Recommended instead for Mac OS/X users:
Buy Scrivener 3 for macOS (Regular Licence)
What is yWriter?
yWriter6 is free to download and use, but you're encouraged to register your copy if you find it useful.
Are you upgrading from yWriter5?
Yw5 projects load and save from ywriter6 just fine. No importing, no converting.
When you install ywriter6 it goes into a new folder and uses its own settings. If you want to keep all your ywriter5 settings, look for the Spacejock Software\yWriter5 folder inside %AppData% (just enter that in Windows Explorer's path field to open the hidden Windows folder.)
Then copy ywriter5.ini from the yWriter5 folder to the yWriter6 folder, and rename it yWriter6.ini
However, if you double-click a YW5 file it may still open in ywriter5. Just be sure to tick 'associate .yw5 files' when installing yWriter6.
If you're just embarking on your first novel a program like yWriter may seem like overkill. I mean, all you have to do is type everything into a word processor! Sure, but wait until you hit 20,000 words, with missing scenes and chapters, notes all over your desk, characters and locations and plot points you've just added and which need to be referenced earlier ... it becomes a real struggle. Now imagine that same novel at 40,000 or 80,000 words! No wonder most first-time writers give up.
Who designed it?I'm Simon Haynes, the designer and programmer. I have twenty-five years computer programming experience and I'm also the author of a science fiction comedy series and a new middle-grade science fiction comedy for ages 9-12. ALL of my novels were written in yWriter.
What's so special about yWriter?I really struggled with my first novel because I wrote slabs of text into a big word processor file and I just couldn't make sense of the whole thing at once. No real overview, no easy jumping from scene to scene, nothing.
Next I tried saving each chapter to an individual file, with descriptive filenames, but moving scenes between files was a nuisance and I still couldn't get an overview of the whole thing (or easily search for one word amongst 32 files)
My last attempt to use Word involved saving every scene as an individual file - e.g. Chapter 01 Scene 01 - Hal Spacejock Gets a Job.doc. That was fantastic until I decided to move one scene three chapters ahead, and had to manually rename all the files. Then I decided to put it back again! I could never remember which of the 200+ files contained a note I was looking for either.
As a programmer I'm used to dealing with projects broken into source files and modules, and I never lose track of my code. I decided to apply the same working method to my novels ... and yWriter was the result.
Why focus on scenes instead of chapters?A scene is a pleasant chunk to work on - small and well-defined, you can slot them into your novel, dragging and dropping them from one chapter to another as you interleave strands from different viewpoint characters and work out the overall flow of your book. You can also mark a scene as 'unused' if you've written yourself into a dead end, which will keep it out of the word count and exports without deleting the content.
yWriter also allows you to add scenes with no content - just type a brief description and you can pretend you've written it. This is great for the parts you're not ready to write yet, or for when you get blocked. Skip over that part and come back later! Unfinished scenes, rough ideas ... it's so much harder to keep track of them when they're all pasted into one long word processing document.
yWriter may look simple, but as the author of several novels written with this tool I can guarantee it has everything needed to get a first draft together. Without yWriter, I would never have become a published author.
yWriter is a standalone application which runs on Windows PCs. It doesn't need or use an internet connection, and all data is stored on your own computer. The only time it uses the internet is if you use the inbuilt 'check for update' routine (in which case yWriter simply checks the latest version number from spacejock.com), or the 'backup to ftp' feature (in which case you have to provide the server address and login details.)
You'll find the yWriter facebook page here.
Best of all, yWriter is free.You won't pay anything to download yWriter, and the software contains no adverts, unwanted web toolbars, desktop search programs or other cruft. You can register your copy if you wish, but this is optional.
Video Tutorials/Feature rundowns:In English:
Feature list:Organise your novel using a project.
Add chapters to the project.
Add scenes, characters, items and locations.
Display the word count for every file in the project, along with a total.
Saves a log file every day, showing words per file and the total. (Tracks your progress)
Saves automatic backups at user-specified intervals.
Allows multiple scenes within chapters
Viewpoint character, goal, conflict and outcome fields for each scene.
Multiple characters per scene.
Storyboard view, a visual layout of your work.
Re-order scenes within chapters.
Drag and drop of chapters, scenes, characters, items and locations.
Automatic chapter renumbering.
... And many more
Users of earlier versions: You can install later versions (e.g. yWriter 4 and 5) at the same time as versions 2 and/or 3, and each version of yWriter has an importer which will read in any earlier yWriter project, right back to yWriter 2. The only thing you can't do is re-export your project back into older versions.
Every major version of yWriter uses different installation folders and start menu entries, and they won't interfere with each other.