Software for Novel or Short Story Writing

Every writer I’ve met has a favorite word processor, ranging from notepad, to specialized software designed solely to help you write that award winning novel.

So, not wanting to feel left out I’ve tried a bunch.

  • Writeway. Is not only free, someone who uses it every day recommended it. Yet, for reasons known only to the software gods, I can’t get it to install on my computer. –So that one’s right out.
  • Scrivener was designed with novelists in mind. My initial problem was that it’s powerful and thus confusing. But now that I’ve had some time to play with it, I decided it’s worth the $40.

    It took me quite a while to figure out how to get it to do what I wanted the way I wanted. So my advice is to try the demo, and play with it for a couple of weeks before spending any money.

  • It’s not a word processor and I haven’t paid for Scrapple, yet, but I’m giving it a shot. It provides you with a different way to storyboard or mind map your plot. –Whether it will be useful, or another toy I wind up shelving, remains to be seen.
  • Then there’s the Hemingway App. It’s interesting, because in a world full of word processors, all it does is help you tighten up your text.

    It does this by keeping track of adverbs, passive voice, phrases that have simpler alternatives, and hard to read sentences. Although Hemingway’s definition of hard to read sentences appears to be based solely on word count.

  • Another program in the “not a word processor” category is Scrapple. It provides you with a different way to storyboard or mind map your plot. –Whether it will be useful, or another toy I wind up shelving, remains to be seen.

Here are other software I’ve looked at.
Power Structure is $99 with a 30 day trial.
DramaticaPro is $129 with a demo copy that does everything but print or save.
WriteItNow 5 is $69 with a demo copy that does everything but save.
Freewriter free with a $19 Professional version. –I couldn’t find any information on the upgrade and several buttons in their support section didn’t work. —To me that’s not a good sign.
Scrollistic free from the Microsoft store, with $9.99 in-app purchases.
Novel Factory $39.99 with a free, fully functional 14 day trial. -I gave it a whirl, but I prefer Scrivener. (Probably because I’d already been using Scrivener for almost a week and was finally getting used to it.)

As a side note:
Scrivener has a special edition just for Nanowrimo. If you win you get 50% off and if you only try you get 20% off.

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.
“On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.”

Yuppers. You read that right, 50,000 words in one month. Think you got it in you?

NEO2 Word Processor

I just received my NEO2 word processor that I bought for $25, including shipping, on eBay.
NEO 2 Word Processor

Yup, that’s kind of silly. After all I have four functioning computers. So why do I want this antique? Well, it will provide distraction free writing. It will allow me to write a first draft without editing as I type. And last: I bought it because I could.

Anyhow. Enough about me.

The NEO2 has a green screen with black letters that -depending on the font- will hold six, 16 character, lines of small text, five lines of medium text and four lines of large font text.

Mine also came with a couple of math and reading apps, and that’s it. No bells, no whistles, no extras. I don’t even remember how much memory it has. All I know is that it has 8 files for you to stash your works in progress.

As far as connections to the outside world go it has one type 2(I think) USB, one printer to USB, an IR receiver/transmitter, and a power connection.
NEO 2 connections
–I told you it was bare bones.

The basic instructions are on the bottom of the device, so if you buy one of these little beasties, the first thing you want to do is go to and download the manual.

As far as storage goes, each of the eight slots have the default minimum file size set at 512 characters (about a quarter of a page).
While the default maximum size is 51,200 characters (about 25 pages).
But you can change it to the highest maximum file size allowed. Which is 102,400 characters (about 50 pages). This may slow the whole process up unless you ditch all those extra apps.

When you start looking through their website, you can sure tell these were for schools. They even have instructions on how to replace keys.

Now I wonder how long it will be before I break down and buy a keyboard for my second gen iPad, and put this on a shelf, never to be seen again?

On a much brighter note, I was in Walmart when someone discovered some miss-priced notebooks and I wound up with 10, 70 page, college ruled notebooks for 2 cents each. 🙂

Not an Author, Says Who?

