Daily Freeware

I've come across two very excellent writing tools that put many payware titles to shame while competing quite nicely with the most expensive of the lot. To be clear these tools are mainly for creative writing, not creating your resume or writing emails. Both are flexible and cater to a niche of the creative individuals out there of which I am one.

FocusWriter by Graeme Gott

First off we have FocusWriter which is directed at the writer wanting a distraction-free environment. While there are other similar freeware titles out there such as Q10 and WriteMonkey, they don't offer the flexibility of FocusWriter. The ability to create and change themes which consists of a background wallpaper, size of writing area and the font you wish to use can really make a positive impact on the atmosphere and focus of your writing environment. The only addition I could possibly suggest would be a music player with playlist/loop/repeat function. This can, of course, be solved with other software but having it as part of a theme would be nice. Also available within the program is in-line spell checking, no F7 to scan through the document but actual Office-style spell checking. The positives of quick glances versus the tedium of a unnecessarily manual process need not be stated. The interface is what you would expect but autohides until you mouse-over, leaving you with a clean, full canvas in which to fill. Source code for FocusWriter is also available, so if you have a great idea or Graeme happens to fall of the planet, the program can continue. Format handling is limited to TXT, RTF and Open Office's ODT format with support for multiple open documents but that's as flexible as I need anyway. The basics such as bold, italic, etc and justification are all available but no advanced features such as image insertion, fonts or font size - the font you choose for the theme is all you can have. Though I can understand the typewriter-esce aesthetic, I'm ok with the modern computer and wish to take full advantage of it's features. This issue aside, I could completely uninstall Open Office now without a care if not for the necessity of reading or editing other document formats. Creatively though, FocusWriter will be my mainstay for the foreseeable future.

Trelby by Osku Salerma and Anil Gulecha

Next up we have Trelby which is directed at a specific subset of wordsmiths out there called screenwriters. Final Draft is most probably the know-all and be-all of screenwriting software available but $250 is a little steep for many. Freeware solutions are few and far between, mostly requiring you to be online in some way or joining a cult for access, Trelby has no such requirements. The features are a little lacklustre when it comes to Final Draft, the formatting is spot on and almost automatic but utilities such as character, dialogue and scene breakdown are limited to reports. Having a handy scene breakdown with jump points and especially a character list is crucial and needs to be added. A fine piece of accompanying software you can use for this is yWriter by Spacejock Software. Built for novel writing, yWriter supports the character and scene breakdown with places for some additional information if you require. Two other handy features Trelby includes are a regional name database containing the common names of people for the area you specify and script version comparing. The comparing feature is a great idea but requires you save multiple versions separately, a much better idea would be to save them internally within the same file and add a snapshot feature. Trelby supports importing of Final Draft or Celtx file formats with exporting to HTML, RTF, Final Draft as well as PDF files with optional watermarking. For those interested in getting to know screenplay writing more intimately, the resource page on Trelby's website has some linkage for you. Trelby is also open source but unfortunately requires you to contact the authors directly for access.
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