Open Office to yWriter

Posted by : E.v.R. | On : November 13, 2006

During the slog known as NaNo, I’ve been writing each scene as its own Open Office Writer .odt file. Some months back (could be a year now) I had tried out yWriter and loved it. Except, at the time despite my preachyness here on the blog about structure and organization, for some reason I never really got to using yWriter as a force of habit. It was just another tool I had collected in my arsenal, but didn’t use as often as I should–a bit like Mind Manager. I’m silly like that, I know.

Tonight as I was working on a new scene, I got to thinking about this story folder full of scene docs, and I realized that it was starting to get difficult to manage. Yes, I could just have everything all in one text file but then that defeats the purpose of breaking things out into chunks. I’m all about this modularity scene-by-scene groove these days, the only problem being it makes a new task out of organizing the modules. Then I remembered yWriter. “Oh yeah,” I thought. “That tool I already have and was already toying around with a few times here and there is something perfect for my NaNo story.”

So I fired it up and started transferring my Open Office files to yWriter. It didn’t take long before I started to appreciate some of the finer points of yWriter:

  • Wordcounts Per Scene
  • Wordcounts Per Chapter
  • Draft view
  • Outline view
  • Status markers ‘Outline, Draft, 1st Edit, 2nd Edit, Done’ for each scene.
  • Character viewpoint tab for each scene (drawn from a list of characters you enter).
  • Spitting out all your separate scenes and chapters as a text file or HTML.
  • Exporting of a synopsis based on your outline notes.
  • Export scene descriptions (outline) only.
  • Fully customizable daily wordcount targets; Think NaNo’s progress reports and graphs.
  • Find Problem Words feature, for catching all those nasty ‘Suddenlys.’
  • A Word Usage counter to see which words you use too often.
  • Print by Chapter or Scene.

The list goes on and on, and I’d be writing this post all day to give you a full feature list, in which time you could just download it and try it for yourself. yWriter is THE novelist’s tool to keeping track of everything in one program. I can see why Simon Haynes whipped this little tool up. If you can get beyond a little of the confusion of learning the interface, there’s no other tool like it.

NaNoWriMo just got a whole lot better.

Comments (9)

  1. S William Shaw said on 13-11-2006

    I’m an Open office man. I have yet to try yWriter, simply because I know little about its reliability.

  2. Eric said on 13-11-2006

    I assume that Simon Haynes wrote his Spacejock series using it. Clearly he wouldn’t use his own program if it wasn’t reliable? BTW it has a backup feature.

  3. Kay said on 13-11-2006

    You are Red Church! Wow. I thought my fever was making me hallucinate. I’ve been reading your comments now for about six months and wondering who you were. Awesome. I’m adding you to blogs I read. Glad to meet you.
    In my stupor I doubt I will get to read much of your blog today but I worship your thoughts.
    Hey, I tried ywriter at last years Nano. I liked it a lot.

  4. Simon Haynes said on 14-11-2006

    Eric invited me over to comment. Yes, I used yWriter for all three Hal books, and am currently writing Hal 4 with yWriter 3 (beta)

    Autobackups: By default it just saves the latest version to YYYY-MM-DD whenever you edit a scene, but the option is there for this more comprehensive setup which takes a snapshot of the scene you’re editing every x minutes, stored in a folder YYYY-MM-DD\(snapshot HH:MM).rtf

    (yW3 uses RTF files instead of plain text)

    It also has an importer which will break down a file marked with chapter 1, chapter 2, etc and turn the whole thing into a project. If you include scene breaks within the chapters (* * *) it will also generate the scenes for you. I added this so that someone working on a whole novel in Word or OO can just save to rtf and then import the thing with one click.

    You can also read in a single rtf file as individual scenes. Ywriter will copy the content to its own file storage, so it’s non-destructive to the original.

    As for keeping things on track, I find the word schedule report absolutely indispensible for showing me what & how much I should be doing to meet any given deadline.

    Hope that clarifies a few things.


  5. S William Shaw said on 14-11-2006

    Thanks Simon and Eric. I smell a DL in my future.

  6. Lee said on 14-11-2006

    Sounds really good. I’ve been using Simon’s Sonar program to track my submissions, looks like I’ll be using yWriter too now.

  7. khristeena said on 19-04-2009

    I’ve noticed this is an older thread, but I’m having trouble printing with ywriter and seeking help! I can’t find anything online just yet and thought I’d try here. When I go to print, it asks me for which chapters, then generates it using explorer. Problem is the text is soooo tiny no one can read it! And nothing I do seems to change that. I’m getting kind of frustrated since no manual or forum seems to address this. If anyone can help, please do- I have a writers group meeting Wednesday night and wanted to take this revision! Thanks!

  8. Eric said on 29-04-2009

    khristeena, have you tried the yWriter site?

  9. nars said on 16-09-2012

    i tried use yWriter recently. I converted some work into yWriter and second day it dissapeared, showing info “data corrupted” or something.
    The good thing was, i didn’t list too much of my work, since i had it in previouslu used odt file…