Best free writing app of 2024

Bring your words to life with the best free writing apps

Person writing on a laptop

Best overall

Best for markup, best word alternative, best word processor, best for mac, best online.

  • How we test

The best free writing apps serve up more than just text tools - they also offer betters ways to manage and organize all your ideas, outlines, and projects. 

1. Best overall 2. Best for markup 3. Best Word alternative 4. Best word processor 5. Best for Mac 6. Best online 7. FAQs 8. How we test

Like the best free word processors , writing apps help you get your thoughts on the page without breaking the bank (or your train of thought). But we’ve also made sure they’ll make it easier to save, share, and sync all your documents and keep them safe, whether you need a desktop writing app for work, school, or play. 

If you struggle to stay focused, we’ve tested some of the best free writing apps come with distraction-free layouts or gamification challenges to keep you in the zone. We’ve also reviewed those built for professional document creation, with advanced business features such as speech-to-text transcription and online collaboration tools. 

Our picks cover the best apps for writing on the web, Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS - so you’re always ready whenever and wherever creativity strikes. 

literature and latte Scrivener 3

Scrivener: best writing software for authors Scrivener is packed with all the features a novelist needs, helping you track plot threads, store notes on characters and locations, structure your work and (most importantly) get some serious work done. It's not a free writing app like the tools below, but it's well worth the investment if your budget will allow it.

The best free writing app of 2024 in full:

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

1. FocusWriter

Our expert review:


Reasons to buy, reasons to avoid.

FocusWriter helps writers combat one of their biggest challenges: distractions. One of the best free writing software tools out there, it's specifically designed to let you just concentrate on your writing. 

The stripped-back interface is deliciously sparse - ideal for when you just need to get your head down and write - and not dissimilar to a moderately powerful version of Notepad, featuring support for TXT, basic, RTF, and ODT files. 

Even the toolbar is hidden until you actually need it. Just swoop your cursor to the top on the screen to reveal a barren menu, from basic formatting to themes and timers.

Features are light within the software, but FocusWriter isn’t made for heavy editing sessions. It’s designed to make the act of writing flow seamlessly onto the page. 

Elsewhere, the writing app boasts the ability to add themes and your own background images, which can help you stay motivated. 

The Daily Progress tool is a sweet extra, adding Duolingo-style gamification that lets you track your daily writing streak. For when it’s oh-so-easy to slip onto social media when you can’t find the perfect word, it’s a nice way to keep you within the app. 

Available for Windows, Linux, and macOS, the writing software also comes as a portable download, no installation required. So, you can pop it on a USB stick and plug it into any computer you’re working on. 

Read our full FocusWriter review .

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2. WriteMonkey

WriteMonkey is another piece of free writing software that cuts down on the clutter to deliver uninterrupted writing sessions. 

The free word processor, cleverly described as zenware, is unbelievably pared back compared to more traditional writing apps. 

There’s very little in the way of distracting ‘screen furniture’, which means you’re better positioned to concentrate on the writing process. And absolutely nothing else. 

But don’t let that stripped-back approach fool you. As one of the best free writing apps, WriteMonkey is still rich with the sort of core features that matter to writers. 

However, most options are hidden in a context menu (so you’ll need to right-click to view it). It also only supports TXT files, which may limit those looking to read, write, or edit across multiple formats. It is, at least, a portable download, letting you take it wherever you need.

If you’ve enjoyed Markdown, the simplified text-editing language that lets you format, annotate, classify, and link as you type, then great. WriteMonkey’s inner workings will instantly chime. 

First-timers should spend a little time with this free writing software, to uncover that intuitive simplicity. 

Read our full WriteMonkey review .

3. LibreOffice Writer

Writer, the open-source, free writing software, serves almost all general writing needs.

LibreOffice is a near-perfect example of free office software - a familiar, feature-rich take on the office suite. What the veteran software package lacks in Microsoft polish (its interface is undeniably old-fashioned, for starters), it makes up for in its price-point: free. For that, you get access to six tools: Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, Math, and Writer. 

Earning it a slot on our list of best free writing apps is the fact that LibreOffice Writer packs the full editing toolbox. 

This isn’t just a note-taking app for staving off distractions when you’re deep in the zone; it’s for when you’re in pure writer-mode. 

