25+ Pieces of Writing Software You Should Know About
Of course, all you really need in order to write is a notebook and pen. But there are lots of software packages that can make life easier for writers. Whatever you want to be able to do, there’s almost certainly some software out there to help you. The list below includes the best packages to help you plan and structure a novel, share documents online with other people, format your screenplay or script correctly, minimize writing distractions, improve your English and more…
Often when writing, you’ll want to share a document with other people – either to ask for feedback, or to get them to add to it. All of these pieces of software allow you to share documents online, so that multiple people can have access to and edit them. I’ve found this very successful for receiving feedback from friends on my short stories.
“You can easily do all the basics, including making bulleted lists, sorting by columns, adding tables, images, comments, formulas, changing fonts and more. And it’s free. … Google Docs accepts most popular file formats, including DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV, PPT, etc. So go ahead and upload your existing files.”
“Writeboards are sharable, web-based text documents that let you save every edit, roll back to any version, and easily compare changes. Use Writeboard to write solo or collaborate with others.”
$324.99 for Microsoft Office 2007 Standard version
$109.99 for Student version
“Microsoft Office Standard 2007 offers the core Microsoft Office applications, but significantly updated for faster, better results. Comprised of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook, this software suite empowers you to create high-quality documents and presentations, build powerful spreadsheets, and manage your e-mail messages, calendar, and contacts.”
“View, print and copy Word documents, even if you don’t have Word installed.”
“OpenOffice.org 2 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.”
As a hard-up student (who preferred to spend money on booze than software), I used Open Office throughout my degree, and found it an excellent alternative to Microsoft Office. It’s a whole office suite, so can also be used to replace Excel, Powerpoint and more.
Famous open source word processor, and ideal for someone looking for a light and compact software. It comes with all the basic features that you would expect from a word processor, and it also supports different languages and operating systems.
Fiction: Writing Novels and Screenplays
If you’ve tried a bit of fiction and you want some help with writing longer pieces, there are a number of software packages you might want to try out. Here’s some reputable, well-established ones:
$54.99 download, $59.99 download and CD
“If you’ve ever tried to write a novel (or even just thought about it), you know the routine. You just can’t put everything together. You’ve got to work step by step to write a great book, right? NOT ANYMORE! NewNovelist Software has turned the writing process on its head. With this revolutionary software, you can write your novel the way you want to.”
I used version 1.0 of this myself, and it definitely helped me with my world building and pre-writing notes. None of the twelve structures it suggested quite worked for the novel I was planning, but you can change the headings to suit yourself.
Character Pro (Now called “Character Writer”, see below)
60 days free, then $69.99
“Character Pro puts a proven system for understanding human behavior at your fingertips – The Enneagram – to create a character spine for your character. But that’s only the beginning. Character Pro isolates each part of the character, provides tools and extensive help files to guide you to a well-rounded, complex and realistic character.”
Quick Story (Now called “Character Writer”, see below)
“Create a basic story structure with the Story Generator then use the tree to organize your structure while you develop the story in the edit box on the right. Simply drag and drop or insert and delete story items until your story is perfectly structured.”
This version combines features of both “Character Pro” and “Quick Story”, and is Java Based (so runs on almost any system), for $69.99.
Demo version free, $45 download, £32.90 (approx $65) on CD.
“Writer’s Café is a software toolkit for all fiction writers, whether experienced or just starting out. The heart of Writer’s Café is StoryLines, a powerful but simple to use story development tool that dramatically accelerates the creation and structuring of your novel or screenplay.”
Writing: Organising and Formatting your Manuscript
One of the biggest headaches for fiction writers is coming to the end of a project only to realise that every scene or chapter is in a separate file (and sometimes in different formats), and that pulling this all together – and editing it to match editorial conventions – is going to take ages. These packages can help you keep things organised:
“Celtx is the world’s first fully integrated solution for media pre-production and collaboration. It replaces old fashioned ‘paper, pen & binder’ media creation with a digital approach to writing and organizing that’s more complete, simpler to work with, and easier to share.”
30 days free, then $39.99
“Scrivener is a word processor and project management tool created specifically for writers of long texts such as novels and research papers. It won’t try to tell you how to write – it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application.”
