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Useful tools for writers

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    Useful tools for writers

    During a discussion a couple of days ago, somebody suggested that we should have a thread with useful links and software for writers. Since I couldn't find an existing one, I figured I'd get one started.

    Personally I use OneNote to just write things (since it syncs between all my devices, both mobile and computers) and then OpenOffice to do the editing afterwards, but other really useful programs are:

    Wordweb is my go-to thesaurus (every writer's favourite dinosaur). It can sometimes be a bit fidgety when you're using the hotkeys to look up words, but it's free and can be run from a flash drive.

    The Everchanging Book of Names is quite useful when you need to come up with names that at least sound like they're based on a different language. The program is shareware and has a somewhat limited functionality. (You can only generate five names before you have to reload the language you're using. This only takes a second so it's not that much of a hassle.)
    Last edited by Gummybear; 02-22-2017, 01:34:00 PM. Reason: Fixed typos and grammar
    Whenever you're holding all the cards, why does everyone else turn out to be playing chess?

    #2
    Re: Useful tools for writers

    For this I'll just quote what I wrote in the Halloween contest thread, so that new writers don't have to stumble across it in an unrelated topic.

    Originally posted by TheOneWhoSees View Post
    I'm a bit late but on the topic of organization and word processors I would recommend yWriter5 or 6 (they're functionally the same but 6 works better on Windows 8 and later, 5 is working really well on WINE so far).

    It has all of the scene/character/location/item/note organization as the others and it's a pretty good word processor as well (for writing, it's limited in the aesthetic department so I wouldn't use it for design work). I've used it on and off over the years -- mostly because it's rare for me to write anything long enough to need it.

    It has the benefit of being made by a published author who also happens to be a programming veteran. It essentially treats every story as a Project file you'd find in Sublime Text.

    It's got a lot of features and it's free so I'd recommend giving it a try. It's monolithic at first but it has everything I've ever needed.
    As an added note you'll need to install the spell checker manually (the spell checker highlights errors, it doesn't fix them, you may want to use the aforementioned WordWeb or LibreOffice for editing).
    Last edited by TheOneWhoSees; 02-23-2017, 01:50:51 AM.
    Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

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      #3
      Re: Useful tools for writers

      Hey I made a link dump article, care if I add some of these?
      By the fang of a scavenger's tooth.

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        #4
        Re: Useful tools for writers

        Originally posted by eatenbywo1ves View Post
        Hey I made a link dump article, care if I add some of these?
        May as well, there's no good reason not to advertise useful tools.
        Last edited by TheOneWhoSees; 02-24-2017, 03:02:23 PM.
        Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

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          #5
          Re: Useful tools for writers

          Originally posted by TheOneWhoSees View Post
          May as well, there's no good reason not to advertise useful tools.
          I can think of one good reason for the software ones. There's a separate article for those being worked on right now

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            #6
            Re: Useful tools for writers

            Hey guys. So some time ago, i came across this thing called Pixar's 22 rules of storytelling, which aparently is a collection of guidelines the Pixar crew uses for writing their stories, which are usualy briliant. BTW, if anyone cares, i saw it on the SuperCarlinBrothers Youtube Channel, definitly worth checking out. This is of course not realy a tool, but these are great tips for storytelling.
            IMG_0315.JPG

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              #7
              Re: Useful tools for writers

              Originally posted by AmonBisby View Post
              Hey guys. So some time ago, i came across this thing called Pixar's 22 rules of storytelling, which aparently is a collection of guidelines the Pixar crew uses for writing their stories, which are usualy briliant. BTW, if anyone cares, i saw it on the SuperCarlinBrothers Youtube Channel, definitly worth checking out. This is of course not realy a tool, but these are great tips for storytelling.
              [ATTACH=CONFIG]279[/ATTACH]
              I used this in my CW classes for several years; it's actually excellent.

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                #8
                Re: Useful tools for writers

                I use Scrivener. I have an iPad so I have the iOS version as well. I used to use the Linux version of Scrivener, but it is not getting developed as fast and I can't read between the different platforms. I use the Windows version under Wine and the Mac version on the iMac. It's actually great, even as a Linux user.

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                  #9
                  Re: Useful tools for writers

                  Originally posted by Gummybear View Post
                  During a discussion a couple of days ago, somebody suggested that we should have a thread with useful links and software for writers. Since I couldn't find an existing one, I figured I'd get one started.

                  Personally I use OneNote to just write things (since it syncs between all my devices, both mobile and computers) and then OpenOffice to do the editing afterwards, but other really useful programs are:

                  Wordweb is my go-to thesaurus (every writer's favourite dinosaur). It can sometimes be a bit fidgety when you're using the hotkeys to look up words, but it's free and can be run from a flash drive.

                  The Everchanging Book of Names is quite useful when you need to come up with names that at least sound like they're based on a different language. The program is shareware and has a somewhat limited functionality. (You can only generate five names before you have to reload the language you're using. This only takes a second so it's not that much of a hassle.)
                  Thanks for the links. I'm using OpenOffice as well, great tool. The Everchanging Book of Names is new to me, but it sounds like fun.

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                    #10
                    Re: Useful tools for writers

                    Lately, I've been using Grammarly and Hemingway for editing. The former handles spelling and grammar whilst the latter judges readability.

                    Aside from basic spelling and grammar Grammarly also lets you find definitions and synonyms for highlighted words.

                    I haven't tried out the paid version Grammarly yet. I'm not sure if I ever will but there are some things it won't correct in the free version (it doesn't outright say what).

                    Hemingway highlights adverbs, wordy sentences, complex words, and passive voice. It helps you find more readable and stronger alternatives to these. You are free to ignore its suggestions as their main goal is to get you to think about your readability rather than enforce a standard way of writing.

