Friday, April 14, 2006

WriteWay Pro

I have been using WriteWay Pro for a few weeks now. Let me just say, this program rocks. I was a bit skeptical that it would be useful, but it really does make the process of writing a long novel much easier. You can have "notecards" that are readily accessible while you are writing text. You can also do full character sketches (including pictures of your character), and have all that info handy when you need it (no more searching for the character's alma mater that you made up on page 9 -- just record it as you write). The printing functions are outstanding. Just by selecting a couple of radio buttons you can choose how much of the story to print (scene, chapter, act, or the entire book), and it will automatically format in draft or manuscript form (for submission) as you choose. In the Pro version (which I have) you can also print galleys, which puts two facing pages on a single landscape page (it looks roughly like a paperback book opened up). The main feature that I find useful, though, is having the outline of scene titles continuously on the left side of the screen. This allows me to really focus on writing a single, independent scene, yet helps me keep in mind its place in the larger whole. A small thing, maybe, but it turns out to be a major boon to have this all in one place. All the formatting options you would expect are there, but my only complaint is that there doesn't seem to be keyboard shortcuts for underline, bold, etc. Also, the spell checker does not run continuously as Word does; you have to run it from the menu. Still, those are pretty minor complaints compared to everything else. The Pro version also allows you to keep up with "research folders," which can include everything from web pages (which will be displayed in the folder) to pictures to text. This is turning out to be pretty useful as well. I've always kept my notes in text files in a folder for each WIP, but it is nice to call something up without having to leave the WriteWay editor. It's probably not worth the $30 difference in price, but it is a major convenience.

I'm even using WriteWay to write my dissertation for my PhD. It's turning out to be a great way to organize my thoughts and being able to rearrange whole section by just dragging and dropping is a godsend!