Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Scrivener or... ?

It seems like everyone is talking about how fabulous Scrivener is, including Lisa Dempster, who reckons she'd still be writing the recently released Neon Pilgrim if she'd used Word. Well, maybe not everyone so much as everyone with a Mac. And as I don't have a Mac, it seems I won't ever get to talk about how good it is or isn't. Which, in my case, it isn't if I can't try it out on my PC.

Now, with just days (don't want to remind myself exactly how many) until NaNoWriMo begins and me having done, oh, zero prepaption thus far (if I don't go back as far as May), I'd be keen to trust software reviews of others. Like you. Or else use Word as I'd planned. Well, maybe not planned so much as just not thought otherwise. And from I hear, using Word is insane (which could mean it will suit me perfectly well).

You'd think that as I married a geeky computer nerd (hiya honey), I'd maybe know something about software options without having to resort to google and/or other means (although perhaps this is why I remain clueless when it comes to this kind of thing).

It seems I need help. The recently released Reader from EWF (have you got a copy yet?) includes a review of such software, courtesy of Cameron White. In his review, Scrivener comes out on top, with another Mac-only option in second place. As far as PCs go, he mentions Open Office and yWriter and, while the good news is that they're both free, I'm not convinced that either of them seems like the right option.

Unless you convince me otherwise.

Anyone used either of these, or maybe something else entirely? Please talk me into using something other than Word. And with just days of October left, please convince me soon. Did I say please? Please.


lisa said...

Word is fine for NaNoWriMo - it's not like you need to structure anything, it's just a pure writing mission. Plus you're already familiar with it which should help the process.

Now, if you were going to do serious structural editing, then I would say it's time to get a mac...

Tiggy Johnson said...

Thanks Lisa, nice to know you don't think I'm insane if I use Word. I only just got a new mini laptop a month ago, so it would be kinda silly to get a Mac now.

But, hubby just said I could think about having a Mac operating system installed. Hmmm.

Tony Tulloch said...

As a PC owning writer you do not need to listen to the pro-Mac hype (something Mac owners love to do at every chance). Word is fine. WordPad, or even Notepad will suffice (unless you want to trust your writing to the spell and grammar checkers that come with Word).

Don't get me wrong, Macs are cool and they are the industry preferred option for graphics. However, if you already own a PC then a Mac is an expensive piece of kit that will do nothing more for you, than you can do already. You may not be able to get Scrivener for the PC, but there is a whole lot of software that was not designed to run on Macs (the Mac owners will tell you you can run Windows based software as quickly and efficiently on Macs, but I am not convinced).

Unfortunately people get all possessive about bits of electronic equipment. The same people probably laugh at the Holden vs Ford debates, but the argument is the same for computers. A Commodore will get you to work just like a Falcon. Both PCs and Macs have perfectly good software to do most things you would wish to do as an average consumer (I use PCs for all of my graphic/desktop applications and get by quite nicely).

I have not used Scrivener, but it looks good. It is a very reasonable price, and if you like to write in the way that Scrivener works, then it is probably great value. But (and this is a big buuuut) it is not going to make you a better writer. It may not even save you any time, depending on how you structure your writing workflow.

I personally hate using Word (especially Word 2007) but that is because our document writing demands at work expect desktop publishing qualities from a word processor. For your average writing duties Word (or any other word processor) will do an admirable job. Like the instruments in your Commodore/Falcon, the applications on your Mac/PC will only work properly if you know how to use them.

As for OpenOffice (Writer is the word processor) I love it. It is a fantastic suite that deserves every PC, and every Mac, user to know about it. I would strongly suggest anyone reading this blog tries it ( before buying any productivity software.

As for insanity it is an acquired affliction, caused by too much time around computers (either PCs or Macs).

Good luck and write well.