Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Preferred Writers Software

 It's 83 in SW MO at the time of this posting (expected mid-90s today). Temperature on the hot side is not my favorite. I like rain/mist/cool/cloudy. In fact, sun as it is now, overly bright depresses me. 

Return to Fairy Cove
I am not alone. Recently, I've found others who do not worship the sun and who love clouds and rain and cool weather. Hopefully, they are enjoying that somewhere.

As for me, I'm in my dark office working away, drapes extra lined and closed, mini-blinds of the dark persuasion, the rhythm of the oscillating fan enjoyable as I write this. I'm truly hoping this will help someone struggling with my same basic writer needs.

Sleepless in Montana
In my darkness, broken by a slice of light through my front room drapes--if I go there to the outer word--I'm testing software to better suit my needs. We have all kinds of it in Writer Land, some for novels, scripts, etc. I'm a PC user mostly because it would cost a fortune to move software into Mac domain. So the following relates only to my experience with PC programs....

Background: (Character Background is so important, too.) I'm been in computers since Apple IIE, which was my first computer, this after a range of non-electric/electric/memory typewriters. Loved the IIE as did all my comprades. I've had computers (PCs) built to spec and cannot count how much software I've run through. Like a bulk of writers, I've changed to the most popular, and we know what that is, don't we? :)

When Night Falls
Disclaimer: Not a paid promotion, but software I use and prefer for basic story organization and writing. (I final edit in another program, which sucks up PageFour's RTF ever so nicely.

I'm going to step out now and recommend PageFour software, once called an outliner. I've been using this for years and somehow got away from it. I've returned to an improved PageFour, plus a couple of other programs I'll tell you about later.

You can find reviews for it everywhere, but this is why I love it and returned for 2 reasons:
1. I'm starting what could be a complex series (or not). It's an involved suspense... Shh! I've done some PreWriting/Work, enough to settle into the story. However, since I'm not an Index Card User, (I can't read my own writing), I needed software to keep data/characters/notes/etc. straight.
2. Eyes. I'm set up well, here in my cave, but my eyes have always responded better to black background and amber font. All eyes respond differently. Backlit screens are not for me. I'm fine with the usual white/black screen for Internet, biz, etc. , but for writing hours at the screen, black/amber works better for me. Try different combinations, if you're going to be writing for hours to see what works best.

Very Important Note: Not all software allows you to change color, independently of the whole system. If you move around a lot on Internet, etc., you need a basic working screen. But I wanted a separate program from my usual screen that works independently, re: screen/font color.

Recently, I've tried different writing outliner, etc. software, comparing them to PageFour. Here's some differences:
1. Some will only use the computer's preferred color display.
2. Some do not indent, but use block paragraphs, not my preferred for story writing
3. Big Point. Some are too involved for what I want.

I've used PageFour for short stories and outlining, but after taking a plunge into this story for about 4 chapters in Word, I knew I needed a "bookkeeping" system, i.e. Story/Chapters, Timeline, Places, Characters (Major/Minor), etc. If this book goes into a series, I'll be set up. I've written an 11-book series (The Tallchiefs) and really cost time by not using a system prior to writing the first books. With a genealogy chart involved, I wasted a lot of time checking facts.

Basically, you can write and call up reminders of characters, phrases, etc. chapters, places, all on one screen. A full page screen for writing can be used. PageFour is based on creating "Notebooks". Within Notebooks (which I'm using one for my novel) are "Folders". Folders are Story/Timeline, etc. Then inside Folders are "Pages". Example: Story Folder has Chapter Pages; Notes Folder has whatever I'm watching for in edit. Pages can be mouse-dragged into Folders. I love this Mouse-Dragging arrangement, very good for organizing free-wheeling creativity.

PageFour (and no, I'm not getting paid for this endorsement) has just updated with no problem and I'm off and running, back into laying out the chapter outlines. Em dash creates a problem, which can be altered by adding a DLL as instructed. This software saves in RTF, suckable up by other software if needed, such as what I'm doing now, placing my classic books into epub. !Note: Because I prefer amber font, it's necessary to change that in other programs, or when importing copy.

I added two more new software after updating PageFour; found these at their website: SmartEdit and Name Generator. Both look great at first sampling. I'm not into Journaling, so I didn't test that software.

My basic needs, simplicity and organization, PLUS black and amber screen are met in PageFour. If you can test drive PageFour, and like it, you'll find it is very, very affordable.

Again, I hope this helps someone in Writer Land. Best on all your writing projects, big or small. 


Ruth Hunter said...

Hi Lois...always interested in your experience with the techie end of the business. Glad to hear you have started a new series!

Velda Brotherton said...

Lois, took a look and will check out Page Four. Thanks for all the tips. Good to talk to you today.

crowdreamer said...

Thanks, the was very helpful!

Kathleen Garnsey said...

Lois, thanks for the tip. Glad to hear you're busy working hard. I'm with you, I too hate the hear.
Guess that's why I'm a Winter!

Rain Trueax said...

That was interesting on PageFour, something of which I had not heard. I'll definitely check it out.

The weather in the PNW is pretty gray and cool still and for this far into July, that's a little unusual despite our reputation for rainy summers.

Cait said...

I hope PF works well for you Rain. I'm also using the Character Name generator, but switching some of the first/last names around to work for my story. Handy little deal.