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What Software to Use?

Ross at Play

Software I really like using is dictionary.com and thesaurus.com. American spelling but dialects of usage are identified.
I am finding OpenOffice unsatisfactory. I cannot find a grammar checker, although it claims to have one. Perhaps I missed an installation option.
Also, I cannot figure out a way to create partitions in a document and navigate between them. I am working out the plot for a novel length work. I only need something that has sheets like a spreadsheet, but each sheet is like a word processor document. Any suggestions for grammar checkers (and I do know none are as good as us humans), and word processor that assists in organising evolving plans? Any other packages people like using and can would recommend?

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I am finding OpenOffice unsatisfactory. I cannot find a grammar checker, although it claims to have one. Perhaps I missed an installation option.


It does have one, but you need to load a dictionary from the OO extensions page before you can use it. No,it doesn't come with a default dictionary.

http://extensions.openoffice.org/en

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

I just discovered OO has a thesaurus. I never had any need until I started writing. Maybe OO was value for money after all?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

lso, I cannot figure out a way to create partitions in a document and navigate between them. I am working out the plot for a novel length work. I only need something that has sheets like a spreadsheet, but each sheet is like a word processor document. Any


There are lots of extensions available. Explore, you might find most of what you are looking for.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Explore, you might find most of what you are looking for.


You should examine and check out every Options or Tools setting as well. There's a heck of a lot of features available there.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

With all due respect (aka 'I do not care if this sounds insulting'), I am sure the kind of thing I want EXISTS. I DO NOT WANT to "examine and check out every(thing)" in a bloody software package BECAUSE "there's a heck of a lot of features there". I want to rite lit'rachure, not program a damn computer. I did that in my career, but I'm retired now and I want some fun!

My question was: "Any SUGGESTIONS for (a) word processor that assists in organising evolving plans?" Or an alternative question of: HOW DO YOU USE your software to achieve something like that?

Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

HOW DO YOU USE your software to achieve something like that?


Personally, I use the features within the software I use, which is Libre Office, and offshoot of Open Office. Knowing what the features are and how to use them makes the writing a damn sight easier to do. I spent decades writing reports for various business and government departments without ever using many of the features the word processing software has. However, since I began writing stories and preparing them for publication I've found it a lot easier and quicker to use the features like paragraph styles because selecting the right ones can save a lot of trouble later. So can learning what can and can't be turned off with this like auto correct and spell checker, the way to download and install extra dictionaries - a simple task with Libre Office when done from the Tools / Options settings. Preset page formats help organise the look of the finished product.

If you want mind mapping software, that's another set of software you can get.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ross at Play


With all due respect (aka 'I do not care if this sounds insulting'), I am sure the kind of thing I want EXISTS. I DO NOT WANT to "examine and check out every(thing)" in a bloody software package BECAUSE "there's a heck of a lot of features there". I want to rite lit'rachure, not program a damn computer.


It's not writing software. If you don't want to explore what features the tool you have has, then go read the manual. Yes, OO has a manual.

No matter what word processor you use there will be a learning curve to figure out how to do the things you want to do with that word processor.


Any SUGGESTIONS for (a) word processor that assists in organising evolving plans?


I am not aware of any word processor that does that.


HOW DO YOU USE your software to achieve something like that?


I USE OO Base (OO's equivalent to MS Access)

I set up a data base that lets me track worlds, stories, characters organizations, families and places.

Each world record stores a directory path to a background file.

Each story record has file paths to the main story file and an outline file.

Each character record has some basic deomogrphic information and a description along with a file path to a background file for the character.

There was a fair bit of macro coding to make it all work the way I wanted. But then I enjoy doing that sort of thing, which is why I write software for a living.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


mind mapping software ??


REALLY? I want to see that. Some geek thinks they can write software to map what's going on inside my noggin? They must be soft in the mind container!

EB, you REALLY do not want to know what I would have written last time if my 'General Courtesy' and 'Sarcasm Restraint' circuits had not been working overtime!

Thanks for the constructive suggestions.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Dominions Son

Memories are flooding back of the time "I (wrote) software for a living." Those were the bad, sad old days. However, I do not recall ever suggesting to a client (cannot call them 'users') that if they wanted to avoid the tedious task of investigating features of software packages, the best option would be getting into "a fair bit of macro coding to make it all work."

