For some reason I felt like checking to see if there were any updates to one of my favourite pieces of software. I was happily surprised to find out that Simon Haynes, over at Spacejock Software has released yWriter 6. yWriter is the software I've used to write all of my books.
This is breaking news for me, but it turns out that the newest software was released in July 2015. I'm a few months behind the curve. Luckily, I finally figured things out. Yay!
I started using yWriter when I was writing my motivational fable, Diamonds and Silver back in 2008. Up until I found yWriter, I felt like I kept running up against a wall every time I sat down to write.
The book started out as ideas in a Word document.
As the file got longer, I found it hard to find my place whenever I wanted to add to my draft. I tried splitting up my book by chapters. That helped a bit, but I found I would sometimes get into that old Word Doc issue of having to open up five documents in order to find the place where I wanted to write. Writing was going slow, and so I started searching for a different solution.
At first, yWriter seemed like overkill. It has areas where you can describe your locations and characters. I've never used those tools, but instead focus on the things that work well for me.
I stopped using Word Documents for writing that very day
The first day I started using yWriter, I could see an instant transformation.
My book was finished in no-time.
Here's why. It was now incredibly easy to open the file, and be at the exact spot in the exact scene I wanted to write on in only a few seconds. Now, instead of trying to write the book from the beginning to the end, I was able to race to the computer when inspiration struck, and write scenes from different parts of the novel out of sequence.
It felt amazing.
On that first day, I also went through most of the Word Documents I was using to store information from the web and other sources. I organized it into several yWriter books, with chapters and scenes.
My two favourite yWriter 6 features
I know the software isn't focused on being a personal database, but that's exactly what it is for me. The organizational structure lets you prepare information for courses, research, news, and makes it remarkably easy to find what you've stored.
One of the biggest features for me how everything is stored. yWriter uses RTF files to store all the information you put in. It works as a database, but the RTF files can be opened by any modern word processing program. If you ever choose to move to a different platform, your files will still all be usable.
The other powerful feature I love is the backup system. The software automatically creates a backup file each time you open a “Book” in yWriter. This means you're always able to go back and see exactly where something was on a particular date. It's also nice to be able to see how many days you actually worked on a file by going into the backup folder and looking at the individual backup points (stored in individual folders).
Like I said before, I don't even use 80% of the novel writing features in the software. It's the 20% of the functions though that are what makes me rave about yWriter.
Should I upgrade?
As of right now there aren't may changes from yWriter 5. If you're currently using yWriter, you can probably hold off for a bit. If you haven't tried yWriter, then this is probably a good chance. It's completely free to use and won't take much time to check out.
Here's a video review I did of yWriter way back in 2011. It'll have to keep you going until I find the time to get an update video out.
I'll keep you updated on this one, and we'll see about getting a few tutorials out when version 6 gets the next update.