If you’re at all proficient with Microsoft Word, you won’t have any problems using the Writer software. Layouts and functions are almost identical, and there’s support for DOC and DOCX file types, making it efficient to switch out of the Microsoft garden.

This free writing app is ideal if you’re hunting for a tool that almost perfectly replicates the Word experience without the cost. 

Read our full LibreOffice review .

4. Microsoft Word

When it comes to word processors, Microsoft Word is probably the baseline against which all others are compared. It’s the one most of us use at school, home, and work. It’s familiar, comfortable - and it’s available free on the web and mobile devices. 

That may not be the best way to write your masterpiece (unless you’ve hooked up a Bluetooth keyboard). But it’s a great way to jot down ideas on-the-go. When we tested the browser-based version we found it could be a bit slow at first, and we were typing faster than the words appeared on screen. This settles down (mostly) after a minute or so. 

Microsoft’s free writing apps on Android and iPhone had no such issues. Using these was velvety smooth. We especially appreciated the option to switch between mobile view and desktop view, so we could gauge how the document would appear in full-screen. 

As with Google Docs, you’ll need to sign up with a Microsoft account. And, like Google, that also lets you use free versions of PowerPoint, Excel, and the like. While Word offers one of the best free writing app experiences, there’s no denying that the paid-for upgrade is superior, offering more tools, and a true desktop app. 

Read our full Microsoft Word review .

Author promises to make it easier to ‘think, write, and cite’. It’s a promise capably delivered, with a clean interface and bags of writing features designed to make it easy to go from first draft to final copy. 

If you're an Apple user in search of the best free writing apps on macOS, this one demands your attention. 

Concept Maps is one of the best features. It’s a great mind-mapping tool to visualize and lay down all your thoughts while they’re fresh in your head without constraint. You can worry about whipping them into shape later. 

Students and report writers will appreciate Author’s ‘fast citing’ tools - speeding up assignment-writing by correctly adding and formatting citations, references, and contents. 

A paid-for upgrade of the writing software that offers exporting options is available. However, unless you need automatic formatting on export, you can stick with the free version. 

6. Google Docs

Google Docs is a great free writing platform for any writer. It’s an extremely clean, quick word processor available in the browser, on desktop, and phone and tablet apps. So, you can take notes wherever inspiration strikes. 

Docs is more or less Google’s spin on Microsoft Word. The interface is a bit more simple than the professional office software - although it’s no less powerful. 

You’ll find heaps of writing tools, including a pretty accurate speech-to-text transcription tool (just enunciate and don’t talk too fast). Keyboard shortcuts are very well-supported. 

For best results, you’ll need an internet connection, though documents can be used offline. They’ll be synced, and in our experience, that happens swiftly behind the scenes. 

To take advantage of the free writing app, you’ll need a Google account, which may be a deal-breaker for some - but that also opens up the rest of the Google-stuff in the Google-sphere, such as Sheets, Slides, and . With a free account, you get 15GB of storage, which should be more than enough for word documents. A Google One subscription upgrades your storage space, amongst other things. 

Additionally, Google Docs is great if you want to collaborate with one or more other writers. Just be warned to stay in Google Docs for that, because exporting the data into Word or other writing applications can result formatting errors.

Read our full Google Docs review .

Best free writing app: FAQs

What's the difference between a writing app and an ai writer.

AI writers vs writing apps - what's the real difference?

Artificial intelligence is growing in a big way - and when it comes to writing, it's ChatGPT that's been snatching all the headlines of late, with its ability to generate short- and long-form content based on user prompts.

Generally, an AI writer will write your content for you, based on its current learning (although often without 'understanding' the context). A writing app simply lets you write your way, in your own voice. 

Some platforms, such as Canva , have even integrated AI into its Canva Docs and Canva PDF Editor services. However. its Magic Write tool acts as a writing assistant, serving up suggestions and ideas, leaving real writers to work their magic on the content. Though usually hiding in the back-end, you can also find AI integrated in other ways across other the best PDF editor apps (and even the best free PDF editor apps, too).

As always with AI-generated content, whether it's the written word or an artwork masterpiece, human involvement is usually necessary and always desirable. Even if you're using the best AI writers out there, editing and proofreading is essential to give the content accuracy and emotional resonance.

