Progress and Programs

by syaffolee

Last night, I wrote a chapter for my Maynowrimo project that was basically a conversation between the main character and her sister.  The writing itself, actually, came fairly easily.  Probably the easiest so far.  I think a bit of it has to do with that old adage, “write what you know.”  Although the topic of conversation between the two fictional sisters was completely different from what I had ever talked about with my own sister, the rhythm of how the two sisters interacted with each other was very familiar.  Oh, I know everyone’s relationships to their own sisters are all different, but they’re all similar in a way, too.  And it’s that similarity that I drew upon.

People who are not writers tend to think that writers incorporate people they know into their stories.  The only thing they change, supposedly, are the names.  That is both true and untrue.  I’m sure there are writers out there who put people they know (or even themselves!) wholesale into their writing without alteration.  I don’t do that. The wholesale thing, that is.  My technique for character building is more of a mix-and-match hodge-podge.  I still metaphorically write what I know–just not in the same order or pattern that I see in real life.

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Other writers seem to like recommending writing programs.  The fancy ones with all the frills, the bells and whistles.  The ones where there are special tabs to make outlines or notecards to put your research in.  Special highlighting thingamabobs that help you edit chapters, paragraphs, sentences, so on and so forth.

People say it makes writing easier.  My question is: what do you mean by easier?  For me, easier means faster.  I can see where certain programs that make it quicker to put in references into your thesis or non-fiction work can be helpful.  But for these writing programs, all I see is extra stuff to help you procrastinate.

So for writing, especially fiction writing, why would it be worthwhile for me to download one of these programs?  In comparison to a basic word processor, does it really cut down on writing and editing time?  Or is this just something shiny for people who like to be obsessive compulsive organizers?