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Writing Software

 
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Does anyone have software that they find particularly good for writing?  I have MS Word, but that feels like it is more geared towards letter length things i.e. One to a few pages
 
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Jerry Ward wrote:Does anyone have software that they find particularly good for writing?  I have MS Word, but that feels like it is more geared towards letter length things i.e. One to a few pages



I actually had quite the opposite opinion. I always felt Microsoft Word excelled at book length manuscripts. I have (4) various books on Microsoft Word as I speak, in varying degrees of compleness, but love the layout. From chapter navigation, to footnots, to autmatic bibliograpohy generation, to even table of contents: I always felt the tools were pretty good for making books. My books are non-standard in format too, and I felt their graphic tools allowed me to easily customize a book.

But I also have reference books on Microsoft Word so I can get the most out of the program. These are not "Microsoft Word for Dummies" types of books, but real reference books. I really think it helps me get the most out of the program.
 
Jerry Ward
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Travis Johnson wrote:

I actually had quite the opposite opinion.



That is the opinion I'm looking for, someone who has actually done it.  I have yet to look into creating longer works in Word
 
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I can't comment about Word.

LibreOffice however is a possible alternative, however it requires a bit of discipline to write in a way that the formatting can be adjusted for the entire document later.
If I had to write a book now, LaTeX would be my choice. Very powerful, but has a bit of a learning curve.
(I am working here and then on my own software, but it isn't ready yet.)
 
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Jerry Ward wrote:

Travis Johnson wrote:

I actually had quite the opposite opinion.



That is the opinion I'm looking for, someone who has actually done it.  I have yet to look into creating longer works in Word



I'm a professional non-fiction writer who's turned to fiction.  I prefer Word (I've got version 2007 and see no need to upgrade).  My non-fiction work has run to 150 pages, drafts of novels can go to 600+ pages.  Word handles it just fine -- but the trick is knowing how to use the tools.  

Word's Document Map tool is currently my sweetheart tool.  I've found myself using maps for even short stories just so I can quickly and easily find places within the story, and for any length document it can make outlining a cinch.  It's a tool option found under the View tab.  

A Word shortcut that makes my writing life easier is customizing my Quick Access Toolbar.  The tools I use the most are right there, saving me time/frustration since I can't seem to ever be bothered learning where to find the various tools I always use.

I've got Scrivener, which probably is a more powerful writing tool, and have used it but it is just too much of a bother.  Too much time spent fooling around with the program and not enough with the writing itself.  

I also find that for writing brief bits, having a writing tool available within a browser, so I don't have to open a program to write while I'm poking around the internet, is a handy thing.  Currently I'm using Quick Write for that and liking it very much.  There are others you might try, of course, but the point of them is to have a place to put thoughts,  links, and copied segments while on the fly.
 
Jerry Ward
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Would anyone have a different opinion if you did not know the target platform?  I have the option to do some guest writing for a web site, but may end up shopping the piece around if the first place isn't interested.  Therefore I may need to output in a more generic format, but Word does that as well.
 
Lif Strand
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Jerry Ward wrote:Would anyone have a different opinion if you did not know the target platform?  I have the option to do some guest writing for a web site, but may end up shopping the piece around if the first place isn't interested.  Therefore I may need to output in a more generic format, but Word does that as well.



Most publishers tell you what format they want (.doc, .rtf, .txt, etc)  The beauty of Word is that you can write what you want and then Save As in the format the publisher needs.  I don't recommend writing software that uses proprietary format (Scrivener being one -- you *always* have to export your document to another format).  That just makes extra work for you, unless you really love writing with that software

My point being don't write your piece using a generic format (actually, .doc or .docx is pretty universally accepted now) unless that format suits your writing style.  Use the software that helps you write, then Save As to whatever format a publisher wants.
 
pollinator
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MS Word is the standard. I write for a living and have found it both feature rich and powerful to compose nearly anything.
The only drawback I have found, and it's not much of an issue, is using MS Word to draft copy that is to be used in other kinds of digital layouts. Sometimes the proprietary Microsoft embedded coding can cause some challenges to a web-development tool or similar. For me it's a simple matter of dropping copy into notepad which strips out the embedded formatting code. But, I wouldn't trade MS Word for any other product on the market, even if I worked on a Mac, which I don't.
 