How to choose the best free writing app for you

When deciding which free writing app is best, start by figuring out what sort of writing you want to do. 

Do you need a handy tool for quick scribbles and jotting down ideas here and there, or are you using the writing software to write and edit an epic novel? Tools like FocusWriter and Write Monkey are great for getting thoughts on the page without friction.

It’s also worth considering if you need a writing app with a distraction-free design, so you can concentrate on what really matters to you. Again, FocusWriter performs admirably here, but as a result, you lose core typography and editing functions. Unlike LibreOffice, this isn’t the best Microsoft Office alternative if you need those tools. In that scenario, it may be worth considering looking at some of the best free office software , which includes MS Word-style apps, alongside other tools similar to Excel, PowerPoint, and so on. 

Access is an important factor when using your writing software. A tool like Scribus needs to be downloaded to your machine. Lightweight apps like FocusWriter, however, offer a portable download that can be downloaded to a USB and carried with you. 

Check what file formats your chosen writing app supports, too. While some let you create and edit the common DOC and DOCX files, others only allow TXT or RTF documents.

But most of all, it’s important to choose the best free writing app for your unique creative flow. 

How we test the best free writing apps

Testing the best free writing apps and software, we assess how easy it is to get your words down on the page with the least amount of friction. Portable writing apps rank high, because they let you use the program on whatever computer or laptop you’re using. 

We also look at performance for its intended audience. For distraction-free writing apps, do they really foster focus? For word processor-style software, does it offer good formatting and editing options? 

Most importantly, we expect to see free writing apps that are genuinely cost-free - no-one wants to stumble across hidden fees and charges in the contracts. 

We've listed the best laptops for writers .

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Steve Clark

Steve is TechRadar Pro’s B2B Editor for Creative & Hardware. He explores the apps and devices for individuals and organizations that thrive on design and innovation. A former journalist at Web User magazine, he's covered software and hardware news, reviews, features, and guides. He's previously worked on content for Microsoft, Sony, and countless SaaS & product design firms. Once upon a time, he wrote commercials and movie trailers. Relentless champion of the Oxford comma.

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The Write Practice

The Creative Writer’s Toolkit: 7 Tools You Can’t Write Without

by Matt Herron and Joe Bunting | 41 comments

So you want to write fiction or memoir. Where do you begin? And what creative writing tools do you need to accomplish your writing goals?

Creative Writer Toolkit

I’m afraid there’s no right answer to get started as a writer. Each writer comes to fiction in their own way. Whatever it is that draws you to a good story—a gut wrenching plot twist, a heroic protagonist, a likeable villain, a happy ending—is great because it helps keep your passion for storytelling alive.

But when it comes to the actual writing, the composition and craft, all the supposed experts in the field disagree on the right approach.

What a beginner needs is a good schooling in the basics, the foundations of creative writing.

In this series, I’ll go over the common tools experienced writers use to write great books so that you can get moving in the right direction.

7 Creative Writing Tools Every Writer Needs

But before we get to the basic tools you need, we have to know what tools are at a writer’s disposal. For a beginner, this is as good a place to start as any.

1. Books!

If you want to write books, you’ve got to read books . A whole freaking lot of it.

Start by reading any and every short story and novel you can get your hands on. Don’t worry about taking notes or thinking too much into the stories. Just read. Chances are, you’ve already done a lot of it. All writers come to writing through reading first.

Spend as much time as you can spare browsing new book stores, used book stores, and ebook stores. Free ebooks are a great resource that cost very little and they’re all over the place. There are a lot of great free titles out there, especially some of the classics that are in the public domain. Check out Project Gutenberg  if your budget is tight.

Not sure what to read? Here's a list of ten books every writer should read based on genre .

2. Notebooks (or a Notetaking App)

Carry notebooks with you as often as you can. I like the solid dependability of a large Moleskine Classic , but buy whatever kind of notebook pleases you the most. This is your happy place.

And if you're not a notebook person, consider downloading a notetaking app to your phone or mobile device. You can use Evernote or Notion, but personally I just use the native Notes app on my iPhone. Wouldn't it be better to be writing, even if you're just doing it on your phone, rather than playing a phone game or scrolling through social media?

Immediately make a habit out of journaling. Write every day, even if it’s just about the weather or what you had for breakfast.

