1. Willothewisp
    Offline

    Willothewisp New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0

    What features would you need in writing software?

    Discussion in 'Software' started by Willothewisp, Apr 17, 2013.

    Hey,

    Unhappy about the writing software, or prices, that I found. Admittedly dodging my responsibility to write I decided to build my own, and am now writing in that. If it ever gets to a point where I consider it good enough I'll put it online for free. Right now its not much more than a tree of characters, chapters and scenes. It can import from y-writer, because that was the software I was using before. And it can export to openoffice using an existing office document as a template, from there you can export to PDF if you like.

    My question to those of you using software for the writing process. What features are absolute musts? What are you missing right now? And what would you really like to see? Can you tell a little about your workflow? What do you do to keep track of all the things you need to do? All the decisions to make and how they affect other parts of the story?

    You know so that the next time I want to dodge my responsibilities to write I have something usefull to do ;).
     
  2. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    There's a big difference between what I need and what I want.

    It needs to handle standard manuscript format with Courier font and double spacing. I don't really care about other fonts - if I want to see my work in other fonts, I'll inhale the file into Word and play to my heart's content.

    It needs to give me an accurate word count.

    I'd like to be able to organize my work into scenes, and to be able to revise scenes individually as many times as I want. It should keep all versions of each scene, and should allow me to choose which version of each scene gets included in the final work. Scrivener allows me to do this.

    It should allow me to keep notes on the whole project, as well as on each scene, character, and so on. It should also allow me to keep footnotes on individual pieces of text. I use notes a lot as I write.

    It should automatically save my work very frequently (Scrivener saves every two seconds if I'm inactive), and should make automatic backups regularly. I don't want to lose a ton of work because I forgot to save it.

    I'm sure there's a bunch of other stuff, but that's what occurs to me now.
     
  3. Willothewisp
    Offline

    Willothewisp New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks Minstrel :)

    I'm picking up the scene versioning idea. I was thinking along the lines of versioning the whole thing as a whole. But versioning scenes is much better especially if you can hot swap them.

    I pushed the formatting into a template, basically you export the file, turn it into how you want it to look and use that as a template so you don't need to set things up again. Also I really agree with the wordcount. y-writer is a great program but it had some creative ideas about wordcount so I made sure I have one that updates as you type.

    I was going to do a todo list which is basically a note attached to either the whole book a chapter or scene. Got most of that working. I think that should cover the notes feature you mentioned.

    And I'll implement the auto save. I've got pretty strong save discipline myself but it's really better if the program does it instead of me so I should just take the time and put that in.

    Thank you for your feedback!
     
  4. TheDistantShip
    Offline

    TheDistantShip Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2013
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    0
    For me?

    Full screen and split screen options, the latter for editing.
    I love snapshots, they make me a better, less timid editor.
    Word count, which was already mentioned...
    and probably my top thing is a sidebar for notes and general project information.
    I currently use and love Scrivener.
     
  5. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    I like a lot of minstrel's suggestions. Being able to keep notes would be amazing and auto save is wonderful.

    Clean and user friendly is always a must for me. If it's cluttered or difficult to use I don't want to use it. It would be awesome to be able to keep all the files I make for characters and notes in one place with the actual story so I could access them easily for quick reference. Text options are nice but I won't go nuts without it. I prefer calibri because it's easy on the eyes. Split screen would probably be the best way to achieve easy access to notes. I would do side by side like a book and not top to bottom on the split screen. I think it would be more natural to read that way.

    Keep me posted on this program if you do make something where I can access notes right next to what I'm writing or append them. :)
     
  6. EvilHorse
    Offline

    EvilHorse New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    I'm using a fair bit of technology for mine but it does involve a fair bit of switching between apps/programs which is a bit annoying. It'd be great if it were all in the one place in a program.

    My dream program:
    - Clean interface with nice formatting but minimal options for change to prevent procrastinating - this is essential
    - A library to store research - entries should be able to be tagged, and you should be able to upload multimedia, and save content from the web to it.
    - A mobile app that can be synchronised with the desktop version - doesn't have to be fully functional, just needs to be there to collect the words coming out of my brain when I need it
    - Autosync
    - Different types of "units" - characters, items, places etc - so you can keep a description of the item or character or whatever, and you can change the name of it there and it will change all instances in the book
    - A timeline tool, to keep track of characters' ages and the relative occurrence of events - preferably an overall timeline plus one per character
    - A way to upload maps - an actual (2D) mapping tool would be awesome but I won't hold my breath!!
    - Chapters are separate "documents"
    - A good dictionary and thesaurus that can be accessed in a similar way to MS Word
    - Spellcheck and grammar check
    - Word count - total and by chapter
    - Ability to export to Word in double-spaced Courier
    - A very good name generator, with etymology - nothing worse when you're plotting a story and keep having to refer to "he" or "the protagonist" because you hate every name you've thought up that day.
    - A random word generator for when writer's block hits

    I like the left-right split screen idea - especially as so many screens are now much wider than they are high. A clean interface is a must.
     
  7. Willothewisp
    Offline

    Willothewisp New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks everyone for the additions and comments. I've remapped the user interface and included some new data structures to include some of your suggestions.

    Notably the revisions or snapshots that minstrel and distantship mentioned. Basically every scene has a number of revisions. If you want to experiment you make a new revision of your scene, just edit to your hearts delight and then still decide to use the original anyway. Every revision can be named. The scene knows which is your current revision and that revision will be exported to the output document.

    Exporting works with a template, so the various wishes on how that should look should all be supported, if you can design it in openoffice then you can export to it. Page sizes, font choices. Page headers and footers, all that good stuff.

    I changed the todo system to be more generic so it will work as a generic note taking system. Initially this will also cover research. There is support for characters and bios, and I'll probably make support for locations later on.

    I'll work as horizontal as I can to include the split screen ideas. However I haven't quite got that working in my head yet. :/

    I want to do some kind of spelling/grammar checks, though I'm not sure how yet, it will probably run through some external program if such a thing exists.

    Timelines and map editing are too advanced for this stage, so I'm writing them down as notes. But as you say evilhorse holding your breath till it gets there is unwise.

    I won't release it untill I'm confident that the bugs won't eat manuscripts. Screwing up my own work is one thing but doing that to someone else is something I really really want to avoid. That's why the export was pretty much the first feature I made, if all else fails, export and continue in a word processor. As with all software projects, don't expect this to be here soon or even come out at all. Unfortunately it's a lot of work and my track record for finishing these projects isn't all that glorious ;) That said, it's also going better than expected.

    I appreciate the thoughtful answers you've all given to my question!
     
  8. Al Stevens
    Offline

    Al Stevens Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Florida
    1. Full undo/redo at all points in the program.
    2. Full screen typing where nothing but text is in view.
    3. Export to efficient html and epub without the CSS bloat that Word, Calibre and others add.
    4. Outline mode.
    5. Multiple templates that let you use one manuscript baseline for all output formats.
    6. Table of contents and indexing.
    7. Search and replace across the document.
    8. Import/export from/to Word with Comments and Tracking Changes.
    9. Invoke any command from the keyboard with customized hot keys
     
  9. idle
    Offline

    idle Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2012
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    one of the hearts of Europe
    For revisions, it would be great to show differences between any two revisions.
     
  10. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    My requirements: The words show up on the screen and I can save the file.
     

Share This Page