The Basics of Software for Writers

By “book writing software,” we generally mean word processing software, although there are several different meanings possible. Beyond software designed to help us put our thoughts and ideas on paper, there are also specialized programs that will help us structure our ideas so that we can more easily form them into paragraphs, scenes, chapters and novels.

These specialized pieces of book writing software can be very useful, or they can just be another program sitting on your hard drive. For most part, the average person who is looking to try writing as a hobby or as a career needs little more than ordinary word processing software. The art of writing takes most people a while to get good at, and the best book writing software for the novice is often the very most basic.

One of the first steps to writing a book or anything else for that matter is to decide what level you are at in your writing and then decide what tools you need to begin. A student learning the violin does not need a Stradivarius, a simple violin from the local music store will do. On the flip side you would be surprised to learn that the concert violinist putting on the most wonderful show was using a cheap violin from the corner store. This same principle applies to book writing software, why invest a ton of money into something that may have very little real-world use if, after six months you should decide not to pursue writing?

As far as basic word processing (and a little of the fancy stuff) goes, there are two main programs that the majority of writers seem to use, these are MS Word and WordPerfect. Both of these can be considered book writing software, but they can also be used for general correspondence, website creation, school assignments and any other function that requires writing.

The advantage that both of these programs have is in on the fly spell check. MS Word also does an on the fly grammar check which can be very helpful to writers. WordPerfect also has a grammar checker, but it must be enabled each time you wish to use it, or at least it has to on my version of WP, (which is WordPerfect 12.) I am writing this page on WP12 at the moment. I also have MS Word 2000 and MS Word 2007 and I can save my document in WP and transfer it to either of the other programs in just a few seconds.

When I only had MS Word 2000 I preferred my WP12; I still do prefer WP over MS Word, but that is mainly because I am very used to WordPerfect. MS Word 2007 is growing on me–that on the fly grammar check is a nice feature–although I think WordPerfect’s grammar checker is just a hint better. MS Word also allows me to do a few things that WordPerfect won’t and I’ve found that I like the page numbering system in MS Word 2007 better than WordPerfect’s.

When it comes to book writing software, there are a few open-source word processing offerings available. I have tried several of these, including AbiWord and Rdraft, but generally I have found that they fall below either MS Word or WordPerfect in functionality. The fact that they are free is important and good, but I like a bit more flexibility in my book writing software and I find other uses besides my story writing for owning them.

There is one last meaning of the term “book writing” software, and that is a program that would write the entire book for you. The idea is that you would enter the basic information into the software and the program would spit an entire novel out the other side.

This type of project has actually been tried, and tried more than once. It hasn’t worked for a couple of reasons, but the main two seem to be that first, writing is art and it is difficult to give a machine enough soul to create good art. Second, the purpose of writing is to convey human emotions and thoughts between people. If we allow the machine to write the entire book, we have cheated not only ourselves, but everyone who would read the book. The contents would not be our own thoughts, but rather the blathering of a machine, and that is something I can anywhere.

I hope you have enjoyed my comments on book writing software and have found them useful. I encourage you to look around and view my book review blog.

Thanks for visiting.