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Sometimes You Need More Than Your Muse
By Karen Braynard
December, 2006, 07:50

Ignite your writing with a software program. Your muse will be jealous.
We all have different views on the creative process and how best to perpetuate it and enhance it. Some of us write only when the assignment is looming. Others write for hours on a daily regime – think Ray Bradbury who’s been writing daily for the last 70 years – simply because he loves it.

How do you give your muse a little kick in the pants?
 
Whether you write because you love it or you write because you can sell it, the process of writing is a lot easier when the muse is fuelled and in high gear. One way to help you get there and stay there is to use a writing software program.
 
You no doubt have heard of the programs that are out there, but you may not see anything beyond the price tag. Do you know what these programs actually do, and how they can help either spark your creativity or shape your professional output?
 
The most widely known writing aid on the market is Dramatica Pro. You’ve undoubtedly seen it advertised in writers’ magazines and websites. This software is marketed under two distinct titles – Dramatica Pro (novels) and Movie Maker Magic (screenplays) – and depending where you make your purchase, it can run between $150.00 and $270.00. According to the marketing, "This software [was designed] with the serious writer in mind," and it shows. Writers' reviews, time and again, give Dramatica Pro two thumbs up for helping them flesh out their characters and ensure their plotlines are on the mark.
 
Dramatica Pro, however, is not for the squeamish. If you aren’t into systematically designing your fiction, then the time spent trying to work your way through the start-up might be too overwhelming. The learning curve is high and requires the author to input information every step of the way. The software creates four through lines, which provide four viewpoints. If you don’t have the foundation of your story thought out when you begin, you will by the time you end this process. It helps you create your characters in a way you probably never thought about before. The software provides step-by-step plot progression, a theme browser, a story engine, and even reports you can view to examine your story’s dramatics. It is truly awesome and inspiring.
 
Another software program available, and less demanding of the author, is Power Structure. This less intense program still allows you to fully create your characters and develop your plot and subplots in advance. There are not as many features available as Dramatica Pro, however it’s still a well-rounded program. Power Structure is essentially a collection of integrated tools for organizing your materials and linking all of your story information together. One of the things writers like best about Power Structure is that you can jump around to work on any part at any time. You can find Power Structure for around $150.00 online.
 
What about other types of writing? There are plenty of software programs available to help you with sparking the muse in general.
 
Life Journal For Writers has a different focus than novel writing. With this software you can work on drafts, do writing exercises to increase your skill, generate new work, record dreams and conversations, all the while staying effortlessly organized. The organizational setup continually helps to keep track of your writings, making them easy to find when you need them. Life Journal For Writers makes reworking writings until they are in perfect form a piece of cake. The ease of this program encourages writers to sit down and write, and even provides a timeline with which to track progress and flow. Life Journal For Writers can be purchased online for about $45.00.
 
An application that helps with your writing skills in general is StyleWriter – The Plain English Editor. It runs within your word processing program, analyzes content, and shows you how to edit in clear and concise English. The program also comes with a powerful thesaurus, an outliner, and an advanced calculator for technical writers. You can find this software for around $150.00.
 
Regardless of your method of sparking your muse, the most important thing is to sit down and, in the words of Nike, "just do it." The computer tools available are one way of making that process more productive and enjoyable. Of course, if all you need is a little inspiration, doing a simple one word brainstorming exercise can work wonders as well.
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Karen Braynard, a corporate writer and journalist, has enjoyed published success in several newspapers and magazines.  Thanks to her growing list of business clientele, she is now developing writing workshops to help her clients learn how to write for themselves, with Impact and Results!™.  Learn more at www.kbwrite.com or email kb@kbwrite.com  A networker at heart, Karen would love to hear from you.



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