Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Writing Software

I really do not know how I feel about the writing software that assists you in keeping a list of character traits, plots and subplots, and offers advice about how to best pursue your story whether it is a short story or a novel. One the one hand, it's helpful to plug in the information about what you are doing and having something keep track. I want to be open to new methods of working but at the same time there is a sense of pride about writing being a craft.

It's like the argument about the spelling of playwright. Nowadays it is spelled playwrite. (That's one of those small things that makes me scream like a little girl when I see it spelled that way.) Playwrighting is a craft, dammit. You have to visual the stage, your words coming out the live mouths on the stage, how it is going to appear off the written page, and then the practicality of staging what you are writing.

The same goes for screenwrighting. It is commonly spelled screenwriting.

"Wright" means you are constructing something. I normally associate that with constructing it on your own.

How much of my crafting do I stand to lose utilizing a program that might keep my storyline in order, reminding me of when I am leaving something unresolved. Have I left that one character locked in the closet all this time? Can't I discover that on my own when going back through my notes and reading what I have written?

The fundamental question I have - is it cheating to use writing software?

And let me tell you something - learning to use that software isn't always easy. I have a program called Dramatica Pro and I have had it three years. Believe me, it's involved. You need to use a tutorial to get through the entire thing and learn how to use it efficiently. By that time, I could have finished what I was writing anyway and figured out what I left out or did not resolve. Buuuuuuuuut, is using one of these efficient programs, once mastered, a way to keep things in a more orderly fashion, discover omissions faster and therefore having more writing time?


I have not yet been able to resolve that question. I can't decide if using a program at all is cheating since many of the writing greats never had such a thing and did just as well.

If you are interested in seeing what type of writing software there is you can visit http://www.dramatica.com or http://store.yahoo.com/dramatica/dramaticapro30.html. I encourage you to shop around before buying any kind of software as there are many online specials (not always on the maker's page) and if you are an educator or student, good discounts available with I.D.

2 comments:

The Moviequill said...

I tried out some character generating software and after while I noticed that all it did was assemble the stuff I made up in my head. The program asked me to input stuff like background, main antagonist, age etc, so really what did I need it for?

John P said...

I bought Dramatica Pro about a year ago and it's sitting on my machine not being used. I think I was overwhelmed with what it required. I do think it will help the ordinary inexperienced writer organize thoughts. I think it could be very helpful in training a person to think like a writer. Obviously it won't make one an artist. I doubt that really great writers use anything like this - they don't have to - they already think like a great writer. And it certainly won't make on an artist - it won't necessarily help one develop a unique style. But to the extent that it can help someone learn to develop characters and plots, I think it might be very helpful to the inexperienced writer...