Jun 22, 2017 Scrivener and Novlr are two of the most popular writing programs out there for authors. Unlike Microsoft Word, their sole purpose is to help you achieve your goal of writing your novel. Before purchasing Scrivener a couple of years ago, I did all of my writing in Microsoft Word.
Writing a book is no cakewalk. I ought to know—I’ve done it nearly 200 times.
But plenty of quality tools help make this challenge easier.
The right book writing software can help you:
- Organize your writing
- Gain self-confidence
- Write more crisply
Software writing programs you may want to check out:
(Full disclosure: If you buy any of these, I get a small commission at no cost to you. But these tools have helped enough writers to where I would recommend them even if I didn’t get a dime!)
15 Book Writing Software Programs That Can Make Your Life Easier
Scrivener is the ultimate book-organization tool.
It allows you to view your notes, research, outline, and writing all in one place, and you can print your whole manuscript with the click of your mouse.
There’s a bit of a learning curve, but Scrivener comes with tutorials, and many other such aids are easily found online.
It may look overwhelming at first (I’m still learning it myself), but it’s worth the time and effort.
Just give yourself time to get familiar with the basics.
- Virtual corkboard feature for note cards organization
- Drag & drop outliner
- Works with Windows, Mac, iPad, and iPhone
- Easily applicable within Microsoft Word and many other programs
- Steep learning curve*
*I benefited from great teaching programs likeLearn Scrivener Fast, plus Scrivener itself comes with a built-in tutorial.
Price: $49 for Mac and $40 for PC
Click here to buy Scrivener.
2. Google Docs
Google Docs is a great collaborative tool. My team and I are literally a thousand miles from each other, and we use this program virtually every day.
It’s a free, standard word processor that allows multiple people to work on the same document simultaneously. I’m working on this document in Google Docs right now.
Just as with Track Changes in Word, an agent or editor or accountability partner can help fine-tune your work-in-progress in Suggestion Mode. You accept or reject the suggestions, and you can both comment in the margin.
- Easily share your work-in-progress via email or a link
- Access from any device
- Performance slows when tracking changes on documents of 80 or more pages
- Unable to toggle between Tracked Changes and Final Version without accepting all the changes
Click here to start using Google Docs.
Freedom allows you to temporarily block apps, websites, and social media across all your devices so you can focus on writing (don’t worry, people can still reach you in an emergency).
You can even schedule the app to work automatically when you need it most — when you’re writing.
If you’re like me, you’ll be glad for the freedom from online distractions where “just a few seconds” turns into hours of unproductive net surfing. Freedom can help you focus and increase your productivity.
And it works on all devices.
Cost: $6.99 per month, $29 per year, or a $129 lifetime fee.
Want to block distractions while you write?
Click here to get Freedom.
ProWritingAid offers grammar, style, and writing suggestions as you write—for you to accept — or reject — at the click of a button.
It integrates with the apps and programs you use most, like:
- Google Docs
- Google Chrome
- Microsoft Word
- Detailed explanations
- Built-in Thesaurus
- Context-focused grammar checker
- Free version
- You need a premium account to access its best features
Price: $50 for 1 year, $75 for 2 years, $100 for 3 years, or $175 for life
I recommend trying the free version first.
Click here to get more info on ProWritingAid.
Similar to ProWritingAid, Grammarly can help fine-tune your writing.
It automatically checks spelling and grammar, whether you’re writing a book or an email.
The premium version also:
- Checks sentence structure
- Monitors word choice
- Guards against plagiarism
- Examines style
- And much more
- Free version
- Google Chrome plugin for easy use on the web
- No Scrivener integration
- Doesn’t work on mobile devices
- You need a premium account to access its best features
Cost: $29.95 per month, $59.95 per quarter, or $139.95 per year.
Try the free version first.
Click here to get Grammarly.
6. Novel Factory
A creative writing software that guides you through the novel writing process.
Novel Factory prompts you to:
- Write your story’s premise
- Make notes
- Follow the Hero’s Journey outline
- A built-in word processor
- A split screen view
Novel Factory is designed for Windows and is currently unavailable for Mac.
Click here to start using Novel Factory.
