Organize your writing with Writer's Cafe
On top of being a technical writer I am also a writer of novels. Writing novels is a much different beast than writing tutorials, reviews, and documentation. Writing novels requires some serious organizational skills. You have to keep track of characters, storylines, plot devices, etc.
Keeping those pieces in their proper place demands more brain power and memory than most of us have at our disposal. Fortunately there are tools to help you with the task of keeping the continuity of your book together.
One of those tools is Writer's Cafe. This piece of software is a very powerful suite of writer's tools that is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows and has a HUGE feature set perfect for making your writing task much easier. In this article we will be discussing the Linux version of the software. All of the features are included in all of the different operating systems. The cost of Writer's Cafe is $45.00 USD.
- Storylines: This tool helps you plan and manage the different story lines in your novel/writing.
- Screenplay auto-formatting: Work within screenplay templates so you don't have to worry about how to properly format your treatment.
- Import from other applications like Final Draft.
- HTML Help books: Export your projects to HTML help format.
- Character profiles: Keep detailed notes on your characters.
- Journal: Keep a journal of your writing.
- Writing Prompt: Random prompts to aid your writing or help you work your writing muscles.
and much more.
Writer's Cafe is one of those applications that includes so many helpful tools you could spend an entire work day toying around with every feature.
The easiest way to install Writer's Cafe is to open up Synaptic (in Ubuntu), do a search for "writerscafe2" (no quotes), scroll until you see the Writer's Cafe listing, select the correct listing, and click Apply to install.
You could also visit the Writer's Cafe Website download page and download the package that suits your distribution and either let the package handler install the app or save the file and install it from the command line.
The first thing you will notice, when you fire up Writer's Cafe, is that is somewhat resembles a standard PC Desktop with the addition of a sidebar (see Figure 1).
From this "desktop" you launch all of the tools you need to write your book or screenplay. If you notice there is a "Start" button at the bottom left corner of the desktop. This is the proverbial start menu for Writer's Cafe. If you click this button you will see all of the tools you have at your disposal. These same tools can be accessed by the icons or from the Tools menu.
The Storylines tool is probably the most valuable tool in this suite of tools. Storylines helps you to keep organized your various plots and chapters. Figure 2 shows you a simple story line I have created for the purpose of this article. As you can see there are three plot lines I have created (Main Plot, Secondary Plot, and Tertiary Plot). Each of these plots is represented by a different color. To each plot line you add cards. Each card can be thought of as a chapter or a scene. With this type of organization it makes it easy to recognize what plot line a chapter relates to. To add a new card to a plot line you simple double click on the plot line where you want the card to go. Once the card is where you want it (you can drag and drop cards) click on the Summary tab in the upper right pane and give the card a summary. The summary of the card will appear in the overall story outline in the upper left pane. This serves as your story outline. You can also view the master story line which places all of the plot cards onto one story line. To view this click on the "M" icon above the upper left pane.
To actually write the chapter click on the chapter card you want to write and then click on the Content tab in the upper right pane.
Once you have completed (or you just want to see what it looks like) your story you can then export it to a word processor such as OpenOffice. The export features works flawlessly (at least when exporting a file in the Open Document Text format). In the end you will have a complete novel or screen play ready for submission.
This article only scratches the surface of Writer's Cafe. This tool is quite large and quite helpful for anyone aspiring to write. It takes a lot of organization to write a novel. Having a tool to make this job easy is certainly worth the price of admission. For all of the writers out there, do yourself a favor and snag a copy of Writer's Cafe.Advertisement