This is a judgment free zone, so don’t worry if what you write sucks or doesn’t make sense. Just fill the pages, and when you get to the end of that notebook buy another one, and then another, and then another.

When it becomes harder not to write than it is to write, you’ve accomplished your goal. You’ve made writing into a habit.

3. Software

Journaling is all well and good, but it’s not very productive.

Once you start writing stories you’ll want to use a word processor. We’re beyond typewriters, so I don’t mean those. I mean word processing software .

With the rise in ebooks, doing things digitally first makes a lot of sense and saves you extra work anyways. Don’t commit yourself to the pain of writing longhand in the 21st century. Though writing longhand has its own therapeutic benefits, typing on a keyboard is much faster.

We have lots of book writing software we love at The Write Practice, but here are my top three:

  • Best Word Processor for Writers: Scrivener.  Scrivener changed my life as a writer. It’s easy to use, easy to keep organized, infinitely flexible, and for those long-term thinkers, you can compile straight to any format, including ebook formats that are ready to publish on Kindle and various other ebook platforms. It has character and setting sketch templates (we’ll go into more detail about character and setting sketches in the next two articles), it autosaves your work, and it rarely ever crashes (unlike the options above). I could go on for days about Scrivener. Instead, I recommend you check out The Write Practice's review of it here .
  • Best Editing Tool: Google Docs . Google Docs allows you to quickly share your writing with editors and other writers. I do almost all of my writing and initial rewriters in Scrivener. But when it comes time to share my drafts for feedback, I move over to Google Docs because the real-time editing and suggesting features makes the process so much easier. Check out Google Docs here.
  • Favorite Publishing and Book Formatting Tool: Vellum , but it's Mac only (close second: Atticus ). Vellum allows you to take what you've written and create beautiful books quickly and easily. I personally have used it to design several of my books and client books, and I know so many other writers who use it to publish their books too. Check out Vellum here. There's just one problem: it's Mac only! So for the PC users, and if you want to experiment with the new kid in town, there's Atticus, which is a cloud based book formatting tool that has some upcoming features that might just make it better even than Vellum. Check out Atticus here.
  • BONUS Best Book Promotion Tool: Bookfunnel. Once your book is published, Bookfunnel allows you to create instant landing pages to deliver your book to readers. They also have a native reading app that allows people to read your book once they have it, saving them from painfully migrating it to their Kindle or other reading app. Bookfunnel is useful for delivering your book to beta readers or your launch team, offering a free book or short story for email subscribers, doing book promotions with other authors, or even selling your book. I've gotten thousands of new readers through Bookfunnel and it's a great tool! Learn more about Bookfunnel here. 

My advice here is the same as with Notebooks, above: use whatever makes you happy. You’ll be spending a lot of time here.

4. An Author Website and Email List

If you're ever going to  publish  your writing one day, you need to have an author website, a place where readers can find your work and sign up for your email list so they can be the first to hear when you publish new books.

Now, I know the idea of setting up a website can feel scary, but we've made it easy for you with this guide,  10 Steps to Building an Author Website . It will walk you through everything you need to do to build a great author website.

Don't forget your email list. It's honestly  more  important than the website alone, because it's the  best  way to stay in touch with your readers and share your work with them. Our favorite email newsletter tool is Convertkit. You can check out Convertkit here.

5. Grammar and Style Guides

Every writer needs a firm schooling in grammar do’s and don’ts as early as possible.

English grammar can take a lifetime to master, which is why there are these handy style guides you can keep around and reference while you’re doing your work.

These guides, plus a dictionary and a thesaurus (I like for those), are a must have for every writer’s toolbox.

I've written in detail about these three essential style guides for writers . But for easy linking, here they are again:

  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
  • The Star Copy Style by The Kansas City Star
  • Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark

On top of learning about grammar and style from these books, you can use grammar checking tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid to make the editing process easier. Personally, we prefer ProWritingAid at The Write Practice. You can check it out here (and get a discount with the code WritePractice20 ).

Need more grammar help?  My favorite tool that helps find grammar problems and even generates reports to help improve my writing is ProWritingAid . Works with Word, Scrivener, Google Docs, and web browsers. Also, be sure to use my coupon code to get 20 percent off:  WritePractice20

6. Study of Craft

Now that you’ve studied grammar, read the kind of fiction you want to write, kept a journal, and found the right software, you should take a step back and study the craft of writing fiction by reading some nonfiction books on the subject.

