yWriter5 – Novel composition software

Posted on March 10, 2011


For years, I’ve been trying to write a full-length novel. I’ve written the beginnings of around three, all abandoned before completion. I recently realized that my real problem is disorganization. I don’t spend time plotting and writing outlines, I just dive in, and sometimes make notes here and there.

“No more,” I said, “This time I’m gonna do it right”.

Being a computer geek, the best way I know how to get myself organized is software. So a friend and fellow writer introduced me to yWriter5, a word-processor specially devoted to writing novels (see screen shot).

It goes like this: novels are referred to as “projects”, and within yWriter you can catalog notes and details in a computer assisted manner. The main window has tabs running along the top, with labels like Scenes, Characters, Locations, Items, and so on. Let’s look at the characters tab.

Here you see a list of characters in your story. You can add new characters by clicking [Character/Add New], which brings up a window in which you can fill in info about the character, such as their name, alternate name(s), description, importance, biography, story notes, goals, and even upload a picture of how you envision them (it doesn’t have to be perfect; I just draw stick figures in Paint.NET). Click save to add the character to your cast.

There are similar ways of adding locations and items. And of course, there’s the word processor for writing chapters, divided into scenes. Chapters can be sliced from the story, rearranged, or stuck right in the middle of the story, and it’s the same way for scenes.

There are also special tools for writers, like a storyboarder, text-to-speech reader, and a tool that allows you to program word-count goals for yourself with completion bar and timer. And of course, you can print the book.

This just scratches the surface on yWriter’s features. The only downside is the minimal formatting options, but it allows you to export your book to Word when you’re done so that you can format to your heart’s content.

Overall, yWriter5 is a great program for writers everywhere. It’s allowed me to really get all the details for my new novel together in one place. The easy ability to check the word count has also kept me motivated. I’d recommend anyone who hopes to write a novel to check it out.

This is a typical screen in yWriter, showing me editing chapter one of my novel, Ethan LeStrange & The Enchiria Dramatica

yWriter5 Screenshot

Stay smart, folks.

Posted in: Writing