For The Creative Writer
Scrivener 30 day Free Trial; Then $39.95 Mac
Scrivener is a word processor and project management tool created specifically for writers of long texts such as novels and research papers. It won’t try to tell you how to write - it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application.
My Review:Probably the best writing program in existence. And I’m not one for hyperbole. Scrivener is truly an all-in-one app. You can create pages and group them into folders/chapters/scenes. It has a cool corkboard with index cards that you can fill in. It formats your manuscript to your specifications. From the beginning stages of writing to the end, you never have to leave Scrivener to do anything. But it’s mac only. And I wouldn’t suggest non mac owners to go out and get a mac just for this one program.
yWriter Free Windows
It’s a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes. It will not write your novel for you, suggest plot ideas or perform creative tasks of any kind. It does help you keep track of your work, leaving your mind free to create.
My Review: This was the first writing program I fell in love with. It was created by Simon Haynes an author who was searching for the perfect writing program for. When he couldn’t find one that fit him he created yWriter. yWriter is great for many things. One of them being outlinning. You can break chapters up into scenes and move scenes in and out of chapters. One of the cool features in yWriter is the highlight characters or items feature. If you have a lot of characters in one scene or throughout your novel this comes in handy. You can highlight all the character names that appear in each scene. And keep track of who isn’t mentioned or who’s taking up the spot light. If your story has a macguffin, you’ll be able to keep track of where it is at all times with this highlight feature.
PageFour $34.95 Windows
PageFour is a dedicated writing environment for creative writers. Where other word processors were built with the business user in mind, PageFour was designed to meet the needs of novelists and creative writers. It does not improve your prose or make you a better writer, only you can do that, but PageFour does make your job just that little bit easier.
My Review:PageFour is lightweight program that performs heavy duty. It’s very useful if you’re an author writing a series that features the same characters throughtout each book. PageFour is like your bible. It’s a digital notebook. Create pages within folders and gather all you character charts and your worldbuilding in here. If you like to keep a hardcopy for backup, you can print it all out. PageFour is also a word processor. You can type your entire manuscript in it, spell check it and print it.
Office Word 2007 $99 Home/Student Windows, Mac
Office Word 2007 is a powerful authoring program that gives you the ability to create and share documents by combining a comprehensive set of writing tools with the easy-to-use Microsoft Office Fluent user interface.
My Review:You can’t beat a blank page. With Word, it’s just you and the page. No extra confusing stuff. It has great formatting capabilities escpcially when you get into Macros.
Google Docs Free Windows, Mac
Create and share your work online. Upload from and save to your desktop. Edit anytime, from anywhere. Pick who can access your documents. Share changes in real time. Files are stored securely online. It’s free!
My Review:By far, the greatest thing about Google Docs is that you can edit your documents anywhere three’s a computer available. You can creat new documents on the fly or upload files as a backup.
Open Office Free Windows, Mac
OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.
My Review:Great if you don’t want or can’t purchase Office Word 2007. And it’s open source!
For World Building
Notebook300 Free Windows, Mac, Linux
My Review:Create your own wiki’s with NoteBook300. First, let me say, that it isn’t exactly like Wikipedia. But it comes close enough. It was developed by a student and hasn’t been updated since February 2008. But the program works like it’s supposed to. I use it! It has a little bit of a learning curve but once you get used to it, it you’ll be linking your own pages in seconds.
FreeMind Free Windows, Mac
FreeMind is a premier free mind-mapping (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map) software written in Java. The recent development has hopefully turned it into high productivity tool. We are proud that the operation and navigation of FreeMind is faster than that of MindManager because of one-click “fold / unfold” and “follow link” operations.
My Review:A mind mapper. I used this for timelines before I got down with Timeline 3D. As a fantasy writer, I still use it to create hierarchies within races and webs of various connections between characters (like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon).
GenoPro 2007 14 Day Trial; Then $49 Windows
GenoPro is a user-friendly comprehensive software that allows you to draw family trees and genograms that you can share with your whole family.
My Review:I’ve tried other genealogy programs, but for me, this one seems the most suited for the creative writer. It comes with a sample family tree of Harry Patter for goodness sake! The website makes it look super complicated. That held me back from purchasing it for a few months while searching for something more user friendly. But I shouldn’t have waited. It’s perfectly user friendly. With any new program there is a learning curve. This one no exception. But like any program worth buying, it streamlines the learning curve and does a lot of the heavy lifting for you leaving you to concentrate you things that matter most: creating family trees for your characters.
Timeline 3D Unlimited Free Trail with Feature Restrictions; $65 Mac
Present full screen interactive timelines with a 3D perspective. Use the arrow keys or your Apple Remote to fly over your timeline or integrate them with your Keynote presentations.
