Word was getting completely unwieldy.
In the past I’ve written essays, reports, letters and manuals using Microsoft Word. I even used it to write my Master’s dissertation. I’ve always been happy with it. Then I started trying to write a book. I’ve never written anything this long before and it was soon getting out of hand.
My book on the Kungsleden is gathering pace and the word count is creeping up and although this is good, I was beginning to feel very chaotic; scrolling through reams of pages whenever I needed to add or check anything was not leading to a state of authorly tranquility. I knew I needed to find a solution before I went any further.
I asked the Google gods and found that there are generally two choices of software for authors out there. I’m sure there are more, but as I have no knowledge of writing books and so don’t really know what I need until I need it, I wanted to choose something mainstream and with good reviews.
Of the two software choices – Scrivener and yWriter5 – the first is pay and the second is free. I didn’t particularly want to pay for something until I knew what I really needed and fortunately the freebie yWriter5 seemed to have everything I wanted and I only found good reviews. So without further ado, I decided to give it a go.
It was really easy to install and just as easy to figure out how everything works. I’ve copy and pasted my book from Word and been able to set each chapter up in its own folder which can then be sub-divided into different scenes. The chapters are listed in a left-hand column and by clicking on a chapter I can bring up a list of scenes. I had briefly considered setting something like this up in Word but soon realised that as every chapter would be a separate document, this would probably be even more unwieldy to use than just one long document. With yWriter5 each chapter is always easily to hand.
Once I’ve clicked on a chapter, I then have options for adding planning notes, character profiles, locations, goals and a description of the chapter as well as the actual content. Clicking on different lists reveals exactly how many, and in which, chapters each character and location has been mentioned.
I’ve been using yWriter5 for a couple of weeks now and I’m finding it very intuitive and really user-friendly. As the work on my computer becomes more organised and less chaotic I feel as though the same is happening to my brain. I’m thinking more clearly, noticing errors and repetitions, knowing where more detail is needed, fixing omissions and generally starting to feel like a real writer.
From pictures I’ve seen of Scrivener, it looks to be a lot fancier and to have even more functions to play around with. As with yWriter5 I’ve only read good reviews of Scrivener and so would like to have a test run with it to see how the two compare. For now though, I’m very happy with yWriter5 and the way it’s working for me.