this topic was bothering me for about three months now, tools of authors. Everybody wants to know what maketh the great author, or his/her work easier, is it a fancy typewriter? a Parker pen? an app? Honestly, I do not know. I studied American, English, Russian and Ukrainian authors to see what they use to write. Short answer? Anything and everything that works for them.
We know King is famous for his typewriter, then computer work station.
E.L. James pissed the world off by writing on her phone.
Chuck Palahniuk first writes in his notebook, then edits while typing. (Kinda what I do)
Daria Dontsova (Russian Nora Roberts) writes it in a school notebook while baking then sends it to the typist to type it up.
As you see options are not limiting anybody to a single medium. Today I will quickly analyze a few apps that did not work for me, and why they still do not work. Possibly this will narrow your search down. Maybe give you an idea of what not to look at. At the moment I use Microsoft Word, and I will explain why at the end.
I used to love this little piece of the software, which was given to me as a gift a while ago. Number one thing that stood out was how similar it was to Word, but with obvious book outlines integrated. Right away I could set up my novel any way I wanted, with as many chapters. I wrote inside of the chapters like separate word docs and consolidation took in all 20 seconds. Honestly, it was perfect for me back in the day.
What happened? The company closed, although I have a serial number, there is no way for me to authorize my software, because their servers are offline.
A software I forget as soon as I close it. So I have to reopen it to remind myself why I hate it. So it mimics MyNovel (or just a bad version of it), in the way that you can make chapters. Notes and scene post its look very nice. Ah, now I remember why I hate it.
What’s wrong? Exactly these notes and scene breakdowns. I think that they are a sheer waste of time and are simply not needed. A lot of authors do not waste time on plotting, notes and such, because they would go from publishing 1-3 books a year to one in 3. Will explain below.
An interesting looking piece of software. It should feel like its own world, with dictionaries, encyclopedias and notes, journals and etc. I honestly have to say that at first I was mesmerized by it. It does not have pretty skins or nice designs, but rather spartan in appearance. What it does have is an abundance of activities to do within the app.
What’s wrong with it? Too distracting. Too many little buttons, options and such. Journal, note taking and idea sections. Basically, at the end of the day, I felt like I was wasting my time. Usually, if I have an idea I write it on a post-it, put it on the whiteboard, and look at it until its no longer relevant or I’ve completed the task.
This particular little app made me so angry, I was fuming. While in Italy I wanted to work on my novella “Ballerina in Highlands.” I decided to grab my phone, a light keyboard and throw it into my carryon since I thought it was a perfect fit and light. I wouldn’t need a laptop or several notebooks. Now Novelist came with a very good review package, was a bit wonky to set up to use, but I could do several manuscripts, which was fun. I also was pretty much expecting to email the stuff and edit it on computer obviously later.
What happened? Several days later I was using the simple note taking app on my phone. Novelist somehow lost at least 2-3 pages of written material, which made me a bit cranky. Personally, for me, I do not like apps that need their own manual. I think a good app should follow a logical path and I should be able to work out within 5 minutes of me using it. Not losing work is a priority too.
Why I use Microsoft Office?
As you see, often when I hate an app it is usually due to fragmentation of the novel into scenes and smalls pieces. My current belief is that one should try to write chronologically (or in order that the work should be read) from the start. I myself used to suffer from writing a piece here, a piece there in the story and then try to fit a jigsaw puzzle with dominoes. Writing itself is time consuming further deviation from it, simply takes away from the process.
This is why I recommend software or apps that would only immediately give the author a full view of their work. Piecing fifty things together is no fun while writing, balancing life, working, and having internal mental breakdowns. So from the workable software, I would thus far suggest Microsoft Office and a simple note-taking app on your phone.
What are you guys using?