The search continues for the ‘holy grail’ of writing software. If you ask 100 writers what the best writing software on the market is, you’ll get at least 50 different answers. Why? Because ever writer has his or her own favorite software and their own style of writing.
The truth is, all you really need to write is a pen and a notebook.
But, if you want to share documents, format your book for e-publishing or write a blockbuster screenplay and send it off to Hollywood then you’ll need some sort of software that will do most of the heavy work for you.
If you’re like most writers, just starting out, you have little experience with writing software and even less money to spend; so you may want to start out with freeware. Yes, I said free. The favorite word of every wannabe freelance writer in the industry. No one likes free software more than I do, but you have to be careful to choose software that will do what you need it to do.
Every writer needs a good word processor for at least some tasks, and OpenOffice has one of the best free offerings around.
OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing. It’s a free alternative to Microsoft Office and does pretty much everything that MS Office does including: word processing, graphics, databases, spreadsheets, presentations and more. It’s available in many languages and works on any type of computer OS. It also stores all your data in an international open standard format and can read and write files from other office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.
Storybook is a versatile tool which helps you to properly structure a novel, screenplay or other complex written work.
Storybook allows you to organize all the elements of your book or screenplay, namely characters, locations and different plots, including main story and secondary threads. Storybook defines and configures each element on their own, which makes the whole job much easier because it gives you a clearer view of your book’s structure. Plus, it lets you have multiple active projects working at the same time.
Keep in mind that Storybook is not a word processor. It’s more of an organized database where you keep small bits of information which, once properly developed and linked together, will produce a book. So, if organization isn’t one of your strong points then Storybook may be worth trying.
Evernote is one of those applications that you either get or struggle to understand. Evernote has a text editor, photo upload tool, and voice recording device, and you can use any of these components separately or in combination, to upload content to your account. Yes, unfortunately Evernote requires and account with a username and password.
Everything you do on your phone and on your computer or tablet gets synchronized to your Evernote account on the Web. Since it synchronizes as soon as you log on, and regularly thereafter, reinstalling the software or losing data because of a crash are not a problem. Keep in mind though that the Evernote text editor isn’t keystroke compatible with the PC-based editor. It makes switching between the two nearly impossible. The free version offers 40MB per month for uploading while $45 a year gets you a 500MB a month as well as security and tech support.
If you’re running Windows OS then it came preloaded on your computer. Some people find all the extra bells and whistles of a full word processor distracting when writing. If you have trouble figuring out all of the different features that come with MS Word or OpenOffice, WordPad allows formatting (bold, italics, etc) and can be easier to use than Word.
WordPad can format and print text, including fonts, bold, italic, colored, and centered text, etc., but lacks the more advanced features such as a spell checker, thesaurus, and tables. However WordPad can read, render, and save many RTF features that it cannot create such as tables, superscript, subscript, colors, text background colors, numbered lists, right or left indent and URL linking, and various line spacing’s. Pasting into or from an HTML document such as from the internet or email typically will automatically convert most or all of it to RTF. As such, WordPad is well suited for taking notes, writing letters and stories, or for usage in various tablet PCs and smart phones. However, WordPad is underpowered for work that relies heavily on graphics or typesetting such as most publishing-industry requirements for rendering final hard copy.
Celtx is the world’s first all-in-one media pre-production software. It’s designed for creating, organizing, and scheduling media projects such as film, video, documentary, theater, comics, advertising, video games, podcasts and more.
Celtx gives independent filmmakers and media creators an integrated and non-linear approach to pre-production work by providing support for industry standard scriptwriting, story development, storyboarding, breakdowns, production and scheduling. It also allows writers to attach images, videos and audio files to a project and provides features for collaborating with others team members online.
Remember, while freeware is a great option for those of us with small pocketbooks, it’s not always the best option. Paid software offers many options that freeware doesn’t such as tech support, tutorials, various formatting solutions, pre-loaded templates and many other features not available of the free versions.
When you get right down to the bare bones, it’s all about what you need and what you can afford. There’s no need to go out and spend several hundred dollars on writing software when freeware will do the job just fine.