wordprocessing software

I’ve had a whole slew of intresting questions come my way, some in the comments and some by email. So I’ll be answering them one at a time, in no particular order.

Do you use a novel-writing software? (Or something like Final Draft, which has a novel-writing component.)

To start with a bit of trivia which still amuses me: I wrote my doctoral dissertation with WordPerfect 1.0. So I’ve been fooling around with word processing software since the beginning.

When WordPerfect gave up on the Mac platform, I had to switch to Word, which I did with a heavy heart. I use Word everyday for various things, and all of the novels were written with Word. On a Mac.

However. I have been trying to find a good alternate for novel writing. What I want, ideally, is a solid word processor, a way to organize notes into categories (and to overlap categories — a venn diagram kind of thing would be perfect), the ability to see multiple things at once (two different chapters with the relevant notes, images, lists, etc); the ability to see the document in an outline form and to drag elements from one spot to another. I also want some kind of user forum so I can get quick answers to things that mystify me, and there has to be reliable customer service.

I try just about everything that comes along, but mostly the programs I’ve tried have some big flaw, or just aren’t fine tuned enough. A partial list:

From the Mac people, the iWork package has a word processor called Pages. I had high hopes for Pages, but there are some seriously shortcomings. Like, no auto-save. I keep an eye on updates, but I think it will be a long time before Pages is a viable alternative to Word, for my purposes at least.

CopyWrite is another newer program that advertises itself as a project manager first and a word processor second. I tried it, I bought it, I found problems with the category setup that may have been my lack of insight, but there’s no forum and emails to the developers went unanswered. So, into the storage closet.

I own a (quite pricey) Tinderbox license, but I use that exclusively for mapping ideas and concepts. It’s something like a Venn diagram on steroids, but it doesn’t work for me as a word processor.

FinalDraft is really good for writing any kind of a script, and I have used it for that and liked it. The novel-writing part? Meh.

I’ve been using Scrivener for about a week and it’s very promising. It does pretty much everything I need. I’ll let you know how that works out. If Scrivener doesn’t pan out, I’ll be going back to Word, and watching the horizon for the perfect combination of features.

If you’re as much of a technogeek as I am, you might be interested in a list of all the software I use. Here’s the link to my page at iusethis.