Trying to manage a 600,000-word novel series definitely compelled me to check out a variety of writing tools. What I found was no one program did it all (despite the claims). I ended up patching together a lot of individual softwares to make a sort of Mega-Program. And this works well….just leave all the tabs open on your taskbar!
I may come back and discuss each of these in individual posts later, but for now here’s an overview. I hope you’ll find some of these softwares helpful:
WriteItNow. I started with this one, an all-in-one program where you collect characters, plots and other story elements. It had helpful name generators that gave me starting points on designing interesting character and place names (more on that in a future blog). I still have archived very early versions of my Siana’s War characters in my WriteItNow file. But I eventually abandoned it as a plotting device, in favor of:
StoryView. This ended up being my primary plot construction software. As a software dedicated to only that purpose, it outshone WriteItNow. It uses color well, has a collapsible outlining hierarchy and presents either an outline view or a helpful timeline view of the same information. I was shocked the day I printed my Siana’s War StoryView outline and realized that outline was 42 pages long. I still use this software when I daydream about writing Book IV.
Word. Microsoft Word remained for me the place to actually write. Superior layout and search functionality. The idea of actually writing in a side panel within an all-in-one writing software always felt inferior to using Word.
OneNote. I found over time that the freeform layout of OneNote made it the place to keep character notes, images and ideas. In preparation for writing a new chapter, say on the kingdom of Cylindrax, I will collect every prior reference to Cylindrax I’ve made in the novels. Creating OneNote pages that summarize everything I’ve already said on a certain issue has helped me immensely in maintaining continuity throughout the series. …Have to make sure I follow the rules of my own world! It’s easy to combine clips from Word documents, images off the internet, hyperlinks and more in the same note.
Paper. I found that despite StoryView’s excellent outlining capabilities, I still needed a pile of big blank sketchbooks to draw out battlefields, castles, and big scary monsters.
…and some fun tools for the actual writing:
WordMenu. A fun program that gives you words for a thousand kinds of boats, weapons, castle features, and more… a good way to fake your way into a period of history you haven’t studied as much as you should have.
Visual Thesaurus. It used to be a software, now it’s a website, but it is a great way to generate more colorful words to replace boring things you say a lot.
I hope you’ll check out some of these tools and enjoy your experimentation!