Software Review: WriteItNow 4

This nifty little gadget is provided by Ravenhead Services. My first impression when I opened WriteItNowwas the user interface was cute. For me, the bubbly design attracted me on a childlike level. Of course, there’s more to a program than just an attractive interface, which also happens to be changeable. What’s happening underneath? First, the description according to the website:

WriteItNow – from first idea to final manuscript

Yeah, the advertisement is short, but concise. No extra gimmicks to draw you in. I found their product just as concise.

I reviewed a product called Liquid Story Binder a few weeks ago (Review Here). As a writer, I found WriteItNow to have all of the things I liked about Liquid Story Binder and none of the things I hated. For one, WriteItNow is simplistic in terms its naming conventions. A scene is a scene, not a builder. Characters are formed in character screens, not dossiers. The software is just really straightforward, and the design very user friendly. I was able to hop into the program and start using it immediately without reading any documentation. As advertised, this program is a tool a writer can use from start to finish in a project, well almost finish, which leads me to the screen editor.

The program comes with a very simple screen editor. I didn’t locate any special formatting features, just bold, italic, and underline. I guess it’s double space new paragraphs or adding a tab at the start of the paragraph. Personally, I prefer something a bit more sophisticated. For those initial email queries or critique groups, the plain text works well. However, a writer may want to use a more advanced editor for submitting complete manuscripts, since most agents want the work at least double spaced and formatted tabs. As a side note, exporting the MS to an RTF file puts five spaces (not auto-tab) in front of each paragraph and double spaces.

On to the main features!

Chapters: WriteItNow allows the user to create separate chapters for the work. It goes further with a feature which breaks each chapter into scenes. This is great for those scene writers, cause the drag and drop feature makes it easy to move things around. I’ve heard some authors have billboards and use sticky notes to get an overall big picture. This software has a storyboard feature which does the exact same thing, just electronically. Woot!

Characters: This tool is not quite as powerful as Character Writer (see review part one here and part two here), but is pretty close.  There’s a place to store the basics (name, age, sex), personality traits, and character relations. For those too lazy to develop their own characters, the program will generate one. It even provides a nifty little character chart feature to show relationships like a family tree. As far as functionality, it’s just not as in depth as Character Writer. For example, I didn’t see a place for psychological disorders. And although the random character generator does at enneagrams,  I didn’t find a feature for self-created characters. However, it does have prompts similar to Character Writer which should get an author thinking. By the way, the prompts aren’t limited to just character creation.

Other features: Need a little push? WriteItNow allows the user to create writing targets for both word count and time writing. However it is more on a day to day target rather than an overall completion goal. Can’t find the word you need? Try out the thesaurus. Perhaps you need to dumb down your manuscript. Check out the readability feature.

As I mentioned, WriteItNow is easy to use. And if you get stuck, the creators offer quick video tutorials for the various features. When I say quick, I’m talking 5 minutes max for each feature. That’s how simple the program is to use!

I’ll be honest. After trying out this program, I seriously wanted to buy it. It’s definitely a wish list program for me!

Software Review: Character Writer 3.1 (Part two)

I did a review of Character Writer on April 14, 2010. If you’d like to read it, click here. After I posted the review, I found another feature I had missed. Because I used the trial version to test the product, I thought the feature was unavailable since it was grayed out. Though gray, I found by clicking a blue button which looks very similar to refresh, it puts the program in another mode. Okay…before I go further, program info from the website:

Great stories require great characters. Yet, it’s one of the hardest thing to pull off. Now there’s an easy and powerful way to develop your stories utilizing the Enneagram personality types like the professionals do.

Character Writer 3.1

Okay. 🙂 I mentioned in previous posts I’ve been looking for something to help plot stories. I am telling you people, this does it! It has a story generator feature which will plot the entire story for you. It even has some generic story lines if you go with the defaults. Don’t be generic, folks! Let the Character Writer suggestions help fuel your imagination, then customize the story to your taste. All you have to do is input your information and voila! You’ve got yourself a great outline. Word! It rocks.

The interface is great, pleasing to the eye, and self-explanatory. I highly recommend this for novice computer users. Once the user inserts all the information, there is the option to compile it into one document. This goes for both plotting and character creation.

I have to say I am very happy with this program. It’s well worth the investment. As always, don’t just take my word for it. Try it out for yourself here!

