Some people track the epochs of their lives by the cars they owned at the time. I appear to be doing that with my computer programs. I hesitate to look back at my very early days (the Jurassic of pen and paper, the Selectric, and Wordperfect) and focus mostly on this century, but even that is revealing in ways I don’t expect.
Years ago I started using yWriter. It’s really good free writing software that does everything but make toast. It was excellent for my needs at the time because it had great outlining ability. I could give my stories something approaching a plot arc. I was a joyful creator in those days, tossing ideas at the page with the glee of Jackson Pollock discovering jet propulsion. yWriter saved my sanity, and probably my editor’s, too.
Then I went to a Mac and started using Scrivener, which I love but for different reasons. Now I’m all about the editing flexibility and don’t start using the program until my outline is already in place. Things are just simpler that way, even though Scrivener probably can make toast, along with waffles, homemade jam, and a variety of cocktails. It’s a super-powerful, clever, fabulous program, and I use about 10% of it.
The truth of the matter is, I outline using sticky notes on the wall. Or a notebook. Or a napkin. Unless you’ve got the goods, no amount of computing power will save a book. For this reason, I find my methodology getting simpler all the time. Stories are about the wrench and recovery of the human heart, no more and no less.