Choosing the best writing software for your needs doesn’t mean that software is always going to work for you or the particular novel you’re writing. For that reason, don’t be afraid to change software mid-novel or even mid-draft. The minute you realize your novel writing software is the reason you’re not making progress, switch to a different one. I have four pieces of software that I switch between, including Novelize, LibreOffice, Google Docs and Bibisco.
Novelize – The Beginning
When it comes to starting a novel, Novelize is where it’s at. It’s most powerful feature is probably the Notebook feature. This is where all your characters go, scene notes, beginning, middle and ending summaries and timeline/events. The Notebook is also portable. If you’re writing a series, you can attach that notebook to every book in your series, which means you never lose any notes or characters. It’s second biggest feature is it’s cross-platform functionality. It can be used on a desktop, laptop, tablet and cell phone, which means as long as you’re using Novelize, you can write your novel anywhere. This is great for writing first drafts and even more than the first draft if you happen to write novels under 100,000 words. Once you start approaching 100,000 words, however, it’s going to lag, which means it’s time to download/export and switch to another piece of software.
Google Docs – The Power Went Out
If I’m switching to Google Docs, there’s a good chance I already blew up Novelize and went to LibreOffice. LibreOffice is not cross-platform, which means I’m stuck in my office for the duration of the novel. For AVIA IV, which is what I’m currently working on, Novelize crapped-out at 95,000 words. Google Docs has the same problem. It craps-out right at 100,000 words. However, if I’ve already switch to LibreOffice and the power goes out, I need to go to Google Docs. You know – the power always goes out when you’re in the middle of a great scene, and I’d rather deal with lag than not be able to get anything done.
Now, my computer is connected to a battery backup. This gives me about 30 minutes of backup power if I keep my computer running. If I turn it off, my modem will run for at least an hour. In this situation, I upload my LibreOffice document to Google Drive and switch to my tablet, laptop or cell phone. This has the added benefit of providing me with a backup, which I actually needed the other day because I was looking for a bathtub scene I deleted in the working draft. It was in the power-outage Google draft.
Now, you might be wondering why I didn’t just upload the current draft back into Novelize. After all, it’s cross-platform and hosted on a server. There is no upload feature in Novelize. You can only download. In fact, I can’t recall if I’ve ever seen an upload feature in any piece of writing software.
Bibisco – Things Just Got Complicated
Bibisco is another piece of writing software that’s not very cross-platform. Yes, it has a function to save to an external spot, like Google Drive, but when I went to do it, you have to have that directory on your computer. Maybe that’s possible for a Windows machine, but I have yet to find a way to do it with a Linux machine. This means that, like LibreOffice, once I have to go to Bibisco, I’m stuck in my office for the duration. (Except, I may have just found a way to save remotely with LibreOffice. That is for another post.)
With all that being said, it’s time to switch to Bibisco when things get complicated. For AVIA IV, I couldn’t keep track of the plot threads and events. Bibisco has an Architecture feature, which allows you to input Narrative Strands, AKA: Plot Threads. Did Benton call? Am I properly tracking the development of their ice cream shop (front building for drug trafficking)? Am I accurately moving through Benton’s new criminal charges? How many sex scenes do I have? Was that thing that Brian said he was gonna do done? When I’m working in LibreOffice or Novelize, I just don’t know. I’m relying completely on my memory, and when I get to 50 or 100 plot threads, forget it. I just can’t remember. Nevermind that this is book 4, and I’ve also got things I need to carry through from books 1-3.
The other thing I needed from Bibisco was its ability to side-by-side compare chapters. It has a Project Explorer feature that allows me to check chapters, narrative strands and other aspects of the book while I’m still working in a particular scene. This particular problem manifests itself when I realize I’m continuously looking at sections of chapter 1 when I’m writing/editing/drafting chapter 4. Then, I lose my place in chapter 4 because I had to scroll up to chapter 1. This is wasted time. Hence, it’s time to switch to a better piece of novel writing software.
LibreOffice – Time to Format and Finish
No matter which piece of software I choose, whether it’s one or more than one, the final formatting and editing steps always occur in LibreOffice. This is because I can get my page dimensions correct, the font size and type correct and make other small changes in order to create the best possible version of the book so that I can upload it to Amazon KDP, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.
The bottom line is that you should not be afraid to change your software if the software you are using is no longer working for you. I have yet to find a piece of writing software that meets every single one of my needs from start to finish.
Read More on Drafting Your Novel
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- How to Write the Fifth and Final Draft of a Novel ...
- How Many Drafts Should You Put on a Fiction Novel? ...
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