WriteItNow 2 by Ravens Head Software

If you are a writer who has been stuck using Microsoft Word, the behemoth of all behemoths, to do your writing, you will jump for joy over WriteItNow2 by Ravens Head Software. If you are a true Microsoft Word or Word Perfect devotee, read no further – you won’t appreciate that WriteItNow2 does everything they do and more for under $40. That’s right – full functionality as a word processor, plus features specific to writers, for under $40. Have I got your attention now?

Instead of the straight laced, straight line interface of Microsoft Word and Word Perfect, WriteItNow2 uses a Java-based tab system to enhance your focus on your writing. That makes it incredibly easy to keep track of where you are headed in your piece, what your notes are, title names, characters, plot points – it’s all laid out for you in easy to see tabs. No more scrolling up and down the many pages in your document struggling for continuity. No more trying to remember that obscure macro you found once that told you how to track theme in a story. WriteItNow2 does the tracking for you.

The Features:

1) Simple Interface. There are four items on the menu bar: File, Export, Setup and Help. Under “File” you can Save, Save As, Load a Story, Start a New Story, or perform a Global Find/Replace. Under “Export” you can Export your story to a txt file, html file or rtf file format. Under “Setup” you can unlock the software after registration, change your background, font, font format, font size, adjust your clock settings and toggle spell check from US to British English (there were versions offered in other languages at time of purchase, but I purchased the English version). Selecting “Help” gets you a tip of the day, a contextual help menu or a regular indexed help menu – both searchable.

2) The Tabs. The tabs are under the menu bar and include Overview, Chapters, Characters, Events, Locations, Ideas, Notes, Charts and Submissions. You can type your entire piece in the Overview tab if you are writing an article, short story, review, non-fiction or other type of story that would not require chapters. If you are writing a work of fiction or non-fiction long enough to require chapters, you place your main book or story title in the Overview section along with your author information, then move to the Chapters tab to begin writing. You start and name each chapter using the chapters tab, and do your writing for each chapter under the chapter tab. There are arrows that move you from chapter to chapter, formatting buttons to align your text and whatnot that have the standard appearance similar to those on Word and Word Perfect as well as a nice in-line undo/redo feature and section-ready help button.

Under each of the tabs you will find three more function buttons – Options, Edit and Links. When you are in a tab, “Edit” is your faithful friend, offering you word count, spell check, grammar check, cut, copy, paste, insert, find, replace and my personal favorite – the Readability button. That’s correct! WriteItNow2 will analyze what you have just written and give you a synopsis that tells you what the age level your writing is currently appropriate for and how difficult your piece is according to the words used, length of sentences, sentence structure, grammar and also uses the Flech-Kincaid grade assessment scale as well. How cool is that? It has helped immensely in keeping my target audience in focus when writing a series of how-to ebooks, and has helped me break out of the more simplistic how-to writing rut when switching to my novel.

The “Options” button under each tab has the ability to Save, Load, Export, Create or Sort. Need to send an excerpt to a publisher? The Options button can help you select the right chapter and get the file into the right format to send along to an editor. Need to write in a new character? The Options button Create feature will help you with that also. In the same area is the “Links” button. This assists you with placing both in-document links (offering ways to link to ideas, chapters, character descriptions, notes, charts and more) and external links to web sites.

Back to the tabs… The next tab is the “Character” tab. This has some neat features, among them ways to link characters to each other and tell how and when they met, a way to track when a character was born or deceased, married or divorced, a sliding scale to adjust the personality traits of a character – the software will then show you if your character’s ‘character’ has been off course for too many pages – and there is even an add-on for suggesting character names (I passed on that feature at purchase – the Baby Name book works just fine for me). In addition to all the features specific to the Character tab, it also has the standard toggle arrows, in-line help button, link button, edit button and options button – each tab has those features, actually. After “Characters” comes the “Events” tab. Here you can create main story events and time frames, associate them with your characters, locations, notes or ideas and track your story arc to ensure interest.

