Ever been tempted to write a novel? If so, you'll probably have approached it in the same way that most aspiring novelists do. Fire up your favourite word processor, then start throwing random words, scenes, plots, characters and one-liners into a document. And then you realise that you've ended up with an impenetrable mess, and should have used something other than a word processor. But what? An outliner? Database? Spreadsheet?
Actually, what you need is a program specifically aimed at novelists. And there are lots of such products available. They're a cross between a word processor and a database. You can still throw scenes, plots, characters etc into the app, but now there's a structure to your work so your data ends up in the right place. Which means, when you have a couple of free hours to work on your book, you can get started quickly and easily.
Among the commercial products available are New Novelist (www.newnovelist.com) and Writers Cafe (www.writerscafe.co.uk). There are also some excellent free programs available too. My favourite is yWriter (http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter.html), for which there's a useful intro on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ti5HNVVIV1w.
Another handy app is Storybook (http://storybook.intertec.ch/joomla/). Alternatively, if you don't want anything so rigidly structured, have a look at the free version of Treepad (http://www.treepad.com/treepadfreeware/). It's not a specific novel-writing app, but more a personal information manager and structured text editor.
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