Minimise Distractions When Writing
If you’re anything like me, distractions come up constantly when trying to write. Whether your problem is instant messenger, web browsing, email, or just using all the fancy formatting features on your word processor, a simpler writing environment can be the solution.
If you’re running Windows, this almost certainly came free with your computer. Some people find all the extra bells and whistles of a full wordprocessor distracting when writing. If you have trouble knuckling down to write, Wordpad allows formatting (bold, italics, etc) and can be easier to use than Word.
Free trial, then $25. Mac only.
“For people who enjoy the simplicity of a typewriter, but live in the digital world. WriteRoom is a full-screen writing environment. Unlike the cluttered word processors you’re used to, WriteRoom is just about you and your text.”
Windows version of Write Room
Both Write Room and Dark Room have a retro feel of green text on black background (though you can change the background of Write Room). I’ve used Dark Room when suffering from a severe bout of procrastination on my novel, and would certainly recommend it.
For specialised types of writing, such as creating scientific documentation, normal word processing software may not be enough.
“LaTeX is a high-quality typesetting system; it includes features designed for the production of technical and scientific documentation. LaTeX is the de facto standard for the communication and publication of scientific documents.”
Improving your English (for native and non-native speakers)
The spelling and grammar checks built into word processors can often leave much to be desired. If your English is shaky, or if you’re learning English as a foreign language, you might want to invest in software designed to help you improve your grammar and style.
This cool little program will bring a handy dictionary to your desktop, that you can use to confirm spelling of words or to check their meanings. The advantage of JaLingo is that it is OS independent, so it will work smoothly on most computers.
$79.99 for “General” version, $99.99 for “Business” version & other specialised ones. Executive writing version usually $250 but currently $125.
“WhiteSmoke is an innovative software tool that improves and edits your English writing. Based on patented natural language processing (NLP) technology, WhiteSmoke performs advanced and context-based English grammar, spelling, and punctuation checking, as well as text enrichment to enhance your writing.”
$160, which includes a “Software for writers” CD
“Designed by journalists, editors and business writing tutors, StyleWriter gives you the skills of a good editor. Simply click the StyleWriter button in Microsoft Word’s or WordPerfect’s toolbar (or any clipboard text) to launch a check for thousands of faults and bad habits found in writing. Trimming the excess words, simplifying and clarifying your style, checking for good English usage — editing is easy with StyleWriter.”
After a mis-spent youth playing online text games, I learnt to touch-type without trying to, but I realise many people aren’t so lucky (or so geeky). Typing speed is a surprisingly big factor in being a successful writer, and if you’re still pecking away at the keyboard with two fingers, it’s worth investing in software to help you learn to type properly.
$19.95 download, $34.95 CD
“KAZ will teach you how to learn to type and master your computer keyboard fast. Our interactive, multimedia typing tutor software uses a revolutionary learning method so you can learn to type really quickly without the need to resort to repetitive typing drills and games. Learning to touch type with KAZ is tested and proven with over 1 million users.”
Miracle Type (Not Available Anymore)
“Miracle Type is the perfect answer for you if typing on your computer is just taking far too long or if you have given up in frustration after trying to teach yourself to Touch Type with other typing software.”
If you run your own blog or website, you’ve almost certainly heard of WordPress and Movable Type. Both are content management systems that you install on space provided by your web host, allowing you to easily publish new posts to your blog and modify existing ones.
FREE (but you’ll need to pay for web hosting)
“WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.”
FREE (but you’ll need to pay for web hosting)
“Movable type is a professional publishing platform.”
There are also many blogging services which will host your blog for you, such as blogger.com, livejournal.com, but these are more “sites” than “software” (you don’t install them on your own webspace.)
At the moment, I journal on paper, as I like to get away from the computer screen and take fifteen minutes alone with my thoughts. I also enjoy writing with a good fountain pen, in a nice hardback notebook. However, this does make it hard to search for anything…
David RM’s “The Journal”
$39.95 download / $49.95 CD / $69.95 for “Writers’ edition”
“The Journal is a powerful journaling and writing tool that can help you take control of your life. Create a digital scrapbook of your life! Organize your notes about your family, about your work, about a hobby, about anything. Write a short story, a magazine article, or even a novel. Remember your appointments, events, tasks & special days! Find whatever you’re looking for with The Journal’s powerful searching. Get inspired!”
