Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why to Try yWriter Free Writing Software


by Rachelle Rea

I blew off the idea of yWriter when K.M. Weiland first mentioned it in Outlining Your Novel. I thought I wasn’t techie enough for special “writing software.”

Click here to download your free version of ywriter

Since it was free, I decided to download it. Honestly, for the first ten minutes, I didn’t care for it. It seemed too blank, too blah. But as I began to customize it to my WIP, I became a fan.

Having my outline as well as the finite details of my writing project in one place is liberating! I’ve struggled with how to organize my writing. Character charts, chapter outlines, summaries, taglines, and of course, those notes that don’t fit into clean categories…where to put it all? yWriter offers a solution.

Projects

yWriter allows you to create different folders for each of your novels called Projects. You can set up projects for all of the current novels you’re working on. The project is the main hub where the chapters, scenes, characters, and notes are kept.

Chapters

At the top in the tab titled Chapters is the option to “Create New Chapter.” I called each one “Chapter Fifteen, Chapter Sixteen…” and so on until I realized that on the left sidebar all I could read was “Chapter, Chapter…” So I went back and changed them to “Fifteen, Sixteen.”

In the bottom left is a box in which the chapter description is visible. Since I outline my chapters in paragraphs, this allows me to see my map for each chapter, where the story is going, and who’s in it with as little effort as it takes to look to my left.

Scenes

The scenes are in a list in the center of the screen. You have more freedom with scenes than with the chapter descriptions, though. You can fill in Content with your writing, Description with what you want to happen during the scene, Characters who are present, Location, Items you include, as well as Scene Notes and Goals.

As much as I would like to have every scene planned, my brain doesn’t seem to work that way. So some chapters have no scenes at all while some have several. I take note of my ideas and try not to let my perfectionist personality bark at me for not having every last chapter wrapped up in a pretty bow with exactly so-and-so many scenes. The depth to which you outline is up to you and yWriter allows you to be as detailed or as vague as you like.

Characters

Although Scenes is the default, there are other things you can view in the center screen—including Characters. I spend the most time in Characters. You can fill in names, descriptions, bios, any notes, goals, and even pictures.

Voila! Lengthy character charts available at a glance! My favorite part of this feature, though, is that beside each character’s name you can see how many scenes they’ve been in, how many VP (viewpoint) scenes they’ve been in (scenes written from their POV), and even how many words they have. No more juggling “screen time.”

