Writing, Reading, and Smiling . . . It's Contagious.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Five Must-Have Free Programs




How much money did you spend on that program?

None.

Huh?

None!


Many people ask me about the programs I use in my writing and artistic endeavors. As a starving artist, I generally shy away from the expensive software and utilize free programs. On the average, most are as good as or come in a close second to the big blockbuster software. Not only that, but I don't have cut off an appendage in order to achieve success.


Five Must-Have Free Programs


1. OpenOffice  In my opinion, this is the best word processing program you'll find among open-source and traditional software. Page layout is advanced and exports include .pdf format, among others. The only major cons I've found are the inability to export to PDF/X and the limitations of the full-justification feature (line rather than paragraph execution). OpenOffice also includes five other popular programs that rival major competitors' spreadsheet, slide, and database creators. 

2. GIMP  Why would anyone ever need another art program after using GIMP? I have no idea! After downloading GIMP several years ago, I've never used another art program. EVER. OK, I've used the art program mentioned later in this countdown, but that's all! This program has a lot of goodies, including advanced layering, brushes, animation, and filters. Not only that, but creative people are always writing new scripts to improve the functionality. The only con I've found is that the program will not export images to the .pdf format, hence my usage of Inkscape.

3. Inkscape  This program is nice because it will convert popular image extensions to the .pdf format. Although it does have filters, easy-to-execute line creation, and a nice layout, I prefer GIMP for all of my drawing and photo editing needs.

4. Storybook  I discovered this program a couple of weeks ago and have thrown away all of my handwritten notes and abandoned my offline database for novel writing. Yeah, it's that great. You can create character descriptions and location descriptions. You can create and manage chapters and scenes and add characters and locations to each. Time lines of chapters and scenes are generated (great for mysteries) and characters' ages are automatically calculated (helpful if you're writing a saga). I'm only skimming the surface of this program, folks; my advice is to check it out before you write another word. If you're a highly organized writer, you're going to love it!

5. Font Xplorer  This is relatively minor, I know, but if you're a writer who has about a million fonts on your hard drive, a font viewer is going to make your life much easier. Installation is easy and the reward is having all of your fonts available for viewing in one location. When I download fonts, I save them by individual author in a font folder. Then I can view the fonts and their character maps in Font Xplorer by author, character set, whatever.


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Why are you still here? Download these free programs. Now!

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As always, I love to hear from you.
If you’re in the cyber-neighborhood, drop me a line.

In the meantime, keep writing, reading, and smiling.
It’s contagious.

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