FREE basic version, $29.95 for standard version, $39.95 for professional version
“Debrief® is software for saving notes on your PC. Ideas. Experiences. Research. Thoughts. They come from projects, meetings, status, tasks, issues, changes, risks, decision, contacts, brainstorming, pondering, work, studies, school. Capture them while you can and put them to good use later”
Suggested by Our Readers
Use your creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling word processor specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays.
This sure is not a cheap writing software, but it is supposed to be the industry standard when it comes to script writing.
A free alternative for Dark Room and WriteRoom, Q10 brings you a full screen word processor that will let you focus entirely on what you are writing. Additionally, it also come with customizable features like paragraph styling and live statistics about your pieces.
An online service that lets you write, edit and print your scripts straight on their website. The advantage is that you can work on your scripts from different locations and from different computers.
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103 Responses to “25+ Pieces of Writing Software You Should Know About”
You left out Final Draft, which is the industry leader when it comes to scriptwriting.
Another highly popular writing application is Scrivener, although it’s Mac-only at the moment.
I love using Q10 for writing. It’s a basic text editor that would probably fall under the heading “eliminate distractions” — I like to change the background to black and the font to a green or amber pixilated one that resembles the computer I had in the 80s. There’s not a ton of formatting options, but it works really well for just getting down the words. (http://www.baara.com/q10/)
You have really provided a useful list of writing software, which are very much need for all writers in addition to their pencils and notebooks. I’ll surely be trying to use the free ones first 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
The new Adobe online office suite is also stellar. The word processing application is called “Buzzword.” Check it out at acrobat.com
Free alternative to Dark Room and Write Room:
Q10 (Win only) http://baara.com/q10/
Almost a classic: yWriter
(free, Win only, Linux with Wine)
I am desperately looking for a plotting software with flexible timelines. I thought of Gantt Project, however, the timeline is not flexibel enough for historical or fantasy/sf stuff. Any suggestions here? Preferably free and for Windows.
Zoundry Raven and w.Bloggar
– awesome software that manages your blog posts remotely.
This is a wonderful list of softwares. But have to tell you, I prefer open source softwares to other ones. They just stand out of the crowd.
You can also get a free blog at WordPress.com, if you don’t wish to pay for hosting. I believe there’s some advertising involved, however.
Two months ago I used the writer-publischer scenario for a discusion / post about the usefullness of SaaS tools [GoogleDocs], Software plus Serives [Word with MSOnline]. What kind of capabilities these tools need for a writer to do their work…
Not a plug, but I’m curious if I understood the scenario and the writers needs correct.
How did you come up with this list? Have you tried all of these?
A good addition to your WriteRoom/DarkRoom category is called Q10. Same features as DarkRoom plus things like a timer, word count goals and a nice ticking typewriter sound. Also free.
Thanks for the helpful post. I personally love google docs, I talk about it so much google should be paying me for advertisement!
As a technical writer, I’m pretty married to FrameMaker and RoboHelp. It’s hard to succeed as a technical writer if you don’t know these two tools.
Touch-typing teaching software without mention of everybody’s favorite female empowerment figure, Mavis Beacon? Something’s wrong here. Very, very wrong.
You mentioned WriteRoom and listed it as ‘free’ which it definitely is not. They have a free trial but the registered version is $24.95.
I have really enjoyed working with another piece of software called “WriteRoom” (for Mac, not the same as listed above). What makes it special is, oddly enough, its lack of features. When you open it up, it offers nothing but a blank, black screen and a blinking cursor. I tried it as an experiment for working on a novel, and found that it added focus to my writing. You can use it for free as long as you like. After I finished the first draft of my book, I went ahead and paid the $24.99 asked for the software (it was obviously worth it).
On another note: Hosting for WordPress does not have to cost anything. Free hosting is offered through wordpress.com.
I would like to mention “Bean” and VoodooPad, both for Mac. Bean is a no-nonsense text editor. One step up from TextEdit, but none of the features that make OpenOffice or NeoOffice drag. My personal favorite and all around great work-horse of a program is VoodooPad. I use this to capture all my ideas in text, whether it is notes for a class, or connected documents. It is basically a Wiki for your desktop. Very malleable for your writing needs.