7. Hemingway Editor
Focuses less on grammar and spelling and more on writing style.
- Sentences to be edited, whether lengthy and complex, passive, or unnecessary
- Overused words
- Easy to understand and use
- Suggests alternatives to overused words
- Allows text formatting
- Teaches much more concise, straightforward writing
- Suggests edits and offers tips to improve overall writing style
- Ranks your writing by grade level
- Eliminates most adverbs
- Doesn’t take voice or style into account
Cost: Free if used on the Hemingway Editor website (you can then copy/paste into your document), $19.99 to purchase your own version.
Click here to start using Hemingway Editor.
A note taking app that allows you to:
- Sync with other devices
- Share notes with anyone who has access to your account
- Save screenshots, web articles, and PDFs in one place
- Search easily within the program
- Customize templates
- Scan and save documents
- Integrate with other programs (like Google Docs)
Cost: Basic Evernote free, Premium $7.99/month, Business $14.99/month
Click here to start using Evernote.
Designed by a writer for writers, yWriter is a word processor that helps organize your novel into scenes and chapters.
- Tracks words per chapter and total word count
- Allows for the breakdown of scenes, note-taking, character description, and scene details and goals under separate tabs within each chapter
YWriter currently runs only within Windows.
Click here to start using yWriter.
A simple word processing software for Mac users.
- A distraction-free interface
- Saves all your writing in one spot
- Easily sync documents with other devices
- Split-screen view
- Auto-save and backup
- Allows you to set and track writing goals
- Allows you to publish directly to WordPress and Medium
Con: does not assist in developing characters or plot.
Cost: App download free, subscription $4.99/month or $39.99/year
Click here to start using Ulysses.
Allows your to professionally format books for publication.
Available for Mac users only, the software is free, but you must purchase a package before exporting a file for publication.
- Allows you to design and format a book
- A variety of styles
- Easy import capabilities
- Editing within the app
- Allows preview of print or e-books
- Easy export
- Allows unlimited exports, depending on program purchased
- Not word processor
- More expensive than similar tools
- Available only for Mac
Cost: $199.99 for publishing unlimited e-books, $249.99 for publishing unlimited e-books and paperbacks
Click here to start using Vellum.
12. Focus Writer
A bare-bones word processor.
In full-screen mode, toolbars disappear until you scroll over them.
- Simple, customizable design
- Allows you to track writing goals (by time or word count)
- Available for text only
- No spell check
Click here to start using FocusWriter.
Hailed as “Evernote for creatives,” a visual story-telling tool for Mac users.
It enables you to:
- Organize notes all in one place
- Use as a whiteboard or storyboard
- Upload images
- Save images, text, and weblinks
- Upload images and text from your phone
- Flexible drag and drop
- Allows team collaboration
- Limited export options: PDF, PNG image, Word file, or plain text
- Available only on Mac and the web
Cost: Basic version free, premium version $9.99/month
Click here to start using Milanote.
Offers tools for self-publishing.
- Write within the platform or upload a manuscript
- Format your book
- Publish in e-book and print (ISBN and retail barcode included)
- Distribute and sell your book worldwide
- Manage sales and royalties
- Cannot use offline
- Expensive beyond writing, designing, and formatting
Cost: Free, with additional paid publishing packages
Click here to start using FastPencil.
Best Book Writing Software Mac
…an all in one project management tool for your novel.
It acts as a word processor, organizer, and a creativity guide all at the same time.
For Outliners, bibisco allows creativity in your organization. You can interview your characters, create a timeline of events, and track your chapters in one place.
It works for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
- Creative tools to flesh out characters, places, items, and events in your story world
- Free version without many restrictions
- Easy to use, almost no learning curve
- Simple design
- Great organizational tool for Outliners
- 30-day money-back return policy
- Paid version says “pay what you want,” but the minimum is 15 euro, which will be a little more in US dollars
- Open-source software still receiving updates (be sure to save often, even with the autosave feature)
- No mobile app
bibisco has a free version and a premium version that starts at 15 euro for a one-time purchase.
Click here to start using bibisco.
If you’re writing a novel, it’s important you have the right tools to help you stay organized and write your book efficiently.
