How using certain online tools can improve your writing
Any writer will tell you that writing is hard. Although it’s something we can all relate to, we are only as good as our tools. Which is why it’s important to know what novel writing software is available for when inspiration strikes.
Some of the best apps for writers are made specifically for novels or screenplays. It can be hard to choose and determine the best creative writing app for you, which is why I’ve compiled this handy guide.
In this article, you’ll get to know what you might be looking for in creative writing apps as well as a list of my top recommendations for software for writers. Writing/editing software doesn’t have to be complicated, or expensive. Read on to learn more about some of my top picks for your writer’s toolbelt!
Selecting the Best Novel Writing Software
First thing’s first: choosing the best writing app for your needs and expectations. There’s an ever-growing abundance of software tools and apps available for writers, both for editing grammar and clarity, as well as structuring or formatting your writing.
Having so many choices can be bewildering, especially if you consider yourself a dabbler or a writer of multiple genres or styles. However, there’s an app out there for everyone, whether it be outlining software, proofreading software, or simply an aesthetically pleasing writing platform!
Before we dive into these top 10 writing apps, take some time to determine your own needs and wants. For example, are you looking for an app that is just for story planning, or are you looking for a technologically advanced screenwriting software?
Depending on how specific your needs are, some writing apps are better than others.
One of the most determining factors when shopping for author software is knowing the platform on which the app or software is required to run. Do you have a Mac or Windows computer? The best writing apps for Android or iPad may vary. Are you hoping to work on your phone or tablet? These questions will help you select the best writing software.
You should also think about the various capabilities and features that many creative writing apps can provide. These include:
Many apps offer novel or screenplay templates, a perfect feature for new or structured writers looking for assistance in their formatting.
- Cost / Licensing
On a budget? Some of these writing apps on this list are free, but many others have fees, including monthly subscription options.
- Ease of use / easy to learn
Often writing apps can feel like you are learning an entirely new language; choosing a more simplistic app could be beneficial if you are searching for something that you can write on right away.
- Additional useful features
Are you hoping for formatting tips or assistance with your overall grammar and sentence clarity? Some writing apps offer these features, and many more. If you are looking for something specific, keep an eye out for that!
- File formats
Having an app for writing that will save in a variety of formats can be extremely valuable for writers, especially those of you submitting your work under very precise guidelines.
- Collaboration capabilities
If you are working on a writing project with a group or other collaborators, you may want to find an app that allows you to work on the same project with multiple writers, however remotely.
I have selected and examined the following software for writers, considering budget and needs.
6 Best Book Writing Software Programs
These are some of my top choices of software to write a book, including manuscript software. While these apps are listed under ‘book writing’, they might also be used for playwriting, screenwriting, or other various writing forms.
My own personal pick for writing projects of all shapes and sizes, Scrivener is one of the most popular writing apps out there today. With fantastic template options and digital sticky notes for organising, the sky’s the limit for your writing projects.
You can choose manuscript outlines with front and back matter formatting included, screenplay outlines for your next pilot, or even outlines for simple essays or formal documents. You can organise the app however you like, with theme colours and a wide array of content analysing features.
While Scrivener has a lot to offer, there is an extremely steep learning curve. It took me a few days of consistent use to master it, and even now I know that I have just barely scratched the surface. However, the app has tutorials that you can follow at any time, should the writing app be confusing!
Scrivener works on Mac or Windows systems, each costing £47 ($65) per operating system, and you may also consider purchasing a £20 ($28) app for Android and IOS devices. This allows all devices to sync so long as you have a Dropbox account, updating your writing projects across all platforms, wherever you are!
Read more about Scrivener here, and feel free to download its 30-day free trial so that you can get a feel for it.
The most classic of writing platforms, Microsoft Word still has a lot to offer a writer, no matter your genre or specialization. Microsoft Word will no doubt feel familiar to most any writer, as it is set up similarly to most document programs, such as Google Docs or even Scrivener.
Microsoft Word offers an annual subscription fee that includes Microsoft’s entire suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.) as well as 1 terabyte of storage for single users. The fee is a bit steep- around £60 ($70) for the year.
However, their programs work across multiple devices, and offering cloud storage solutions is a great perk for writers with a lot of content or documents. Microsoft Word has grown a lot over the years too; their spell check and grammar tools have only gotten better, and Word can look at your documents for its overall flow and feel.
You can check out all that Microsoft has to offer here, as well as compare each and every product that they offer. If you live in a house with multiple aspiring writers, a Microsoft subscription may suit you well.
A mainstay for many people, Google Docs is a fantastic free writing software available to anyone with an internet connection. You can work on a document both online and offline, with free storage from Google. Oh, and did I mention this writing tool is completely free to use?
While Google Docs may not have all of your favourite fonts and editing options, it has a comprehensive grammar and sentence structure editor as well as standard formatting options found in Microsoft Word.
Like Microsoft properties, Google Docs is a part of an entire suite of useful apps and writing tools, such as Sheets, Slides, Drive, and many more. Google Docs is also ideal if you plan on collaborating with people across time zones or otherwise remotely. You can chat in real time in the document or leave comments for people to see later.
Multiple people can edit a Google Doc at once with an internet connection, and you have the option to suggest edits that can be rejected or accepted and applied by your peers. A great tool for collaborations and teams. Plus don’t forget it’s totally free! Check out Google Docs here, if you haven’t done so already.