Following Events is “Locations”, which gives you a place to describe houses, towns, cities, vistas – whatever your story needs. You can then associate the locations to characters, events, chapters, notes, and ideas. In the “Ideas” tab next door you can jot your idea down, give it a title and come back to it later to incorporate it into your piece. You can even link it to a locations, chapter, event or character to make it easier to find later. There is plenty of room to write a detailed idea, however; the software writers still provided a separate “Notes” tab for you. This is a a nice feature in that it allows you to keep ideas for the plot separate from notes on facts and figures, but it has a similar interface so you can get in the habit of entering data in a simple way.

In the “Charts” tab you can track your story arcs, plot points, character development, action levels and story time line if you choose – all in easy to read, full-color graph and chart form. You can sort the events by time or item, and you can also track relationship arcs under a separate chart tab within the chart tab – just to make sure you don’t have cousin Bob jump off the cliff in chapter one, only to miraculously return to attend a bat mitzvah in chapter twelve, for example. I have no idea how the relationship tracking system accomplishes this in this software, but so far in testing it I haven’t seen it miss a character, event or location yet in it’s tracking system. Very impressive.

Finally we come to what may be my favorite feature – the submission tracker. The final tab, titled “Submissions”, allows you to input who you sent your story to, when, if they responded, what they will pay you, what your copyright is, if they have paid you, etc. What an awesome feature! Now you can keep your submission tracking right with the story as it goes from publisher to publisher – no more spreadsheets! This feature is a wonderful, wonderful idea. Many publishers allow simultaneous submissions – with this feature you no longer have to worry about forgetting to pull your story from submission to the first five publishers once it gets accepted by the sixth – you can look at the list right in front of you and immediately update the status of all publisher submissions in one window and get your notification cards ready to send out by mail right then and there.

How I Found It:
I stumbled across WriteItNow2 by accident while searching for a completely unrelated book (thank you Google!). I had tried so many other programs and hated them. I’d been using Microsoft Word, but it was too expensive, bulky and irritating to use when writing – too difficult to keep track of your thoughts without killing a forest in index cards and paper. WriteItNow2 eliminates the need for extra scraps of paper and easy to lose index cards- you just take notes right in the software. I had tried other authorware, but found that a lot of it made too many suggestions (actual plot ideas, name correction, automatic changes) and didn’t allow you, the writer, to think for yourself – I didn’t like that either. WriteItNow2 allows you to write, and offers a simple, basic analysis of word count and difficulty that helps keep you on track without giving you “suggestions” you didn’t want or need.

When I saw WriteItNow2 online and noticed it had a free demo, I figured “What the heck?” and downloaded it to my Mac. I haven’t looked back since. The ease of use, the compact program, the features, the purchase price – they all added up to a very happy camper here. And did I mention that in addition to being under $40 (a steal, trust me) upgrades are free for life? That was another major selling point for me when I found it – as long as Ravens Head is making new versions of WriteItNow2, you get to upgrade your copy for free. What a great idea – no more being taken advantage of by “MicroSuck”! Another selling point – they offer it for Mac OS X and PC (Win 95 and up). It is very hard to find specialized software like this for the Mac, which is what I use. I was pleased as punch they not only made this, but it worked!

The Synopsis:

This is the first time I have been able to wholeheartedly endorse software in a long time. Love the interface, love the platform availability, love the ease of use, love the purchase price, love the features, love the free upgrades – love it, love it, love it.

For the detail minded:

I chose the Download option (you can buy a CD instead)

I bought the Mac OS X version

I am running the software on an iMac G3 desktop and may move it to an iMac G4 laptop when I purchase one – it will work on both

It uses a Java based interface and offers export file formats to work with most major word processing program out now should you need to send your mss (manuscript) out in rtf or txt formats, and also offers html formatted exports

It is a compact program

It cost me 19.95 Pounds ($35.27 USD at time of purchase)

It is made by Ravens Head Software, a British company

It comes in several languages

It took under 5 minutes to download the software file, and under 10 minutes for my registration code to arrive when I purchased it

Their technical support staff is knowledgable, friendly and expedient


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