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Writing Software - Various Varieties

Discussion in 'Original Fiction Discussion' started by CheddarTrek, Jul 3, 2017.

  1. CheddarTrek

    CheddarTrek Set Phasers to Melt Moderator DLP Supporter

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    There's a list of these in that Fuck Yeah link that's in another thread, but I figured we could make a list for this specifically.

    I'm going to miss several things here. Let me know which ones I've missed along with a name of the software, a link to it, and a brief description of it and I'll add it to the list.

    I'm not going to try for an exhaustive list, just things that you've either used and found useful or have heard of being useful even if you haven't tried them.

    Note: OpenOffice and LibreOffice were good free alternatives to MS Word last time I checked, if you need something of that nature.

    Sublime Text - Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup and prose.
    Ched - I used it briefly before switching to Atom. I like that it can do columns and was customizable, but I like to switch fonts often and it got on my nerves a bit.

    Jon - I attempted to use Sublime Text. at first I was very excited about the prospects of a fully customizable workspace for writing, however, like Ched I found issue with the requirement of going into the config to edit font on the fly. Very troublesome and a deal breaker for me.

    Atom - Atom is a free and open-source text and source code editor for macOS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows.
    Ched - I'm currently using this for prose though it's designed for code. Making numerous columns is easy and to me it feels like an upgraded SublimeText. I like to have an old draft in the left column, an outline in the right, and my current working draft in the middle.

    Vim - Vim is a highly configurable text editor built to make creating and changing any kind of text very efficient. It is included as "vi" with most UNIX systems and with Apple OS X.
    Ched - I saw Oz mention it somewhere as what he uses.

    Genghiz Khan had some tips on using it for writing here.

    Scrivener - Scrivener is a word-processing program and outliner designed for authors. Scrivener provides a management system for documents, notes and metadata.
    Ched - This is one of the most popular writing softwares out there, period. I used it for the length of the free trial and remember being frustrated with it, though it's certainly well designed.

    Jon - This is one of my main tools when I write a story—in fact I have it open right now. While I don't necessarily do the writing in Scrivener it's interface and ability to compose dozens of documents into a cohesive format is very handy. Specifically, I like the ability to create file trees using anything as the base, from images to folders to documents.

    yWriter - yWriter is a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes, helping you keep track of your work while leaving your mind free to create.
    Ched - I use yWriter a lot. All of my stories that go beyond 20k or so, or that I plan to go beyond 20k, end up in yWriter. I don't write drafts in it anymore (I use Atom or Word), but I store them there. One yWriter file might have 4 versions of one chapter, 6 versions of another chapter, along with various worldbuilding scenes and notes. Essentially I use it for storage of everything related to one particular story, because it keeps things nicely organized in a single file. That said, it's essentially Scrivener but nowhere near as streamlined.

    Jon - I used ywriter 7 years ago when I was writing several stories. I had a portable installation on a usb and when I used it on my home computer I would open the files off it. Doing so would make local backups. At some stage I lost my usb with the portable installation and the base files. So, you'd think those backups it made would come in handy, right? Wrong. They were fucking useless there was physically no method for pulling files from them without manually going through every fucking single bit of the text and trying to pull it out of fucking mangled code.

    Aeon Timeline - The timeline tool for creative writing.
    Ched - Haven't used it, but I did download it to try the free trial at some point. This is for people who need to create intricate timelines and have notes regarding each thing, etc. More than most will want for a story. I'd be interested if anyone knew of a freeware simplified version (and don't say Excel).

    Freeplane - Freeware mind-mapping software. Freemind is apparently a compatible program in terms of file format, but Freeplane has more features.
    Ched - The mind mapping stuff never seemed to click for me, but a lot of people like to draw these to see relations and to keep up with overarching ideas for their stories. I've seen some impressive ones.
    Xmind - Claims to be the most popular mind-mapping tool on the internet.
    Ched - Again, haven't used it. But it's supposedly the nicer version of Freemind, above. Not free.