Do you have a big project to tackle with images, deadlines, and more? Evernote may be the app for you, a perfect writing tool for the busy author. Much more than just a writing document, Evernote brings all of your organization needs into one streamlined writing app.
With Evernote, you can sync your documents and notes across all devices, no matter the operating system or product, from a Mac laptop to a Samsung phone and back to an iPad. You can organize your documents and notes to your heart’s delight or leave everything in chaos. Because Evernote’s ingenious search system can find the document that you’re hunting for.
Do you take a lot of screen captures for your writing? Evernote allows you to annotate and edit screencapped PDFs, images, and more. It can search handwriting, images, and any document type for keywords, giving you access to everything you have saved with a quick search.
Evernote keeps any writer’s business sorted and all in one place, no matter how busy you are. And the best part about Evernote? They offer free plans as well as monthly subscriptions depending on your usage and needs. Plans range from £6 ($8)/month to no more than £11 ($15)/month, per person. Check out all that Evernote has to offer here.
Are you a writer known for being verbose, and prone to long, rambling sentences? Then you may be a writer that could benefit from the Hemingway App, named after no other than Ernest Hemingway. Import your latest novel and watch Hemingway light up, highlighting your work in various colours that correspond to different editing tips.
Hemingway is designed to point out boring words, wandering or passive sentences, and those pesky adverbs. It’s like having a line editor in your own home for just $20 (£15) in total. It can be a great backup writing app, especially once your manuscript is complete.
Hemingway works on Mac and PC operating systems, with or without an internet connection. You can format your document and write directly in Hemingway, a simple and focused editor leading to a more concentrated work environment. You can also publish directly to WordPress or other websites from the app. Check out Hemingway here.
Let’s say that you have your favourite document program, but you just wish the spelling and grammar checker was a bit more informed. Enter Grammarly, a free program that you can use with most popular word document creators, including Microsoft Word and Google.
Grammarly is capable of working in tandem with your favourite document editor, pointing out not only your spelling mistakes, but also any sentences lacking in clarity or engaging points. It’s a great free app for anyone to try, and you can download it as a browser add-on here.
4 Best Screenwriting Apps
If you are a budding screenwriter looking for apps more directly geared for your work, you’re in the right place. While all of the apps and software I’ve already listed will still work wonders for your screenplay, the following writing apps are made exclusively for plays or screenwriters alike!
Beloved by many Hollywood hotshot writers for its ease of use and comprehensive features, Fade In is a wonderful app for screenwriters at any level. Available for any operating system, including mobile app features, Fade In is your writing companion, whether it be a full-length play or short pilot episode.
Fade In is a complete application for writing motion picture screenplays, including tools for outlining, organising, and navigating, plus extensive screenplay formatting and robust tools for managing rewrites and revisions. The app’s appearance is unfussy and simplistic, allowing you room to write and organise as need be.
With many templates and the option to collaborate, Fade In is a great app for screenwriters. You can try it for free for a trial period, or buy it for a flat rate of $80 (£60). Learn more about Fade In here.
If you consider yourself more than a beginning scriptwriter, you might consider purchasing Final Draft. Apparently used by 95% of movie and television writers, Final Draft has been the industry standard for many years. Its price tag may be high for budding writers, but it could also take your work to the next level.
Working on Windows or Mac desktops as well as offering a mobile app, Final Draft is key for those of you submitting your writing frequently. With over 300 templates across multiple disciplines, Final draft paginates and formats your writing to industry standards, saving you loads of time when submission deadlines loom.
It has story planning and outlining capabilities, and real-time comments just in case you need to make a note and come back to your work later. It has a simplistic, non-distracting design, as well as many formatting options and tutorials included.
Final Draft offers a 60-day free trial for those of you on the fence; it’s fair, given that it costs £183 ($250) upfront. You can look at Final Draft’s many additional features here.
If Final Draft’s features feel daunting, I highly recommend checking out ScriptBuilder. Just like its name implies, ScriptBuilder is perfect for the budding screenwriter, offering both outline and character builders, scene formatting, and more all from your phone or other device.
Costing less than £4/$5 to unlock all of the app’s features, ScriptBuilder is ideal for those of you who get ideas for screenplays while you’re out and about but don’t want to forget them. You can easily jot them down on your mobile device, and format using the app later.
While it is simple, it is also effective for fleshing out the overall arc of scenes and screenplay plots. You can even build your characters. Keep in mind that this app is only available for Apple products at this time, but you can learn more about it here.
Writing for television, video production, and game production? Celtx may be a great choice for you, especially considering its many collaborative features. By housing familiar screenplay-style script editing within a branching sequence-based structure, Celtx Game & VR editor enables writers to easily create nonlinear, decision-oriented narratives of unlimited scope.
Celtx brings your key creatives together in a single, secure, cloud-based workspace that facilitates seamless collaboration at every step of the narrative design process – including project-wide communication powered by an internal commenting and tagging system.
This isn’t for the average writer, but it could be perfect for a team of writers and developers, especially if you want to produce games! The cost? It depends on what features you’d like, but pricing begins at £11($15)/month and scales up to £20 ($27)/month. However, they have an introductory first year price that you can check out here.
Finding a writing app that suits all of your needs is possible, though the search can be daunting. I encourage you to check out the many excellent software apps and programs available to aid authors and screenwriters found on this list.
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