With all due respect, of course.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ross at Play


I do not recall ever suggesting to a client (cannot call them 'users') that if they wanted to avoid the tedious task of investigating features of software packages, the best option would be getting into "a fair bit of macro coding to make it all work."


You apparently have developed reading comprehension issues. I did not suggest macro coding to avoid the tedious task of investigating features of a software packages. For that I suggested that you read the manual.

The macro coding was in response to a completely different question.

Things like opening one Base form from another (with a dynamic query for the second form), Buttons to populate a text field with a file path name using a file dialog, Opening a file using the file path name in a database text field.

I'm beginning to wonder if you would recognize due respect if it bit you in the ass.

Dicrostonyx

@Ross at Play

Any suggestions for grammar checkers (and I do know none are as good as us humans), and word processor that assists in organising evolving plans? Any other packages people like using and can would recommend?


It's going to be tough to find a grammar checker that is "as good as WE humans" (not us) for a variety of reasons, most importantly that English grammar is somewhat more flexible than many other languages, especially in casual use and dialogue. Grammar checkers can usually detect blatant errors like sentence fragments or having verbs in the wrong place, but you still need to have a human editor who can check for problems.

Regarding the latter question, though, I can provide a suggestion. I have recently been playing around with the Scrivener writing software (https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php). The word processor portion is light compared to Office, but the real advantage of Scrivener is that it has a number of additional tools for planning and outlining.

In addition to the text of the story, a Project may contain a list of associated other files, links to or copies of research that you've done, a breakdown of characters, chapters, and setting information, and other notes that you might use to keep track of details. There's also a "cork-board mode" which helps you to visualise any of the above; for example, you might lay out a colour-coded visual of chapters by POV character to notice that it's been a while since you've returned to one of them.

There are two big downsides to Scrivener. First, while you can get started reasonably quickly by skipping the tutorial, if you want to make use of the extra features there's a pretty stiff learning curve. Even just the basic interactive tutorial will likely take over an hour to run through. The second downside is that the program cost US$40, but they offer discounts for students and last year they offered a deal for NaNoWriMo participants.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dicrostonyx

Scrivener


This is one of those mind mapping programs I mentioned earlier. I have tried it, and found it totally useless for me, while I know others who find it extremely useful. It's one of those programs designed to work a specific way, and if you think and plan in a way similar to that, then it's extremely useful and such people should use it. However, if your thinking and planning follows a different route, it can send you crazy trying to make sense of the damn thing. A side issue is it doesn't have the same capabilities as a full word processor program, and those I know who uses it find it very useful, but have to transfer the finished story into a word processor program for their final edit and rearrangement to get a reasonable presentation of the story in the formats they produce it in.

Ross at Play

SERIOUSLY folks. My specific problem is this. I am working on a plot for a novel which will be too complex to just use monolithic document files. I have chapter titles of: had an idea; tried it; did not work; gave up; disaster struck; angel appeared; happy ever after.
I want to be able to jump between my plans for each chapter, which will at least start off as dot points with events within each chapter in sequence. These need to be fairly short, and flexible enough to remain easy to use as my plans evolve.
I probably need another document for each chapter where I can append ideas for dialogue exchanges, etc. as they occur to me.
I have tried using spreadsheets which allows easy navigation, but then the inserting and deleting of rows becomes very tedious.
The alternative would be separate documents for each chapter, but that would mean keeping way too many documents at all times. That would get way out of control if the number of chapters must grow because I had second idea.

Does somebody have a work in progress they could give me that they use to manage their plans for a major work? Something set up so you can jump to the right section, and record random, but possibly useful thoughts as they occur to you?
I do not want your text, please delete that, just give me a copy of the template that remains and tell me the software package you use.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play
Updated:

There is an underlying cause for my current dilemma. Good computer programmers are the most lazy people on the planet, and I was a VERY GOOD programmer. If someone pays them enough, they will apply their lifetime of experience at avoiding doing any more than needed, and tell the computer how it can achieve what is needed with as little effort as possible.

I know I could investigate manuals and work out a solution, but that it tedious. The effort would feel like painful unpaid work. It makes ever slothful bone in my body ache to just think I may need to work for something, when I might be able to use work somebody else has already done.

It is different when I enjoy doing something that requires effort. That is what I do for fun, and I do not want to be distracted from my fun any longer than absolutely needed by boring work. I want to be riting lit'rachure, not working out how to use bloody software packages!

