Guest Post: What yWriter Offers Writers

8 11 2009

I have mentioned the power of online social tools previously, and this post is a testimony to a budding friendship that was a result of getting more involved in Twitter.  This post is a guest post, written by Nicole, whose blog It’s All About Writing has been an inspiration to getting me writing again (instead of just thinking about it).  As her alter ego, you can find her on Twitter under the username simplywriting.  When I mentioned how much I loved Scrivener, she told me about a writing program she used for PCs.  I asked if she would be willing to write a guest post about it, and, voila, here it is.

 

What yWriter Offers Writers

by Nicole Humphrey

 

The best things in life are free, or so the old adage goes. As far as Writing Program software, that old saying actually holds true. For months, I resisted all of the comments and praise for yWriter. I had gone and looked at it, and discovered it was free. I decided against downloading it, because I already had one great writing program I paid for, and have tried a few others. I was content with what I was using. How could free be better than what I had purchased or tried from other writing programs?

 

Finally after some time, more out of curiosity when people kept talking about it, I thought “okay fine, I’ll try it”. Since it was free, I really didn’t intend to keep it, and figured I’d just remove it when I was done and go back to what I was using.

 

Guess what? I’m still using it, and will probably never go back. It is by far the best program I have ever found for writers and it’s free. There is no trial use, no limited capabilities: it is 100% free forever.

 

When I downloaded it, I got a little freaked out when it first loaded because it looked so confusing; of course, so did the other program I had been using. I noticed on the website that there was a Quick Start Guide for yWriter that you could download, and I recommend downloading it for anyone trying it out. It gives you step by step directions to setting up your book, and explains how to use the program to get the most out of it. There is also a Project Wizard included with the program you can utilize to get started as well.

 

I had already started a book using the other program, so I had to get it imported into the program to begin working on it. It imported nicely, but I was able to see I needed to move a few things around once I got it imported. That was a good thing, because suddenly I could see a “story” truly developing.

 

Jessie asked me to tell you three things about yWriter that I love. I have to start from setting the whole yWriter program up to explain exactly why I love this Writing Program software.

 

In most of my previous works in progress, I haven’t been very good about outlining. I plan them out, but I don’t really do it in a chapter by chapter, or scene by scene outline format. I really think I should have. They probably wouldn’t be works in progress anymore, and would be finished novels. With my current novel, I did do a really light outline detailing what I wanted to happen in each chapter.

 

Screen Shot 1

Screen shot of full synopsis was generated by using the reports function

 

With yWriter, when you open a new project you immediately start with a determined number of chapters that you input. You choose whatever you want, and you have the option of deleting or adding chapters later. You do have the option of starting with just one chapter and adding as you go too. The default is set for 25, so I just went with the 25 chapters.

 

It creates those 25 chapters for you, and then you begin working inside the chapters on your scenes. I love that you can move chapters around, move scenes around, move one scene from one chapter to another chapter, and all of this without cutting and pasting a thing.

 

Screen Shot 2

Screen shot of my outlined scenes so far

 

The first column shows the chapter the scene falls in. You have the option of giving your chapters titles, or just leaving them as ‘Chapter 1’ and so on. The second column shows what status the scene is in (options are outline, draft, 1st edit, 2nd edit and Done), and these will change later when I go back and make edits to the scenes. The third column shows whether the scene is set to an action scene or reaction scene (I still need to edit this a little – right now everything is set to action). The fourth column indicates the word count for each scene, which is really helpful to figure out if an entire scene could be cut, added somewhere else or if more needs to be written on the scene. The fifth, sixth and seventh column shows how long the scene took place, which is really great when you are working on a time line project, where things fall at certain times, etc. This also keep you from accidentally writing a 30 hour day into a chapter. I will be utilizing this function to keep my time line straight. The eighth column is for the VP of the chapter, or the person who’s viewpoint the chapter is being told from. My novel is based on a true story, so the entire novel is in first person. Finally, the ninth column is a brief description of the scene.

 

Oh, and another perk that I know many people would benefit from, is that because it allows you to separate scenes in the program, it eliminates the need to add “****” breaks to keep chapters and/or scenes separate in a word document or certain other programs. It’s actually a lot easier to see what your scenes are, and where you might want them to go.

 

On one particular writing day, I was having a super moment of writer’s block and getting annoyed because I wanted to write, but couldn’t seem to get the next scene down. With yWriter, I was able to go several chapters ahead and write two different scenes I wanted in the book that I was really eager to write. Keeping me writing, it also gave me the ability to easily go back later and begin where I had originally left off and start working to connect the scenes together. So much easier than your typical word processor where a lot of time is wasted scanning, cutting and pasting scenes if you want to jump ahead or go back and work on another part of the book.

 

yWriter also allows you to print out a variety of scene reports and summaries, which might be one of my favorite features yet.  They are really helpful if you are feeling as if your story isn’t really going anywhere, or you are having a bit of writer’s block. The way this works, is to make sure you title each chapter and each scene, and also include an overall description of the chapter, and then a brief description of each scene. I limit most of my descriptions to one sentence that pretty much summarizes what is happening there. One of the reports in particular, generates a full synopsis of your story (see first screen shot) and enables you to print that. I liked this feature because I was able to print it, and take it with me. I made some notes in the margins, changed some things around and when I came back, I was able to add more scenes to a few chapters I thought were lacking.

 

The last screen shot I want to share with you is the character set up.

 

Screen Shot 3

Character set-up

 

Having used several other writing programs in the past, I was really happy with the character set up on yWriter. Many other programs don’t have a designated place to keep characters, or they are limited in what information you can include. I like this one because it allows you to define whether the character is a main character or a minor character, to include a short description, all the names the character goes by, a bio, notes, goals for the character over the course of the book and a photograph if you have something in mind of what the character will look like. Loved these features.

 

There are two other minor editing tools I love using in yWriter and I have to just briefly mention them before wrapping this post up.

 

There is a Word Usage Chart you can use to see what words you are using too much. I love this because it allows you to go back and change things during the editing phase so you aren’t using certain words too often.

 

There is also a search function for ‘Problem Words’ which will go through your book looking for predefined instances of words: words with ‘ly’, words with ‘ing’, the word ‘said’, starting a sentence with ‘As’, and several others. This will be awesome during the editing phase. You can also user define your own things to look for and it will scan for those too.

 

It always amazes me when I can find the features I need in a free program when there are programs available to purchase and they are limited in their features and functionality. At this point, yWriter is the program for me, and I am looking forward to working on the editing phases of my novel (once I actually complete it) with this program as well.

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5 responses

11 11 2009
Loving yWriter | It's All About Writing

[…] updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet BoxI wrote a guest post over at Jessie’s Writing on What yWriter Offers Writers. She wrote one about Scrivener […]

21 04 2010
mand

Another great thing is the Google group where you can ask about anything that isn’t clear and make suggestions for future versions.

Unlike some free software, this is constantly being updated and users’ input is taken notice of. I have just made a donation after using both yWriter and the group for several weeks – i usually feel i should, but not many free downloads get as far as me actually remembering to donate!

21 04 2010
jessiewriting

Thanks for the suggestion–I didn’t realize Google had something out (though I’m not surprised by the news). I’m like you and donate if I end up using the software, and I know the developers appreciate it! I like that honor system–it allows you to decide how much you feel the program is worth…

22 04 2010
mand

Nope, i misled you, it’s a group started by Simon Haynes, who designed and programmed yWriter. Both useful and friendly.

22 04 2010
jessiewriting

Aha! I see what you meant now. That is very cool that he started a group–it shows just how user-friendly yWriter is!

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