For the second review in my series of novel-writing software excursions, I decided to go ahead and try another moderately-advertised program. After some research*, I chose WriteWay.
(Click any of the pictures to enlarge them)
WriteWay boasts some pretty nifty features, some of them in BRIGHT RED TEXT: formatting for e-readers (something I’ve bemoaned in the past when it isn’t done correctly), the inclusion of front- and back-matter pages, and an easy-to-navigate folder system. The enthusiastic Asian woman on the front page of the website was an added bonus: just clearly ethnic enough to not make me feel targeted, but also easily mistaken for Caucasian to a point where I felt like I could relate to her.**
Like Scrivener, however, WriteWay also has a pretty hefty licensing fee. The “standard edition” comes in at $24, which is just a little over half of what Scrivener costs; a quick look at the features list shows that it pretty much does the same things Scrivener does, too. The more expensive “professional” edition has a price tag of $49, and allows you to do things such as create storyboards, insert pictures into your composition, share folders between projects, and “listen as your computer reads your books out loud”, in case you want to know what it would sound like if Stephen Hawking were to host a seminar about your novel.
Behold, a free trial! It only lasts thirty days, regardless of whether you use it everyday or not, which is a bit disappointing after the generosity of Scrivener’s free trial.
Starting up WriteWay presents with a pretty idiot-proof first step: project creation. Just fill in the fields – awesome! I can do that. Only the first two are required, too, so if I don’t know quite yet what genre I’m going for, I don’t have to worry about it yet. I don’t know what the “book properties” thing is all about, but I seemed to do just fine with ignoring it. After this screen you come to “book properties”, which seems to be one tab of things you’ve already done or should have done on the previous screen, and then multiple tabs of things I ignored and/or didn’t understand. So far, they don’t seem important. Clicking “apply” gets you out of here after you deal with all that, and then there’s Stuff to Explore.
The first thing I wanted to play with was the front matter, because like I mentioned in my review of Scrivener, I love to fill stuff in. It took a minute to figure out how to get it added. Right-clicking on the “front matter” folder and then clicking “update front matter” in the menu brought up this screen (below). Clicking the blank spaces below “status” adds them to your novel. Further investigation, however, showed that these are mainly for the user of exporting to an e-reader format, so that they will show up as navigable headings on, say, a Kindle. The pages they produce in the word processor are entirely blank. After the excitement of templates to fill out and completely, it was like being told Christmas had been cancelled.
Toying with the program proved that the chapter- and scene-creation process is pretty idiot-proof, involving entirely right-clicks and occasional typing. The word processor is nothing special, either, which I guess is a good thing.
Bored already with tooling around in there, I decided to start clicking random buttons. The characters button brought up a whole new window, and gave me the ability to create “character profiles.” I was again given the option of using a template or creating my own (which produced a blank couple of panes to work in). While I found the character profile template a lot less lacking than Scrivener’s, I still wasn’t terribly thrilled by it.
Intrigued by the big red button at the top, I clicked that and after being assaulted by a couple of what were apparently (fairly stupid and useless) error messages, I was prompted to set up a writing schedule and projected word count. Cool.
A daily word-tracking log and a chart showing progress are nothing to write home about, although I thought that the ability to set “work days” was pretty nifty. You have the ability to exclude or include Saturdays and Sundays, and clicking on specific days can remove or add them to your work schedule, so that the program doesn’t keep telling you you’re a failure for going on a magical Valentine’s Day date instead of getting your 322,579 words written. This program understands that sometimes, you just Need a Day Off. The big red button I clicked is apparently a circle graph, which shows you your progress as you write and/or save. I didn’t test it much.
A research folder pane allows you to sort through and organize research materials into folders. An in-pane browser allows you to add webpages directly to the folder, the “add file” button allows the addition of pictures and other stuff (I guess), and “add page” allows you to just type up notes. Not too shabby.
After a little while of poking around in the program***, I shut it down and left it alone for the better part of a week. While it had some cool features, it once again didn’t strike me as essential to my writing process, and the things it could do that Microsoft Word couldn’t weren’t fantastic or crucial enough that I wanted to take the time to deal with them, and the inability to try the e-reader formatting features in the free trial made me not want to promote them as a plus, especially when I know quite a bit of freeware that, despite some extra time on your part, can do the same job for you just as well.
I can see WriteWay working out for some people, yeah. If it was freeware, or even more reasonably priced, I might recommend it – but $5 would be the max on this guy. It’s not worth $23, let along $49. Do yourself a favor – drag out some notecards, some construction paper, and some magic markers instead, and if you really, really want to hear the computer read your book out loud, go to Stephen Hawking’s party.
* Read: closing my eyes and pointing at a random title on a list.
** This is where you laugh, because I am clearly making a joke about advertising. I really don’t care what the woman’s ethnicity is.
*** WITHOUT A TUTORIAL, I MIGHT ADD.
Posted on January 10, 2012, in Writing and tagged Kindle, novel writing programs, novel writing software, review, scrivener, Stephen Hawking, Word processor, WriteWay. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.