This would have been up sooner, but I’ve been trying to give one of them a grace period of patience. It’s browser-based, and the first two days I had limited computer/internet access. The next couple days, every attempt to use it resulted in an almost immediate error message.
So why not start with the failed one?
QuietWrite is a mellow-looking browser-based writing program that mixes up privacy and lack of distraction with the ability to share your work and receive feedback in the form of “responses”. I was never interested in the feedback. I was also categorically unable to actually use QuietWrite for any length of time. I would type a couple of words, then an error message would pop up and reload the page.
Every single time. So that’s enough of that.
On the flipside, there was Zenwriter. At first, I thought: flipping SCORE. Backgrounds, soothing music, typing sounds, fullscreen. Distraction-free writing with distractions. This is the kind of contradiction candy that I love.
But I’m not altogether happy with the way it keeps making my AVP nervous. I would rather not have any program bothering my AVP at all, even if I know why. It’s also pretty much the same as OmmWritrer, which does not worry my AVP. Uninstalled.
Storybook, I was on the fence about. It has nice, somewhat guided organisation, but the actual writing space gets a little lost in those efforts. That organisation is also kind of passively pushy. For some reason it asks for dates (MM/DD/YY kind of dates) in a lot of fields. This is only one example of the superfluous fields in Storybook, but it’s very prevalent and almost unavoidable.
Who writes with dates in mind? I mean, in general. If you’re writing a world that tells time differently, then it’s really only going to give you a headache. If you’re like me and you just have a vague timetable such as “This happens after this and before this, and the days change when they ought to”, being asked for the date at all is really jarring.
It’s too bad it isn’t easier to write a program like this with the ability to change what information you’re even being asked. Or just have a blank page where you can use fields or write a character study.
Storybox does that. It’s also got a very friendly opening screen that gives you access to all of the information you need to get started on using the software. Although you might feel a little lost with the freedom you have as soon as you’re done reading it. Still, I like the flexibility. You can change your workspace, and there are templates available, but they are turned off by default, and are simply text within your page. If your character doesn’t have a Home, you can delete that field and write “Years spent roaming” or something instead. Or Favourite Haunt.
You can also organise your writing into as deep a level of complexity as you want. Most programs are ready for chapters, a lot do scenes, but very few of this type let you choose to write the whole thing in one place. Storybox lets you choose any of these. It’s also not pushy about anything. If you just want to use it to write the story and not even keep any notes, you won’t feel like there’s someone bugging you to make characters or locations.
It also has a timer in the corner that tracks how long your session is, and keeps track of your daily goals and overall goal for wordcount (which you define yourself). As well as the ability to make your finished book into an ebook. It’s pretty spiffy.