Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Writing Tools II

Speaking of writing tools, this is my first blog entry using Word 2007 to create and publish to my blog, without using the Blogger website to enter my post. We'll see how it goes, and if it's any improvement.

The writing tools I mentioned in my previous post were downloaded, installed, and evaluated. As this type of software evaluation is something I do at my day job, I'm comfortable with comparing features and making a judgment on ease-of-use. I quickly found that the feature set varies widely, but I honestly didn't find any of the tools to do much more than I can accomplish with Microsoft Office—with the exception of Liquid Story Binder, which I'll discuss below. Granted, I own Office and am comfortable using it, but I also believe that a fair number of authors use it, and if not, there are other office suites that are just as easy to use, with just as many feature sets. A well-known one being Open Office.

To start with, I currently use Word 2007 for manuscript writing, using the sections and table of contents to track pages in chapters, and I use the outline feature to view the manuscript by key points. Excel 2007 to track daily progress, word counts, goals (per page and per word count), number crunching if I decide I want to be done by deadline, daily averages, etc. For word count analysis, I looked into several, and decided on Textanz. It evaluates words, phrases, and even creates a concordance. This is useful to look for phrase overuse and word repetition. As mentioned before, for brainstorming, timelines, flowcharting, I use an inexpensive tool, Flow Chart Maker Pro. Not sure where I picked this up or how I ended up with it, but it works. On the other hand, when I evaluated Freemind, I found it to be useful and will give it a try next new project. To gather all my research, notes, tasks, images, links to all project documents, and more, I use OneNote 2007.

To wrap this up, two tools are worth a trial run. The first, Power Writer, because of the ability to lay out GMC, Goal Motivation Conflict, and other tools for plotting beginning to end. While this is attractive, I found the interface to be a little confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, the use of screen real estate wasn't optimal, so the work space just wasn't setup well, nor was it comfortable enough for me to spend hours a day using it. The other tool, Liquid Story Binder, was intriguing because of the ability to use any external editor, and other features not found in the other tools I evaluated, such as word count stats, repetition visualize, scenes & timelines, checklists, sequence planner, and character dossiers. There actually so many features, that I'm putting off a full evaluation until I'm done with both 70 days of Sweat, and Nanowrimo.

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