The Computer All Nighter

The Internet is the All Night Radio. Pilot of the Airwaves, please hear my request.  I spent the past few days learning about writing software.  I tried Dramatica, I tried Liquid Story Binder, I tried Story Book.  I tried Ywriter5.  I tried Scrivener.  I tried New Novelist. Man- they are ALL great!

These are softwares used to aid writing.  More like outliners and planners than anything else.  They will NOT.. write your book for you!  Pity.

The bug with ALL of these softwares is that you must learn the program’s terminologies.  You have to think, how IT thinks, in other words.  Especially Dramatica.   I tell you one thing I am finding out- it’s harder than you think. Harder to write fiction, that is.

The best one so far is yWriter5. This has lots of features.  It has a character, location, object, scene, chapter, and part list.  You have to get used to the way the interface works, sometimes, it’s kind of annoying.  Many windows you cannot go in and just start editing, you have to click something else first.  But the price is right- for free.  It’s my favorite.  It’s storyboard feature could use updating.  Wish it was as good as Storybook’s.

Storybook I also like, but it falls short.  I like the graphical thread planner.   It’s also freeware, or donationware.   I wish it had the character development tools that Dramatica has.  But Dramatica is so complicated to use, it is very complicated.  Again..you have to think.. how IT thinks to start using it.

Liquid Story Binder seems similar to a word processor, a outliner, with tools. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.  NONE of these softwares give up their secrets so easily!   It’s like trying to learn all the functions of Photoshop. There are lots of features!  I like the Thesaurus that is built in.  I like the Character generator.  I like the Timeline.  I like the Storyboard.  I’ve had to explore it quite a bit to get started.   Liquid Story Binder has “planners” and “builders”, among other things.  It has Sequences (series of photos),  Storyboard,  Timeline, and Mindmap.  It resizes images, so you can go on the web and download photos that will help you visualize your story.. it’s neat..  It seems like it might be the “sleeper” of the group.  I really like this program a lot.

It is extremely flexible.  Each item can have it’s own dossier, timeline, sequence, storyboard, builder, and mindmap.  You are NOT held to a rigid structure.  You can use whatever tools you wish.  You can start right in with a chapter.  You can start with a storyboard, timeline or whatever you want.

It’s takes less mouse clicking to get what you want, into what you want.  You can write in the “chapter” or “builder” mode.  I like the Builder mode, now that I have the hang of it.  It is incredibly flexible.   Once you get the hang of it, boy it’s the kill.

There is much more to it than meets the eye, and I am just getting the hang of it.  I like the “Shortcuts” feature.  This brings up another program or file.  For instance I have mine set to bring up my “Pulp Fiction” mindmap.  This is a map of notes for writing fiction that I have gleaned, and am always adding to.

Storybook’s “Strand” tool is neat.  It is a easy, graphical way to develop sub-stories.  These are the best kind of stories, the kind with several, interwoven plots, such as “Hill Street Blues”.. or “Dune”.  I really like this tool.  It’s the easiest one to use.

Dramatica teaches you about writing as you go along.  It generates the outline using a series of questions.  This is good- if YOUR MIND works this way.  None of these softwares work like I work.  Man I just started in writing.   The softwares force you to develop the story by asking lots of questions.   Who is the hero?  Who is the contagonist?  Who is the foil?  I never even thought of these things, because I never went to creative writing classes.  Nope.  Mostly  technical studies is what I do.

Liquid Story Binder might be good, but again, there is a lot to be explored.  With Liquid Story Binder you might develop your own tools to work with.  For example, a text file with writing do’s and don’ts in it.  Liquid Story Binder is much more fluid than the others.  If you want to get in there, and start writing immediately, then it’s for you.  Well, not immediately.   I am gonna make a separate article about this program.  I really think it’s great.

yWriter5 has lots of neat little tools.  You can add to these tools also.  I like the “check for problem words” feature.  You can also add to this one.  In the notes section I put a lot of writing tips that I glean from around the net.  It’s nice to have things all in one package.

Freeplane (preceded by Freemind) is another great little all around tool.  It’s mind mapping software, like an outliner.  Takes a little bit to get the hang of it, but it’s really good, really visual.  I just got Freeplane.  It will read the Freemind maps. It’s free-ware also.  Very nice.  Very useful.

Scrivener I just downloaded this one.  Hmm.  It is allright, but I like the Thesauruses available on Liquid Story Binder better.  I am playing with Liquid S.B. the most.  Scrivener,  It doesn’t seem so outstanding to me, at least so far.

Note: ALL of these will run on the old HP Pavilion 7960.

These tools are a little much for me.  As I wrestle with the interfaces, terminologies, and the way the software works, well the idea that I originally had has flown away like a bird, and I forget what I was gonna start writing about!

Each one of these is different.  I like StoryBook, but wish it would be expanded.  Also, fiction writing seems like it is liquid and flowing, as you describe a reality.  Life, to be a living human being, is not so structured as these softwares try to make it.  Each one makes you conform to IT’S reality, IT’S terminology, IT’s way of thinking.

Please don’t make the mistake of using my initial evaluation as a definitive guide! I’m just getting started with these programs.  I have not NEARLY gone through these programs, well except for yWriter5 and Storybook.  Liquid Story Binder is interesting, I’ve been playing with it all morning.   Dramatica has me scratching my head and running for the dictionary.

Also, what matters the most, are good ideas, and writing skills.  These I do not think, can be duplicated by computer software.

You an buy yourself a Stradivarius.. that don’t mean you can play it.

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