It’s almost inevitable that the old hands will scoff, but novel writing software can be a useful tool if used wisely. Admittedly it won’t write your novel for you, though the Writesparks program promises to generate ideas, but it does allow a writer to concentrate on being purely creative and less of an administrator or manager.
A Management Tool
For the uninitiated, novel writing is not simply about sitting at a keyboard and tapping out reams of joyous prose. It is rather, a lengthy voyage where a storyline has to be developed, together with a timeline for the plot; characters have to be defined, how they look, dress speak and interact; descriptions of time and place have to be accurate and often involve arduous research and tone and pace must be layered onto the narrative to convey the essential emotion of the piece. In the past, all these elements have required notebooks, scraps of paper, files, tape recordings and photographs, all thrown together unmanaged into a filing cabinet. It is this which novel writing software can mange for you, because essentially it is a management tool where the file pertaining to the protagonist can be linked to the file about his wife and his antagonist, Which scenes the wife appears in can be marked down on a timeline and the crucial scenes in the story arc can be highlighted.
The Requirements of Writers
These issues are probably of no interest to the reader, who simply wants a good read, but to those who have worked at the coal-face of creative writing, where a crucial note written on the back of a business card in a down-at-heel bar, six months ago, has gone astray, will appreciate that there is software which intuitively understands the requirements of writers and offers them the tools to augment their faulty memory with a better method.
Story Development Tool
That is not to say that no effort is required. All the elements have to be inserted into the software and this can take time, but it is the perfect opportunity to do some serious thinking about what you actually want to include in your masterpiece. In essence novel writing software is a combination of a word processor and a pre-defined database, though do note that some programs such as Storybook do not contain a word processor. On the other hand Storybook is free. But even other programs such as NewNovelist or Writerscafe aren’t horrendously expensive. Writerscafe uses StoryLines, which they claim is ‘a powerful but simple to use story development tool that dramatically accelerates the creation and structuring of your novel or screenplay’. Many of these programs have a demo version with limited functionality which you can download and test till you find one that suits.
There are probably those who would decry such modern methods and prefer to write on a typewriter, thus avoiding the benefits of Cut, Copy & Paste which even the least of word processors brings, and for them novel writing software would be an absolute waste. For the rest, though such programs are not for everyone, they’re worth looking at.