yWriter is a free program designed to help you write your novel (don’t get too excited, it doesn’t actually put words on the page for you or harness your editing-brain while you sleep). It’s a way to keep track of who and what appears where and it makes shuffling scenes or grabbing a quick overview of the story nice and simple.
I started using it about 6 weeks ago for a novel that’s about half written (in an ordinary wordprocessor), so I had to copy over the existing scenes first which was very simple.
It allows you to have chapters, and scenes within each chapter, and you can easily drag and drop scenes from one chapter to another. Considering I’m doing a pretty major re-vamp of my early scenes this has been very useful!
There’s also tabs for each scene, where you can input who’s in the scene, items and locations that appear, rate it for conflict etc and also enter a short description. You also specify whose POV it’s in. I can imagine this being very handy for novels with mulitple POV characters, locations and items of significance.
The short descriptions can be used to generate a rough synopsis, but also just a handy way to re-acquaint yourself with it if you’re returning from a break.
I jumped into using it without reading how to first, and it was generally intuitive with little screen tips pop up when you hover on things to tell you how to work with them. A few little niggles but they’re too trivial to mention here.
Now I’m not an organised writer. I don’t plan. I don’t outline and I work in a strange (so I’ve been told) organic sort of way. So my initial thought about yWriter was that it felt like overkill for me. And maybe it will turn out to be just that, but it has been useful and I’m less daunted by all the scene re-arranging I’m doing because the program makes it easy.
For anyone with a work in progress looking to use it – it might feel time consuming pulling existing work across, but once you get into a flow it actually doesn’t take long.