I am currently taking a small break from writing a new short story – a slaughterhouse tale – one that is definitely stretching me in unexpected ways, due to the amount of research I am needing to do, and the restructuring that I need to do to the plot to make it work for me. As a result I am having to learn new, more grown up, ways of working. Mainly because I tend to write instinctively and throw things together, then force them to bend to my will, rather than plan everything intelligently from scratch. I tend to see it in my head and go for it and that is why I often get bogged down later on, when the process is interrupted by the stress of my day job and then I struggle to remember where I was going with something and the mood I was aiming for at the time. I am slowly forcing myself to plan, to plot, to make notes, to research and delay the actual writing process until I am truly ready. It’s quite a demanding process and a bit too much like homework for my liking.

And this hopefully brings me around to the actual point I am trying to make [and badly]: that I am curious as to what tools you [Dear readers] use to construct your masterpieces?

I am both a Mac and Windows PC user. I tend to write from home on my Macbook Pro and prefer to work with Scrivener for Prose and Final Draft for screenplays, and use Celtx on both my little EEE PC for both tasks. So why all these programs or why two computers? – well the short answer is that until Mac make a Mac net book, I have to use both operating systems and use multiple tools for the jobs – the heavier and more powerful MacBook for video stuff, and the little EEE PC when writing on the move, as it is easily light enough to carry around with me anywhere, all day; and even up till last week, when writing on the beach in Ibiza. If Apple brought out a netbook for a reasonable price I now know that I would happily snap it up in a heart beat and just use Scrivener and Final Draft.

Celtx is a great little program, but there are certain issues with it, that preclude me from using it for all tasks until they evolve it a little more. I mainly use it as a temporary home for any work I do. It has a text mode, but the constant need to reformat fonts when writing in a non-standard font is really irksome. The character tools are nice, but primitive. It has no real proper tools that you would expect of a professional writing program – no full screen writing view, no database functionality for ease of managing the entire creative process – but then again it was designed as an open source screenwriting programme and has since had many new functions bolted onto it – rather than growing in a planned and intelligent way. I tend to use it mainly to put my characters together, throw together an outline, a rough draft or two – and then when I get home I import everything into Scrivener to finish the job – with its amazing Corkboard view, great organisation tools, ease of managing multimedia research, full screen writing view and ease of breaking drafts up by sections.

Until today, once I had finished throwing together a screenplay in Celtx, I would then tend to import it into Final Draft to finish the job, just because I preferred the experience of writing in a more polished tool. But now that I’ve discovered Scrivener is also designed to work with Final Draft, I am even more convinced that unless Scrivener is designed for Windows, I need to hold out for a Mac netbook or get a Dell Mini 10 and crack it to run the Apple OS… lol but these are drastic measures.

I have recently stumbled across Storybook – another open source program for Windows XP. Which I need to properly investigate for it’s novel writing tools. But haven’t had much time to look into it at the moment. Has anyone reading this used it?

Is there anyone else out there who writes both prose and screenplays on the Mac and Windows OS’s and can you tell me how you work? – I would be very very grateful for any input.