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What's your weapon of choice?
Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 1:25 AM
Joined: 3/10/2011
Posts: 7

So what are your favorite programs?  What do you write in?  What have you tried that you didn't like?

I use Word to write and OneNote to organize my research and notes and novel notebook.

I've tried and didn't really like yWriter and Scrivener.

The other thing I use a lot is Dropbox, which is an internet folder that I can synch to other computers, even share with other people who have dropbox.

So what do you use or suggest?

Michael R Underwood
Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 4:36 PM
Joined: 3/3/2011
Posts: 74

I've traditionally used Microsoft Word, but I've been trying out the Beta for the Windows Scrivener and I'm really enjoying it so far. I'll likely buy it when it goes gold, but might only use it for novels, since the file management isn't as necessary for short stories.

I must also give my love to Dropbox. If people want to try it out, let us know here so we can give your referrals -- they'll let us get more storage space for bringing in new users.
Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 10:45 PM
Joined: 3/10/2011
Posts: 5

I do love Scrivener, but I agree with Michael that it's not conducive to everyday writing that isn't in novel-form.

OneNote is fabulous--I have a Tablet PC and I love using it to jot down notes when I want to actually write. Also, there's an iPhone version--last I checked it was free and synced to your Microsoft SkyDrive (using a Microsoft Live account).

I use Liquid Story Binder XE--even after hoping and praying Scrivener would come to Windows. LSBXE can seem a bit complex at first, but it's a matter of understanding what the different files can do--and if you're using it as your writing notebook as I tend to, you only need to know a few. Plus it keeps everything in RTF format--no coverting, etc.
Posted: Sunday, March 13, 2011 10:08 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 8

I use a few different programs, but lately, FocusWriter has been working really well for me. It tries to eliminate distractions by making your text the only thing on the screen. It also has custom themes. For the sake of my eyes, I use a black background with white text. It's free and works well. Just google it

I've also used Google Docs on occasion. Cloud work always makes me a bit nervous, but it works well.

I will also add that Dropbox is pretty much necessary for writers.
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011 6:33 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 245

I use Apple's Pages. (I'm a Mac girl, what can I say?)

As for organizing things, project binders. (I've written about them on my blog.) I'm old-fashioned for being so young. I use pen and paper to build my worlds. Everything is organized on paper. I used to write longhand, but I've gone away from that. I can get more words in fewer minutes if I write on the computer over longhand.

Yes, I'm a dinosaur. This is the extent of the technology I use. (Remarkable as I'm not of the technophobic generation. Didn't even know that was a word, but spell check isn't marking it. Huh.)
Alexander Hollins
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011 9:23 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 416

lately most of my writing has been for a couple of serial novels that I'm publishing online. I tend to just use the web browser in the compose window of wordpress. (In firefox, yay spell check)
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 3:04 PM
Joined: 2/28/2011
Posts: 18

I'm so glad that someone else started this. For the first draft of my current WIP, I wrote in a distraction-free writer (PyRoom) and then compiled everything into OpenOffice documents.

As I'm working through the edits right now, I'm in the process of converting my entire first draft over to Scrivener (which someone in the community was nice enough to create a Debian Linux version). I must say, it's damn amazing.
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 9:04 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 51

I bounce all over the place with what I write with. At the moment, it's mostly been Bean (Mac-specific word processor) and Google Docs. I also use Scrivener, especially if I need to do a lot of planning or organizing.

I'm just starting to play around with using WordPress as a catch-all for my writing, since I can access it from anywhere, and I already have the WP app on my phone and my Nook Color. I set up a private blog on and plan to set up categories for each WIP, and then use tags to keep research and notes organized, as well as organizing chapters. We'll see how that works out...
Danielle Poiesz
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:00 PM
I'm not gonna lie...I've never really used anything besides a regular old word processor to write. I use Google docs when doing co-written round robins, and use Movie Magic Screenwriter when working on screenplays. But for novels, I've always just stuck to the standard.

It sounds like there are some great programs out there though! OneNote in particular I have heard a lot about and perhaps that would help me a great deal with my writer's block! I might just have to check it out

Thanks for the great discussion and tips everyone!
Elaine Golden
Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011 2:02 AM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 10

I'm a big Scrivener fan (which is now available for both Mac and Windows), though I use Word for final formatting before I send to my editor. I'm also a huge user of Dropbox --nothing like saving my file and knowing it's a) automatically synched with a server so I always have a backup copy and b) I can access that backed up file from my smart phone or any computer.
Danielle Bowers
Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011 2:45 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 280

I use Word for the most part. I do have WritewayPro which is a lot like Scrivener and it's great for organizing character sheets, research and organizing scenes within chapters. The spell check feature really sucks so I was switching back and forth from WWP to Word. That was a bigger pain than it needed to be so now I keep my research, character spreadsheets and book bibles on WWP and do the actual writing with Word.