I’ve read dozens, but these are the ones that have taught me the most:

On Writing

The best memoir on the subject.

Writing Fiction book cover

An absolutely indispensable guide to writing. Talk about nuts and bolts, this book has it.

Plot and Structure

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell is a bestselling author and renowned teacher of writers. This book also introduced me to the LOCK method, which is a really handy tool.

Let's Get Digital Cover

I included this one because, while it’s extremely biased towards indie publishing, it provides an excellent overview of the modern publishing landscape for both fiction and nonfiction.

7. Writing Groups

Writing groups are my favorite tool of all. They’re a great way to meet other writers and put your skills to the test. Being a part of a writing group and workshopping your stories is, in my opinion, the absolute fastest and most surefire way to learn how to write fiction. Hundreds of MFA programs across the country agree.

Writing groups provide:

  • Moral support . Other writers understand when you complain that writing is hard.
  • Like-minded people . Share your hopes and dreams with like-minded people.
  • Feedback . The invaluable critique that comes with workshopping manuscripts. They will give you honest feedback even when you don’t want to hear it.
  • Healthy competition . Seeing other people produce work is the best motivation for a writer who is not writing.

I love writing groups and believe that every writer should have one in the early stages. Check  or your local bookstore for one you can join, or join ours.

For years, we've been helping writers connect and get feedback on their work in our community, and we'd love to have you. Learn more about joining our writing group here.

However, one warning: if the writing group you find turns out to be a back-patting session, bail immediately. You’ll never learn anything if no one has the courage the tell you the truth, especially when it hurts.

How about you? What creative writing tools do you find are essential for your writing?  Share in the comments section .

(Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links. Thanks!)

Now that you know what’s in the beginner’s toolbox, what do you do to practice? Here are five options.

  • Read a novel or short story
  • Write in your notebook
  • Read a book on craft
  • Study a style guide
  • Find and attend a writing group

When you’re finished, share in the Pro Practice Workshop here .  Not a member yet? Join us here !

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Matt Herron

Matt Herron is the author of Scrivener Superpowers: How to Use Cutting-Edge Software to Energize Your Creative Writing Practice . He has a degree in English Literature, a dog named Elsa, and an adrenaline addiction sated by rock climbing and travel. The best way to get in touch with him is on Twitter @mgherron .

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Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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Blog • Perfecting your Craft

Last updated on Feb 07, 2023

The 23 Best Writing Tools of 2024: A Guide for Writers

Before the computer there was the typewriter, and before the typewriter there was pen and paper, and before pen and paper there were plenty of other lost tools of writing — like clay, papyrus, wood, slate, parchment, and, of course, pens made out of reeds. (Fun fact: the name “Reedsy” is inspired by the “reed pen,” which was used as early as 800 B.C. for documentation).

As you can tell by now, the act of writing has been a part of human culture from the days of chiseling stories onto the walls of caves — and as we have evolved, so have our writing tools . In fact, today’s writers and storytellers are spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding which tools to use.

The following list details our favorite writing tools and resources for taking any idea through to its written conclusion. If you want to cut straight to the chase and find out which is the right writing app for you, we recommend taking this quick 30-second quiz.

Which writing app is right for you?

Find out here! Takes 30 seconds

Otherwise, let's dive in!

Writing tools

We all know Google Docs and Microsoft Word, so we’re not going to waste your time giving those two a run-down in our list. Below are four other word processors you might not know about, and that are worth checking out.

1. Reedsy Book Editor

Cost: Free Does “fake it ‘til you make it” ring true to you? Well, the Reedsy Book Editor is a free, online word processor that formats your book as you write. See your drafts automatically turn into a professional-looking, ready-to-publish manuscript — and allow this glimpse of your work as the final product spur your motivation to write.

ZF6MHRgMQIo Video Thumb

It comes with an automatic spell-checker — and a built-in goal reminder system to get you back into shape if you find that you're falling behind on your writing schedule! Another one of the Reedsy Book Editor’s best functions is that it lets you instantly typeset your manuscript to EPUB and print-ready PDF files.

Check it out if: if you want a writing tool that takes care of formatting and conversion for you.



