Dramaquill's All Things Writing

May 19, 2009

Writing Software Programs – do you need one?

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Most aspiring writers put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) whenever they can schedule in writing time around their full-time jobs.  Finding time to write can be a daunting task and most writers would encourage any time saving tips and devices.

Common sense tips:

1.   During your writing time, don’t check email or surf the net
2.   Turn off all chat software so you aren’t interrupted
3.   Just get the words down (don’t edit or revise until later)
4.   Have a dictionary & thesaurus handy
5.   Don’t answer the phone – let the machine take messages

But is there more the writer can do to maximize the output of a single writing session?

Some writers swear by software programs. 

But what makes a good writing software? 

1.   Personally, I think “ease of use” and being able to learn the program
       quickly are most important.
2.   Cost of the program versus your budget
3.   Does the program actually help you save time
4.   Is there online help for troubleshooting
5.   Can you basically do the same tasks by using Word

Below are the names of some of the more popular, highly rated writing programs.  Do the research and decide for yourself…DO YOU NEED A WRITING SOFTWARE PROGRAM?

Dramatica Pro http://www.dramatica.com/

Power Writer http://www.write-brain.com/power_writer_main.htm

Story View http://www.amazon.com/Write-Brothers-StoryView-2-0/dp/B00007K3A7

Writer’s Blocks http://www.writersblocks.com/

New Novelist http://www.newnovelist.com/

Character Pro http://www.characterpro.com/characterpro/index.html

Final Draft http://www.finaldraft.com/

Many writing programs offer free demos of their actual programs so that you can try them out before you buy.  Here’s one link that offers several choices:   http://storymind.com/store/info/downloads.htm

My Personal Choice:

I have tried a couple of writing programs over the years but remain most comfortable using Microsoft Word.  I think it’s because I’m so much more familiar with this word processing software that I continue to use it as my first preference.  I’m also still somewhat of an old fashioned writer in that I enjoy using pen and paper when I’m thrashing out ideas.  I get inspired by a wall full of sticky notes and I love to draw plot points and timelines by hand.


May 5, 2009

Critique groups-online or face to face


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Are you a writer?  Whether an aspiring newbee or a seasoned professional, I firmly believe that belonging to a critique group (at least for certain projects), is invaluable.

Where else can you find a group of likeminded individuals, all striving toward the same types of goals, with knowledge and expertise in a wide variety of different areas?

Currently, I belong to two online critique groups.  One is a group that writes everything in rhyme, called “Rhyming Critters 2”.  The group got together years ago on MSN and has become an independant group of ten.  Yes members come and go, but a consistent group has remained.  Most of the members are published and many did not pursue this avenue until they had actively participated in the group. 

My second critique group, “The Blue Quills”, formed on the old BOOST for writers site.  Eventually, the six of us moved to a private group and the same six members have been together since that time.  This group focuses on novels (MG/YA/adult) and non-fiction.  We do, from time to time, also focus on PBs or articles in the kidlit markets as well as playwriting.  One of our members secured a book deal for her MG novel, set to come out in 2009.  Many others have published in recognized children’s magazines and the SCBWI bulletin.  All of us are very actively writing, submitting and publishing.

I have made amazing friends in both of my online critique groups, but I do sometimes feel that being able to get together in person would offer other experiences that I can’t get online, like reading my work aloud and engaging in discussions (although the latter can be achieved through emails quite sufficiently).

My biggest problem, until now, has been that the local writing group meets at a time that I cannot attend, due to my work. 

But an exciting proposition has come my way, through the website, Kijiji.com.  It seems that a new, local writer’s group is about to form, with its first meeting scheduled for the last Sunday of May.  And as luck would have it, Sundays are a great day for me to indulge in such an activity.

How many of you are involved in critique groups? 

Do you prefer “face to face” encounters with local writers or do you find “online” groups your preference?

I’ll keep you posted on my experiences.

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