I just bought a laptop that is only used for writing because of the pain in the butt factor with having several versions of one book on multiple machines. I hated trying to sync everything so I'm excited to give Dropbox a shot.
KD Sarge
Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011 11:44 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 16

Dropbox is marvelous.

Whenever I get a new computer, I put OpenOffice on it, then I delete whatever carp word processor the company tried to foist off on me. Love OO madly.

I like to use a wiki for keeping track of worldbuilding. I had been using PBWorks wikifarm, but now I'm making a wiki on my website because I can.
MB Mulhall
Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 9:07 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 81

I use MS Word for the most part because I love to see the pages pile up. I did try Scrivener and I enjoy that too. I love that I can put all my research stuff right there and that I can easily move chapters if need be.

To back up I tend to load things into Google Docs but I have a drop box. I should use it.
Posted: Saturday, April 2, 2011 1:51 AM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 3

I don't really know what I would do without Scrivener and Dropbox. I wrote my first novel with the Windows Beta version of Scrivener and have fallen madly in love with it. It helps keep me organized and all my information in one place. Dropbox gives me the ability to sleep at night knowing there is a backup copy of my writing tucked away safely where I can always access it.

As for everyday writing, I find myself turning to Google Documents and Open Office on a regular basis.
Posted: Saturday, April 2, 2011 3:59 AM
Joined: 3/31/2011
Posts: 3

I mainly use Liquid Story Binder, as well. I've downloaded the Windows beta version of Scrivener and while I really like the concept (LSB without the huge learning curve), I keep forgetting to actually use it. I think I'm dragging my feet because I hate having stories in fifteen different places.

I recently got Dropbox and I have to say that it is very handy! I've really resisted storing things in the cloud, because I just don't like the idea of it being out there (this is for anything, not just my writing), conceivably accessible to anyone smart enough to hack into the system. But I do admit that I like the concept of Dropbox.

My big issue is with both portability and keeping things accessible. For years, I've kept my writing on a flash drive, backing it up every few weeks in zip files on both my laptop harddrive and our server at home. The flash drive is handy because I can use it on any computer. I have my LSB installed onto the flash drive, so the program is there with no issues. To access Dropbox, I have to have internet. And not everyplace has a wifi point (or a free wifi point), so I am still a bit reticent to actually move everything over there and use it as my main writing "folder" so to speak.

Those of you who use both a writing program and Dropbox, how do you actually organize it? Do you set your program to save into the local Dropbox folder automatically? Or do you drag and drop after updating the file? Or some other system? I'm interested to know
Posted: Monday, April 4, 2011 2:25 AM
Joined: 3/17/2011
Posts: 3

I use Scrivener on the Mac, but I do check on final formatting in Word 2011.

As far as backing up, I have a bunch of different backup processes, including Dropbox. But it's the easiest way to transfer items between systems.
Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 1:37 AM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 21

I tend to start everything by hand and I write with a fountain pen. Once the story is rolling along, I can often keep going with a computer, but if I hit a block I go right back to my fountain pens.

On the other hand, I am a sucker for writing software, and I've tried just about everything out there. I don't find any of them particularly useful. I am a pantser, so things that ask me to outline just don't work for me. My first mystery, I didn't even know who the killer was until I was 2/3 of the way through writing the manuscript!

I'm a Mac geek, but since everyone likes submissions formatted in Word, that's what I use.
Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 10:02 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 9

I keep killing USB flash drives, so I've finally signed up for Dropbox. I haven't actually used it yet, steps? I probably still have early drafts of unreadable prose on 3.25" floppy disks somewhere. (Yikes!)

I have a thing for pen and paper and I'll switch between fountain and multipens (Pilot Coletos, if you must know) and certain kinds of paper make me happy. I'm considering an iPad, though for the portability since I hate typing up the hand-written and I'm perpetually paranoid I'll spill wine on the pages and lose it all (though I suppose the same argument could hold true for a Mac).

I usually use Word, though I've tried OpenOffice and Works. I don't know how I do it, but I always seem to have a copy of Word handy, so it's the easiest and since I've been using it since the mid-90s, I know it well. I tried Scrivener because everyone thought it was awesome on a stick. Hated it. I just wanted to type stuff and it wanted all sorts of special files and the Windows beta kept crashing and losing my files.

Jessie Kwak
Posted: Friday, April 8, 2011 3:30 PM
Joined: 3/29/2011
Posts: 27

Thanks for the suggestion for Dropbox--I'm terrible at remembering to back up my files, and this seems like a brilliant idea.

I'm in love with Scrivener. When I first started using it, I imported a novel I'd already written into it for revising. It was a clunky process, and I didn't see how it added much to the experience besides providing me with easy bookmarks (definitely useful). But I've written my current novel in Scrivener 2.0 from the beginning, and I've found it to be unbelievably helpful.

