Update on Software for Writers, Part III

| Reviews

There are many software tools that are better for novels, screenplays and research reports than a word processor alone. They provide more functionality and facility to assist the writer with those specific tasks. Because Mac users are known to be creative and artistic types, TMO has embarked on a project to formally review the major applications in this category of software. This is the third recap and supersedes the previous summary.

Here are the Mac applications that have been reviewed to date:

  1. StoryMill Takes a Novel Approach 03 April 2009
  2. Scrivener Brings Out the Scribbler 07 April 2009
  3. Ulysses is a Heroic Writer's Application 15 April 2009
  4. Jer's Novel Writer is a Memorable App 21 April 2009.
  5. CopyWrite for Writers has the Write Stuff 07 May 2009
  6. Storyist 2 Brings Out the Story Teller 29 Jul 2009
  7. Ulysses 2 Lives Up to its Name 04 Aug 2009

StoryMill v. 3.2.2, from Mariner Software, received a TMO score of 4 out of 5 rating, great. It's strengths are managing the overall, strategic structure of a novel, especially when critical timelines must be managed. It has great documentation and help. However, it is a very technical program that may make some writers feel constrained. It's about average in text management.

Scrivener v. 1.5, from Literature and Latte, was the second app in the series to be reviewed. It has a less rigid structure, feels more friendly, free wheeling, and approachable. It's particularly strong on text manipulation. It also received a 4 out of 5 rating, great. If I were embarking on a novel, this is one of my favorites but has since been supplanted by Storyist. However, that's simply a matter of personal taste.

The third program reviewed was Ulysses v. 1.6 from Blue Technologies Group. It's more ambitious than Scrivener and, as a result, suffers a little with trying to manage its own strengths. Also, the documentation was inadequate. For a variety of reasons, detailed in the review, it failed to meet expectations and received a 2.5 out of 5 rating, disappointing.

Ulysses has a lot of potential, but its style for semantic formating may not be for everyone.

The fourth app in the series to be reviewed was Jer's Novel Writer v. 1.1.8 from Jer's Software Hut. I characterized the first three as aircraft carriers, that is, great complexity and great power. Jer's Novel Writer in that sense is a naval Destroyer. Much less ambitious, fast, sleek, and focused on just writing. Even so, it has good export capability. It received 3.5 out of 5, solid plus.

CopyWrite v. 2.293 from Bartas Technologies was the fifth app to be reviewed. Using the ship simile, CopyWrite is a frigate. It's very much like Jer's Novel Writer in concept, but somewhat less capable. It avoids the admittedly difficult but necessary task of exporting the output in a variety of professional formats. Graphics are not supported anywhere. Yet, for all its limitations, it also has a friendly, focused, stable feel that many will appreciate. Given is target of limited scope and no distractions, it is too expensive compared to Jer's Novel Writer and, so, received a 3 out 5 rating, solid.

The sixth application reviewed was Storyist v 2.0.1 from Storyist Software. This app is supremely focused on the novel or screen play, not writing in general. Its strengths include detailed character and setting definitions, the look of a novel right on the screen, and a printed manual at extra cost. It has a very good text to speech synthesizer.

Because of the focus on providing the writer with all that's required in terms of a tool of the trade, it has received the highest rating so far, 4.5 our of 5.

For the seventh review, I went back and reviewed the new version of Ulysses, version 2.0.1 from the Soulmen. Not only was the app revamped, but the company re-invented. Ulysses 2.0.1 fixed all the major problems I noted with v. 1.6, and is now on par with its aircraft carrier sister ships. It rating rose to 4 out of 5. It's only a matter of user taste and specific needs now that separates Scrivener, Storyist, StoryMill and Ulysses.

Next Up: Screenwriter 6 from The Write Brothers, Inc. and Celtx.

Summary to Date

Summary of Writing Apps Reviewed to Date

If you have any requests for writer's software to be reviewed, especially those which are geared towards novel and screenplay writing -- as opposed to strictly technical writing with formulas, etc, send an e-mail to marty@macobserver.com. Technical writing software, geared to the scientists and researcher, may be covered at some future date.

Comments

haywire

If you’re going to review Screenwriter, you probably ought to review Final Draft. I don’t use it, but my son does since it appears to be somewhat of a standard in the movie industry. He’s not exactly impressed with it, however.

iJack

I have both Final Draft and Storyist, plus a couple of others, and Storyist wins the ease of use comparo hands down.  Sometimes I prefer to start with a short story, until I have the kinks worked out, and again, Storyist gets my vote.

John Martellaro

Steve Sande over at TUAW has also been reviewing writer’s tools. Why we both fell into this review project at roughly the same time is a story in itself.  His latest is:

http://www.tuaw.com/2009/08/04/writers-tools-writeroom-wreally-wrocks

Look for his own review of Storyist soon.

-JM

Suleman

I’m a newbie Mac owner and was searching for a robust writing app for the Mac and Google led me here.

Great reviews.  Thanks.

Question:  I was curious if you’ve used WriteItNow?

It looks nice (Java based) but requires that you install Rosetta??  Is that good?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

http://www.ravensheadservices.com/index.php

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