Ulysses is a fantastic writers’ application for the mac, it’s quite expensive, but the demo is free: http://blue-tec.com/ulysses/
CopyWrite is also quite good: http://www.bartastechnologies.com/products/copywrite/
Both of these applications help manage larger writing projects and have a full screen mode.
Thank you for the list, and for keeping resources for us writers top of mind. I have a question, for both you and the other readers/commentators. I’ve been skeptical for some time about software for writing novels/books. It seems an unnecessary expense, when just as easily we can keep track of characters/plot lines/etc. in notebooks, word docs, or spreadsheets. To me, software like this seems to take the focus away from the art and act of writing, and instead focuses on time-wasting tasks.
That said, I also love me my fancy gadgets and software. So – are these programs truly useful and worth the expense?
QuietRebelWriter, you said better what I was thinking when I asked about how the list was generated.
I would love to improve my writing and writing process and don’t mind paying if the tools are sincerely useful.
QuietRebelWriter, a lot of this of this software actually features trimmed-down features that make the writing experience itself much simpler, and the “project management” aspect of writing more intuitive. Others like LaTeX are designed for niche markets.
I’ve always found applications like Microsoft Word and Apple’s Pages to be unnecessarily bloated. Many of the examples given in this article are actually designed with the philosophy of returning the user to the art of writing and the creative process; to help her focus on the act of writing itself rather than to complicate it.
All writers have different needs and processes, and that’s why almost all of the examples here have free demos.
But if you’re satisfied happy with your current system, there’s no need to change it!
i will like to know more about sofeware and all other application
Charlie Gilkey | Productive Flourishing
I’d like to add a couple of others, both of which I use for different purposes:
Mellel (Mac-only) is a great piece of software for scholarly writing. It’s quick key commands, robust features, and integration with bookends are stand-out features. Learning to use it, though, requires a bit of a paradigm shift – but once you do learn to use it, it’s pretty handy.
Textmate (Mac-only) is a fabulous piece of software for web writers. It gets a lot of acclaim from programmers because it is a text editor, but the ability to keep your hands on the keys while writing HTML documents saves me a lot of time. The minimalism of it helps keep me from fidgeting with settings, as well.
Great list, Dustin.
Many thanks for the comments all, and for pointing me and others to some more excellent pieces of software — of course, a list of 25 can’t be totally comprehensive.
@Paula — I’ve not tried every piece of software on the list, though I’ve used a number of them. Others have either been recommended to me by fellow writers, or are heavily bookmarked on del.icio.us
@QuietRebelWriter — not all the software will suit everyone! I’ve personally had mixed results from novel writing software; I wouldn’t say it was a waste of money or time, but nor would I think it by any means an “essential” purchase.
@chris — Thanks for the correction! Yes, WriteRoom is $24.95 for the non-trial version.
Again, thanks to everyone for extending the list here — do keep adding your favourites! 🙂
I recently found Evernote – http://evernote.com. You can save bits and pieces of things from all over the net – and all over your computer – and mark them private or public. And it all syncs up with the Evernote website – so you can share items with invited Evernote users.
There’s also http://www.scripped.com. Great for the first time writer!
Thank you all, especially Ali! You help blaze the way for newbies and dreamers like me!
A far superior word processor to MSWord and far less cumbersome.
I am not a fan of White Smoke as a company. Once you demo one of their projects, you end up on their spam list and cannot get off. Their technical support is a joke, when you call you get some person with a foreign accent who can’t help you, if you can get anyone at all.
I would not recommend them to anyone.
Tom Chandler/Copywriter Underground
Several comments have mentioned Q10 — a classic clean screen text processor that even generates typewriter noises while you type.
It’s a real blast for those of us who started our writing careers on typewriters, and offers me an odd auditory boost when I’m getting a lot of words on paper.
Nice Post. Informative also. Thanx for this list of softwares.
Great information. Does any of the programs on the list or elsewere check the correct use of prepositions in a text? That’s what I need.
A few notes:
Whitesmoke–Are you joking? Did you try this?
Technical writers–Adobe Technical Communication Suite includes FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Acrobat Pro, and Captivate
I confess . . . I still use WordPerfect. It just works for me.
Thanks for the list!
Yea, I think the Scripped Writer at http://www.scripped.com is a good one. I just finished my first screenplay and it formatted it for me. It was super easy.