The most useful feature for me is the ability to make notes and comment on the text as I write. I don't have to break my thoughts--I just type myself a note in the sidebar, or highlight a phrase to add a comment. It's made me a thousand times more organized (1000 x not very organized is, well, still lacking).

Glad to hear it's made for PC and Linux now--back in the day it was pretty much the clincher when my husband was trying to get me to switch to Mac. Of course, I've never looked back....

Marshall R Maresca
Posted: Saturday, April 9, 2011 5:01 AM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 56

I've mostly been using MS Word, but since I just started a new project, I decided to give Scrivener a try. So far, I'm finding it interesting and useful.
Posted: Saturday, April 9, 2011 5:54 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 1

Venessa, you don't actually have to be on the internet. Dropbox stores stuff locally and then syncs back up with the server when you connect back to the internet.

Obviously, I'm a huge fan of Dropbox. I also use JungleDisk which backs up the majority of my computers nightly. I use Dropbox to sync my writing and OneNotes between my laptop and my netbook.

I love OneNote. I use it for organizing my books, blog topic ideas, research and promotion.

I use Word to write my books.

I also love, love, love WriteorDie. I bought the desktop edition and it's the best $10 I've ever spent. I can write 1,000 words in an hour.

I occasionally use ywriter, but not as much as I used to.

And for screenplays I use celtyx.

I use Excel to keep track of what books I'm writing and deadlines. I also use the charts to track my progress; love seeing those little bars get bigger.

For all of my websites I use Wordpress. And for all of my design work, I'm an Adobe gal now, with a hint of Corel and Inkscape.
Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 10:11 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 3

i started with pen and paper then moved to MS word. i had a really hard time of keeping track of my writings. i would end up with five or six copies of a single piece, mostly because i was constantly emailing them to my self. so i moved to Google docs, and i love it. i can access my files from anywhere including my android. Google docs also auto saves which is great for when the boss comes by and i need to close my browser. after that i started keeping copies on my external hard drive and in drop box.
Stacy Jones
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 2:06 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 6

Another Scrivener/Mac girl here!

I have tried out various note taking apps, and so far I'm liking Evernote because I can sync my notes between my laptop, phone and iPad and can have all of my notes when I need them, where I need them.. I also have an app called Index Card for iPad that syncs to my dropbox account. This app does allow you to import your index cards into Scrivener.. but the import isn't as seamless as I would like. Instead of importing it into your corkboard, it creates a separate binder for your index card sync.

I need uber organization so I can stay focused and keep writing.
Christie Renzetti
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2011 7:09 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 7

Up until now, I've been a pen and paper/Word girl.

I'm giving Scrivener (that's one of those awkward words when seen in print, isn't it?) a try. I'm not sure how I feel about it just yet, as I'm working out how to use it as I go (heaven forbid I actually read the destructions or anything easy like that) and it isn't entirely intuitive.

I am liking the notes function in it, though. It keeps me from having post-its everywhere and losing them to the cats...

We'll see how it works out with my current project. I may go back to just using Word and index cards

**Edit: I've done a little digging since writing this and discovered VIDEO! Yay! I doubt anyone else needs it, but if any of you are as afflicted with stubborness as I am, here's the address
Steve Yudewitz
Posted: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 1:39 AM
Joined: 4/28/2011
Posts: 24

I currently use Libre-Office (the non-Oracle version of open office) for word processing and Athemion Writer's Cafe for plotting and keeping notes on my characters. I also write chapters out long hand and will plot chapters on scrap paper.

Writer's cafe has a nice cork board and index card type interface. It allows you to add pictures to help you visualize locations, characters, and interactions. I found it to be an improvement over my stacks of index cards.
Posted: Saturday, May 7, 2011 6:40 PM
Joined: 5/4/2011
Posts: 20

I really enjoy using Final Draft to read my work aloud during the editing process. By hearing your own work read back to you, errors and other misspellings become obvious. Plus, the voice I use is that of a cool English woman.
Jason Myers
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 7:42 PM
Joined: 3/3/2011
Posts: 21

I once offered to beta read for someone.

They sent me their MS.

It was in notepad.

Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 11:33 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 7

@Jason Myers - Notepad?? Yikes! :0

I'm trapped in a dual word--Mac at home, PC at school, so I'm forced to use Word for some things. And I do mean "forced." I've never really cared for the program, and I could hate it just for foisting TNR on an unsuspecting world as a default font.

