WriteRight: The Writer's Word Processor

7 min read
Please accept my sincere apologies if the title of this article has raised your pulse along with your hopes. There is no WriteRight, and, speaking as a professional writer, with thousands of articles and numerous books under my belt, I'm comfortable saying that the Macintosh world doesn't have a word processor that's designed for writers
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. Although I'm not familiar with the full complement of word processors for other platforms, I'd be surprised if they were any better. I'm not talking about students, who may knock off a few papers per semester, or managers who need to write up occasional status reports. I'm talking about real writers, the kind of people who spend their days in their word processors, creating text, tweaking it into shape, and preparing it for the next stage in its life, be that a Web page, a press release, a magazine article, a book, or some other form of published work. It continues to amaze me that no word processor has attempted to appeal more directly to its most professional and accomplished users; it would be like telling a Hollywood director to use iMovie instead of Final Cut Pro.

Then and Now — First, a bit of history. In the beginning there was MacWrite, which introduced the entire concept of WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get. There were a few other good word processors back in the early days of the Macintosh, including the sprightly WriteNow, FullWrite (whose 2 MB memory requirement was shocking back in the day), and two more familiar names that have survived to this day: Microsoft Word and Nisus Writer. Other word processors were built into now-defunct integrated programs like BeagleWorks and GreatWorks; also, both ClarisWorks (now AppleWorks) and the perennial underdog RagTime are still kicking.

Along with the surviving programs, we've seen a revival of interest in small word processors: Nisus Writer Express (actually a completely new program that bears only a passing resemblance to the powerful and quirky Nisus Writer Classic), Mariner Write from Mariner Software, and the intriguing Mellel from the Israeli company RedleX. It's also worth considering TextWrangler from Bare Bones Software, a text editor descended from the venerable BBEdit. Alas, when I call these word processors "small," I mean it. They have occasional flashes of…
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