I noticed several comments about the softwares you recommended but not one following comment about Stylewriter. For my money it is one of the best and most comprehensive, check it out. It’s quite expensive but worth it and the demo is FREE and no I am not selling it, although I should.
writeexpress is also easy letters writing software
Very useful stuff. Also very extensive… Thanks!
NLP Training Info
Thanks for this good list of tools nice compiled.
Ok, so I have about 3 novels in varying stages of completion. One from NANOWRIMO and a couple from just sitting down and writing. I know my stuff is good. However, as evidenced in this post I totally suck at punctuation and grammar. I need software that can help me with that. Does anyone have any advise?
A couple of years ago I saw some software that would compare your writing(i.e., you provided a sample of some text) with the writing of some other author (e.g., you could enter some text from a Hemingway novel). I have thought about this from time to time and would like to try it but cannot remember and cannot find reference to the software. Does anyone have a referral?
Thanks for the great list, I’ve been looking at reviewing some of these for my own use.
I’ve just started to use buzzword from adobe and I have to say I like it. I also use google docs for general stuff on the go as well as box.net.
Scripped is good for script writers, but also have a look at zhura.com; it’s really good.
I started using G-Docs for writing drafts. To correct spelling or grammar I use an English proofreading software and to finalize the documents I use the common MS Word.
The benefit of using an online based software is that your files are always up-to-date and using a UBS stick gets obsolet.
Interesting website! Are you an affiliate marketer, by any chance?
I’ve been using Power Writer for a number of years. It’s a terrific program for writing, organizing and staying on track, particularly for fiction and creative non-fiction.
I don’t believe they have an affiliate program in place. If they did I’d be first in line to help them sell it.
Cheers! Love to hear back from you, -Mike-
I simply tried to contribute something valuable to your blog.
Placing a link back to my “home”, can be called legitimate or not. But since you offer to submit a ‘Website’ in your comment submission form, I didn’t hesitate to do so… 🙂
I’m sure Power Writer is a good product as well. Have to test it’s capabilities once in a while. Thanks for the share.
No hard feelings!
You also left out two new products, myWriterTools and myWordCount, which are great add-ons for writers. You can check them out at http://www.mywritertools.com
research paper writing
Well, I have been reading your blog posts daily and the reason I come on your blog frequently is its compelling content… Regards…
Well, all these may be find and dandy for you people to use, but I find Corel’s Word Perfect be the best program for me to use.
I have used this program for over twenty years (Since version 3.1) and they have the most versatile format I have found. Plus they have a very decent grammar checker. It will count your words, auto correct your common errors, and much more….
So, if you are looking for a program better than Microsoft Office … check Word Perfect out.
Just my two cents worth.
Have Fun, Ya’ll
I think you should expand the list to 26 and include HostWriter.net. The internet’s first, and only, free web application for writers.
You could add StoryO to this list as well now – it was just released (Sept 2009). Check it out at http://www.junglesoftware.com – from the makers of Gorilla film production software.
I’ve been writing for several years – some small stuff published, but not the ‘Great American Novel’, that is, not yet. . .
During that time, I’ve tried several of the programs listed above. Many of them are useful, and some are very useful. I think the following are worth serious evaluation, and I also thing different people have different styles and writing ‘MOs’, and certain features in these programs may suit certain writers more than others.
1. yWriter (My personal favorite – the one I now use almost exclusively for real ‘writing’, and it’s free!)
2. WriteItNow (a very feature rich and reasonably priced program)
3. StoryBook (very useful for plotting, organizing, and integrating different plot lines – I use it in concert with yWriter – also free)
4. WriteWay (very intuitive interface with a nice, nothing fancy, set of features.
5. PowerWriter (nice, feature rich, but a little pricey)
6. PowerStructure (the organizing counterpart of PowerWriter, also pricey)
7. WordWeb – a very easy to use free dictionary and thesaurus which installs and sits in your task bar – can be used with all the programs listed
Hope this is useful.
I’m just starting out and wanting to get to know what’s available, so thanks for this very handy list. Anyone got any comments on NewNovelist?? Cheers, Ros
Just a quick note — you can change the background colour in DarkRoom as well, just as in WriteRoom. DarkRoom lets you change text colour, background colour, font, and lots of other stuff.
I didn’t see StorYBook mentioned. It’s free and great. It keeps your chapters and scenes separated and the editing is easy.
