What does novel-writing software do?

I saw this today in PC World, but I didn’t buy it.

It was a “Write Your Own Novel” CD, with a programme which helped you keep character backgrounds and chase plotlines etc.

Does anyone use one of these, and could you tell me what exactly they do, and are they useful.

Up to now I always thought of a novel as a more organic process.

I use a free one, called Storybook.

It’s pretty much like a software version of notebooks with tabbed dividers you probably used back in middle and high school. It has sections for characters, locations, events, etc. Using it I don’t have to write in chapter order, like chapter 1, 2, 3, etc. I can write chapter 23 one day, 4 the next, and so on. Once I get through writing, I can just select the text and flag it to go in a certain place, and the software will just add it automatically.

Instead of having a tabbed notebook that can get easily damaged or lost, or having a bunch of open document files while I’m writing, or having a bunch of files at all for that matter, everything is kept contained in one location, where I can get to what I need with one click.

Surely the greatest scam ever would be to write that software, distribute it for free and include a back door allowing you to sample and steal the works of a million struggling authors…

Heh, probably.

I’ve noticed no unusual activity on my network since using it, and I watch that closely, after having my checking account info stolen and used shortly after I started using the net.

What you are now hearing is the sound of thousands of editors and literary agents laughing their asses off.

The phrase “needle in a haystack” comes to mind.

Wait a minute! It doesn’t write the novel? That’s the hard part, what am I paying for?

Ten million chimps banging away at keyboards would get you better results…

I’ve had a couple of novels published using Jerry B. Jenkins’s software Play-Jerry-Ize-It!

It uses as its base an assortment of public domain novels. And lets you find-and-replace character names, places, and plot points.

So you end up with a novel that starts: “Call me Ralph.” (He’s on a bus trip, and the driver is obsessed with finding the ultimate Vanilla Malt).

Well, I write mysteries (for my own entertainment) and I find it useful for notes and tracking basically two plots (the one I hope hypothetical readers are following and one that the what-really-happened plot) and countless herrings, all of which have to be remembered and explained away…

I wouldn’t buy one, though. I use yWriter, which is free and quite nice.

Do any of those of you who use a lot of notes for writing ever consider publishing them? If your novel becomes regarded as great literature, or even just popular entertainment, I’d suspect there’d be a big market for knowing what the author was thinking.

Hmmm, distributed processing. :smiley:

My husband uses Scrivener. I’m not greatly familiar with it, but my understanding is that as well as outlining, it allows you to easier move ‘scenes’ from one place to another in the file. And when he is writing with it, he has this option to go full screen with a black background and green text, which is much easier on his eyes than the white background of Word. It also automatically backs up the work.

I love it! :smiley:

In any case, I don’t know of any published authors who actually need it. It can be a useful tool in the beginning, I suppose, but it’s not going to make you write any better.

I use Scrivener. Each “project” (ie, novel) is actually a collection of documents. Each scene is it’s own document. You can set up little ‘note cards’ for scenes, chapters, characters, etc. You can import other text or .pdf documents for reference purposes, and they’re viewable within Scrivener.

The main thing that differentiates creative writing software from, say, word processors, is that writing software generally provides at minimum a virtual scratchpad of sorts, so that your notes and actual writing are all in one place.

This is why writers conventions have 15,000 people working on a novel and 1,000 people who have actually finished one. Writing a novel is not an organic process. It is a test of your organizational skills and determination.

And zombie novels are definitely “in” right now!