There was a time in my writing career when everything I did was in Microsoft Word. Why? Word does everything. It’s a kitchen sink app. Bloated, messy, feature laden, and cumbersome.
My early writing career was blessed with WriteNow, a fast, efficient, pleasant word processor, that let me write what I wanted, the way I wanted, and stayed out of my way. Is there a similar writing tool for today’s writer?
What You Need When You Need It
WriteNow is still viewed as something of a gold standard among those of us who write most of the day. After a decade of using Microsoft Word I long for the good old days.
One could consider Mariner Write to be a 21st century incarnation of WriteNow.
Mariner Write is a bit above basic, far below bloat. It’s more writer friendly than Apple’s own Pages. Write opens Microsoft Word documents, saves documents in the all-important RTF standard, and won’t scare you when you open it for the first time.
As with Pages, Write’s toolbar is basic and understandable, but not cluttered with page layout options. Write is for writing, not designing. Tabs are easily set, basic formatting a click away, as are options for spell check, indents, tabs, tables, and the ever important Undo function.
You control Write’s auto save timing and copies in Preferences, along with color options, editing options, date formatting, indents, and default units and fonts. Write also has extensive keyboard shortcuts.
Write is lean, nimble, affordable, and very much an early 21st century Mac app. As a writer, if you’re looking for Write’s bells and whistles, you’ll be disappointed. However, Mariner takes a layered approach to writer’s tools. Write is a beginner.
Writing Tools Not For The Masses
Just as Microsoft Word integrates, mostly, with Excel the spreadsheet wonder, Write integrates well with Mariner Calc, which also opens and saves Excel files.
Calc is a spreadsheet version of Write. Lean, clean, fast, no kitchen sink. Priced together, Write and Calc are nearly as expensive as the low end version of Microsoft Office.
Spreadsheets are nice, but what about writing tools?
Stories Come From The StoryMill
I slave over a hot keyboard all day. Much of my writing is bang-on-the-keyboard style for maximum productivity. I’m not much for creative writing. Some of my professional colleagues use other tools to contain the creative juices.
StoryMill is for writers—creative writers, writers of stories, novels, mystery, adventure or action. The kind of writing that needs thought and organization, not sheer keystrokes which spill words as quickly as possible.
Take a look at the difference in tools. Write’s interface above vs. StoryMill’s interface below (click the image for a larger, pop up view).
Notice the distinction? Characters, locations, scenes, elements, objectives. And, importantly, a Timeline View which lets you arrange elements of your story on a timeline, regardless of the narrative order.
Arrange story lines or scenes or events and see how the elements compare across the timeline. For all the extra features to help you develop a story, including a Profess Meter and a monitor to check on word and cliche usage, Story Mill still has a simple Full Screen Mode to let you write without the features getting int he way.
Leap From Story To Screen
Instead of dumping every possible writing feature into a single Mac app, Mariner does the layered approach vs. the kitchen sink approach. Just the tools you need, from basic word processor to more full-featured story creator and manager, to moving your story to the screen (as in television or movie) or stage.
Montage picks up where StoryMill ends. It’s screenwriting vs. storytelling.
Writing for the screen is an entirely different beast.
Whereas stories can linger, loiter, and leap deep within character, location, and imagination, the screen or stage has distinct limits in time, timeline, and complexity.
Montage helps writers move into screenwriting’s more restrictive nature, but with acceptable industry standard structure and formatting. It starts with a template to move your story to script. The basic elements remain. Script, Scenes, Outline, Characters, Locations, as well as options for Research, Tasks, and the all important Contacts, Queries, and other tools which help your story fill the form necessary to go from printed word to on-screen or on-stage action.
Mariner has other tools for writers, including Desktop Poet (Mac and Windows) with specific tools to create multiple word variations to help you convey a deeper meaning. You’ll love the refrigerator and magnet motif.
It’s not just a Mac world, either. Contour is Mariner’s Mac and Windows approach to movie making with a basic writer’s tool that walks you through the steps of creation. Character, objectives, antagonists, obstacles. It’s all about ideas to outlines, as opposed to idea to story.
We’ve long since passed the age when a hand written legal pad formed the basis of the creative outlet. Today’s writers have dozens and dozens of high tech tools to help spur the creative juices. Mariner’s layered onion approach takes your writing, step-by-step, toward other tools of creative expression.