    Wikidpad - wikidPad is a Wiki-like notebook for storing your thoughts, ideas, todo lists, contacts, or anything else you can think of to write down.
    Ched - This is something I plan to use later for stories that have expansive worldbuilding, lots of characters, etc. I've heard tons of great things about it. There's apparently a way to capitalize a random letter in anything you're writing to create another page, so if you're worldbuilding and writing notes you can generate pages to fill in later, etc. It's supposedly very intuitive. Brandon Sanderson uses it, IIRC.

    Autorealm - Vector based drawing software designed for RPGs
    Ched - Maps and designs for things, if you're into that. Haven't used it, just another thing I've heard of that's free and apparently does a decent job.

    Penflip - Penflip helps you write better with others.
    Genghiz Khan - This is a brilliant place to put your in-progress works if you're a fan of the version control system git. It aims to be a github for collaborative writing. The online editor for it is also decent: it allows you to edit in markdown.​

    ProWritingAid - Our software automatically suggests 1000s of style improvements so you can breeze through your editing.
    Ched - It's an editing software with both a free browser version and a more advanced add-in for Word, IIRC. I like it, but haven't used it in a while. At one point I bought a year subscription and didn't regret it. IMO it's worth putting 2k words or so into the free online editor and seeing what it says.

    StyleWriter - the World's Largest Style and Usage checker — is a powerful manuscript editor that plugs directly into all versions of Microsoft Word.
    Joe's Nemesis - I also use Stylewriter, which is an editing-only program that attaches to Word (and perhaps, other programs). Somewhere in the files here I have a large review of it.​

    Grammarly - Our free grammar checker instantly eliminates grammatical errors and enhances your writing.
    Joe's Nemesis - I really like it.​



    What else?

    Post to let me know what else you've either used and liked, disliked, or just heard about from someone you trust. I'll edit this post to include it, just give me a link and what your thoughts are. Also feel free to comment on any of the above programs - I can add your comments to mine.

    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  2. Jon

    Jon The Demon Mayor Admin DLP Supporter

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    Sublime Text - Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup and prose.
    I attempted to use Sublime Text. at first I was very excited about the prospects of a fully customizable workspace for writing, however, like Ched I found issue with the requirement of going into the config to edit font on the fly. Very troublesome and a deal breaker for me.

    Scrivener - Scrivener is a word-processing program and outliner designed for authors. Scrivener provides a management system for documents, notes and metadata.
    This is one of my main tools when I write a story—in fact I have it open right now.

    While I don't necessarily do the writing in Scrivener it's interface and ability to compose dozens of documents into a cohesive format is very handy.

    Specifically, I like the ability to create file trees using anything as the base, from images to folders to documents.

    When writing I make a base document e.g 'Chapter 1' and then from there I branch out into individual scenes composing it.

    e.g

    >Chapter 1
    >>Plot
    >>Scene 1
    >>Scene 2
    >>>Discarded Scene
    >>Scene 3

    yWriter - yWriter is a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes, helping you keep track of your work while leaving your mind free to create.
    I used ywriter 7 years ago when I was writing several stories. I had a portable installation on a usb and when I used it on my home computer I would open the files off it. Doing so would make local backups.

    At some stage I lost my usb with the portable installation and the base files.

    So, you'd think those backups it made would come in handy, right?

    Wrong. They were fucking useless there was physically no method for pulling files from them without manually going through every fucking single bit of the text and trying to pull it out of fucking mangled code.
     
  3. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Auror

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    If you're gonna be using vim to write, I'd recommend using junegunn's plugin goyo.vim for distraction free writing. Official description: "Distraction-free writing in Vim"

    The variant neovim is vim with a slightly modernised codebase. While choosing between vim and neovim is highly personal, I prefer neovim because of both technical and personal reasons. The derivative editor vimr is a GUI for neovim written in swift and is available only on the mac for now.

