Updated: Sep 19, 2020
[NOTE: This post was originally written in November 2016. Some features or functionalities of the reviewed program may have changed since then.]
Welcome to the 9th and final part of my “Free Writing Software Review” series. (This is a companion series to my earlier post, “Free Scrivener Alternatives.”)
Today’s topic: yWriter!
yWriter starts off with a wizard to guide you through the process of setting up a new project.
yWriter has a lot of cool visual analytics functions, and allows for in-depth tracking of all-important intangibles in your story, such as timelines, and even levels of tension/humor/writing quality/etc in each scene, so that you can see a visual of how the tension, humor, etc builds throughout your story. It also allows you to track characters, locations, and even important items throughout your story, and to differentiate between main plots and subplots. Because of this, there are a lot of prompts to fill in about characters, locations, etc., to enable the tagging.
The character templates include a bio, notes, and goals for each character, and even allow you attach relevant images. You can tag characters as protagonist, antagonist, etc.
The program also prompts you to provide specific information about each scene, including the scene’s goals and outcomes, whether the scene is action or response, what characters are in the scene and whose viewpoint it’s in, etc. Unlike Bibisco, this program allows you to tag a specific character as POV rather than generic “first person” or the like.
You can also add images to Locations, and add tags to your Locations.
yWriter also provides this same functionality for items, which is useful for tracking key objects that might be important to your story. I could see this being really helpful for object “clues” dropped in a mystery novel, since you could easily use the tag to see where exactly a particular item has been mentioned in your story.
yWriter has a lot of really good visuals — charts, timelines, etc. — including a storyboard that lets you see how the characters and locations line up with chapters and scenes.
I like the visual analytics and how it allows you to input the basic story elements and track them easily. It also allows you to set and track daily wordcount goals.
Some of the analytics are really interesting, like this line graph that shows ratings for relevance, tension, etc., in the story (based on settings you can control within each individual scene). I could see this being really helpful for identifying where the story might need more conflict, more humor, etc., in order to keep readers engaged.
However, all the organization is still outline-based, navigated by a left menu that breaks things down by chapter and scene. While this works fine for me, if you’re a spatial thinker, you may find the lack of spatial organization a little frustrating (though maybe combining yWriter with something like Papel might give the balance you need!).
Overall, I really like this program, and it’s probably in my top 2 or 3 out of all the ones I reviewed. Best of all, yWriter is completely FREE. You can access it here: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html.
And that’s it! This concludes my “Free Writing Software Review” series. I hope this series was helpful to you! I encourage you to try some of these programs out for yourself, and see what works best for you — what meets your needs the best might be slightly different than what meets mine! Also, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below, or contact me.
Thanks for reading!