NaNoWriMo Software

Right now I’m playing around with software. What to use to write with. There are quite a few choices.

  • Google Doc
  • Microsoft Word
  • LibreOffice Write
  • Microsoft Write
  • YWriter
  • Scrivener
  • Bibisco
  • SmartEdit Writer
  • Notepad++
  • Zekaric:Word

I like Google Doc since it is online and connected to my Google drive so I expect it to be very safe and secure. The only issue I have with it is that you NEED to be online to use it. I think if I am going to be successful at NaNoWriMo I may need to disconnect from the net to remove distractions. Also, if the net is involuntarily disconnected from me, then I’ll be SOL. And fall is usually very unpredictable with regards to the weather here that power outages and internet connection may potentially drop. So I would rather have something that will work offline. The last plus side is that anything online will have Grammerly, or at least the free version I am using, active. It is helpful but also potentially annoying in certain situations

I like Microsoft Word. It cannot be beaten with respect to features and usability. The main gripe I have with Word is the native file format. Really, only Word can read that monstrosity of a file format. If anything bad happens to the file, you are SOL.

LibreOffice Write is a Word clone. It has everything I would need for this challenge. It saves to OpenDoc format which is “Open” but honestly no one, in my opinion, supports it really. It is also a binary format similar to Word and that does not really lead to good support for version control software (like GIT.) Not sure if I will be using version control software yet but it is useful in software development, I do not see why it would not be useful here.

Microsft Write is a super simple word processor. Unfortunately, its simplicity may be its downfall. It saves to RTF which is nice since RTF is, for the most part, an ASCII file format and so works really well with version control software. I suppose I can use Word to read and continue to write RTF files but I have just tried that and looked at the results… Ew, what the hell did you do to a very simple RTF file WORD! You Beast! Similarly, I could also use LibreOffice in the same way. LibreOffice still does a lot of nonsense to the RTF but at least it still looks sane and version control friendly. Less of a beast.

YWriter is a piece of software that a programmer wrote himself to aid in writing novels. This is one of many programs that are specifically geared to managing and performing the business of writing a novel project. It saves to RTF files but I have not looked too closely. The software is simple and I can see benefits to using it. I do not have a huge gripe with the tool except that my little use of it felt a little clunky. I know, terrible review. But see further.

Scrivener is the other piece of software that is specifically geared to help in writing a novel. I have just started with this tool so I cannot say too much. It does not cost too much. It is much cheaper than Word or Microsoft Office when I bought that, and currently to buy a Microsoft product you are buying a subscription which I hate. I do not want to rent software, I want to own it! The Scrivener project is a folder on your harddrive and it can be a bit of beast in there but it looks like the files are ASCII based so it should work well with version control software. You probably will not be monkeying with the data files anyway so that is not an issue. The beauty of this software, I believe, is that it has export options which make it easier to deal with publishers, editors, self publishing, etc. I am currently trialing the software but once November comes around, I will have to make a decision if I am going to spend money on it.

Bibisco is another piece of software. It has a limited scope version that is free as well as a paid for version (you choose how much to pay) for all the bells and whistles. It may have certain things that are missing from Scrivener but when I used it I was so annoyed with the interface that I feel you end up hopping around the UI to get to what you want. To me, that will break my concentration and pull me out of a zone. But I felt I was annoyed with the UI even before having to use it seriously. Not a good sign in my opinion.

SmartEdit Writer is a little like Scrivener in design. It is clean and appears that it would work reasonably well. I have not look close enough at it though. I felt Scrivener was more polished and capable. I could be completely off base here.

Notepad++ is an ASCII/UTF editor. Absolutely nothing fancy. The brilliant thing about this program is that it can easily handle huge files. It will take whatever you can throw at it. The only downside I can see is that I can’t seem to find a word counter. There’s probably a plugin for that somewhere but the base program doesn’t show it.

Zekaric:Word is a small command line tool that I wrote recently. It takes wiki/mark down like ASCII/UTF8 text files and converts it to another format. Recently I just added RTF conversion to the program. The beauty is that you work in simple text files and can use a simple text editor like notepad++. The downside is that, in order to get pleasing output, you have to run a program to get that. The pleasing output generation will not have near the same amount of options as you will get with a program like MS:Word or LO:Write. The text files are supremely good for version control, better than RTF files. They will also be very small in comparison. Project management is completely manual.

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