What about Microsoft One Note. That is AMAZING software. Simple, you can collaborate with it, and very clean.
If you haven’t tried it yet, I would highly recommend it.
I am recuperating at home from major surgery and have several weeks of free time. I would like to try my hand at writing travel articles. Is there any software that can give me a hand at this first-time experience?
Storyblue (storyblue.com) came out a few months ago, and we just added new charts that track your word-count, and a feature that lets you add daily writing goals. It’s got a free demo, so check it out, let me know what you think. 🙂
Oh, you missed the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. I prefer it over WhiteSmoke and StyleWriter, for sure.
I use Grammarian Pro for Grammar and, to an extent, punctuation. It’s pretty good and customisable for different writing styles and also different applications. It also evaluates your writing for reading age and ‘Human Interest’. For keeping ideas together I use Circus Ponies’ Notebook and for actual writing, Scrivener. All Mac I’m afraid.
My Word add-in called “Writing Outliner” has just released, it’s designed specifically for writing long documents (such as novels, manuals, etc) with Microsoft Word.
I like Fiction Master for fiction writing. Sol Stein is a genius. He makes fiction writing easy by asking questions and giving examples. I listened to the audiobook version of On Writing. His teaching of dialogue just made so much sense to me. He put it in the software, Fiction Master.
Thanks for the list!
I also just recently released a free online novel writing application called LitLift.com.
It’s main purpose being to help authors organize their novel’s information and research.
need help getting started on my thesis 30pg paper due dec 10th,writing is not one of my strong points.last class really scared haven’t got started .any suggestions? topic is pretty basic how a nutritionist apply math to their daily route exercise,behavior change,and weight .calories,label reading,vitimins dosage.
The software I use and found helpful (these are all free/open source):
-Open Office, writing and spreadsheet plotting (or Abiword and Gnumeric to do the same)
-Celtex has been interesting so far for a movie script.
-xmind for plotting & brainstorming (Freemind is also good)
-gedit for lightweight text input.
One key to consider, what happens when the power in the building goes out? How much work do you potentially lose with that writing software? You can easily do a test, create a paragraph and unplug the computer. Some software handles this well (Open Office), and some skimpier or thinner software will lose everything back to your last physical save.
I also use Linux exclusively (Ubuntu and Debian; http://www.ubuntu.com). I find Linux more hardware efficient/faster and not prone to viruses and such. You can start with a salvaged 10 year old desktop, put a modern Ubuntu on it, and have access to the latest software tools – your writing startup costs just got a whole lot less expensive.
Let me say Thank You Thank You and Thank You very much for your information of writing software. I truly enjoyed what you have write. I’m a blogger and want to be a good writer as well. Of course this site helped me a lot. Again, thank you very much.
Q10 is a great software, especially if you’re distracted easily. Another good one for novel writing is yWriter! I believe it’s windows-only, though.
No, it’s not! It’s also available for Linux.
Thank you so much for this. It was extremely useful. I am trying out WriteRoom right now and LOVING it. I will buy it and probably Scrivener as well. Thanks again!
I’ve used Final Draft for all of my scripts and it is the gold standard in Hollywood. The software is very intuitive. You can move from action to dialog with the click of the tab key.
Format is so damned important and it’s all based on how scripts have looked for decades. Courier type only, specific type size. What you end up with is something that looks like it was typed on a manual typewriter 50 years ago.
When I wrote for Warner, they handed me a set of instructions for formatting your script to their needs. I don’t know if their formatting rules were different or if I looked so stupid they assumed I didn’t know anything about formatting. I sort of assume the latter. I tossed the handout in the trash. I had enough pressure without worrying about formatting.
You can work online with another writer using Final Draft and you have your computer read it back to you and assign different voices to different character. I was surprised how helpful it was to hear the thing read out loud, though computers can’t act very well.
Final Draft is very expensive, at least two hundred bucks but well worth it.
For those of you who are interested in technical and scientific writing, don’t forget such products as Adobe FrameMaker, a must for long, technical documents and Adobe RoboHelp, for online Help systems.
Those who may be doing scientific articles should look into EndNote.
None of these products is cheap — quite to the contrary — but if you’re interested in these technical, specialized areas, they are a necessary investment. MS Word won’t cut it.
