox, and OpenOffice.org Writer has everything you'll need. You can't always say the same about Word, the industry leader.

Writer is the word-processing component of OpenOffice.org, a professional-quality office suite containing a word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentation program and more. It is compatible with Microsoft Word and other popular word processors.

Journalist and author Bruce Byfield insists that every author should use Writer. “Writer has Word beat on all the basics,” he says. “It's more stable, able to handle larger documents, and better integrated into its office suite. It also has a stronger support for styles, using them not just for characters and paragraphs, but also for pages, lists and object frames, all of which, when used with templates, can save professionals hours of time.”

I have both Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org. I prefer Writer's customizable interface, the way Writer handles templates and styles, and a master document feature that doesn't corrupt my files.

Writer gives you a choice: Plop down hundreds for the right to use one copy of Microsoft Office, or download OpenOffice.org, install it legally on every computer in your home and office, and give copies to your friends. Save your files in Word format and you should not have any trouble exchanging them with Word users.

As if a free deal needed sweetening, the OpenOffice.org community provides good support, and you can download extensive documentation and how-to guides. All for free, of course. Plus, you can add several extensions to Writer, such as Writer Tools (www.nothickmanuals.info/doku.php/writertools). Its 18 tools can look up or translate words, time the length of your writing sessions, back up your work in multiple file formats, and a lot more.

“With these benefits,” Byfield says, “what Writer really means for professional is peace of mind. I've been using Writer for over six years for everything from letters to 900-page manuals, and it's never given me a tenth of the frustration Word has. It's not only a superior tool, but it's designed for writing professionals.”

WORK WITH OTHERS3

Collanos Workplace, Basic Version
www.collanos.com
(Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)

What writers groups do in places like Yahoo! Groups can be done in a more organized and secure fashion in Collanos Workplace. A critique group or collaborators can share their files, exchange messages, work together on tasks, and track changes.

Workplace uses peer-to-peer technology to shynchronize your projects between computers. Even if you don't have a writers group, you can use Workplace to keep your projects current on more than one computer.

According to Franco Dal Molin, president of Collanos, Workplace is ideal for managing all of your writing in one place. Your most recent document files, notes and groups discussions are always ready for you, no matter which computer you're working on.

It only takes a few minutes to set up a project on several computers and start working together. It doesn't matter if some group members use Windows and others use Mac or Linux.

Perhaps best of all, you're not tied to your desktop. If you use a laptop or dial-up connection, or if you simply want to avoid the barrage of distractions from the Internet, you can work off-line.

Any changes that you or others in your group make while you're writing in that secluded cabin on the coats – Hey, we can dream, can't we? - will be automatically updated next time you go back online. You don't have to remember to upload and download files like you do for your Yahoo! Groups.

SEND IT OUT


Sonar
www.spacejock.com/Sonar3.html
(Windows)

You've planned and written your magnum opus, and your critique group has declared it a classic the world can no longer live without. Now all you have to do is submit it.

Tracking submissions can be a nightmare. If you're trying to track your novel, several short stories, a few poems, and a couple of of magazine articles, the task feels impossible. How do you keep track of all those markets you've found and the dates when you sent each manuscript?

You can use OpenOffice.org to create a spreadsheet or database, if you know how. Doing it yourself means you can record exactly what you want, the way you want. Most of us aren't database designers, though, and learning to be on takes too much time from our writing, even for us masters of avoidance techniques. Fortunately, a few programmers have made their work available to the rest of us.

My personal favorite is Sonar, from the same developer as yWriter. Sonar tracks market addresses and submissions dates for each project and lets you record exchanges between yourself and your editors in notes. It's a basic solution that works.

If you've read this far, you already know the price.

*************

These seven applications can help turn your computer into the ultimate project organizer so you can concentrate on the creative stuff. And with the money you'll save, you can afford some champagne the day your masterpiece hits the streets.
Alright, as you can see there are many programs here that can really save you time and money when it comes to your writing. Hopefully this article has been helpful for you all. Just as a side note, there are two programs here that I have been using for a long time now. FreeMind and OpenOffice.org Writer are two programs that have been very helpful for me. I actually write all of my stuff, including these weekly discussions on OpenOffice.org Writer. As for FreeMind, i've been using it to help plot my stories and develop my characters for some time now. The mind mapping capabilities that it provides have been very useful. I recommend these two programs to EVERYONE!

As for the other programs, I'm not to sure about them. I've downloaded Stickies, Collanos Workplace, and Sonar to try later. I'll let you know what I think about them at a later date.

There aren't going to be any discussion questions for this issue of the Writer's Circle, however I would like people to comment on how useful this article is/was. If any of the software above has been able to help you, or if you are going to give any of them a try, please post a comment here about it. Or, if you have used/are using any of the above programs, please let us know what you think about them. Cheers everyone!

Write on,

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-05-09, 04:39 AM
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I've heard good things about KeyNote, and use OpenOffice Writer.

For the latter, there are a few minor complaints - always having to switch the "save file" type to .doc, the Autocomplete feature until I manually turned it off, the dictionary not recognizing a number of things that are clearly words - but yes, I certainly enjoy using it.

This is a very interesting read-through, and I think that i may very well have to look into several of these. Tell me how those other features work out for you, personally, please!

CSM Plog, Tactica

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-06-09, 03:07 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mossy Toes View Post
I've heard good things about KeyNote, and use OpenOffice Writer.

For the latter, there are a few minor complaints - always having to switch the "save file" type to .doc, the Autocomplete feature until I manually turned it off, the dictionary not recognizing a number of things that are clearly words - but yes, I certainly enjoy using it.

This is a very interesting read-through, and I think that i may very well have to look into several of these. Tell me how those other features work out for you, personally, please!
i certainly will Mossy, I've downloaded yWriter, and it seems pretty sweet. It seems they've thought of everything with this program. i'm working on my Iron Diamond fiction using this software now. It's made me think about the details a lot more. And on the website, there is quite a nice tutorial/rundown about the program. i would recommend that you check it out.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-06-09, 01:32 PM
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Tnx Comissar Ploss for this informative issue this week... I'm downloading some of them now... REP+...
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-07-09, 07:54 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by waltzmelancholy_07 View Post
Tnx Comissar Ploss for this informative issue this week... I'm downloading some of them now... REP+...
you're very welcome. Hopefully i will be able to provide more&more of these helpful W.C. posts for everyone.

CP

p.s. thank you for the rep

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