Mile 6: Software

When I started writing my first novel, “Coyote Courage,” I turned on my computer, opened up Microsoft Word and started typing away. I wasn’t too far in before I realized I needed to start making some notes: What kind of gun did I say Brock had? What was the name of the bartender? Did I say the trip took four days, or five?

After doing this for a while, and it becoming far too time consuming and cumbersome, I figured there had to be a better way. Admittedly, others probably would have gotten there sooner than I did, but get there I did! And I discovered, no surprise, there is a world of writing software out there designed to make writing your novel easier and more efficient.

I readily admit to not being a computer or software whiz, and my preference in all things software is easy and intuitive. I did a little research, watched a couple of YouTube videos, and read a few reviews and blog sites, and I wound up going with Storyist. I’m not sure if it’s the best, but it works for me. I cheat a little and still do my initial writing in Microsoft Word (which for many writers is all they ever need) and then move it over to Storyist — but having Storyist makes it simple to keep track of characters (main and minor), plot, timeline, locations and settings. As long as you are diligent about adding the information in (I do it following every chapter I write), it will always be available to you.

A little bit of research shows that there are plenty of novel management software options out there, beyond Word and Storyist. Scrivener and Ulysses seem to come up quite often. And keep in mind, you may not need/want any software beyond what you already have (Microsoft Word for many of us) and that’s perfectly OK. You just want to be comfortable while you’re writing and able to focus on the story and the actual writing and not get lost, distracted or waste time trying to remember if the sheriff’s name is Bill or Sam.

The right piece of software makes getting — and staying — organized much easier! Some of the available software will also help you develop your plot, edit your work, and even provide assistance and ideas for publishing and marketing your completed novel.

Do your own research, establish your own budget, determine your own needs (and those will probably change as you get further into the project) and then decide what works best for you — which is the only thing that matters in selecting your software.

Last hint. If you try one and it doesn’t work, change it! Whether you’re building a deck in the backyard or building a novel, having the right tools makes the job much easier. And writing a novel is hard enough; don’t make it any harder.

I wish you good writing, and if you have a question, or something you’d like to share, send me an email at [email protected].

Thank you, enjoy and keep writing!


2 Comments on “Mile 6: Software

Chris Crowley
July 10, 2018 at 7:25 am

Interesting. I don’t know anyone who uses a software like that (or admits to it), though it’s quite common for those writing screenplays. I have counted on early readers to catch slip ups on ages or names, but they are fallible, as, certainly, am I.

S. L. Matthews
July 17, 2018 at 8:47 am

I am a software jumper. I cannot seem to find that “perfect” program for writing. I like Microsoft Word for the simplicity, but I bought Scrivener a few years ago. Since then I tried out a few others, but mostly I bounce between the first two. Scrivener does everything except make you a sandwich…if you take the time to learn it. I have not. (Maybe I would, if it would just make me a sandwich!) I just haven’t devoted the time it takes to learn how to properly use the program. I’d rather be writing. I use it for writing, and for storing chapters and unconnected scenes, ideas and characters, but I always have a copy of everything available to me in Word, as well.


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