Review of Power Writer
Power Writer, Write with Power?
I promised in my initial review to let you in on my first love in fiction writing software. In this article I will reveal that love and why. The software is Power Writer. It is made by the same people who bring you Power Structure and shares many common elements. In my mind, although Power Writer is marketed as the little brother of Power Structure, PW is by far the superior program.
Power Writer was developed for novels, but I have used it extensively for short stories. You can work with the more familiar three-act scenario or go with Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey format of story telling. It's entirely up to you.
Power Writer consists of three frames, the outline, the notes section and the full-blown word processor. Each of these sections can be made larger or smaller by using your mouse to size the frame. This simplistic layout means no more jumping from tab to tab and screen-to-screen to get the information you need, it's right there in front of you.
The outline and notes sections can be put away, totally off the screen, where you see nothing but your word processing screen. This leaves the ability to just write and go back and check your notes or outline only when you need to.
The outline section of Power Writer is just like the outlines you learned to do in grade school. The only difference is that instead of 1, 1a, 1b, etc, you give each section a name (i.e. Act 1 is the default) and the children become your chapters and plot points. It's easy to add any one of the above by simply clicking a button.
The notes section will hold a wealth of information. When this section first opens you are presented with options of filling in General Story, which includes back story, pitch, premise, synopsis and theme. Next up is Acts, sections here include description, opening and ending hooks, how this moves the plot forward, the ticking clock, act conflict and what has to happen in this act. From there, you go to Chapters, this section has the same options as Acts as does the next section, Plot Points.
Characters is the next section and this is where you flesh out everything you need to know about each character in your story. Both physical and psychological and what role they play in the story. This section alone is worth the price of the software, just for building the characters into well-rounded people instead of cardboard cutouts. Another plus of the software in this section is the name bank. If you're having a hard time coming up with the right name for your character, this little add-on is sure to help. The name bank includes male and female first names and last names, which you can mix and match until you find the perfect fit.
The last section is Notes/Research. This is where you put all those bits of information that you've gathered about your story. This can be anything from personal notes to copy/pasted webpages of historical information that pertains to your story.
The word processor is where this program really shines. The word processor works like any other on the market today. It has a spell checker and a thesaurus. You can add highlighted notes to the text with a click of the mouse. Add bookmarks the same way. Everything is here that you would expect in a high priced word processing program, yet at a fraction of the cost.
My favorite feature of the word processing screen is on the bottom. Not only does it tell me what chapter I'm in, what page I'm on but it also gives me a running word count. For those of us who write short stories or NaNo novels, this feature is fantastic. You also can jump forward or backwards on chapters with one click.
Combined with the outline and the notes sections, there is no way you can go wrong with this program. Updates are available regularly via a small application that comes with the main program called web grab. Click it once and it checks for updates, downloads the update and installs automatically.
The program exports to several formats including Power Structure and Rich Text. I do wish they had a simple text extension format available, but I suppose I can't have it all. It will also import from several other programs including Movie Magic and Dramatica.
If I were to recommend any fiction writing software, this would be the program. This is what I write in daily. The demo is limited to twenty uses, but will allow you to get acquainted with the program.
Buying from Write Brain can be a bit pricey. Your best bet is to try other outlets such as MasterFreelancer and Storymind, and on occasion, you can find it on eBay. Tech support for this product is fantastic; I've never had a problem getting any question answered in less than a day.
The bottom line, if you're really looking for a terrific software program, where you can not only write but also organize everything about your story, this is the one program to buy.
Simplistic and useful layout
Word processor includes spell checker and a thesaurus
Easy to use outline and the notes sections
Exports to several formats including Power Structure and RTF
Power Writer is a great fiction writing software and one of the best in its category. However if you're looking for a more sophisticated text checker, consider WhiteSmoke's spelling and grammar checker.