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yes, I can't imagine not using Word.
(or Libre office if you prefer free).

 
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I like typing mine in a programme that has no formatting or spellcheck.  I did a lot of my drafts in Wordpad, with each chapter being a separate file.  I would copy-paste it into grammarly, then copy-paste that back into wordpad - doing a print copy (dated and singed) after it went through spellcheck.

My biggest concern was when writing for magazines, the publishers always wanted a text file without any formatting.  Since I was paying someone to do the layout for my book, I didn't want to pay them to strip the old formatting off the text before applying the new.  

I like having the physical copies of each draft as support if I have to defend my copyright.  

But for organizing thoughts, MS word or something like it work well.  You can set up a kind of map to navigate the document.  Other options like scrivener are very popular, especially with fiction writers.

My brain works best in analogue so I tend to shy away from fancy writing programmes.  

There are so many different styles of programmes which is great!  Because each writer is unique.  Try lots and stick with the one that works.  But don't get lost in the programme and let it distract you from your writing.  
 
Tereza Okava
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around this time of year we often hear about other writing tools, as NaNoWriMo is coming up in November (national novel writing month. I have done it a few times but since my work has picked up, November is inevitably my busiest month and the last thing I want to do after translating 20,000 words per week is write another 10 in my "free time," especially as November is just turning into the best part of summer here).
This blog post has some suggestions for format-free or distraction-free options. I know back in the day when I did NaNoWriMo they had some tool of their own, I didn`t research it but if you do have a deadline, campaigns like NaNoWriMo can be really useful to get you moving (even if you`re not writing a novel, the fact that they have a word count goal can be applied to other things. nobody`s checking what you`re writing.).
Check out Section II here, but the rest may be useful too. (R Ranson, I think there is one app in there that might be perfect for your needs).
https://writingcooperative.com/30-free-writing-apps-to-help-you-through-every-stage-of-nanowrimo-ab48d20ad5c7

Also, I know personally when I`m stuck on something tricky, the shower is when I`m going to have a breakthrough, or when I`m up in the middle of the night. I keep a notepad next to my bed and within 3 steps of the bathroom, so I can write these things down. Some people use apps like Evernote, but the more you get to know yourself the better you can equip yourself to not lose these little gems.
 
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I just want to add that I've found it very helpful during the editing stage to print out a hard copy, find somewhere quiet where no one else can hear you, and read what you've written out loud to yourself. Even better is to have someone else read your writing out to you. You will catch typos, awkward constructs, and learn where readers struggle with lyric flow. The ear as editing software!
 
Jerry Ward
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Another trick I've been told about proofreading is to read it upside down.  You have to focus more on what is actually there rather than your mind filling in things that you are familiar with.

Vera Stewart wrote:I just want to add that I've found it very helpful during the editing stage to print out a hard copy, find somewhere quiet where no one else can hear you, and read what you've written out loud to yourself. Even better is to have someone else read your writing out to you. You will catch typos, awkward constructs, and learn where readers struggle with lyric flow. The ear as editing software!

 
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Unlike some of the others, I hate working in word. Especially when editing time comes around. Word is something of a Franken-program, even if it does happen to be industry standard. For book-length works, I prefer Scrivener. I've found that the tools it has are extremely helpful, the ability to instantly rearrange scenes/sections is useful, and the ease of finding a given block of text I need to edit is invaluable. It is a one time purchase and packed with useful things. That said, you'd want to go through the interactive tutorial if you want to use the program without getting confused with some of the bells and whistles. I'm also aware of Y-Writer, but can't speak from experience using that program. It is free though, so if funds are really tight, it could serve as an alternative to Scrivener or Word.
 
Travis Johnson
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I looked into getting an editor for my book, and the cost was pretty reasonable. EVERYTHING I read about publishing books said to get a professional copy editor to review your book, and I think that is sound advice. In any case it looked like a full length book would cost about $750 for a copy editor to polish it up.
 
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