Keeping a Schedule

I’m the type of writer who becomes easily distracted by…well, just about everything–giveaways, Vampire/Mafia Wars, critiques, software. ARGH TWITTER! So, I’ve decided to put myself on a schedule in order to be more productive.

  • Sunday: Reading
  • Monday: Writing
  • Tuesday: Critiquing
  • Wednesday: Writing
  • Thursday: Software tryouts
  • Friday: Writing/Editing
  • Saturday: Blogging

I’m writing this blog on a Wednesday, by the way. As you see by my schedule I’m already distracted. What techniques do you use to keep on track?

Software Review: Liquid Story Binder

Straight off the top, I’ll be honest. This program irritated the hell out of me. It is the perfect example of too much of a good thing. But before I get to the issues I had with the program, a little excerpt from their website.

A Portable Text Editor that Keeps You Organized
Liquid Story Binder XE is a uniquely designed word processor for professional and aspiring authors, poets, and novelists. Writing software for those who require the editing ability of a commercial text editor as well as a document tracking system. It is for those who want the freedom to create, outline and revise but are tired of losing track of their work

From what I’ve heard, Scrivener is the way to go for writers, though I’ve not tried it myself. Unfortunately, Scrivener is only available for Mac users. The next best thing, according to others, is Liquid Story Binder. My first impressions of Liquid Story Binder was it was overly complicated to use. Sure, it looked pretty and all, but it required me to learn a completely new piece of software with very few items self-explanatory.

If I can’t figure out a program right off the back, I head to the tutorials. The Quick Start Guide on their website is pretty decent. It showed me step-by-step with screen shots on how to create my first book. I ran into problems right off the back. It only created the first 9 of 14 (blank) chapters at the creation screen then stopped functioning. I finally gave up and settled on creating 9 chapters and manually inputting the rest one by one. I’m not sure if it was a limitation to the program or a glitch.

Later, I found creating chapters first probably wasn’t the best for my way of organizing. For writers who like to work with scenes then combine them into chapters later, builders are the best bet. So, I deleted my chapters and started with builders. I’m not going to go into details, but I will say this is part of the reason this program is difficult. The names. Why would I relate the term builders to screens? Or Planner to Table of Content. Anyway, I created the scenes then used the build all items features to create chapters. One thing I didn’t like about this method is my builds files were organized alphabetically instead of in the order of my chapters. So when I exported them to chapters, I had to reorganize the chapters in the right order. Blah! And then there’s the frantic search for the scenes within the builds to make changes before importing them back into the chapters again. What a mess.

I also came into problems trying to copy and paste. Liquid Story Binder does not work well with MS Word 2007. The program consistently locked up when I copy and pasted from MS Word 2007 whether the file was in RTF or not. The fix suggested in forums was just don’t use MS Word. 🙂 I opened my manuscript in a program called RoughDraft and copy and pasted from there. For someone like me who depends heavily on MS Word, I was highly disappointed in this glitch. Hopefully the programmers will resolve this issue in the future. I’d like to say I had no more problems after ditching Word, but that wasn’t the case. It still locked up on me occasionally while copying from Rough Draft and sometimes just when typing things in.

Liquid Story Binder is very flexible with plenty of features. However, in creating the abundancy of features, the programmers also created redundancy. Many of the features do the same thing, just display the information in a different format. However, the program didn’t allow for a lot of importing. So I found myself having to enter or copy and paste the same information repeatedly in order to try out new features.

Despite having a pretty interface, the program was not user friendly. I found the features poorly organized and usage buggy at times.

Now for the good stuff! YEAH! Liquid Story Binder has AWESOME customer support. I sent my concern through the forum about the lack of integration and received an online response within 24 hours from a programmer. I’ve been following the forum for a few weeks now and find even if the program doesn’t do exactly what the user wants, the programmers have suggestions to help simulate a particular function. The programmers value the consumers’ opinions and are constantly updating and making improvements based on the suggestion.

If you’re a novice computer user, I’d suggest an easier program to use such as yWriter. My review for it is here. If you’re savvy with computers software, this program might be something to investigate. As I mentioned, it’s HIGHLY flexible. I got the impression every function was not meant to be used by a writer all at once. Instead, the writer picks and chooses a suite of features which works best for their particular style.

Because of the glitches, it had a beta version feel to it. Even so, I imagine the program will be awesome once the programmers work out the kinks.

The makers offer a 30 day free trial. So, no need to rely on just my opinion. Try it before you buy.