From The Odyssey to The Avengers, stories hinge on good characters. Without heroes to care about and believable villains to vex them, plot is just a bunch of stuff that happens. Persona aims to help writers organize information about their characters while using archetypes to discover what makes them tick –– and how they can interact in dramatically juicy ways. But like a well-meaning tragic hero, Persona is undone by glaring flaws.
Planning on writing a book this summer? Or perhaps you want to take a stab at that movie idea that's been percolating in your head for a few years now. Your Mac is the best tool for composition, and there's an arsenal of software that can help you get started. Whether you want to utilize a free app or can spring the cash for something chock full of features, there's an app that can faciliate your writing needs.
Writing is often a thankless, solitary task requiring isolation from outside interference. Just when you least expect it, the telephone rings, new email arrives, or an interesting tweet diverts attention from the work at hand. WriteRoom can’t thwart all of life’s interruptions, but it does offer solace from most computer-based distractions with a streamlined writing environment, making it easier to get the words on the (virtual) page.
It’s that time of year again, and fear is in the air. Around the world writers are knitting their brows, clenching coffee-stained teeth, and breaking out in cold sweats at the thought of not finishing their stories with a bang. It can only mean one thing: it’s National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo an opportunity to flex your creative muscles and take that dive into the literary world you’ve always dreamed of––at least, I hope so. I’ve already completed one novel-length manuscript, but this year I’ll be competing against the clock in my first NaNoWriMo. Besides understanding friends and an endless supply of caffeine, I’ll rely on software suited to NaNoWriMo’s unique demands. Fortunately, there are plenty of NaNoWriMo-friendly options available for your Mac and iOS devices.
Writer’s block is terrible -- and it inevitably happens at the worst possible times. As you can imagine, the Mac|Life crew has our own struggles with this affliction from time to time, so we have lots of different strategies for working it out.
The Mac App Store certainly has made buying Mac software a convenient affair -- just a click and a password, and boom, there it is. But like the iOS App Store, it's starting to fill up fast. That's good news for you -- lots of choice -- but it also means that when you type in a keyword or open up a category, you're faced with multiple options.
We're here to help.
We put dozens of Mac App Store offerings through our ringer of a reviews process and settled on 20 diverse applications that all scored well and come with our recommendation. Even better? They're less than $20 a pop.
Screenwriting tool Montage wants to make your job easier, so it even includes a sample script that acts as a tutorial. Reading through the antics of “Monkey” will get you started with minimal irritation.
StoryMill is all about writing novels, and its features keep longer projects on task. The app manages scenes, characters, locations, tasks, and research notes in its source list. Unlike Scrivener’s Binder, the source list doesn’t actually display individual items underneath each category. Those appear on a separate list, and clicking each category to see them seems like a cumbersome extra step. The actual writing is done in the main text/notes window. A pane for metadata completes the screen layout.
Storyist is a tool to write novels or screenplays—fiction is its strength. The familiar screen layout includes a project manager that serves as the collection point for the manuscript, plot, characters, settings, and other information. However, we found adding new items to the project unnecessarily complicated. Users can set the modal main view to display the text editor, outline, or storyboard, and a pop-up inspector offers the necessary choices to style text.
Ulysses tries to carve out its niche by going back to basics -- simple organization, distraction-free writing, and something called “semantic text editing.” The screen layout is familiar -- you’ll find a project organizer on the left, the text editor in the center, and notes and metadata on the right. We began writing right away and found navigation between text documents, notes, and synopses straightforward.