Writing Tools

For a distressingly long time, I’ve been looking for software that actually assists with writing long fiction. Of course, I haven’t been looking particularly hard but you would think such a thing would be much more common that it is, what with the disproportionate number of wannabe novelists out there.

Up to now, I have had two basic tools at my disposal.  One is the old fashioned notebook and writing stick which, for sure, is not something to sneeze at since it requires no special resources to operate. Note paper and writing sticks are plentiful at local shops everywhere. In fact, given sufficient supplies, they are ideal for operating off the grid since they work in any conditions, though, of course, light is necessary if you want to see what you are writing.

The other tool is the basic word processor or text editor. I lump the two of them together because they have the same characteristics related to writing long fiction. Again, the word processor is nothing to sneeze at for as long as sufficient electricity and computing resources are available, it is a tool to bar none in efficiency, especially since I type quite effectively, even considering my error rate.

What both tools lack is the ability to keep track of the various facets of a story and allow rearranging things easily. Copy and paste only goes so far since it requires finding the location in the long stream of text on the computer screen. It’s marginally easier with written scenes if each scene is on independent pages, which it should be. However, it is easy to lose pages or mangle them beyond legibility (assuming they were legible in the first place), or spill coffee on them, or whatever.

By an extreme twist of luck, a buddy of mine remembered that I was writing a novel. Well, more specifically, he remembered me complaining about the inadequacy of the tools I was using to write the novel. He sent me a note the other day with a tool he stumbled on purely by accident and included links to several others. While the tool he originally thought would be useful doesn’t quite pan out, one of the others appears to be useful.

The tool is called Storybook and is open source. I’ve just started playing around in it and, so far, it seems to have the basic features that I really need. There are some that would be nice but that’s hardly critical. It also makes certain assumptions about the setting (assuming countries and so on) which do not necessarily hold in science fiction type things. Still, that is not a substantial handicap.

I have imported the bits that I have written so far for my novel project. Over the next while, I will see how well it actually works for a nontrivial project. At a first glance, however, I can honestly say that for anyone who is putting off actually writing for lack of a decent tool for doing so, go ahead and give Storybook a whirl.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *