Writing a novel is hard enough without having to keep track of all the chapters, versions, outlines, and notes floating around in your Documents folder. CopyWrite 2.1.1,from Bartas Technologies, makes the creative process a little less messy and a lot more productive.
CopyWrite is neither a word processor nor a desktop-publishing program. But if you handle a lot of text, it’s an excellent alternative to memory-intensive, feature-laden applications such as Microsoft Word – especially when you’re handling multiple documents. For example, a 9,000-word manuscript in CopyWrite uses considerably less memory than a 900-word document in Word.
CopyWrite has more in common with other novel-writing programs, such as Stone Table Software’s Z-Write and The Blue Technologies Group’s Ulysses: it lets you organize text in just about any way you want. You aren’t locked into a preset structure, which typically works poorly for creative writers.
CopyWrite’s interface is straightforward, and getting started is easy. I used it for two very different projects. In the first it functioned as a complete writing and editing tool for a novel in its early stages; in the second, as a reporting and document-management tool for a conference I was covering. In both cases, it organized text exceptionally well while allowing me to focus on content, rather than style – unlike many word processors, in which sophisticated formatting features interfere with writing.
I found CopyWrite’s default settings ideal for writing a novel. I started with a folder of story notes and a plot outline created in TextEdit, three chapters in Microsoft Word format, and several other Word documents containing stray passages and character-development notes. CopyWrite made organizing these disparate elements remarkably easy, and it eliminated the need to switch between applications. However, its import function is limited to previous versions of CopyWrite, ASCII text, and Rich Text Format files. Unfortunately, the program can’t import directly from a Microsoft Word or any other word-processing document, so I had to copy-&-paste from Word into CopyWrite.
CopyWrite does include some basic formatting tools. The editing screen lets you set fonts as boldface, underlined, italic, or hyperlinked. The program can check spelling; provide word, page, and character counts; and perform search-and-replace operations. A global replace button lets you make changes throughout all project documents, so if you decide, for example, that “Eugene” is really more of a “Trevor,” changing the character’s name throughout the manuscript is no problem. CopyWrite’s main organizational tools are its Project Browser window, which appears above the document, and its Notes drawer, which shows up to the right of the document. Both can be collapsed and hidden. The Notes drawer now has a special field for including external links.
The Notes drawer is helpful because it lets you take both projectwide and document-specific notes. Want to write a note that applies to only one chapter? Just associate it with that document. Need to leave a note up for the entire book? File it under Project, and it will appear in any document you work on.
A handy built-in search field, similar to the one in Apple’s Mail program, lets you instantly find all references to particular terms.
Users aren’t locked into the default settings. Adding, removing, and renaming category and status settings is a snap. This feature is particularly useful if you use CopyWrite for tasks other than creative writing, as I did when covering a conference in Silicon Valley.
In the Browser’s Settings view, I replaced the defaults with two new categories: one for working notes, and another for final documents. This made it extremely easy to turn rough notes into polished stories. Each document – no matter how you file it – can also have multiple versions. This was particularly useful when I was editing stories to fit a word count, and it let me recover deleted passages from prior versions easily.
CopyWrite 2.1.1 is a top-notch text editor and organizer, and it’s reasonably priced. I recommend it for use with multiple related documents where content is more important than presentation.