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.”
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!