Bigger Toolkit

In reading back over “previous”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2006/07/07/enhancing-that-toolkit/ entries on my “writing toolkit”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2006/07/07/writing-toolkit/, I noticed that I’ve picked up one of the tools I wanted – the 1GB flash drive. And it _has_ proven invaluable already in allowing me to transport story files from computer to computer. The limitation I have now is that most of these files are specific software packages that, unfortunately, are not portable. So, the other major tool I wanted, the laptop computer, will be in my hands in a few weeks, thanks to a friend who is getting rid of his old one.

I have since discovered several new open source software packages that have the potential to make my writing life so much easier.

  • RoughDraft is a little gem that is perfect for working on those short stories. The editing window allows for tabbed documents, so you can have several files open at the same time and never have to switch windows. The sidebar allows you to keep notes, browse through your files, and track changes. There is also a built-in dictionary and thesaurus and word count utility.
  • yWriter is a free storywriting software package that I finally got a chance to use last night. From what I’ve seen so far, this is exactly the kind of novel-writing software I’ve been looking for. It organizes your novel in such a way that it is incredibly easy to work on multiple chapters at the same time, move scenes around as needed, and track your character profile sheets. Chapters can be broken down into individual scenes, making it very easy to move them around if you find that the order needs to be changed. There is a bit of learning curve, but once you figure out how things work, you’ll discover that it makes writing longer stories a very efficient process.
  • Treeline is what I’m starting to use to catalogue and organize all of my story ideas. If you’re like me, you have more ideas than you can keep track of, so it’s nice to have a way to organize them. Like yWriter, there’s a learning curve to this, especially in figuring out how to define nodes. Once done, though, you’ll find that it’s amazingly simple to build a hierarchical tree of information that is very easy to scan through. I’ve broken my primary tree up into story ideas for flash fiction, short stories, and novels. I’ve also added a section for interesting words and names that could find a place in various stories. Nodes are easy to move around from section to section, making it a versatile way to organize your data.

These are more of the tools I’m using right now. All my files are saved to my flash drive, so that once I get my laptop, I’ll be able to work on either of my computers that have the base software installed. And if someone who’s a bit more geeky than me wants to take any of these applications and make them portable, do let me know. I’d love to see them become even more powerful and versatile than they are now.

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