This is exceptionally useful writing info. I looked through some of the free and trial software offers and they will greatly assist in making some of my writing work much easier.
Another useful tool that I use is called dropbox. I’m wary of using online software alone to do my writing. Dropbox is NOT a word processor. It is a storage tool. Whenever I finish a chapter, I upload it to Dropbox, so that if my laptop ever crashes, I will have the backups.
Evernote is another useful tool. It alows me to save entire webpages into ‘notebooks’ so that I don’t have to print EVERY page of research that I need. It includes a word processor, and is also a great way to store documents for backup and editing. Evernote is available on computers and there is an app for the iPhone and iPad, which is especially convenient.
Both of these are also FREE. 🙂
I’ve started using WriteWay to help organize my novel. It’s fairly easy to use and intuitive, but there are some major flaws to the program. Often times edits that I make in one section are not saved when I switch to another section. The formatting of the entry titles is not fixed .. so entry spots move around and get lost.
I finally had to abandon the software when I entered about two hours worth of material only to find it missing after I saved it.
There are a lot of good things WriteWay offers, unfortunately stability and consistency are far from adequate for professional writers.
Just thought I would give a heads up …
I don’t think I saw Autocrit on the list. It is very good at spotting repeated and overused words and phrases. Gives advice on a lot of other things as well.
Another more amusing one is gender genie, which tells you the sex of the writer, pretty useful if you are writing with a main character or POV that is not your own sex.
Im writer (french novel) published. After Page (mac) now i use Storyist, or Scrinvener. And no need more. Scrinvener have a realy nice full screen. But no timeline for Storyst and Scrinevner. But we have this soft Aeon Timeline.
A lightweight word processor I have tried for Windows, but don’t see mentioned in this list is “Angel Writer”. It’s free to download and use,
(only 2MB), and is very similar to MS Word. I have not tried this, but it might work if installed onto a flash memory stick, could be useful if using various computers away from home, and ‘Notepad’ is too simple.
“Famous open source word processor, and ideal for someone looking for a light and compact software.”
I’ve always been curious about the above use of “software.” It’s my understanding that “software,” while a noun, typically refers to a collection of programs, such as “system” software or “office” software. Personally, I’ve always considered the above use somewhat awkward and feel that using “program” or “application” instead helps things read a bit better: “…and ideal for someone looking for a light and compact application.”
For specialised types of writing, such as creating scientific documentation, normal word processing software may not be enough. LaTeX
Couldn’t disagree more. LaTeX is what you should be using if you write things. Anything. At least, anything you wouldn’t consider doing on an old manual typewriter. Especially non-“specialised types of writing”. Or, if you’re GUI-obsessed, see LyX.
For those writing moments when the new fresh ideas just do not flow freely, I find STORYBASE software is the perfect solution – once I choose a category, it offers dozens of story suggestions and really helps me get back on the right track.
According to English writing software review, there is a patent pending solution for people who are involved with writing for business or for pleasure. The program will enable people to transcribe thoughts, ideas and information in a really professional and sophisticated fashion
I found prewriter.com to be invaluable for keeping track of my writing materials. My husband will vouch for the now significantly cleaner state of my office!
pangurpad.com is an extremely new and has a lot of features coming soon. It’s online-based and very close to LitLift.com, except not as developed yet because it’s so new. Very promising, though. You can try it for free and if you like it you can buy an annual upgrade for $20 or a one-time payment of $45. Good buy. 🙂
Good writing software will take all the story ideas inside your head and transform those ideas into fully developed short stories or novels. Good software can do many things to help you begin creative writing. There too many to go into in the space of this article, but here are a couple off the top of my head.
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Good writing software will take all the story ideas inside your head and transform those ideas into fully developed short stories or novels.
Better software will write novels while you’re reading the paper, without you having to have any ideas or thoughts at all!
Q-1.The manuscript is ready in word file. I want to view it in book-format ie both pages open and page numbered and also make corrections. Can it be done on Windows -7.? Please advise how to do it.
Q-2. The manuscript is a historical study. I wish to download and insert pictures/maps along side or at the beginning/end of each chapter. Whose permission is needed for inserting the downloads in the book? Also, any soft ware that could help in designing the pages to fit the inserts?.
I myself use the online services(Google documents) … It is my best writing workshop, in addition i use some additional tools for the final touches of my books like the book cover, Table of contents, and the book index.
