What is yWriter?
yWriter is a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes, helping you keep track of your work while leaving your mind free to create. It will not write your novel for you, suggest plot ideas or perform creative tasks of any kind. yWriter was designed by an author, not a salesman!
yWriter5 is free to download and use, but you’re encouraged to register your copy if you find it useful.
If you’re just embarking on your first novel a program like yWriter may seem like overkill. I mean, all you have to do is type everything into a word processor! Sure, but wait until you hit 20,000 words, with missing scenes and chapters, notes all over your desk, characters and locations and plot points you’ve just added and which need to be referenced earlier … it becomes a real struggle. Now imagine that same novel at 40,000 or 80,000 words! No wonder most first-time writers give up.
(Although yWriter was designed for novels, enterprising users have created their own translation files to customise the program to work with plays, non-fiction and even sermons.)
What’s so special about yWriter?
I [Simon Haynes, the program author] really struggled with my first novel because I wrote slabs of text into a big word processor file and I just couldn’t make sense of the whole thing at once. No real overview, no easy jumping from scene to scene, nothing.
Next I tried saving each chapter to an individual file, with descriptive filenames, but moving scenes between files was a nuisance and I still couldn’t get an overview of the whole thing (or easily search for one word amongst 32 files)
My last attempt to use Word involved saving every scene as an individual file - e.g. Chapter 01 Scene 01 - Hal Spacejock Gets a Job.doc. That was fantastic until I decided to move one scene three chapters ahead, and had to manually rename all the files. Then I decided to put it back again! I could never remember which of the 200+ files contained a note I was looking for either.
As a programmer I’m used to dealing with projects broken into source files and modules, and I never lose track of my code. I decided to apply the same working method to my novels … and yWriter was the result.
I realize Word, OpenOffice and other modern word processors have outlining features, but they don’t have snapshot backups to sequential files like yWriter does. Roll back scenes to where they were half an hour ago, or re-read a version from four months ago - yWriter stores them all, automatically.
^—all the above is c/p’ed from the main website.
I just really wanted to share this with others who might be in need of a really, super useful and FREE writing program to help them keep track of their longer works of fiction. While I love using programs like google Docs, and do still use it for my roughs, Y!writer is really helpful to the editing process in being able to easily drag and drop scenes around wherever you want them, or navigate quickly through huge backlogs of material.
It also allows you to create tags that let you know what characters are in each scenes, where important items turn up, what locations you’re at—and will even run reports to see how many instances you’re using of particular words. Best of all, you can easily export the entire project into a word doc, pdf, or (in beta, i think) ebook.
If you haven’t checked this out, it may be worth a shot.