                    Hemingway is free to use online, the paid desktop version is identical but the online version lacks a save or export feature (so you'll need a separate word processor to write in).
                    Last edited by TheOneWhoSees; 07-10-2017, 12:39:08 AM.
                    Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

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                      #11
                      Re: Useful tools for writers

                      Thank you, TheOneWhoSees. That Hemingway editor is full of neat insight!

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                        #12
                        Re: Useful tools for writers

                        Thanks for these guys. Just what I've been looking for. I use google docs for writing and that's it. So these links are brilliant. Thanks.

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                          #13
                          Re: Useful tools for writers

                          Speaking of which, there are a ton of free Office-style suites available out there for those of you who prefer to work offline.

                          LibreOffice
                          OpenOffice
                          WPS Office
                          SoftMaker FreeOffice

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                            #14
                            I am well aware how long it's been since this thread was last bumped. However, the info remains relevant.
                            I've jumped around from program to program, over the years, for several reasons. One of them being my method of writing and how it's changed. (it's not just madness, I promise) And the other being my choice of operating system. Apart from a few games, I almost exclusively use Linux as my OS of choice. Also, my phone is Android, and that's relevant too.

                            Right off the bat. Scrivener.
                            If you've not heard of it, check it out. It's probably not gonna make a lot of difference if you write everything in one go and don't keep any notes. My first few stories were like that, a couple afternoon's effort at most. But once you start putting together a plot longer than and-suddenly-there-were-diapers, it becomes a royal pain to keep everything organized. LibreOffice used to be my go-to, and it still is pretty good. But for organizing, keeping notes, pics, separating scenes, etc, Scrivener is great. The UI is friendly, I think, and allows me to jot down as many random notes as I please while still keeping the actual scenes clean of red ink. Oh, and it's ability to export directly to various formats is super useful. I actually put most of my stuff on my Kindle for proof-reading. Just seeing things on a different screen or in a different font works wonders for spotting errors that I've been staring at for weeks without noticing.

                            Please note. Scrivener is only officially supported for Windows, Mac, and iOS. It can be made to run on Linux via Wine. (which is what I do) The process can be a pain though.
                            Oh, and it costs money. But honestly, it's a very well put together program and worth every penny.

                            Now, if you're not interested in paying for a program, but still want Scrivener-like features.
                            Manuskript.
                            Yup. It's cross-platform, Linux friendly, and free too. (And open source, if that's important to you)
                            It's still young, and as such, not amazingly polished. It does, however, seem to work just fine--even if it lacks a few features that I like in Scrivener. It too, can compile and export projects into other file formats such as pdf or ebooks. Again, it's not as full-featured as Scrivener, but it's nice. Overall a good alternative if Scrivener isn't an option.

                            Dictionaries, thesaurus, etc. It's easy enough to look stuff up on the internet, but I also tend to like having something that doesn't require constant connectivity. I'm sure and actual book would also work, but nah..
                            GoldenDict.
                            An offline dictionary program compatible with a number of different formats and file types. I have... a... lot... of dictionaries and other sources installed. Very convenient. It's also free and also open source.

                            And at the complete opposite end of the spectrum: notes.
                            Joplin.
                            I tend to jot down an exorbitant amount of notes. Heck, I've come close to writing entire stories on my phone itself. However, getting all those notes off my phone and onto my PC can be a hassle. Not with Joplin. Joplin, of course, is free and open source. In this case I find this a bit more important as it's come to light that a number of note-taking apps--specifically those with cloud or syncing capabilities--are less than trustworthy.

                            Anyway, Joplin is cross-platform for like, everything. Setting up syncing between the desktop and mobile apps is a breeze. In short, it just works. Honestly, it has enough features (such as markdown formatting, note folder hierarchy for organization, and even a web clipper function) you could probably just put together a whole story with only Joplin, nonsensical notes and all. The important part for me is that it syncs seamlessly between Linux and Android.


                            And that's about it for the major stuff.
                            Other stuff includes.
                            Focuswriter.
                            Another good, free, multi-platform word processor. It's lightweight, so it's quick even on an older device. Mostly designed around having an unintrusive UI which doesn't distract you while you write.

                            Calibre
                            If you mess around with ebooks at all, this is good stuff. As I said, I like putting stuff on my Kindle--it's just so much easier on the eyes. Calibre is great for transferring stuff to e-readers (at least for me, since they don't always just show up as a storage device when using Linux). And this also has the capability to convert files and/or make tweaks. I've not used any of the editing capabilities though.

                            I have done a lot of looking around for programs I like, or alternatives to programs I can't use. This is what I've come up with.
                            Hopefully someone will find this useful.
                            Pronoun: a noun that lost its amateur status.

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                              #15
                              Just a note for those who aren't aware of this, but right now the Windows version of Scrivener that is officially supported does not work with files created on the MacOS or iOS version. It can sync with the iOS version via Dropbox if you only use the iOS and Windows versions without issue if you create the file on Windows.

                              The current Windows beta is compatible with the MacOS version but still has issues they're working on. BUT! Here's the good news: If you buy the Windows version now you get a free upgrade to version 3 when it gets released.

                              I actually use all 3 versions, although (obviously based on what I just said) I'm using the Windows beta.

                              If you own both a Mac and Windows system, make sure you get it as a bundle though, it's much cheaper. And if you are NaNoWriMo winner you can get it for 50% off which is always nice. They're big supporters of writers obviously so that's a big plus for them as well. They've been a NaNo sponsor for years so they're also unlikely to shut their doors anytime soon
                              I GET KNOCKED DOWN BUT I GET UP AGAIN!

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