Notes

I’ve saved the best for last. With Notes, those Word docs with weird titles like “That piece of dialogue from Mr. Hero that I can’t fit in but can’t bear to delete” have a home. The Notes tab lists all the notes you’ve made and one click allows easy viewing at the bottom of the screen. My worst writer’s nightmare—that I’ll forget something because I didn’t stick it somewhere—solved! It’s like having endless post-it notes without the cluttered desk.

~~~

Have a question? Leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it. Decide to try yWriter and love it? Visit my blog (www.rachellerea.com) and we can gush about it together!

And finally, thank you, Stephanie, for inviting me onto GTW!

46 comments:

  1. Thanks, Rachelle! Awesome post!

    I am NOT a computer techie person, so I had stumbled upon on this on my own, I wouldn't have been too interested. But, reading this, it makes it much more appealing. Having all of my stories, outlines, character charts and arcs, and timelines in one place? Can we say heaven? ;) Definitely will be checking this out! :)

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    1. I feel you, Clare, it took a week or so for curiosity to convince me to give it a try...then I opened it up and having everything at a glance? I was sold. :)

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  2. I'm downloading it right now! I'm such a tech geek ^.^ I love to figure out how to master things on the computer, nerd-style! ;) Yay for writing!

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    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have, Sarah!

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    2. Well, I am very sure I WOULD have enjoyed it, however, I do not own a PC and therefore I can't download it :(

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    3. Oh, no! :( Yes, I don't think they've quite got one out yet for other devices. :(

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    4. There's also Scrivener for Mac, but it costs $40.

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    5. You can download a 30 day trial of Scrivener, which is nice. Then you'll know if it's something you'd like or not.

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  3. Grr! I really wanna try this, but my dad has "parental controls" on my computer, which means I can't download ANYTHING! >.< Sorry, I'm ranting. I just really want to see how this works. :/

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  4. I got this a year or so ago and it is amazing! It really helped to organize my writing. Also it doesn't have a spellcheck, which can be frustrating, but in the first draft it's nice to be able to just write.

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    1. Rachel, yes the lack of spellcheck is annoying for me, too, but in a way it can be freeing. :)

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  5. Ooh. This sounds really cool, Rachelle. Thanks for this post!

    I do all this on paper and keep it in massive notebooks. Then I'm scrambling to find that one sheet of paper. You know, the one with the hot chocolate stain on the corner which I wrote down the name of that one guy. That name I need right now... Gah!

    Maybe I should try this...

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    1. I'm the same way...that's why the Notes feature really sold me. :) Organized and easy-to-find.

      Hope you find that hot-chocolate-stained sheet!

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  6. Yay! Another yWriter convert! :) So glad you're finding it useful. And thanks for your review of the book on Goodreads.

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    1. So glad you advocated it in Outlining Your Novel. Oh, and you're welcome...I plan on writing a longer one soon. :)

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  7. I'm going to have to try this! As it stands currently, my desktop is a mess of documents from several different projects and I have -uh- fun keeping them even slightly organized.

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    1. I laughed at this one, because currently my desk is a mess of sheets of paper waiting to be transcribed into yWriter! Hope you find it worthwhile!

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  8. This sounds great! I usually end up with a computer folder for each project, full of files with bits and peices of story and notes on them. It works ok, but is hard to navigate, and I can't always remember what I put where. I'll have to try yWriter, it sounds a lot easier (not to mention more organized)!

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    1. Your folders sound exactly like mine were! I kept ending up with sixteen documents open, trying to find that one bit of dialogue I had suddenly found use for...:)

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  9. Thanks! I am sort of a techie person (well that's what happens when your school gives your entire class laptops) but I always thought I was organized enough to get by with Word and OneNote... I'll try this!

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    1. Caroline, I'm "sort-of" a techie person, too, who was very content with Word for a long time...yWriter just fits better for this stage of my writing life. :) I hope you enjoy it, too!

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  10. I have to say, the best thing about this blog is that it has shown me I am not alone. I'm not the only teen who likes to write, who's dream is to get published and give someone the joy of an uplifting, strengthening story. Thanks to this blog, I've been able to see just how many people like me there are, and that there have been people like me who have made it, and are willing to help and encourage teens like me; it's just been such a blessing!

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    1. Wow, I feel like I could echo your entire comment ten times over. GTW has been the exact same source of encouragement to me. I adore the community I've found here...as well as the privilege of posting about yWriter--what an honor. :)

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    2. Aww, thanks, guys :) I felt so alone as a young writer. I'm glad Go Teen Writers has become a place that remedies that!

      And Rachelle, it was a joy to have you!

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  11. Funny enough, I had just uninstalled this software.

    One problem I have that it's hard to use a program like this when I'm typing on 750 Words, at school, on Google Docs...

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    1. Good for you for giving it a try! "Different strokes for different folks," as my Grandma says. :) I had a hard time using Google Docs. The trick is to find that one thing (or two things!) that work for you and make them keep working for you. :)

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  12. Wow, this is such a great idea! Thanks for the post, I`m definitely going to try this out!!

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    1. Let me know how you like it, Kayla Anne!

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  13. I've been using yWrtier for almost two years now, and I love it. As others have pointed out, the lack of spellcheck is irritating, but that's what Word is for. I love the fact that the colors are completely customizable, since I dislike working on a white background -- too bright for my easily tired eyes. And the many places I can store my notes are a huge bonus.

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    1. Okay, wha-what!? How do you customize the colors, Eldra? I don't mind the white, but I'd love to play around with other colors...

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    2. When you have a scene open, click "Settings." One group of options includes "Set font color," "Set background color," and "Custom colors," which is where you can cutomize highlight colors, among other things. Just keep in mind that the font color will transfer to other programs, so sometimes it's a bit of a hassle always having to change your yellow font to a black one. Nevertheless, it's a fantastic set of options.

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    3. It sure is! I've been playing around with it for several minutes now...also loving the "Typewriter Sounds." Thank you so much for this, Eldra!

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    4. You're welcome! Glad you're enjoying those features.

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  14. I bet this was created by a writer! It sounds fantastic, especially the character charts! I really want to try it sometime:-) Thanks for telling us about it. I'm sure it'll be helpful to a lot of us.

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    1. Great point, Michelle! I bet it was! :)

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    2. Yes, yWriter was created by an author who had software writing knowledge. Thank goodness for us.

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  15. Who has two thumbs and is totally downloading this tonight?

    THIS GIRL!

    Thanks for the great review of the software. ILve been wanting something like this forever!

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    1. LOL. So glad this post was helpful for you!

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  16. After reading this, I immediately installed yWriter and my family has suffered through my hyper-excitement all day. :) SO much easier than having to shuffle through papers, files, and Word Documents!
    Thanks a ton!

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    1. Sounds like a great day!! Indeed!

      Your welcome!

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  17. Yay for Rachelle posting on GTW! :D Now the rest of ya'll can get to 'meet' this sweet gal. :D

    Shell, I'm going to have to peek into this ywriter thing. :D

    Currently I just write my notes at the bottom of the main Microsoft Word doc that I use for my book. Then if any part of the story needs to be cut but I can't bear to hit the backspace key, I cut and paste it into one other doc labled "Cut from ___ (insert book title)." This works, but when I want to see my notes I have to do a lot of scrolling up and down. :D

    I also keep a notebook of each story I'm working on with actual scribbled notes. But only one notebook per book. :)

    Thank you for the post, Sis! :D

    Hugs,
    Julia

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  18. Oh, do, Julia! It's pretty wonderful...so clean and organized.

    So you write your notes *in* the Word doc you write in? I've never thought of doing that before...does all the scrolling get annoying?

    I keep the scenes I cut, too. Usually in a doc called "Deleted Scenes" or some such.

    I try to keep myself to one notebook per book, too. I cut out pictures to paste on the pages, keep my character journals in there, and any notes I need to write down but can't get to the computer for!

    Hugs,
    Rachelle

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  19. This seems very helpful... but honestly I'm a bit wary because, what if your computer breaks or something. :-/ That makes me nervous, I'll have to figure out if you can back up the stuff because I have a fancy external hardrive that's just for that purpose lol.

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    1. I'm 99% you can back it up, Jazmine. It's a file, all in one handy dandy place, but...I haven't tried that yet. ;) I have an external hard drive, too, so I should soon!

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