February 6, 2009: Either/Or; Both/And

As I said yesterday, I spent most of the day messing around with both software packages. What I didn’t say was that devoting the day to it gave me a real chance to clarify what I like and dislike in each one.

Writer’s Cafe is prettier and it lets me see the shape of my story in such a way that its shortcomings are immediately apparent. The way yWriter 5 presents roughly the same information isn’t nearly as intuitive for me. I can’t explain why; all I know is that Writer’s Cafe let me see with my intuitive eye and yWriter 5 doesn’t.

What yWriter 5 gives me that Writer’s Cafe doesn’t is a place to actually write my story that suits my needs. I’m very used to a work in progress looking a particular way, and I need to be able to print out a single scene at a time. After a day of struggling, I haven’t been able to figure out how to get Writer’s Cafe to give me either of those two things, but yWriter 5 has them as a given.

Of course, Microsoft Word lets me do both of those things, but what Microsoft Word can’t really do is reorder scenes with a simple click-and-drag. Instead, you have to find what you want to move, highlight it, cut and paste it in its new place. If you’re doing a file-per-scene and the files are numbered in the order they’ll appear in your final document, you’re looking at renaming files, or creating suffixes.* With yWriter 5, you get the simple click and drag to rearrange scenes as needed.

I’ve been thinking of this as an either/or question, and that’s been at the heart of my difficulty.  The things I don’t like about each package, I really don’t like, and the things I like, I love.

Last night, however, I think I had a breakthrough. As I was thinking about this, about what I love and don’t love with each package, I found myself imagining what it would be like to use both — Writer’s Cafe for manage the structure: what scenes to write, what order they come in, what they’re for — all the not-exactly-linear stuff; yWriter 5 for the actual composing and revising. Writer’s Cafe would be the structural master, and I would adjust yWriter 5 as needed.

I recognize this means some duplication, but I can live with that, given how much I stand to gain from this. One sign that this might be the answer I’ve been looking for is how I relaxed while I was exploring it. This feels right.

 Basically, I haven’t found any single product that gives me everything I want, but I think between these two packages, I’ve got everything I need. I’m both/and — both analytical and intuitive — not either/or, so it stands to reason (and seems obvious in hindsight) that the solution to my problem would be both/and, not either/or.

* I did look at Chapter by Chapter because it was advertised as being able to manage the process, but it kept putting the first scene of Chapter One at the end, and there was nothing I could do to change that. So never mind that.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mrpister
    Feb 10, 2009 @ 19:28:23

    I tried yWriter a couple of years ago but it seemed “clunky”. Might give it another go one of these days. I’ve only taken a brief look at Writer’s Cafe. Sounds like a pretty good idea to use the best features of both programs!


    • katycooper
      Feb 11, 2009 @ 19:20:31

      I had 4 and 5, and 5 is much sleeker than 4. If it’s been a couple of years, I’d venture to guess it’s much less “clunky”. I think I said it’s more linear than not, which works for me, since I’m partly a linear thinker. It’s when I’m brainstorming and figuring things out that linear thinking doesn’t work, which is why I’m also going to be using Writer’s Cafe. (I just need to get the full version…)


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