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Posted by Hugh Pile
Apr 20, 2007 at 10:04 PM

 

Jan Rifkinson wrote:
> >
>Hugh Pile wrote:
>>Scrivener, whose praises I’m always ready to sing, has a
>floating scratchpad
>>for rapid thought-recording (as have several Mac
>note/databank programmes, such as
>>DevonThink).
>

>Do you know of a similar writing
>tool for windows? Thanks.
> >—
>Jan Rifkinson
>Ridgefield, CT USA
> >

Jan

There’s nothing on the Windows platform that rivals Scrivener as a fiction drafting tool, in my view.


I’ll leave aside IdeaMason, which is primarily a non-fiction tool and has been discussed previously here. I’ll also leave aside MS Word, which I think is still better than any competitor for short-form writing and for polishing any kind of writing. Nothing on either platform competes with Word’s “track-changes”, “compare-documents” and annotation tools.

The remaining programmes tend to split between those that are “prescriptive” in one way or another, and those that allow the user more freedom. In both cases their output is plain text, or at the maximum RTF.

I think the prescriptive programmes were amongst the first to be developed; they often deploy story development tools to channel the user into writing according to particular theories, formulae or models: Hollywood’s three Acts/120 pages, or the Joseph Campbell/Star Wars mythic formula for example. At the least they provide templates for character, location, plot and scene or “beat” attributes and point-of-view. They sometimes offer metrics for plot tension/emotional intensity. Probably such software programmes were, and continue to be, attractive to newcomers.

More recent programmes tend not to bother with these approaches but, like Scrivener, focus instead on providing basic practical drafting tools such as a full-page view, a binder that is often combined with an outliner, a scratchpad or notepad, and various kinds of metadata (for synopses, tracking and editing). . These are the ones that in general I prefer, because they don’t confine me and their tools are the tools I use on a daily basis.

There are at least five of these that are being actively developed for Windows. They are:

- PageFour http://www.softwareforwriting.com/pagefour.html

- Liquid Story Binder: http://www.blackobelisksoftware.com/Preview.htm

- WriteItNow: http://www.ravensheadservices.com/

- yWriter: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter3_Version.html

- Writer’s Cafe: http://www.writerscafe.co.uk/

Of these five, I favour PageFour, which is a simple but steady piece of software with possibly similar potential to Scrivener, and yWriter, which has the merit that it is free.


There are others, such as New Novelist and WriteWay Pro, which fall more into the prescriptive category.

There are others still, like Power Writer and RoughDraft, that appear to be no longer under development.

And then of course there is also a whole basketful of fiction outliners such as Power Structure, Dramatica, StoryView, StoryCraft and Save the Cat!,  most aimed mainly at the wannabe-screenwriter market, that will offer to structure your story for you according to any theory, or none.

H