Fiction writers' suite

Write novels, screenplays, and more with help from this selection of writing tools and tips.

Writer's Cafe from Anthemion Software is designed to help writers of fiction organize their thoughts and their projects. It provides a journal, notebook, research tools, exercises, tips, and more. Designed in cooperation with novelist Harriet Smart, Writer's Cafe is suitable for professional and aspiring novelists alike. It's optimized for novels and screenplays but suitable for a wide range of writings. Writer's Cafe is free to try, but some features aren't available in the trial version. However, it's enough to give you a feel for whether it's right for you.

Writer's Cafe opens with an optional tip that we found not only more extensive but also more useful than typical tool tips. A tabbed navigation panel called the Organiser, an icon-based toolbar, and a desktoplike main view give Writer's Cafe the feel of a typical Windows app rather than a complex word processor. With labels such as Journal, StoryLines, and Names, the program's various functions are easy to find and open. A built-in reference library is also a click away, though some reference extras, such as the included PDF copy of Smart's "Fiction: The Facts," require registration to access. With a Getting Started Guide, manual, tips, and other support, Writer's Cafe offers plenty of help getting started, but we just clicked the program's Start button. To make a long story short, Writer's Cafe is based around StoryLines, the key tool for structuring your fiction writing projects. This tool not only has the aforementioned word processing capabilities but also fiction-specific features divided into two sections, a composition and an editing section bearing labels such as Outline, Notes, Story, and Characters in the former, and Summary, Content, and Annotations in the latter. Writer's Cafe has plenty of interesting extras, too, such as the built-in timer and a virtual version of magnetic refrigerator door poetry. Since the menu toolbar offers quick access to each tool in the entire Writer's Cafe suite, we never got lost.

We like the approach Writer's Cafe takes to writing fiction as much as its methods. Writer's Cafe is like your favorite spot in a new neighborhood that has lots of interesting things to see and do, once you get your bearings.

Editors' note: This is a review of the full version of Writer's Cafe 2.30. The trial version is restricted to 20 cards and 20 scraps, and does not display the "Fiction: The Facts" e-book.

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