On Writing Software

Today I found out about two new writing programs. One was for writing poetry, the other was a markdown-based novel writing program. I clicked on the novel one to see what it offered, and of course it has all the “organizational” features that help with things like outlining chapters and such. But what didn't it have? The ability to export as .DOCX. Have you ever hired an editor? Submitted a piece to a magazine? Do you know what format they need the work submitted in? Something that opens in Word.

My process went like this: Write the book in Word and email the file to your editor. She marks it up and puts feedback in comments which are highlighted/noted in the margins. When you employ a fix from a comment it resolves itself and disappears from the list. (Think of these as assigned tickets in a repository.) Then you can go back and forth with the same document employing changes and getting the text ready for the hard part... physical publication. That requires specific settings that have to match whatever PDF formatting your POD service uses. For that you can use whatever typesetting software you wish (LaTeX, InDesign, Acrobat, Scrivener...).

Anyway, lately I've seen an uptick in writing software designed for authors that are more of an organizational tool than anything else. I see these as marketed to the crowd that is more interested in goal tracking, daily wordcounts, two dozen character arcs, and a massive open world setting for one book. For that style of writing you need that level of organization but at the end of the day you still have to sit down and tell a story.