For writing, I LOVE Scrivener. Being able to drag and drop research into a story binder is a Godsend. I also use Evernote for notetaking on the fly, especially for photo and voice notes. I bought the Egretlist app to use the checkbox feature in Evernote to plan what's next for the writing. Interestingly enough, though, when it's time to edit, I prefer a bright-colored pen and a hard copy.
Posted: Friday, May 27, 2011 5:28 PM
Joined: 5/26/2011
Posts: 1

I'm totally sold on Scrivener. And for screenplays: Final Draft. Mac versions both.
Posted: Saturday, May 28, 2011 4:31 PM
Joined: 3/4/2011
Posts: 11

As I'm mostly on the train when I write, and I installed Ubuntu on my laptop, I'm using Libre Office. I haven't shelled out for Scrivener yet but the betas on the Windows & Linux platforms helped me get Citizen well-organized and helped the last round of revisions.
Posted: Saturday, May 28, 2011 5:38 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

Writers Cafe Storylines to get things plotted and all the scenes in order because I tend to write out-of-order. Eventually I move over to MS Word for editing and such when I ready for one long single manuscript. I bought Storylines so I could skip the horrid step of trying to keep a novel organized as different chapters. That just wasn't an effective use of time.

I've played with Scrivener for PC but haven't manage to move to working in it yet. I have Liquid Story Binder but find it more tricky to learn that its worth. But a couple of my geekier friends love it.
Tara Kollas
Posted: Saturday, June 4, 2011 11:15 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 19

My first MS I wrote in Pages. My husband uses a PC, so I've exported the file in Word, then saved it on the other computer. I only have about 8000 words in for my WIP, so I might give Scrivener a try when I get back to it.
Kenley Tan
Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2011 10:10 AM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 27

I used OmmWriter before, but I prefer using iAWriter now. I also recommend using Evernote to make sure you don't lose your files and jot down your ideas.
Amanda Kimberley
Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2015 8:17 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 69

I use Word to write daily and for my final draft that "goes to print". I like Scrivener and yWriter when I'm revising. Sometimes I want to organize my chapters that I have written because I may want to put them in a different sequence and these programs are great for that. I like Excel to organize and keep track of recurring characters in a series. And I back everything up on Cloud. The only program I've used so far that I really didn't care for was Grammarly. I found that I had to break my manuscript up into very small sections in order for the program to work. And when I say small-- I mean a paragraph or two. That was just too time consuming for me to play with and not worth the monthly fee. I didn't want to work hard at something that was supposed to make it easier-- ya know?
Lynn Stevens
Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 10:18 PM
Joined: 3/1/2015
Posts: 5

I jump back and forth between Scrivner and Word. Depends on my mood. happy
Posted: Sunday, March 22, 2015 1:55 AM
Joined: 4/24/2014
Posts: 29

I use Word for Mac.  I've purchased Scrivener, but haven't used it yet.  I think I'll use it when I start working on my next MS. I'm too far down the pike with the current one.


Here are a couple of tools that I really like:


Evernote.  It is a note-taking tool that syncs across platforms.  I have it on my Mac, iPhone and iPad (there is also a PC version).  What I do is write a note in the Evernote app on my phone when I see something (or someone!) interesting while I am out and about.  Then, when I get home that little tidbit is waiting for me on my laptop - magic!  Or...drag a URL for a book from your laptop into Evernote, and you can reference it on your phone when you are the bookshop. (Also good for saving all sorts of things like emails that you want handy -- have a recipe a friend sent you?  Email it to Evernote, and now you have the recipe on your phone when you go the grocery store for ingredients.)


PDF with commenting.  My current set of beta-readers that I have outside of Book Country received my MS as a PDF file that they could read on their tablet or laptop.  I wrote a quick 1 page tutorial on how to use PDF commenting, so that the readers could put their feedback right into the file.  Basically, readers can highlight text and leave sticky notes.  Some used it, some preferred to give me more macro-level feedback. Worked great!


One last thing about our beloved Dropbox.  I assume that most people store their docs in Dropbox, and just share links, as opposed to share folders.  If you do share folders please understand this:  When you share a folder with someone, they are able to move and delete files in that folder.  I had a client once with whom I shared a folder, and once he was done with the files, he deleted everything in the folder.  Because, as he said, "I figured they were for me and once I'd copied them onto my computer, you didn't need them anymore."  Everything I had worked on for months - gone! Ack!  Fortunately, I had backups, and the client was also able to put the files back.  Dropbox has a restore feature, which seems like a failsafe, but I have seen it be a little flakey with what it considers the most recent version vs. the last deleted version.  Bottom line:  Make backups, and make backups of your backups, and share only links in Dropbox unless you have an understanding with the person you are sharing with about what they can do to the files within a folder.



Janet Umenta, Book Country Assistant
Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 3:30 PM
Joined: 4/7/2014
Posts: 142

@JanPeac: I really like using Evernote! It's especially helpful when you're writing in the subway. Thanks for the great advice.