For the last one i use a program called PDF Index Generator (www.pdfindexgenerator.com) to create my book index then use the output index in Google docs to finish my book.
That is my best writing environment.
Scrivener is now available for windows, also.
I use that, and I also use Yarny when I’m traveling, so I can still keep organized. GetYarny.com, I believe. Free.
Any suggestions for what would be most helpful for me to transcribe my uncle’s diaries (from 1922 to 19520) and extract the different threads – his illness, home life, the weather, the cars he loved, ladies he loved, his career as a draftsman designer before, during and after the war, the places he lived, etc? (UK)
I also want a timeline, and want to be able to select threads at specific periods and see how they relate to each other – eg where he lived, and what his career was at that time.
I am not ready to decide how to use the text yet, whether just as research for a piece of writing, directly in a kind of script, or what. I just don’t want t type it all out and then find I should have used a certain sort of programme, when it comes to using it.
Any suggestions would be most gratefully received.
Write Monkey is more powerful and feature rich and can be replacement to Dark Room.
For Linux / Ubuntu users, try kabikaboo for organizing information.
Also, consider what format the text is saved in. if I can be exported to something that can create intrinsic outlines (such as xoxo or one of the xmls).
Right now the best intrinsic outliners are all Mac, hence it’s popularity as a writing tool. Nearly everyone I know uses OmniOutliner.
There is no good single-pane outliner for Linux. Sad but true.
Xmind works pretty well for outlining .. starting with a brainstorming map and then output to an outline.
Latest series I’m working on I outputted the text from there and pasted it at the end of the LibreOffice document and write in using bits from the outline or those notes as I chew through the plan.
If you’re using OpenOffice .. check out LibreOffice. I’m finding it’s much more stable and better at coordinating with the latest MSOffice files for collaborating.
I use Open Office as my heavy-standard writing tool. It is very reliable for professional writing. For light-standard writing, Debrif is cool.
I said there was no good single-pane (intrinsic) outliner for Linux, and boy was I wrong.
Emacs with org-mode is GREAT at outlining but there is a learning curve.
In Linux also try KeepNote. It’s new, it’s not really intrinsic. But it seems to be simple and have some good features.
Liquid Story Binder is another amazing writing software for the PC. I don’t know what I would do without it: it has dividers for your chapters and scenes for easy reorganization, it has a mindmap and time line function, it has a journal for better organization, as well as a checklist for other details. Side functions are the character dossiers, typewriter function, character creator, and customizable backgrounds, playlists, and password functions.
There is now a Windows version available for Scrivener. And the 30 day trial only takes one day away for every day you use it, so there’s no hurry.
The Mac is $45 (as it has improved significantly since this article) and the Windows version is $40. There are Educational licenses and discounts for NaNoWriMo winners.
Scrivener is so powerful. I’ve used it for history research papers that I would have failed otherwise, since I can’t organize my information the way most seem to do. Highly, highly recommended.
I think you might update your list of writing software. There have been some interesting developments since 2007.
Office365 is now a remarkably usable piece of kit, especially with complete cross platform utility.
Apple’s (still in beta) also cross platform office suite also deserves a look, especially as it is for the moment free.
Smart Edit is now in version 3, from BadWolfSoftware.
Scrivener by now also has a version for Linux, as well as Mac and Windows. To date, the Linux version is “unofficial” but it works great.
The people who make Scrivener (which is great, by the way) also make a product called Aeon Timeline:
This tool is fantastic for laying out timelines and can handle fantasy, BC/AD, whatever. If you are using a Mac, Aeon TImeline will sync up with Scrivener. That feature is not available for Windows…yet. They are promising that they are working on it and it will be out soon.
Brainstorm Pro is a new writing software.
Brainstorm Pro has a fast thesaurus, dictionary and translation software. It also has some other tools, like rhyming engine and more.
I came across this post quite a while ago while publishing my first book. What struck was that there isn’t a single tool that combines these killer features into one simple, powerful application. I wanted to be able to collaborate in real time with my editor, write in a beautiful interface and then format my document in one click. Frustrated, I decided to so something about it. Check out the Reedsy Book Editor (www.reedsy.com/write-a-book). A beautiful free production tool that takes care of the formatting and conversion, before you have even finished writing.
Let me know what you think about it!