Wednesday, 11 February 2009

I Wish It Did That

Some of you may know that I was a software developer in a previous life. Well, I'm thinking of embarking on a new software project. It's just an axiom of an idea at the moment, rather than a fully-fledged, specified system.

I'm interesting in your input. It's going to be aimed at writers, though I don't yet know what form the software will take. Perhaps a stand-alone application, or perhaps add-ons or plug-ins to existing ones; that remains to be seen.

What I want to know is: what features and facilities do you wish your writing software had, but doesn't? What annoys you most about it? What sort of things do you wish it did better?

I'm not proposing to re-invent the wheel (nor the word-processor) but I want to design something specifically targeted at writers, rather than generic document handling.

Things you might wish to consider:

  • Editing and other text manipulation features.
  • Conversion features.
  • Document organisation and other structural features.
  • Analytical features; e.g. counting, statistics, cliché spotting (and other pattern recognition) ...
  • Integration of different writing aspects; e.g. plotting, characterisation, storyboarding, writing, editing, visualisation, time lines.
  • Version control, backups and storage.

The above are just examples. Anything else you can think of will also be welcome. Also, if any of my terms sound too "techie" and not "writerly" enough, then let me know and I'll try to translate.

Answers on a comment and/or e-mail please...


Leatherdykeuk said...

I find 'Write It Now' almost perfect for my needs except i'd like it to have a visual storyboards -- a virtual corkboard for virtual post-it notes and the ability to import pictures onto such a board. Also, if i change a name in one chapter i want it to change the name globally and in the character list.

Calistro said...

I love YWriter and it's perfect for me. I love being able to add chapters, then add scenes as I need them. Sometimes I add a scene with just a description of what's going to happen but don't add any actual words (so it's a sort of place holder). Being able to drag scenes and chapters around to change the structure is particularly useful. The only feature I'd want to add is a spellcheck (although maybe version 5 has one - I'm still using version 4).

Oooh yes, Leather's comment reminded me. A search and replace facility would be very good too.

HelenMHunt said...

I find most technological things a bit overwhelming, so my main requirement would be for something really REALLY simple and user friendly.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Helen! The more simple the better! (not that I'm dim...well ok sometimes!)

Anonymous said...

LdUK: Thanks for bringing Write It Now to my attention. I had a quick look at the on-line demos and it seems to have good organisational features, though perhaps lacking in some of the visualisation ones.

Calistro: I've seen early versions of YWriter and liked the ideas but not their implementation. Perhaps I should revisit it and try the later versions.

Helen & Mother X: You both make an excellent point. Many writers are non-technical, so that would be a very important aspect.

Everyone: Thanks for your input. If I take this any further then I'll let you know.