On one of the many loops I belong to, someone mentioned a free writing program ywriter4 . About a dozen people on the loop chimed in saying they used the program and loved it. They mentioned story boards, and â€œproblem wordâ€ finder, total word count along with chapter and scene word count, and other neat stuff I didnâ€™t know I wanted. Curious, I downloaded the program and tried it. (For the faint of heart â€“no viruses, I swear.)
Okay, I love this program.
It has a Daily Word Count Tracker, so I know how many words I need to write each day to stay on target for finishing my work in progress. I donâ€™t know why I like knowing I need to only write 300 words a day to finish by December 31. I suspect itâ€™s because, heck 300 words is something I can practically finish in my sleep. 300 words is not as overwhelming as 300 huge blank pages of white. If I have to skip writing a day or two or okay, okay a week, and that Daily Word Count starts edging up toward 400 words a day, then I find myself working really hard to move it back down to my target of 300. And I canâ€™t cheat â€“one word on a page doesnâ€™t count as a page finished no matter how many paragraphs HAD been on that page during the day.
The Story Board feature is pretty cool too. After you create empty files of all your chapters and scenes (should you write like me and plot first) then you can decide from whose POV to write each scene. The Story Board then plots the book using your main characters as threads. At a glance I saw that I had six scenes from the heroineâ€™s POV and my hero completely disappeared from the book â€“not a good idea. So I was able to rework the outline before writing to make sure the poor man was included.
Do you find yourself over using words? This program will run a problem word finder, either predefined (as, then, suddenly, all â€œlyâ€ words, etc.) or user defined (for this book, seriously). It will even give you at total word usage count. I currently have written â€œseriouslyâ€ 192 times and the word â€œandâ€ 502 times. I suspect I need to get rid of some of both of them â€“seriously.
But my all time favorite part of this program, Scene Notes. I always have these brilliant ideas in chapter ten about chapter two. It is so very tempting to go back to chapter two and used said brilliant idea. Yet, noodling around in chapter two doesnâ€™t move my story forward toward the finish line. I want to get to the finish line! So I can click on the Scene Note tab for chapter two, write my brilliant idea down, then get back to chapter ten. The note is â€œhookedâ€ (high tech word â€“I know) to the scene for which I think I will use it and not in a Word document that I may or may not remember weeks later. Every time I bring up chapter two I see the note attached. This way I donâ€™t rewrite chapter two, over and over unless that brilliant idea was really brilliant and I can do it when I get to polishing the second draft and not while slugging out the first.
So if you are looking for something to help organize your writing ywriter4 could be for you â€“and best of all itâ€™s free. Let me know what you think of it or if you have something else you use, Iâ€™d like to know that too.
Marianne Donley writes quirky murder mysteries fueled by her life as a mom and a teacher. She makes her home in Pennsylvania with her supportive husband Dennis and two loveable but bad dogs. Her grown children have respectfully asked her to use a pen name which she declined on the grounds that even if some of their more colorful misdeeds make it into her plots, who would know the books are fiction. Besides they weren’t exactly worried about publicly humiliating her while growing up.
Marianne (and anyone else who is interested), I basically have merged Michael Hague’s (I think that’s his name) with the Hero’s Journey. Something about his structure unlocked storytelling for me. In yWriter, I create 12 chapters for each of those stages. As I think of scenes (I don’t create linearly), I can put them where I think they will go. It is simple to drag and drop anything (scenes, chapters, etc) I want to change, which I do a lot. I can write the scene or just the idea. I don’t want to take up any more comment space, but we are sure to discuss this sometime on mine and Kitty’s (and Shonna’s) blog, RoutinesForWriters.com. Come check us out. If you want me to let you know when we discuss this software, send a note to me at writers AT RoutinesForWriters.com and put my name in the subject line.
Gina, Kitty and Michele,
I’m sending the Scrivener link to my son-in-law for whom I have obviously been a bad example. He’s working on a action/thriller and was asking about Mac programs. Thanks for the link Gina!
Linda, I LOVE the daily word count!
I really like your idea of first plotting using The Heroes Journey. Okay, I really really like it. What modifications do you use?
You can save your work as a text doc and then import the whole thing into ywriter. If you title chapters like chapter one, chapter two and use a character like the # or * for scene breaks then the program sets up the book for you. Then all you have to do is add blank chapter/scenes for what you haven’t written yet. It shouldn’t take more than a few hours to get up and running.
It absolutely is a doohickie! But you don’t have to fiddle with all the stuff. I really just use the daily work count to keep me focused. I don’t use the fun stuff until I’m editing things.
Oooh. Doohickies. I love a good doohickie! But I’m sort of with Jen…I think I’d get too involved playing with the doohickie to actually WRITE…..sigh.
Thanks for the review of ywriter, Marianne. I have the program, but I haven’t tried out all the features. The daily word counter alone sounds valuable.
Thanks for the information, Marianne! I’ve heard of Scrivener for Macs (thanks for the link, Gina! I was looking for the program a couple of months ago and couldn’t find it). Sounds like both programs help keep the stories and the writers organized.
I love this program! I’m a seat-of-the-pants plotter and am always changing the order of the the scenes. It is so easy to drag and drop scenes into different chapters. I start off with my chapters being the 12 stages of the Hero’s Journey (with some modifications). When I get to the final revision, I arrange them into “real” chapters. I’ve only had this program a few months and have not nearly used all its features. It is a great program!
Marianne, I have to try this! But I keep putting it off because I’m afraid I’ll get so involved in playing with the writing program instead of working on the actual book. Do you find it keeps you MORE focused on writing the book? Or is it temping to play in the writing program?
Thanks for the great idea, Marianne. I’ve never heard of it. But it sounded very much like a Mac program I am in LOVE with – which Gina already mentioned! I’ll tell my Windows friends about ywriter4, and all you Mac people go check out Scrivener. It’s AWESOME!!
Just a note . . . ywriter4 works with Windows. If anyone has a Mac, you might consider Scrivener.
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