Amazing Writing Machine
Broderbund’s Amazing Writing Machine is a better-than-average writing creativity tool recommended for ages 6-12 (we enjoyed it thoroughly, and we haven’t been 12 for quite some time). Stories, letters, journals, poems, and essays can be manufactured from scratch (by choosing Write from the main menu) or polished and perfected from available examples (by choosing Spin). Graphics can always be added, through a paint program or pre-existing stickers. The program does a good job of offering lots of assistance while still leaving plenty of room for originality. Choose to “Spin” an existing poem, for example, and you’ll learn a few poem forms, like iambic pentameter and haiku. Whenever you feel ready to take a shot at making your own, just sidestep into the Writing part of the program and the computer will stop suggesting words. Even in Write, though, help is always available. Choose Brainstorm to get some suggestions for ideas; double-click on any word to have the computer offer up some suggested rhymes. In this aspect, and most others, Broderbund has gone just slightly farther than the conventional kids’ writing program of today. Slightly farther may be far enough – with so many CD-ROMs offering paltry variations on identical functions, the magic has to be in the details.