I tested out Scrivener a while back and was ambivalent. It was OK, I guess. But I didn’t like it enough to pay money for it, especially when I had already sunk a lot into Microsoft Office. Then I ran into this:

yWriter5 – Free writing software designed by an author, not a salesman

And it’s… actually pretty interesting. Most of the features are standard: You can break a story into chapters and scenes, which you can tag and flag and label in detail, and then the program’ll combine them into a single file when you’re done. But some of these things are pretty cool:

  • It keeps track of your per-chapter and overall word count and lets you set writing goals around these.
  • You can plug in all your characters, flag which chapters they participate in, and then see how many scenes each one is in (and how often they have the POV.) It also can generate a storyboard showing what scenes happen when and from whose POV.
  • You can keep track of time, so you can write down when a scene starts and how many in-world hours it takes to finish.
  • You can plug in character goals, conflicts, and resolutions for each scene.

You can outline right in the program, too, though it seems a little clumsy. (But that’s probably because my outlines are really, really detailed. My Wiki just works better for keeping track of it all.)

But overall, it’s actually pretty cool. And it’s free!