    Another mac addition: Ulysses (Official description: The Ultimate Writing App for Mac, iPad and iPhone). It's about as brilliant a markdown editor as they come. It's analogous to a notebook for your writing. I prefer it to scrivener on the mac because it has a slightly cleaner look and I find its interface to be a little less busy and much much simpler and easier to use. A bonus is that it syncs with companion apps on the iPhone and iPad if you're into typing on glass on the train.

    Also, while not strictly a writing app, penflip is a brilliant place to put your in-progress works if you're a fan of the version control system git. It aims to be a github for collaborative writing. The online editor for it is also decent: it allows you to edit in markdown.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  4. Joe's Nemesis

    Joe's Nemesis High Score: 2,058 Prestige

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    Scrivener is what I use, that or MS Word. A note on Scrivener, you can now load Scrivener files into ProWritingAide standalone software.

    I also use Stylewriter, which is an editing-only program that attaches to Word (and perhaps, other programs). Somewhere in the files here I have a large review of it. Finally, I also use Grammarly, and to be honest, I really like it.

    One last bit of info. Win 10 and Word 2016 allow for you to highlight paragraphs and then use text-to-speech. Doing this has helped me catch mistakes that no other program has been able to catch.
    ________

    EDIT: Scrivener was a life savior when it came to studying for Comprehensives and also for dissertation research and writing. If you're a student, anywhere from Freshman to studying for your PhD comps, I heavily recommend Scrivener.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  5. kinetique

    kinetique Groundskeeper

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    If you're going to include vim as writing software, you may as well include emacs as well, as there isn't anything I can think of that emacs can't do that vim can.

    Also, org mode exists.

    Matter of fact, there are set ups for it which replicate scrivener and other common pieces of writing software (from a quick google search).

    On the other hand it's a pain in the ass to set up - and leads into a trap of never being "finished" as such.
     
  6. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Auror

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    If we're going to have a DLP editor wars, let us set up a separate thread for it. 'Cause evil mode also exists ;)

    Edit: CheddarTrek you forgot to add Ulysses to that list. I talked about it in my comment as well. It's a separate application, not the same as vim.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
  7. kinetique

    kinetique Groundskeeper

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    It's not an editor war in the slightest, and not meant to be on either.

    For what it's worth my progression of editors went something like this:

    vim -> neovim -> spacemacs

    So I totally get the appeal of vim keybinds - I love them even haha.
     
  8. Genghiz Khan

    Genghiz Khan Auror

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    I'm still at neovim. Quite happy with it as well, though mentions of org-mode make me want to paw at emacs a bit.
     
  9. kinetique

    kinetique Groundskeeper

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    I think it depends how much editing you do with web files as to how fast you make the switch. Certain things are just so good in emacs for it that I don't know of a way of replicating in vim.
     
  10. The.Snorting.Hat

    The.Snorting.Hat First Year

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    Has anyone used WriteMonkey? It's also a markdown sort of software. Not big on list of features, but pretty good if you want a distraction free work space.
     
  11. Oz

    Oz Heir to Hogwarts Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Yeah, used it for a while on enembee’s recommendation. Good distraction free editor.
     
  12. Chadrew

    Chadrew Second Year

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    I'm currently using FocusWriter, which is also of the distraction-free variety. Not many fancy features, but then I don't need much. You can create your own themes (font, text background, window background, etc), it remembers last cursor position, and tracks daily progress.

    It also launches and opens files reasonably fast, nowhere near the speed of Notepad++, but still quite good. WriteMonkey is blazing fast with smaller files, but when I tried to open a .txt file that was about 700 KB, it took over 5 seconds. I suppose that's nitpicking but it's annoying if you just want to jot down a few notes.
     
  13. Hawkin

    Hawkin Minister of Magic

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    Basic version is free, and is pretty useful.
     
  14. dhulli

    dhulli The Reborn

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    I don't do much writing. But for what writing I do (mostly notes), I use Evernote with the awesome Alternote Mac App http://alternoteapp.com/ . Dark mode + distraction free + beautiful font rendering.