The Reedsy Book Editor

Set goals, track progress, and establish your writing routine in our free app.

Cost: Free Do you like a helpful tap on the shoulder, reminding you about something you need to do? Well, you’ll likely enjoy Draft then, because the book writing software not only keeps track of how many words you write per day, it can also email you daily reminders about your daily word count goals. (Of course, if this sounds a little too “hands-on” for you, you can always turn the reminder function off).

Other than that, Draft functions a lot like Google Docs: allowing you to track changes, collaborate via suggested edits, and make comments on the doc.

Check it out if: you like Google Docs, but want an even simpler interface. 

3. LibreOffice

Cost: Free Yes, we did say that we wouldn’t mention Microsoft Word, because by now everyone knows that it’s a useful writing tool. But we didn’t say we wouldn’t mention its free counterpart: LibreOffice .

LibreOffice is the open source answer for people who want to try Microsoft without paying the price tag. (Open source means that the software is built on code that anyone can inspect and enhance). Plus it’s compatible with all of the regular file types people are used to, such as  .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, and .pptx files.

Check it out if: you like a classic word processor — and moreover, a free one.

Cost: $50 (or try a 30-day free trial) The people behind Mellel don’t just know word processing — they also know catchy, memorable marketing. Their description of why writers should choose Mellel starts like this: “Mellel is a writer's dream come true. To start, it is exceedingly boring: it just works, day in and day out, reliably. An enormous number of people used Mellel to write and they all report that their journey with Mellel was boring and uneventful. As well it should. In other words, it does all the mundane bits, and leaves the creative stuff to you.”

Mellel is not free (and note that it’s only for Mac). In return for the price tag, you’ll get more book-specific tools than other, perhaps more traditional word processors — such as outlining and bibliography-making functions. And, judging by the witty, funny copy on Mellel’s website, Mellel makes the process of writing much more fun than they let on.

Check it out if: you’re a Mac user who wants more than the Pages app offers.

Organization tools

Plotters tend to finish their writing projects quicker than pantsers — simply because when they hit a wall, they have their notes or outlines to reference, allowing them to jump straight over that hurdle and hit the ground running. P.S. You can grab a free template for your book outline here in this comprehensive guide to outlining .

The following resources will help you keep your thoughts organized so that any bouts of writer’s block don’t slow you down.

5. Milanote

Cost: Free for basic plan or $12.50/month for premium. Milanote is an easy-to-use creative writing app to organize your research, ideas, characters and outline in one place.

The vast majority of novelist-oriented writing software is organized around the idea of a linear document. But for most people, writing isn’t linear — because thinking isn’t linear. Writing is about gradually getting a jumble of ideas into shape, and Milanote's writing app matches the way writers think.

milanote platform a writing tool for organizing your writing

Check it out if: you're a plotter who likes a flexible workspace to organize ideas and see a birds-eye view of how your story outline is coming together.



Get our Book Development Template

Use this template to go from a vague idea to a solid plan for a first draft.

6. Evernote

Cost: free for basic plan or $9.99/month for premium. Its cute, little green elephant logo aside, Evernote is a great and easy-to-use option for writers who could do with a little more organization in their lives.

everyone knows the writing tool evernote but here is a screenshot

The app lets you quickly jot down thoughts, record audio notes, save online articles you’re hoping to reference, and it will sync all of this information across all of your Evernote-installed devices. What’s also handy about the app is the collaborative aspect of it: you can create shared accounts, so that multiple people can access saved documents at once.

Check it out if: you’re prone to getting great ideas while on the go, and need somewhere to make sure you don’t forget them by the time you’re home.

Cost: $5/month or $40/year (or try a 14-day free trial) While it’s ultimately a writing tool, one of the best assets of comprehensive programs like Ulysses or Scrivener are their organizational features. At the end of the day, whether you’re writing a blog post or a full-length novel, the seed of an idea doesn’t get too far without the ability to organize that idea into a cohesive piece of writing.

And that’s exactly what Ulysses allows you to do: organize your thoughts into a well-written work. This is accomplished through features like customizable writing goals and deadlines, plain text enhancements, a distraction-free typewriter mode, bookmarks, outlining functions, and more.

