Liz Writes… with software

Have I ever talked about the program I use to work out my novels?

It’s called yWriter, and it’s an open-source program created by novelist Simon Haynes, who decided that one simple text document wasn’t enough for the stories he was concocting. He wanted a place to organize scenes, character information, worldbuilding activities… He wanted to be able to jump easily from scene to scene, and do it without creating bespoke documents for each chapter. He wasn’t finding what he wanted in the current software market (especially since apps like this often are a vehicle for a lot of marketing garbo that no one wants). And so he made it! (The full story behind the app can be found here.)

A screenshot of my yWriter setup for the novel.
It’s blurry on purpose because spoilers.

I’ve been using yWriter for probably close to… fourteen years… now, and it’s still got everything I need. (Of course, you could make the argument that all you ~~really~~ need is your brain, pencil, and paper. Blah, blah, blah, yes, we know.) It got me through undergrad, saw several drafts of my graduate school thesis, and has been a constant companion through the tumultuous times. I like having a place to keep my thoughts about plot progression, vague notes about character motivations, and even tidbits about appearance that you add as you write but can’t remember later — you can add a note in the character profile that you gave them one gold hoop earring, or that they only wear green on the first day of every season, or that they have a tiny scar on the middle toe of their left foot.

It’s a great way to organize information. And so when I realized recently that I wanted a new laptop, of course the first question was: Can I put yWriter on it?

A laptop, mug full of tea that says "I do what I want," a Nintendo Switch, and a crochet hook laid out on a table
The mug says it all: I do what I want.

Well, I’m happy to say that my brand new Chromebook … will eventually run yWriter. Simon is working on an Android version, which I will immediately load once he is finished. (And I can be patient! He’s a busy guy!) In the meantime, I’m… going to learn Linux. And run it on my Chromebook using Linux, I guess. (The screenshot above was taken from a Linux-terminal-loaded app!!)

After the tumult of COVID, and divorce, and just a lot of stuff going on at work, I hope I’m ready to get back to writing fiction again. Talking and thinking about yWriter and my novel feels like a step in the right direction.


Published by Liz

I'm a writer living and working in Cincinnati, OH. I've been writing for ages and ages. Somehow now I'm actually getting someone to pay me to do it.

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