Posted by: Jodi | July 12, 2010

Novel Writing Software – yWriter5

I have a system to keep my files organized for Mr. Manuscript.   I have a  master folder that holds all my projects on the desktop.  Inside that folder there are separate folders for each project.  Within each project folder there is another series of folders to keep the files organized.  For Mr. Manuscript this includes separate folders for drafts, critiques, pictures, cuttings (scenes that didn’t make it), etc.  Outside these folders, floating in the manuscript folder are the files being worked on along with files that don’t quite fit in the other folders.  One of those files is the complete manuscript where I break chapters in and out for revision as if they were legos.

Confusing?  Yes, it is.   There is no easy way to keep the chapters organized once they removed from the manuscript.  I ended up wasting lots of time looking for the right version of the right chapter to work on.  Instead of writing and developing I spend time shuffling around in the folders opening file after file looking for what I should be working on.  Once I do find it I often forget what I was going to do with it.

Enter yWriter5 by Spacejock,  a free piece of software made specifically for writing a novel.  It keeps everything handy and organized without me having to fuss around.  On one side of the screen it maintains a list of chapters along with a wordcount.  It organizes each chapter into scenes and shows what stage of writing they are in (rough, draft, done, etc).  It will also track what occurs in each scene, what characters appear, what items are used, the location, and the time and day the event occurred.

Anything you would like to keep track of there is a way to do it in yWriter.  I can even upload those character pictures I found directly into the character bios.

I’m still learning all the different ins and outs of the software, but so far I really like what it has enabled me to do in a short amount of time.  It eliminates the flustered feeling of sitting down and not knowing what I need to work on.  Now, I can open it up, see exactly where I am, and actually work.   If I don’t want to compose a scene there are plenty of other things I can work on through the program, character bios, outlines for chapters yet to be created, names and uses of items that appear, and the list goes on.

If you are feeling stuck in your novel-writing, give it a try.  It might be just what you need to get moving.

Click here to go check it out!

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Responses

  1. Simon Haynes’ software is an incredible help. Also check out his submission tracking tool, SONAR (available at the same site).

    http://spacejock.com

    • Oooh – I didn’t see that one! I’ve been looking for something I can use that I can run locally. Currently I use the one built into Duotrope, but it doesn’t cover book submissions and agent hunting, as far as I know.

  2. Thanks for this. I have lost track of the number of times I’ve had to go searching through various versions of chapters to find the one paragraph I want to re-use….this sounds very good 🙂

    • Give it a go – it’s free, the only thing you’ll lose is whatever time it takes you to decide if it will work for you. I feel that it helps me keep moving forward.

  3. Thanks for this, can you use it for a novel that’s already in progress, or do you have to use it from scratch?

    • Ideally you would start from scratch. Currently I’m copying and pasting my current manuscript into the program and filling in any and all fields I think are relevant. The nice thing is you don’t have to fill in everything, you can chose how much you want to use.

  4. I’m using yWriter5 for my novel’s second draft. It’s a good piece of software to have.

    • Yay, another user! Do you know how to retrieve a complete copy of the entered manuscript – say if you wanted to make some paper copies or a pdf file? Not that I’m close to that stage yet, but it’s something that I was trying to figure out.

  5. When I read the blog title I thought it was going to be novel-writing software for non-writers, and I was thinking “Wha????”

    Then I thought such a thing would be a good product for James Patterson’s novel sweatshop in South America.

    On a serious note, I’d be concerned that, in some, ways, it would complicate things. Encouraging people to work on peripheral stuff and not do the actual novel. I’m often stubborn and refuse help though. I’m suprised I don’t use a manual typewriter.

    • Again, if only it were that easy – I would love to plug a few of my ideas into a writing program and have it create the story.

      A certain amount of peripheral work needs to be done in order to create a realistic story. Characters need names and personalities, continuity must be preserved as well as the timeline.

      For a simple, single character POV fiction book with few characters this process is short and uninvolved. It’s easy for the writer to remember where people and things are.

      However, a complicated book with a changing POV, multiple storylines, and dictionary of new terms and concepts requires a much longer process, especially if the world is different from ours. It’s nice to have a place to keep track of everything.

      So … not a zombie thriller. Hmmmm. Perhaps your book is a satire based on the Twilight series?

      • Yes, it surely makes sense if you are writing a fantasy novel, because you are creating a world with its own history and culture, so you need to keep all that lined up.

        I’m not opposed to software at all. I just don’t think it would fit the way I write. I never plan, outline, name characters in advance, or do any of the things you’re “supposed” to do. I just pop open the laptop and start banging away on the keys. I don’t know my characters names until they show up in the story.

        I started doing that after my first manuscript, which I outlined heavily, turned out to be stiff and laden with irreparable plotting problems. Then I read a book on writing by Carolyn Wheat and she suggested one way to freshen your prose is to compose a story without the slightest idea where it’s going to go. I followed her advice and, one completely new and far better manuscript later, don’t think I can do it any other way now. When I found out Elmore Leonard, one of my favorite authors, does the same thing, I felt better.

        Actually, my story is written in the here and now and lacks supernatural elements, zombies, vampires, robots, or anything you’d expect based on what you know of me. Go figure.

        Once again, please accept my apology for hijacking your blog.

  6. Thanks for suggesting yWriter5. I’ll check it out. Right now I just use my own timeline.

  7. sounds awesome.

    thanks, jo!


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