Hello readers, I hope you’ve all had a productive, blessed week. Except it hasn’t been a week since I last posted. I’m not sure how regular my Friday posts will become, but that wasn’t meant to just be a one off occurrence.
Anyway, today’s topic is writing software. I don’t use a heap of software, but I do have three favourites.
This is the program I actually write in. It’s a little like Scrivener, from what I understand, though less powerful, easier to learn, and best of all, it’s free.
The main reason I use it is because it breaks everything up into scenes. Since I often skip around with my writing, it’s almost essential. If I were writing straight through it wouldn’t be so useful, though being able to find things is always an advantage.
The biggest drawbacks are that it doesn’t allow for much formatting and there’s no automatic spell checker. There is a spell checker hiding in one of the menu, but I never remember it exists. On the other hand both those things could be considered advantages. There are less distractions while actually writing, and afterwards it’s always an option to copy it in MS Word and tidy it up.
Other features include the ability to associate characters, locations and object with each scene.(A feature I sometimes use and sometimes don’t.) Also you can mark what kind of scene it is, how long it takes, whether it belongs to the main plot or a sub-plot, what stage of writing it is in and a few other things. I never use that feature though. It takes too long to think about it. Lastly there is a word count feature, that tells me how much I’ve written that day and how fast I type. That is useful.
You can find it here.
2. Aeon Timeline
This one I only got recently. It’s a timeline software designed especially for writers. I use it for plotting and figuring out backstory. It’s useful to know exactly when things are happening and doing this also solidifies things, that I have a tendency to leave loose.
There a two basic views. timeline view, which shows all the event in order with their dates, and relationship view, which shows how each event connect with what they call entities. In the default fiction set up, these entities are: arcs, places, and characters. These can have various data entered, including birth and death dates.
Another very useful feature is the customizable calendar. That means anything from changing the names of the days and moths to Italian, to changing the length and number of anything. So it’s perfect for fantasy and sci-fi, or for using any historical calendar.
Aeon Timeline isn’t free, but it does have a twenty-five day trial and there was a discount offered with Camp NaNoWriMo. Once I’d tried it, I didn’t want to try to manage without it and bought it pretty quickly instead of asking for it as a birthday present in a month. So be warned. It’s a handy tool, but if you’re to willing pay the $40 or so, don’t try it.
3. My Family Tree by Chronoplex
I didn’t initially get this for writing, and don’t use it for everything, but it can be useful. Lady of Courage has a whole lot of interconnected noble families and the family tree just makes it so much easier to visualize. Many of the connections were actually formed while making the tree, because I like to be able to stick everyone in. And that’s given me some interesting dynamics.
It is by no means the only family tree program out there, or even the most powerful one. I know because I’ve tried a lot. But it has a good visual display and all the features that are necessary for the amount of detail needed for fiction.. It’s easy to use, has a few cool features such as a tool for calculating how people are related and various reports.
There is more than one viewing option and other options about who is shown. Another really handy feature is that you can add unrelated people and have more than one tree in the same file. That is particularly useful for writing.
While writing this I looked up to find the website for the software and discovered that a new version was released just two days ago. I’ve tried it and it has improved. So if you write or read books that have any kind of complex family in them, this might be useful. (The very first thing I ever made a family tree for was the Elsie Dinsmore books, and I haven’t stopped, though I’ve never dealt with anything so big and complex since, even with my own family.) You can get it free here
And that is that. In case anyone was wondering I am not getting paid for talking about any of these and all opinions expressed were my own. I hope this information will be useful to someone.