My Software Tools

I haven’t tried any new software for awhile. Mostly because I have what I need and playing around for a review is quite time consuming. Especially when I end up having to transfer the information back and forth. Instead of a software review, I’m going to offer a list of my tools as well as go through my creation process using those tools. 🙂

Once I’m ready to really break into a piece of work, I start with Character Writer (reviewed Part One April 14, 2010 and Part Two May 12, 2010). I absolutely love this program. By the time I finish running through the prompts, my characters have enough personality my husband gets angry when I invite them for dinner. Besides the character development feature, it also has a plotting tool. Oh how I heart the plotting feature. It’s not in-depth, but helps ensure I have a beginning, middle, and end plus plot points. I’m still searching for a program that’ll help me expand in detail. Power Structure (reviewed November 3, 2010) wasn’t too bad, but the mechanics of it didn’t quite fit my style.

So I have my characters and plot, what’s next? Writing of course. For that, I turn to StoryBox (reviewed June 16, 2010 and October 6, 2010). This software has come a long way since I reviewed it six months ago, and Mark Fassett is constantly adding new features. StoryBox is heavily influenced by Scrivener (previously only for Mac but now in beta for PC users). I took a look at Scrivener last month (didn’t toy around with it too much) and see a lot of similarities. Using StoryBox instead of MS Word has simplified my writing process. I’m able to flip through chapters, scenes, outlines, and storyboards quickly, making searches simple. Anyone who’s dealt with a 80k document in MS Word knows what a pain it is. Or worse, keeping each chapter/scene in a separate document and searching for the right file. Oh bother. I still venture outside StoryBox for grammar and spelling checks (spelling check is included but doesn’t quite work the way I want yet), but for the most part, my stories have found a comfortable home with this product.

Next stop, editing. This is really a me versus words kind of deal. But once I’m fairly satisfied with a scene, I run it through AutoCrit (reviewed March 31, 2010).The online tool has made me more aware of my problematic areas and helped me vary my writing a bit more. Love it, love it, love it! I do a little tweaking with the AutoCrit recommendations at my side then pull out my last tool. Text-to-speech.

There are a lot of programs available, but I’m a bit of a cheapskate financially conservative. Originally, I used a macro in MS Word. You can find one on the web and create your own. Just google “text to speech macro word.” Most recently, Mark Fassett added the text-to-speech feature to StoryBox. So once again, I find myself happily sitting in his software. So what’s the deal with text-to-speech? Editing one’s own work is difficult. We expect to see/read what we meant to write. With text-to-speech, the writer hears what he/she actually wrote. I find it invaluable for catching errors.

That’s pretty much my writing process with the tools I use. Besides those, I also have a few miscellaneous products I find useful. First up StoryBook (reviewed May 5, 2010). My ideas come in series. With StoryBook, I’m able to keep all my ideas in one document and make sure the plots and characters mesh correctly. No resurrecting dead folks because I forgot they kicked the bucket. And since I’m one to change character names midstream, having a reference point doesn’t hurt either.

Then there’s my newest toy, WordWeb (reviewed October 27, 2010). My precious. This tool eliminates the need to copy and paste to word or Visuwords (reviewed April 21, 2010) for a thesaurus. WordWeb runs in the background and pops up whenever I hit the designated shortcut keys. Doesn’t matter which application I’m using. WordWeb is always at my beck and call.

So that sums it up for me. For those who want to try out some of these tools, all of them offer a try-before-you-buy option.

What software tools do you use in your writing process? Anyone have a plotting software tool they swear by?

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