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I saw this question on software for fiction writers. I'm wondering if there is software out there for non-fiction/instructional/research writing?

Seems like yWriter and Scrivener focus on organizing scenes, characters, etc. It'd be nice to have the same organizational flexibility that those programs provide, but tailored for the needs of instructional writers.

  • Why would Scrivener not work for you? What needs do you have that it doesn't seem to fill? – Lauren-Reinstate-Monica-Ipsum Jan 20 '12 at 1:25
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    It would be better if you describe the specifics of 'instructional writing'. – Kris Jan 20 '12 at 4:20
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In yWriter, the concepts of character and scene are baked right in. It's designed for fiction, and it's a fine tool when your style fits the structure it knows about.

I tend to prefer tools that allow me to evolve my own structures, without trying to help by constraining me to its known templates.

Scrivener helps you organize your text (and ideas) into a hierarchy of chunks of text. It has no preference for what size chunks, or what you call the chunks. If you write a novel, you might have chapters that have scenes. If you write a technical document, you might have parts that have chapters that have sections that have subsections. Scrivener don't care one hoot. You decide the meaning of the hierarchy.

Super Notecard (from Mindola) is another program that allows arbitrary chunks. It also knows a few things about research, such as citations, in a way that gives just a little bit of help, without imagining that it knows more than you do about how you want to organize things. I remember liking it once upon a time, but I find that Scrivener somehow fits me better. It's been a while since I compared, so I don't remember the distinguishing details.

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I fail to understand why KeyNote NF, free to download, doesn't find mention as an ideal writing software. Trees plus tabs -- that's it. Create as many tabbed notes as you want -- each note may be in tree format or in text editor format. Record your off-the-top-of-your-hat ideas in a tree format, created timelines in tree format, move the individual nodes about to get arrive at a shape for the final article, create notes for character sketches, do as many versions/drafts as you want by creating new notes the possibilities are endless and MORE IMPORTANT --you get to choose/create your own templates.

The tabbed notes can store images, Excel files, docs and so on -- if you want.

It's a free software, and extremely light too -- you can run it from a USB if you like.

The only thing it doesn't allow is storyboarding, for which maybe you can use some sort of sticky notes/index cards software. Only problem, you won't be able to transfer text from the storyboard to KeyNote NF without copy-pasting.

I use KeyNote NF for all my journalistic work -- it's pretty basic, no frills, and super versatile.

  • Welcome to Writing.SE Goga! If you have some spare time, you might want to visit the help center and the tour. Have fun! – White Eagle Apr 11 '18 at 13:17

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