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

SERIOUSLY folks. My specific problem is this


Everyone is being serious. You don't get to ask for free advice and then complain that it wasn't what you wanted. Especially when you didn't even fully define the the problem upfront.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I want to be riting lit'rachure, not working out how to use bloody software packages!


Then buy a bunch of notebooks and a typewriter.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son


I'm beginning to wonder if you would recognize due respect if it bit you in the ass.

I would recognise it, I just tend not to use it. I usually go with the alternative definition which I mentioned earlier - With all due respect (aka 'I do not care if this sounds insulting')

HOWEVER, I will admit when I have made a mistake. I did not notice that your comment about macros was in response to an entirely different question. My mind then switched off when I realised the comments were nothing at would ever interest me.

With a correct interpretation of your comments, I would amend my response to:
(a) Reading manuals is precisely what I am trying to avoid having to do;
(b) Thanks for describing how you use macros. It is of no interest to me, but could be very helpful to others - which is why I posed that general question.

You also seem willing and capable of giving comments the level of respect you think they deserve. I like that.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Then buy a bunch of notebooks

Only the smartest of people can think laterally to find practical solutions to problems.
Just because you can use a computer to do something, that does not mean you should use one.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

(a) Reading manuals is precisely what I am trying to avoid having to do;


Then no software package in the world will help you. "Intuitive" is pure marketing bullshit. I've tried to teach people born during WWII who had never used a computer before how to use a mouse.

Any software package that does the thing you want will take some time and effort to learn how to use.

If you aren't willing to put in even minimal effort to learn a tool you already have, go back to basics (paper and pencils).

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Any SUGGESTIONS for (a) word processor that assists in organising evolving plans?

I've never found a grammar/spell-checker that fit my needs. I use a variety, each of which finds a particular thing, but by and large, I use either Google Search (to figure out how to spell something), Dictionary/Thesaurus.com or one of the dictionary websites for specific usage/history references.

Any grammar checker which isn't updated regularly isn't worth the time, and for the most part, most are produced for marketing purposes and NEVER updated!

My main editing tool (non-grammar/spell-checker) is Autocrit, which points out overused, duplicate and other common issues in writing, so I know when to change words (allowing me to call up a thesaurus for word choices).

As far as "sectioning a story", this is typically a manual process, creating chapters using headers and adding section breaks "____________________". Your best bet in this regard is to learn to use Style definition, so your usages will be consistent across your entire book (instead of making 'in-line' edits. Those Styles can then be exported to html files (for posting) or ePub for Indie publishing.

Re: Mind-mapping software

Like Ernest, I've never found these useful, but many new writers claim it makes all the difference in organizing their thoughts and keeping track of minor story details. It generally depends on how organized you are in writing as to whether they'll help or not.

@D.S.

Any software package that does the thing you want will take some time and effort to learn how to use.

This is very much true. When it comes down to it, literature isn't just for fun (unless you're just cranking out jerk-off material). Instead, it's a constant struggle to learn how to better express yourself and present your ideas in the best possible light. Thus you continually evaluate different techniques, and learn about formatting techniques, grammar rules, sentence construction, design considerations and publication options. It's a lifetime learning process, so no, there are no 'simple' writing tools. Instead, there are tools which help you write, but they don't make anything easy!

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Dominions Son


You don't get to ask for free advice and then complain that it wasn't what you wanted. Especially when you didn't even fully define the the problem upfront.


I will take your comment into consideration when considering the tone of future comments.

I think I did define my problem upfront quite precisely, given I did not want to bore others with details that might not be needed.

I thought some software package would have exactly what I wanted. Comments that software to do that does not exist were helpful. Comments suggesting I read manuals were not helpful - with no suggestion of what features I need to read up on.

That was when a full description of what I want seems necessary.

Two have suggested Scrivener, with warnings it is difficult to get accustomed to, and will not suit all people.

That is the name I was looking for. It appears to be the best solution available, and I appreciate the suggestion and warnings.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

My main editing tool (non-grammar/spell-checker) is Autocrit

I definitely wanted something like Autocrit. A quick look at software review sites suggests the free version of 'Pro Writing Aid' may be just as good as subscription level Autocrit.
Perhaps the free version of Autocrit as well, because the sets of cliches detected seems very different.