My Review:This program is just cool. The interface looks great. It’s smooth and intuitive. Easy to maneuver. The 3D function is fun to show off. My one gripe with this program is its simplicity. It lacks features. It just doesn’t do enough. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do which is, of course, great. But it only does that.
Google Earth Free Windows, Mac
Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others.
My Review:The location in your novel isn’t within your travel budget? Use Google Earth. Zoom in with street view. Turn on 3D landscapes and study the terrain. Read Wikipedia articles directly from the interface. View Flickr, Picasa and 360° photos. Mark your favorite locations with pins. Google Earth will someday replace maps.
Fractal Terrains $39.95 Windows
Fractal Terrains Pro is ProFantasy’s fractal world-generating program. FT Pro lets you create maps using either fractal algorithms, real world data, or from scratch. FT Pro includes height, climate temperature and rainfall information, all of which can be edited. You can add rivers, craters or paint your own climates to customize your world. View your maps in a variety of projections and color schemes and export any view to CC2. Export into JPEG, BMP, VRML, linked HTML, and Spin View. Extensive real world and Mars data is included.
My Review:I haven’t tried this out yet, but it looks awesome. If you’ve played around with it, tell me how it is. Thanks.
iPhoto $79 as part of iLife Suite Mac
iPhoto makes managing your photos as easy as taking them. It helps you organize your photos so you can find them fast. Edit them so they look their best. And share them with your friends and family.
My Review:All those pictures of actors and actresses you base your characters on that you’ve downloaded, keep your collection all in one spot. You can create events, albums, and musical slideshows. Also, if you’re a social networking addict, you can share your pictures with Facebook and Flickr directly from the app.
Backup Your Files & More
Evernote Free Windows, Mac
Use Evernote to save your ideas, things you see, and things you like. Then find them all on any computer or device you use. For free.
My Review:You ever found an article on the Internet during your research and wanted to refer back to it at a later date only to not be able to find it again? Or the link is broken because the page moved? With Evernote you never have to go through that again. Now you can clip that article (entire web page or just a few words), tag it and it will remain in your personal archives until you delete it. It will also sync with your other computers. So, if you think of that delightful description at work, you can quickly type it into Evernote and it will be on your PC when you get home. How cool is that?
Drop Box Free (2GB) Windows, Mac
It’s like a magic pocket. A single, secure place for all your stuff.
My Review:Back up you files and access them from any computer. Similar to Evernote in that you can sync multiple computers together. Only this is for files on your harddrive. You can easily and quickly sync your files of the fly. Begin a chapter on your laptop while riding the bus and finish it on your computer when you you get home.
iDisk $99/Year with MobileMe membership Mac, Windows
With MobileMe iDisk, it’s easy to store, access, and share files online. You have plenty of storage space — even large files are no problem. Just add the files you need to your iDisk, and whatever you upload will be there for you to download using a web browser on any computer or using the iDisk App for iPhone or iPod touch.
My Review:Similar to Dropbox. Backup your files and access them from any computer. Price tag knocks this one down several notches. Plus it’s not as speedy as Dropbox.
For research junkies like myself.
Xmarks Free IE, Safari, Firefox
Bookmark Sync and Search
My Review:I used to collect a lot of bookmarks to refer back to when researching. But the bookmarks on my PC and laptop never matched until Xmarks. This syncs your bookmarks across the most popular browsers. I still use it when an entire site is worth bookmarking. Xmarks syncs it with all my browsers so it will be there whereever I need it. Othewise I use Evernote to just clip a single page or paragrpah as needed.
Mozilla Weave Free Firefox
Some of the key functionality enabled by the Weave add-on includes: Synchronization engine - securely transports your browsing experience across all your devices Cryptographic engine - provides default client side encryption for all your data Weave server - a secure storage location for all your encrypted data APIs - extension interfaces for 3rd party developers.
My Review:This works like Xmarks. It not only syncs your bookmarks but also syncs your browser history and preferences. It syncs your entire Firefox profile between browsers on different machines —or on the same machine! So no matter what browser you open up it’ll be the browser you left. It does everything in the background. Once I installed it, I forgot it was even there.
FastestFox Free Firefox
Save time by speeding up repetitive tasks. Get faster, parallelized downloads, auto-loading of next page, improved searching, and more. FastestFox will dramatically enhance your productivity!
My Review:I like the “Endless Pages” function on FasterFox. For instance, let’s say you do a search on Google images. When the “Endless Pages” function is turn on in the preferences, FasterFox will preload the next page, allowing you simply scroll down to the next page rather than click the blue arrow! It really speeds up your searching. Another cool feature is the “Popup Bubble”. Whenever you highlight a word, a bubble pops up with the search engine icon of your choosing. Click it and it runs the search in a new tab! No more clicking new tab, typing the URL in the browser and then typing your search term. It supports Google, Wikipedia, and even Twitter just to name a few.
A nice list of more writing software here: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/writing-software/