Word Processing: simple and free....

A friend of mine is using the Word equivalent in Open Office, and he’s just getting the hell kicked out of him. Half his paragraph breaks are being changed to manual line breaks, he’s getting paragraph formatting that goes all over the place; half his 1/m dashes are just hyphens, it’s just a lurid mess.

Notepad is good, but too simple. No italics or underlining.

What’s a good cheap (free?) word processor for a frustrated novelist? It really doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles. Italics, the ability to enter a forced page break, the ability to right-justify a block of text, the usual stuff you want for formatting a novel, but without the “bulleted lists” kind of thing that Word has, where you can get yourself trapped and can’t get out.

(I’m a frustrated novelist, but I bought MS Office, and Word, while sometimes hard to deal with, is working just fine for me.)

Google Docs?

A friend of mine has been maniacally working on her novel during summer break. She uses Evernote, as she writes absolutely everywhere she goes, including in her car at stoplights. I don’t know anything else about it, just that she’s gushed about it recently, in between writings while posting on Facebook.

(Seriously. Maniacally. Over 100,000 words, 20 chapters and storymapped and planned in two months)

Ye cats! It takes me about nine months to write 100,000 words. (Like havin’ a baby!)

I’ll explore Evernote. Thanks!

I haven’t had the issue your friend has with OpenOffice.org’s writer, but I do often use another freeware suite, Kingsoft aka WPS.

How many tickets has she gotten along the way?

IIRC, you could insert page breaks in Wordpad before, but I don’t think the Win7 one does. Always liked Wordpad because I can spell. :smiley:

AbiWord is less notional than Open Office. I’m installing it, though for most uses RTF files out of Wordpad work for me. HOWEVER! Nobody’s Doc, Docx, RTF or whatever files play well with other word processors.

So far, none. But she’s pushing it for sure!

Being a novelist yourself, I’m sure you’ve heard of Scrivener, which goes for $40. Personally I found the interface inelegant and the extras useless, but it’s still a hell of a lot cheaper than a copy of Microsoft Office.

I like Scrivener but I export everything to either Word or Final Draft. I think it might also work with Open Office.

I haven’t had problems with Open Office, but I do have MS Word, several versions. I think even a very old version of Word Perfect would be preferable but I don’t know if WP works with whatever her operating system is. (I have a very cheap version of WP I got at the used computer store. Running it on XP. No issues. But I generally use Word.)

I miss WordPerfect! The “reveal codes” function would probably solve all of my friend’s problems!

(And I got really got good at the WordPerfect macro language. I once programmed an app that randomly dealt out a deck of cards into four bridge hands. That was fun!)

I’ve used Open Office back when it was Star Office 3, even before Sun bought it.
Once Oracle got it the code went to LibreOffice. I haven’t had these problems with any version of Open Office, but I suspect LibreOffice has moved beyond it. Larry is not into giving things away.

None of these work on really complicated Word files or especially PowerPoint files, but for simple stuff I switch back and forth with few problems - except the quotes in OO are weird.

LaTe… bwahahaha sorry. Yeah, I think Scrivener and Evernote are the “go tos” here.

OpenOffice Writer, like Word, does have a button on the toolbar to show the paragraph marks. It would, indeed, help him.

Also, make sure that he’s saving his files using the native OpenOffice file format (.odt).

How about a magnetized needle and a steady hand? :slight_smile:

I’ve not tried it myself (I have a full office subscription anyway), but you can get MS office online for free. Might be worth a look.

I used to use OpenOffice (and more lately, LibreOffice) but I gave up on them in the end. I just found the interface too clunky - it’s like going back to 2003 all over again. Besides (not that this is overly relevant here), OO/LO calc doesn’t play at all nicely with excel files, which was kind of important to me.

I’d be inclined to go the cloud route… either Google Docs or Microsoft Office Online. Files will be available anywhere on any device, and they’re both probably featured enough for the requirements. Office Online offers the advantage of full file compatibility with the “full fat” version (might be useful for submitting to publishers etc) for simple use. I’m not sure if it supports advanced features such as Track Changes.
Evernote is awesome for, well, note taking, but it’s not really designs as a word processor. If your friend wants to work with long book-length files it’s probably not the best choice. I’d highly recommend it for note-taking, though.