Check it out if: you’re working on a lengthy piece of non-fiction, like a blog post or essay. (For a comparison of Scrivener vs. Ulysses, keep reading!)

8. Scrivener

Cost: $45 (or a 30-use free trial) Literature and Latte ’s word processor is a popular writing tool — also, in large part, thanks to its organizational capabilities that seamlessly allow writers to turn fragmented ideas into a fully realized book/script/research paper/or whatever else you’re writing.

Scrivener vs Ulysses Apart from the price (Scrivener charges a one-time licensing fee while Ulysses charges yearly), the two platforms offer many of the same features. So we’ll focus on what makes the two programs different.

  • Scrivener’s corkboard function is an absolute favorite for writers who rely on visual aid to help with outlining. The function looks like an actual corkboard, and lets writers pin notes to the board in chronological order.
  • Scrivener offers templates for works such as fiction, essays, recipe collections, screenplays, comic books — which gives Scrivener another point for versatility.
  • Ulysses boasts an interface that is slightly more clean and simple — so if ease-of-use is high on your priority list, it might be the better option for you.
  • Ulysses offers a very helpful WordPress and Medium integration, which bloggers who publish on either of these platforms will love.

Check it out if: you’re working on a longer piece of content (like a book or screenplay) and want one comprehensive place to manage all your work. (And don’t forget to check out our equally as comprehensive review of Scrivener’s newest update : Scrivener 3!)

9. Hubspot's AI Content Writer

Cost: Free, with premium upgrade available

HubSpot’s Free AI Content Writer is designed to help bloggers streamline their content creation process. This tool can generate drafts of blog posts, website copy, emails, and more with ease and without additional resources, by relying on prompts or topics provided by users. For those suffering from writer's block, the AI content writer can also create outlines to help spur writing along. 

For those already using HubSpot's marketing and sales tools, the AI content writer's integration will be extra handy. 

Check it out if: you're a blogger short on time or inspiration.

Productivity tools

Alright, let’s kick things into high gear now. You know what you want to use to write, and your thoughts and ideas are concisely organized. If you’re finding it difficult to buckle down and get the job done (or struggle to write quickly or consistently), these resources will help you realize that Nike manta: just do it.

10. Ommwriter

Cost: free web version or $7 for the full program Do you find the clacking sound of old typewriters satisfying? Do you find soft, neutral colours calming? Does nothing really get you focused quite like a purposeful, long, deep breath? If so, Ommwriter might be the tool to help you reach your goal. As the site’s tagline reads, Ommwriter is “a perfect place to think and write.”

Omm writer is a zen writing tool that lets you write with no distractions

With soothing background noises, customizable keyboard noises, and peaceful backgrounds to choose from, Ommwriter could just be the “break” from everything else going on around you that you need to write.

Check it out if: your very best writing ideas come to you while in “savasana.”

11. To Doist

Cost: free or $4/month for premium plan Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat, panicking about something important you forgot to do? Or, god forbid, gripped in dread about how far behind you are on your word-count goals?

Well, To Doist might be able to help. It’s the ultimate app for creating to-do lists — but these aren’t your grandma’s pen-and-paper lists with little check marks beside them (though we mean no offense to your grandma). It lets you get a daily or weekly overview of your tasks, prioritize the tasks that are most important, and even lets you assign tasks to other people if you’re working on a specific goal with other collaborators.

Check it out if: you have never been able to find an agenda that’s souped up enough to keep you on track.



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12. Marinara Timer

Cost: Free The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method meant to promote productivity. In a nutshell, it stipulates that you should work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute  break, then work for 25 minutes, take another 5-minute break, etc., etc.

The free-to-use Marinara Timer makes this easy for you by alerting you each time your work sessions and breaks are up. It also offers customizable timers in case the 25/5 isn’t quite right for keeping you on track. Fun fact: taking a break to stand up or walk (or do anything but sit!) every hour is also a good way to protect your back if you sit hunched at a computer working for long stretches at a time.

Check it out if: consistent breaks from work help actually keep you focused on the task at hand.

13. Cold Turkey

Cost: Free for basic plan or $20 for premium plan “Meet your match, Zuckerberg,” says Cold Turkey ’s tagline. In case that, paired with the writing tool’s name, doesn’t make it clear enough, Cold Turkey is a program that allows you to completely rid yourself of distraction. And when we say “completely,” we mean completely.

