Yesterday, Gizmo’s announced that the premium Novel Writing program WriteWay was now free. Apparently, the authors of the program have decided to stop development on it, and have given a registration number on the website. Registration is now free – you have to give a email address, but that’s it.

Free Registration

To use WriteWay free, you will still need to register your downloaded Demo version.
After installing WriteWay, select “Register WriteWay” from the File menu.
When the “WriteWay Registration” form appears, fill-in your name and email address in the fields provided and then always use the following license number: 432D5-A965A-1717B-C5886.
Now just click the “Register WriteWay” button and start using WriteWay.

Install the program, and make sure the FIRST TIME you run it you right click on the icon and choose “run as administrator”. This allows it to save the registration number.

So, what’s the program like? It opens with a partial sample story in it (Cinderella). Just close that, and click “New”. This will create a new story. You’ll want to change the storage location to your Dropbox folder, and then just try calling it “New Story”. Your story actually can be “blah blah” for now while you learn to use the program.

The interface is dated, and has that look that a lot of programs like “Contour” and “Character Creator” have. I think this (and the fact I’d never heard of WriteWay before yesterday) could be why the product never really took off.

I do like how the program forces you to plan things. I DON’T like how it tries to get you to name every scene and chapter by default when making them. I like to set up my novel format first, and THEN name my chapters. Having to click the “New Chapter” button and then click a “Cancel” button to create a chapter is annoying. Literally, this means I’m clicking “Cancel” 60 times as I populate my novel with chapters and scenes. I’m sure this is something that can be changed in the preferences, but I’ve only had the program for a day, and this is my first time really trying the program.

What I do like is the WriteWay structure makes you plan. I’m slowly reverting to being a pant’ser, and that’s not a good thing – if you want your book to be written quickly. Pant’sing does nothing more than give you writer’s block when you’ve got nothing.

The program opens with wanting you to define what your novel is. If you want to leave it blank, you can just click apply, and then go to “Properties” later to add more.

Genres. The software comes with “Other” as the default. Go ahead and write in the name of the genre yourself – it allows you to add “Thriller”, “Mystery”, “Flightless Arctic Water Fowl”, whatever you’re writing. And it saves those choices.

Set up your program with 8 chapters in Act 1, 14 chapters in Act 2, and 8 chapters in Act 3. Add one scene per chapter. Adding scenes and chapters is actually a little faster here than Scrivener – but that “Cancel” step with having to name chapters and scenes is a definite annoyance. Again, it’s probably something you can turn off in the preferences. All you have to do to add a chapter is to select the act you want to add the chapters to, and hit the “Chapter” button. I like to name chapters and scenes later.

To add scenes., select the chapter, and click the “scene” button.

Synopsis. Under the file menu, there’s an option to write a full synopsis for the book. Yes, your eyes just glazed over, but your agent is going to ask for a synopsis of your book, and the publisher will too. You should write two synopsizes, a one-age and a three page.

Storyboard. Yes, WriteWay has a corkboard view. Click the Storyboard button. There’s a lot of sub context menus by right clicking. To get back to the default view, click “Composition”.

Font Matter and Back Matter. You can add default pages by clicking on “Front matter” and click the “Page” button. It’s then a matter of clicking on each of the page types, choosing “add”, and then going over a couple of columns and choosing “front matter” or “Back matter”. You can also add user pages. WriteWay allows you to drag pages back and forth.

Once all this is done, NOW you can select your scenes and chapters, right click, and change scene and chapter names. At the bottom of the scene page, you can add synopsis for each scene. It’s kind of like YWriter in that respect.

One very good feature in it, is that you can set a project word count, start and completion date (hint – choose a completion date that gives you the coveted 1,667 per day word count! If you start today, your completion date is Feb. 3!)

And yes, WriteWay has a full screen mode!

There’s a good drop down Character Generation section. And a research section as well. These features pull it slightly ahead of YWriter for a lot of these functions. The first thing you DO need to learn is that for all of the subsections, to get back to the main screen is the Composition button.

Future Book Ideas. Believe it or not, this is something you can set up and keep track of in WriteWay. What you enter in here is kept in the WriteWay folder, not in your project folder – so that every idea you come up with is available in EVERY project! For Mysteries, you can list them as “poisoning-jealousy-rejected suitor/heiress victim”, etc. I can plan out an entire series of mysteries this way! Thrillers can be “introduction to the Organization/man finds smart watch in 1961/hunted by assassins” or whatever. I’ve got good ideas for my Thrillers, so I’m trying to keep those under wraps! This alone is a good way to keep track. Try to add projected dates for them. Have a “Writing Admin day” where you plan these out. I’d make folders myself instead of pages, and you can write your synopsis for them in separate pages. The way WriteWay is currently set up is that you’d write loglines for each one, and you’d store them all in the “Fiction stories” page.

Drawback. There’s no way to make notes to yourself in chapters or scenes.  If you’re used to making comments to yourself in Scrivener for scenes, then you’re going to feel stifled and crippled! The workaround is to do it in the scene plot at the bottom of the page, and then just clip that part out or strikethrough once it’s done.

I’m going to try writing a complete novel in it, so that I can write a much more in depth feature for beginning writers. sometime in February or March. I hope! Stay tuned.

Conclusion

I’ve literally got less than 20 minutes of experimenting with WriteWay. I think if they’d updated the interface by looking at Scrivener and YWriter, they’d have probably would have been more successful. However, I’ll say this that WriteWay is a good contender for the beginner novelist who can’t afford Scrivener right away. This goes in with YWriter as a good free alternative to Scrivener.  And some people may indeed decide after getting used to it (and seeing if the annoying Name this Chapter/Scene can be turned off!) that this is indeed the program for them.  I think this is great, to have two free alternatives to Scrivener. Not all people think alike, and many writers alas are financially strapped until they get published.