There are a few things you’re going to want to make sure you have:
- A word processor you can write and save in
- Software or a processor that allows you to make notes, comments, or jot down ideas for your book
- A way to organize your manuscript with an outline, plot, or storyboard, so you can quickly see the “big picture” of your story while you’re working on it
- Grammar checkers and software that will help you improve your writing
With these systems in place, writing a novel will be a whole lot easier.
The Best Novel Writing Software
Here’s our list of the best novel writing software tools we recommend.
1. Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is one of the oldest word processors out there, and it is still widely used for writing books. Word has a lot of features to offer, and with a new suite of productivity features added regularly, this software makes writing more accessible to the average writer.
Furthermore, Word has been around for so long that most people are already familiar with using it. If that’s you, it’ll probably be a lot easier and better to keep using Word than switching to another program because it takes time to learn new software. You can use headers to organize your chapters, use the navigation pane to navigate through them, and create templates that you can use repeatedly with multiple manuscripts or projects.
You can collaborate with co-authors and editors, reorganize your draft in outline view, use it as a brainstorming tool, and even go distraction-free when you want to. You can even format and publish an eBook using a Microsoft Word template for free.
Most editors still prefer Word documents for manuscripts, so it’s a great tool to use for writing because it makes tracking and reviewing changes and comments really easy.
You can buy Microsoft Word on Amazon here.
Scrivener is an advanced writing software created with serious novelists and nonfiction writers in mind. It has a collection of templates for both fiction and nonfiction writing. Both Mac and PC users can use Scrivener. You can export books easily to other digital platforms like Kindle, Kobo, and iBooks which is handy because it’ll save you time when it comes to formatting your manuscript.
This software is made for writers, and you can tell. It’s easy to drag and drops sections, create outlines and scenes, and you can even develop sub-files so that your manuscript is organized. It is also super easy to keep track of all your research and notes with a project binder.
For more complicated work, you can split the screen, work in outliner views, or use the corkboard view and move index cards to plot your storylines.
You can buy Scrivener for $45 for Mac or PC here.
Ulysses is a tool that creates a document out of fragments and makes it a complete story. It has a feature that inserts words with automatic synchronization, and any programmers would probably love this function. This tool lets you work anytime and anywhere you want.
You can download its 14-day trial here. Check product pricing here.
4. Google Docs
Google Docs is a simpler version of Microsoft Word. It’s a barebones, simple word processor that does not offer much regarding formatting and outlining. While it is simple, it is quite a capable word processor for those writers looking for free writing software. Its features offer that it can share files and content and communicate via comments too. You can even access previous versions of your work to review all the changes that have been made to your book file.
However, if you want to use Google Docs as your main writing software, you’ll want to make sure you enable Google Docs for offline use so you can still write without internet access.
Evernote is an application for storing, creating, and searching through notes in a very sophisticated way. You don’t need to type everything manually and you can access all your notes in any of your devices. It even allows you to search the handwritten words and you can share it with your friends and family.
It is a very powerful tool for writers, researchers, and anyone who wants to organize lots of notes and research.
You can start using it for free and you can always upgrade if you want their extra fancy features. You can check their plans here.
Grammarly is one of the best-known grammar correctors used by millions of people. You can install it in any web browser, and it’ll automatically let you know when there are any errors in your grammar, spelling, or other typos in anything you write online (including email, websites, and other documents).
It can detect errors such as grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, contextual spelling, and writing style. Grammarly is free. You can upgrade to a premium plan that supplies language enhancement hints to increase your writing knowledge and skills. The premium version also includes a plagiarism checker software tool that’s pretty awesome as well.
To get started, just download the software extension and install it in your web browser in a few seconds.
You can sign up for Grammarly here.
Novel Writing Software Mac Scrivener Software
Dramatica is the writer’s tool that can tell you things about your story you didn’t tell it. This tool helps solidifies character interactions, plug plot holes and helps complete your story in a way that it will resonate with your audience.
You can download your free demo here. You can also check the full version here.
AutoCrit is a writer’s tool that’s built for storytellers. It gives you recommendations for improving your manuscript and your writing. This is a genre-specific tool that can customize your results when you select one of seven fiction styles.
You can start your free trial here. You can check pricing here.
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