CNET Editors' review
yWriter 5 is an unusual but interesting bit of freeware that takes a coder's approach to writing a novel. Simon Haynes, a bestselling novelist and programmer, developed it to help the aspiring author by automating many of the tasks common to fiction writing. It's basically a specialized word processor that breaks down the elements of a writing project into discrete pieces that can be refined individually and then strung together, much the way a coder approaches a large programming job. Chapters, scenes, characters, and plot elements can be defined, developed, edited, and automatically integrated into the project. You can even drag and drop elements such as new or altered characters or locations into the narrative. It won't suggest plot twists or offer creative suggestions, but it does help the writer focus on the creative process by looking after the housekeeping.
The program downloads and installs easily and free of adware and other malicious software (as is all software on Download.com). It also uses local config files, not the Windows Registry, so it's completely portable. The clean, businesslike interface resembles a spreadsheet more than a word processor, but you don't have to write in it--you can create content in your favorite program and use yWriter 5 to keep track of it. A PDF Quickstart Guide illustrated with many screen shots makes it easy to set up your first project. A sample project shows what yWriter 5 can do in the hands of an experienced writer.
Not only does yWriter5 do something no other software does that we're aware of, but it also does it well. It's completely free to download and use.
From Spacejock Software:
yWriter5 is a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes. It will not write your novel for you, suggest plot ideas or perform creative tasks of any kind. It does help you keep track of your work, leaving your mind free to create. It was designed for novels; enterprising users have created their own translation files to customize the program to work with plays, non-fiction and even sermons. The sermon translation is included under the Languages menu as 'Sermon5.
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All versions:4.4 stars
out of 27 votes
Current version:4.0 stars
out of 4 votes
My rating:Write review
Results 1-4 of 4
"Nice Software - SNEAKY ADD-ONS"
Version: yWriter 5 220.127.116.11
It's free, its organized. It's well thought out for fiction novels.
As you install this, Right after the welcome screen, there are THREE pages of add-on nonsense. The first page has TINY little boxes you must uncheck or you get tool bars added to your browser. The next 2 pages, you have to click the [Decline] button which is off to the left and very faded. I find this an unscrupulous practice.
SPACEJOCK: Why not just ask for donations? Ethical people will donate to an effort they appreciate, you don't have to covertly cram your money-making toolbars down our throats.
Overall, I like it. it will serve me better when I write a fiction novel. So far all 4 of my books are non-fiction, so this is not quite the right fit, but maybe I'll find a way to customize it and make good use of it.
Version: yWriter 5 18.104.22.168
Simple, helpful in completing your story from start to end
Packaged with Trojan. Make sure you decline the add-on and use the advance install to avoid the unwanted toolbar install.
"Best of the bunch"
Version: yWriter 5 22.214.171.124
On the whole intuitive, and not too prescriptive.
Some features are to my mind unnecessary but they can be ignored.
Like others, I've tried a number of writing programs from Writer's Cafe to new Novelist - yWriter5, overall, is the best one.
"It helped me to write a novel"
Version: yWriter 5 126.96.36.199
yWriter 5 helped me to keep all the vital information related to my novel in one place. Characters' info (description, bio, notes, etc.), locations, items (like Frodo's ring) - everything in the same writing environment, in the same program. Create scenes, assign them to chapters, instant word count, and your progress tracking.
Bottom line, I don't need anything else.
yWriter does what I need. After all, David Eddings wrote his novels in longhand.
I didn't find any particular cons in yWriter 5. I wish it allows you to keep a list of characters open as the Storybook does, but it is not a big deal for me.
I've checked several programs, including the Writer's Cafe, Scrivener (for Windows), and Storybook 4. The first two are for the writers who write non-linear style and thus did not worked for me. I read good reviews about these programs, but found them not suitable for my purpose. I don't use index card (real or virtual) and I don't really thuse nitty reference features. Those, I think, are mostly for the research papers. The Storybook is free and its interface looks very nice, but you have to pay for the Pro edition if you want to export the files into any format. I also had problems with fonts (too tiny for me, and I couldn't figure out how to change the default)
What I needed was a way to keep a list of names, locations, scenes, something to help me track all those characters (who, where, why).
I used to keep a list of names in one spreadsheet, outline with chapter by chapter in another, list of scenes in a third, images in a separate folder. I tracked my writing time and counted words using my own forms. I've ended up with dozens of files. I had to update this file and that. I've designed a timeline for my novel in Visio. So I used Word, Excel, Visio (and Notepad).
With yWriter you don't need them. Well, the Word will be useful when you start the final editing, but until that the yWriter will keeps everything in one place. Create your scenes and take a look at the storyline - you will be able to see your timeline from different POVs. You can changes the order of scenes by dragging them around. You open a project and can easily get to the characters description to find his/her date of birth or some other details, look at the image of mountain you would like to describe, create or combine scenes into a chapter, export text as HTML or RTF or text.
There is a built-in word counter and the program follows your progress.
After testing several programs, I found the yWriter5 is the best for my needs. (I'm about to finish my 95,000-word fantasy novel!).
My advice: try several programs and look for the features you really need. If you don't know exactly what you need, no program will help you to write. The best approach will be to start writing in WriteMonkey until you encounter some problems (like too many characters, or scenes). Then you can search for a program that helps you to solve those problems. yWriter5 did exactly that for me. I'm sure Steven King doesn't use any programs, but then, again, I'm not him. Good luck.
And, by the way, thanks, Simon Haynes. Great job!