Ooh... now we get into a really interesting area. The software used. I've tried a lot of things- I had certain requirements, so I'll list that first. Then I'll list my favorites below. Then below that, I'll list the ones I actually used.
So, my requirements (developed as I've written and decided on changes to features I wanted)
- Plain Text Support - I used word for a while, and it was just too restrictive
- Auto backup
Nice to haves
- Plain Text Editing
- Markdown Support - Even though I want to use plain text, I want to be able to format it
- Multi platform support
- Sync so I can use it on multiple devices
- It was actually perfect for everything... storing the notes, writing the manuscript, creating the draft... but the company went out of business. And even though they gave out a DRM free version when they folded, I'm not sure when it will just stop working, so decided to abandon it. Looking into it just now though, it seems that they've come back. Might have to look at this again.Ulysses
- It's a great program, but it's Mac only. For writing, I wanted something cross platform. It does have the advantage of automatically syncing, which I have to be able to sync... but I just don't do it automatically. It also has an iOS version, which tempted me also. But I'm using v2, and they gave no discounts for v3, and that sort of turned me off permanently. What I really like about it? It uses Markdown. Which is the reason I almost used it despite no cross platform capability, because I can edit the files on any Markdown editor. But that re-buy thing has kept me away.Writing Outliner
- A great add-on for Word, it was pretty much perfect also. But I decided to get away from using Word for my writing, so I had to bid it adieu, even though it has great support from the developer, and he offered free upgrades to the newest version.Yarny
- A great web application, but it's a web application. You can export things for your use, even to the point of exporting to epub. But I just really didn't want a web application. It's $4/mont, or $36/year... I still think about it since I can get it for $18/year since I won NaNoWriMo last year. But in the end, even though it has use on multiple devices built in, I just don't want to use it.My Writing Spot
- Another web app, it was even less in contention than Yarny, as it doesn't even have a real firm business model in place. Well, didn't. Now that it has companion apps that are paid, I suppose it's in a better position. But I decided against it.
I also tried several different Markdown capable editors on Windows, Mac, and iOS. To take the place of Markdown support in the application itself (and also to go more minimal at times), I looked into these as a side by side use case. I'll list them if you need, but the ones for Windows that I looked at included MarkdownPad
What I actually useScrivener
- It's just been a joy using this. MMD support, separate plain text files that it integrates into one file to create your manuscripts, the use of a corkboard paradigm for planning... Mac, Windows, and soon Linux support (just in case)... it's just a great application for writers. It has support for all of my have to have requirements, and most of the nice to haves, in addition to storing reference and research in the actual project. It does have a strange naming convention as a warning, but once you get past that, it's really the only drawback. It also doesn't have built in sync, but with the automatic backups, I back up to a location that I sync... so on my other devices, I can restore that back up. It's a workaround, and a pain in some cases. I also copy the project to the sync location when I exit, so I have all of the individual files. It's a pain point... but not too much of one.ZenWriter
For those times that I just want to get down to it and edit. It would be perfect if it had markdown support... and if it doesn't get it, I might end up moving to writemonkey when it has plugins. The reason it's so great right now is really simple... the music and the backgrounds. When you open it up, it takes up your screen, puts a nice background to it (instead of just black), and plays soothing music. You wouldn't believe how that helps! One of the best uses of ten dollars I've seen.