Sweet Suites: Solid Storytelling Software, Part 1

Julie L.

Hopefully everyone, especially the technologically terrified, took some time over the last month to tiptoe into being more comfortable and at ease with how software is set up and works. In these last two months of this software/technology series, we’ll be going into software suites that are made and marketed to authors.
First off, what is a suite?
Microsoft, Adobe, and Google have software suites, meaning they have several individual products bundled together that cross perform, support each other, and are typically made of the their most used or desired products. The Microsoft Office suite includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and a handful of lesser known players they want you to use. Google has their Docs, Spreadsheet, Slides, and lesser knowns. Adobe has a couple of software suites in bundles to choose from, but PhotoShop, Illustrator, InDesign, and some of their audio and video programs are what most creative types use, called Creative Cloud.
In the sense that these suites are full of individual products, they cannot be chunked into smaller pieces. However, the concept that one software package (i.e. Office) holds a multiplicity of useable parts is absolutely true.
I narrowed the surprisingly large field down to seven suites, and if you include Scrivener, which is not included, this gives you eight writing suites to eyeball and choose from. If you still plunk away in only Word, keep using it, but take the time to look into these options (almost all of which have the ability to export a Word doc for your editors, agents, and publisher). If you are using Scrivener, well, looking isn't going to hurt.
Part of my narrowing included:
Can it cross platforms? Meaning, can it work on Macs, PCs, tablets, smartphones, etc. All but one can, and there is a legitimate reason I included that one.
Do they have a trial period? Or a free version? All of them are one or the other.
How long has the company been in business? Some have been around a very long time, technologically speaking, but none are newer than 3 years. Considering the upheavals in the last two years, the fact that they still exist means something.
Does it look fairly simple to understand? Does it have a robust FAQs/Help section? Is there a community? I got rid of one that was totally free, able to save to clouds and hard drives, because the home page was roughly 12 steps of instructions on how to download, install, then install the pieces, then make them work... oof.
Does it hit all the targets most want, like plot lines, character info, series tracking, exporting as many files types, Spelling and Grammar(!), easy to type in, format for ebook/print, etc? Mostly. Some are more awkward than others, but none are ridiculous.

Read the entire article in the November 2021 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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