Ross at Play

I think I have found a solution I was work with for my sectioning problem.
It seemed so simple to want multiple word processor documents combined into one package.
I was reluctant to maintain multiple files for each chapter, and then use the Window command at the top of word processor screens, because my story files would become mixed up with various other documents I would have open at the same time.
I think I will do something like install Word and ONLY use that for editing chapters of my story; Libre and only use that for my chapter plans; and OpenOffice for everything else.

That's me done. I have identified the right software for one of my needs (Pro Writing Aid and/or Autocrit); and I now know nothing convenient exists for my other need, so I will make things I already know work in a fractionally less than ideal way.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

there are no 'simple' writing tools. Instead, there are tools which help you write, but they don't make anything easy

Your comments are appreciated. What I was looking for was a tool that was simple to use, and would allow me to record thoughts when I had them. I then wanted to use simply documents during the evolution of random ideas into a story plan. I do not want to waste energy on learning and using software - I will need everything I have, and more, for grammar, style, plot and character.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

bit you in the ass

As long as my arse is covered, my beast of burden can take care of itself. It will probably bite back.
I expect most stupid, foolish and stubborn asses like me would think the same.

Perhaps this comment belongs under another topic about whether italics should be used for the language spoken in that very foreign country south of Canada.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play
Updated:

I have run Pro Writer Aid against some of my writing. It told me I am extremely vague, very sticky, sometimes passive and have fetishes for some frequently overused words.

This software does not give frequency counts for ALL WORDS in a document. I know software to do that exists.

Can anyone recommend a good program?

I am wondering if anything exists to measure boring words, i.e. how often are the non 'glue-words' used the most commonly used word among all its synonyms.
I have seen some sci-fi where the author is either very smart, or very dumb. They ALWAYS use the most simple word possible. This bores me to the point of contemplating self-immolation. But I suspect it is intentional, and their target audience is 12-15 year old boys. That is the reading level.
[If so, I applaud those boys' initiative to get onto this site to enhance their education.]

Does anyone know if something like that exists?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Perhaps this comment belongs under another topic about whether italics should be used for the language spoken in that very foreign country south of Canada.


Mexico? Venezuela?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I am wondering if anything exists to measure boring words, i.e. how often are the non 'glue-words' used the most commonly used word among all its synonyms.

Auto-crit does this, but it doesn't suggest which words to use. It also flags Everything which might be an issue, so there are a LOT of "false positive" warnings, reporting issues that are either fine or planned by the author. Still, it provides a decent starting point. It highlights duplicate words (those within the same or nearby paragraphs) as well as "common phrases" (more uncommon phrases used often) as well as listing the "most commonly used phrases" in a document.

I am wondering if anything exists to measure boring words, i.e. how often are the non 'glue-words' used the most commonly used word among all its synonyms.
I have seen some sci-fi where the author is either very smart, or very dumb. They ALWAYS use the most simple word possible.

We've discussed this 'dumbing down' issue before. I actually started writing because I found so few intelligently written stories. The general consensus in the writing community is that: most readers are imbeciles, so to gain the biggest market, you need to write at a fifth-grade level.

Despite resisting for a long time, I finally succumbed to that principal, not by simplifying my language, but by eliminating overly complex sentences which tend to confuse rather than clarify what's happening in the story. A listing of sentence and paragraph word counts is handy for this.
@D.S.

Perhaps this comment belongs under another topic about whether italics should be used for the language spoken in that very foreign country south of Canada.

Antarctica, perhaps? That's "very foreign"!

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Mexico? Venezuela?

No, I mean America. I assume you come from there because of your dialectic use of ass for buttocks.
That word does not exist outside your location. Speakers of English would always use arse instead.
As a matter of courtesy, I use words that exist in the language of my audience, and if necessary I will compromise my meaning so they will understand.

paliden

Would anyone care to comment about this software? It appears to be a "down-loadable" that can be used off-line without paying a monthly fee.

http://www.writewaypro.com/product_info.php

Ross at Play

@paliden

without paying a monthly fee

My comment is it is EXACTLY what I was looking for.
I checked the site and USD$35 is a one-off price (not a monthly fee) and no reason to pay that until you have the need for either: 9 instead of 3 'acts'; or one of their fancy publishing options.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

and no reason to pay that until you have the need for either: 9 instead of 3 'acts'; or one of their fancy publishing options.


Incorrect. The free demo version is a time limited 30 day trial.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Dominions Son

WriteWay is interesting. I may try the demo myself, if for no other reason than to find out what they are using as their built in word processor and what their internal file format is.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@paliden


Would anyone care to comment about this software?


