Friday, March 2, 2012

What Program Do You Trust Your Manuscript With?

Now that I have critique partners, I’ve discovered the importance of document format. I don’t mean the formatting of the manuscript into standard critique style (double spaced lines, left justified, etc.). I mean the format in which the document was saved.

I use Word for most of my editing needs. I’ve heard some people like Scrivener, but Word suits me fine and I have the added advantage of being able to edit my WIP pretty much anywhere I have access to a computer. And my CPs use Word too, which makes things convenient. But we don’t all use the same version of Word. I know this because one of my CPs sent a chapter in docx format, which Office 2000 -- the version on my wife’s computer -- does not recognize. I have access to other computers which can handle that format, so it's no problem, but it made me think about this whole concept of compatibility.

You see, my manuscript has been edited by more programs and on more computers than I have characters. I believe my very first chapters were conceived on an old laptop which ran Word 97 (or some suitably old version). Since then, my poor manuscript as been edited on Word 95, Word 2000, Word 2002, Word 2003, Word 2007, and Word 2010 -- all depending upon which computer I'm sitting next to at the time. I’ve edited it on a Linux-based computer using Open Office in Word compatible mode. I’ve even started editing chapters on my Kindle using QuickOffice, which can be a bit problematic as older versions of Word often crash when presented with QuickOffice edited documents, unless I run them through newer versions of Word first. In short, I find it amazing that I haven’t had more compatibility problems.

Needless to say, I constantly make incremental backups of all my chapters, just in case.

So which programs do you use to write your novels?


  1. I still use a version of Word and remember to make back-ups.

  2. I use Word and back up my external hard drive once a week. I also save on a thumb drive and when doing edits, every so often I print out the entire manuscript.