Over the years, I've encountered and actually used quite a few programs that might aid your writing efforts. What follows is a list of some of these products with my comments. If you're interested in one of these products, just click on the name of the program and you'll be transported magically to the appropriate web site where you can get more information or purchase the software.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Information Management Tools
Writers are infamous information packrats. Consequently, one or more information management tools are essential weapons in a writer's arsenal of software tools. When you're shopping such tools look for products that:
- can easily read, import or snapshot information from as many as possible of the information sources you typically access. I typically want to store information from e-mails, websites, wordprocessor documents (.doc, .rtf), standard text files and picture files (e.g., .jpg, .gif, etc.). Some products can handle most of these types of inputs, but no one product does it all yet. So choose the product that satisfies most of your requirements
- have a strong rich text editor, since .rtf files are the closest thing to a "universal" format for documents containing graphics. Be wary of any product that doesn't handle tables well . . . or one that doesn't have the kind of text editing features you want
- can handle large amounts of information. For instance, Ultra Recall Pro can handle databases as large as 1 Terabyte, whereas Treepad X Enterprise can only handle files as large as 384 GB.
- has a conceptual paradigm that makes intuitive sense and feels comfortable to you. For instance, TreePad and UltraRecall follow what I think of as the Windows Explorer mode of presentation--consising of folders which you create and add data to; Evernote and AskSam, on the other hand, follows a "paper roll" paradigm--you save information sequentially, then organize it. Other products use a "collection-of-note-cards" approach.
- that includes extra features that you might find very useful. For instance TreePad X Enterprise and TreePad Biz have tools to create entire web pages derived from information stored in the database.
The information management tools I use are: UltraRecall Pro and TreePad X Enterprise--both are commercial products. Why I use two products--instead of one--boils down to the fact that TreePad cannot accurately snapshot web pages as they appear naturally on the web; UltraRecall Pro can. In the long-run, I may be switching to UltraRecall Pro as my primary information management tool if I can get my huge databases merged into one or more UltraRecall Pro databases. So far, I'm not sure this is possible. If not, TreePad X Enterprise will remain my main tool.
For a list of freeware and commercial information management tools, check out this page.
Other Tools That Will Directly Aid Your Writing Efforts
Character Pro--Think of this as the ultimate character profiler.
Page Four-- This is a word processor designed specifically for writers. Notes and outlines are stored with your writing in one "notebook" for each writing project you have. It can import .rtf, .doc and .txt files. Its SmartEdit feature can flag any "overused" phrases in your writing. Includes various templates for easily printing your work for submission to various publishers.
Quick Story 5--This is a plot generator. If you're a writer who outlines or otherwise plans your storylines--instead of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer--you may appreciate this product. This product is produced by the people who produce Character Pro.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary--Next to the Oxford English Dictionary, this is probably the best dictionary you can buy. Look for the Third Edition which includes the full paper-based Dictionary and the software product on CD. The CD includes the electronic version of the dictionary.
Word Menu--This basically is the electronic version of the old writer's standby The Random House Word Menu book. Word Menu is extremely useful when looking for strong action verbs,synonyms, and antonyms.
yWriter Novel Builder--This is a relatively new product which attempts to roll scene creation and management, character profiling, chapter organization, and your writing into one tool. Looks very promising . . . and it's free.
Tools Useful to Science Fiction Writers
AstroSynthesis--This tool will help you model star systems, planetary systems, planets, asteroid belts, asteroids, moons, etc. Also works with Fractal Mapper & Fractal World Explorer. Very detailed modeling tool.
Celestia--3D space simulator for modeling star systems, planets, etc. A visualization tool. Freeware.
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