This is for all of you that write endlessly and swear you’re not an author.

My grandfather wrote a book based on Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children® Series.

The first page says “Earth's Children as envisioned by Ivans P Macdonald”
earth's children as envisioned by Ivans P Macdonald

But the prelude says, “Not an Author.”
"Not an Author"
As a side note: This also includes a not very flattering description of his favorite author. This was not intended to be insulting, it was just the way he talked.

So back to it:
Not an author? Why then did he write and edit 197 pages?
It says page 197

He even had it comb bound, so he must have have some degree of pride in his work.
spiral bound

I don’t know if I left this last page large enough for you to read, but click on it and take a look. It obviously points to a sequel.

To sum this up, my grandfather wrote a book, finished it, had it printed, and had it bound, but swore he was not an author because he had never been published by a major publisher.

Am I the only one that thinks this is a little odd? He may have been self-published, but he was published. That makes him an author.

    I so wish I was “not an author” like him.
    I have yet to finish a project, because my short stories have more pages than Gone With the Wind and my novels are a handful of single chapters and unconnected scenes.
    I’m surrounded by scraps of paper in addition to the notes on my computers with ideas that don’t sound nearly as brilliant as they did when I wrote them.
    I build characters that I love and then kill because they’re too…. something.
    And I’m wearing out my shredder, because there are times when I’m so frustrated that physically destroying what I’ve written makes me feel better. –The delete key just doesn’t have the same visceral feeling.

Writing this made me think of what an English teacher said. “Robert Heinlein may be a best selling author, but at the end of the day, his job is still writing.” –And in this class so is yours.

–Putting a cinnamon stick in your coffee grounds takes away a lot of the bitterness.–

Characters and Writing Inspiration

I love characters, but I’m usually at a loss when it comes time to put them into a new situation. So instead of keeping random notes that quit making sense after a few days, I started a Pinterest –Writer’s Inspiration thingy.

That’s where I put pictures of people, places, things, and quotes. It’s completely random shit, but once in a while there’s something that catches my attention.

The photo of an old samurai makes me think about his situation. What the heck does he do now? He’s old and his way of life has been replaced by automatic weapons and air strikes. All that’s left is to train, practice and tell the tales that everyone has heard a hundred times.

Or how about this one of a young woman in a diner late at night.
late at night

My current favorite dialog prompt.

Maybe the “lady-like” quote should go with the, “been partying too hard,” girl at the diner.

Reading Advice on Writing is a Great Way to Avoid Writing.

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest, reading and curating advice on writing. I also spend a lot of time going to the linked websites reading advice of writing.

All in all, it’s a pleasant way to kill time, while feeling like you’re part of a community, and avoiding having to deal with the headaches of actually writing.

A couple of observations:
First: most of the websites giving advice on writing appear to be written by people who’s only claim to being an author is that they’ve written a blog on writing, and maybe a howto book on becoming a world famous author.

Second: there seems to be a huge number of other folks out there who are also using Pinterest as a stall tactic.

Don’t get me wrong. Pinterest is a great resource, but just how much advice do you need to read before you to get off the dime and type?

Well, humble brag. I got my first draft of a short story finished. –It sucked so much that I deleted an easy 60% of it in the first hour. I even killed the hero and kept the bad guy.

What can I say? The hero was so boring he should be marketed as a cure for insomnia and while I have to admit that the bad guy isn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the chandelier, at least I didn’t hit him in the head with a shovel.

So now I’m now on self imposed Pinterest restriction and I’m on to a totally different story.

My hero is more of a victim than hero.
My bad guy is a pixie –a critter about the size of a horsefly– who just showed up and moved in one day.
His best friend thinks she’s cute.
His girlfriend is now his ex-girlfriend because his place smells like pixie shit.
Animal control can’t do anything because pixies are protected.
The only expert on the subject has never actually seen a pixie before.
And before anyone says anything, flyswatters and Raid are right out.

They tell you to torture your hero. –You got it boss.

The story may not be good, but it should be fun.