I currently use a Win 7 Pro system and downloaded this to try. It seemed to install OK, but when I tried to create a new book it crashed on me. Tried three times, then removed it and re-installed it, to get the same crash with an internal error message of Window page size too large - despite its auto installation setting it to 'full screen.'

Result, total removal of software as unusable by me. I'm not going to fight with a commercial product to make it work.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

no reason to pay that until you have the need for either: 9 instead of 3 'acts'; or one of their fancy publishing options.

The fact the focus on 'Acts' implies it was initially designed as a 'screenplay writing tools', rather than a fiction writing one.

Having installed and investigated it, I can't say that it offers much. The only way to import chapters is by cutting and pasting, and there doesn't appear to be any substantial editing tools, just a few 'notepads' to jot down story ideas/character notes. Otherwise OO or LO can do the same things and are more generic and well-documented. In general, it doesn't offer anything over what I'm already doing myself manually.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

it crashed ... it crashed ... it crashed ... it crashed ...

That's all I need to know. Thanks.

Capt Zapp

@Ross at Play

After you use it for a while, could you return and give your opinion of the software?

I find it uncomfortable that the company that put out WriteWay posted tutorials almost 5 years ago without audio and promised to upload new ones, but have not done so. (I saw claims they spend time working on their program instead of making the new tutorials) Instead, the videos that are posted have 'script boxes' describing how to access features. Seems to me that they could have had somebody read the script boxes and included both. (I wonder how long it took to edit the script boxes into the video.)

I saw someone commented on one of their videos about another program called yWriter5 which is supposed to do the same things, but is freeware.

From their website http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html

yWriter5 is a dotnet 2.0 app for Windows, but will also run on GNU/Linux and Mac OS X using Wine.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

That's all I need to know. Thanks.

I'm running Window 7 too, and had no problems installing or running it.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Capt Zapp


yWriter5 which is supposed to do the same things, but is freeware


I'm probably willing to give yWriter a test drive & report back.
Does dotnet 2.0 mean it needs internet access?
I could not use that.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ross at Play


Does dotnet 2.0 mean it needs internet access?


No, it means it was built using the MS dotnet framework which was built as a competitor to Java after Oracle started complaining about all the proprietary extensions MS kept putting in MS's version of the JRE.

https://www.microsoft.com/net

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Ross at Play


That's all I need to know. Thanks.


Update, the people behind WriteWay have been in contact and are investigating the issue. Like me, they suspect it may relate to the way the software is set to display full-screen on installation and then found my 4K 3,840 x 2,160 pixel monitor too big of a meal, and choked.

I'll let you know what comes of the exchanges with the WriteWar support people.

edit to add: I didn't intend to use the WriteWay to create files, but to run the completed stories through it for an evaluation as part of the editorial process after writing the stories in Libre Office.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

To DS & EB
I will give it a test drive as the primary editing software for a work which requires many segments and a convenient way to navigate between them.

Deciding factor was the update from EB that tech support will be provided if some quirk exists in your hardware or software setup that causes problems.

DS: Please contact me via an edit request at this site. I will record your email address, and I will advise you when my assessment has been posted here.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Sent

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Ross at Play


tech support will be provided if some quirk exists


Between their tech support and some work by me we got WriteWay to work properly. I had to locate and remove every file for it, re-install, and it worked the way it's supposed to. The tech support people are still looking into it, but I'm now very sure of what caused the issue.

When you install WriteWay it installs as a full screen window. However, there is an internal memory allocation limitation for saved files. I have a 28 inch 4 K monitor of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels and every time I saved a WW file while set to full screen if crashed and wouldn't open again due to a file size error. However, once I got a clean install and reduced the WW window size to about a quarter of my screen it would save and reopen without any issues.

Now, as to using it. I tried by importing a short story, following the instructions in their guide. However, all I could see in WriteWay, after it was imported, was the chapter and sub-chapter headings. I played with the software for a while, determined it would be ten times as hard for me to try and write using that software than how I currently work, so I removed it. I know many people who would find it very useful to them, but the way they work is very different to the way I work, and WriteWay is counter-intuitive for my style of working and writing.

Ross, from what you said earlier in this thread, WriteWay may well be the sort of software you want and need, it seems that way to me, but it doesn't suit my methodology at all. I've a more linear approach to story writing than WriteWay will allow. Good luck with it.

typo edit

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