With Cold Turkey, you can block yourself from accessing certain websites — or even your entire computer — for periods at a time, only allowing you to use the current document you’re working on.

Check it out if: “willpower” is not a characteristic you’d ascribe yourself, and the only way for you to get something done is in a totally distraction-free state.

14. Freedom

Cost: $7/month or $29/year (or a 7-use free trial) Apart from pleasantly getting the “freedom” refrain from Aretha Franklin’s “Think” stuck in your head, the Freedom app is another resource that can turn your devices into tools of productivity once more.

It functions like Cold Turkey; however, a unique function of Freedom is the ability to sync your distraction-free periods across all your devices. So if you know that on Tuesdays, you want your computer, phone, and tablet to all block access to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook — you can!

Check it out if: letting other people know not to bother you during your non-negotiable writing time isn’t enough, you need to let yourself know not to interrupt, well, yourself.

Cost: Free If total silence encourages your mind to wander, whereas light sensory action keeps your thoughts on the task at hand, Noisli will be a friend to you. The tool lets you choose from a range of soundtracks, such as rain, coffee shop, wind, lake, and more. You can mix several sounds at once, and choose the volume for each one. So let’s say you want to create the atmosphere of writing by a babbling brook, with a fire crackling next to you, and the moon shining brightly overhead. Noisli will make this happen for you!

Check it out if: you get the most work done with white noise.

Editing tools

If you’re planning to publish a book — or any kind of writing you’re hoping to make a profit from, it’s crucial that your work is thoroughly edited. To that end, working with a professional editor is an investment you should give serious thought to.

In the meantime, here are a few editing tools that can help you out along the way. Hopefully, they’ll either ensure a typo-free draft, so by the time you do work with an editor, they can spend less time fixing small typos and more time on big-picture work, or, if you decide to forego a professional edit, you’ll have the tools to do the best editing job you can.

16. Hemingway

Cost: Free The Hemingway app claims to make your writing “bold and clear.” It has a number of handy features like a word-counter and an automatic readability score. But its real use lies in the features that make suggestions to your prose. For instance, it might highlight a complex sentence that’s hard to read. It also highlights instances of passive voice , qualifiers, and adverbs. Let’s take a look at how this passage from Ernest Hemingway’s very own To Have and Have Not fares:

creative writing software for beginners

“Just” is highlighted because it’s a qualifier, and Hemingway suggests, instead: “Be bold. Don’t hedge.” The sentence in red is highlighted as being hard to read. And “probably” is pointed out as an adverb — the app suggests using a forceful verb instead.

Check it out if: you want to bring out your inner Ernie. (Curious what else Hemingway offers? Check out our full review of the app right here .)



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17. Fictionary

Cost: $19/month or $169 per year 

The Fictionary Story Editing software creates intelligent visuals that help you improve your story's structure, characters, plot, and settings. Using Natural Language Processing, Fictionary identifies your key story arc scenes and gives you actionable insights to improve the structure of your book.  Annual subscribers get access to year-round live classes on writing and editing. Think of it like Peloton for writers. Check it out if:  You want to get your story structure in the best possible shape before submitting to agents and/or editors.

18. Marlowe Pro

Cost: $29.95/mth or $199/year; $45 for single reports

This manuscript assessment tool will provide in-depth feedback on your novel within minutes. Using artificial intelligence, Marlowe can analyze your plot, pacing, story beats, and readability — then provide actionable insights (as well as comp titles ) based on its database of bestsellers across a number of genres.

authors AI — a screenshot of Marlowe Pro's report

To try out this AI editor, claim a free report by entering REEDSYFREE at checkout. And for a 15% discount on a Marlowe Pro subscription , enter REEDSY15OFF when prompted at checkout.

Check it out: to take a scientific and methodical approach to your developmental edits.

19. Cliché Finder

Cost: Free Cliché Finder is exactly what it says on the tin: it combs through your writing in search of clichés, and then highlights them for you. It’s not always necessarily bad to use clichés in your writing, but when you do, you want to be purposeful about it (and not to mention aware of it!).

Check it out if: you want to avoid clichés like the plague, and for your book to sell like hotcakes — and the rest is history.

20. Grammarly

Cost: Free Have you ever sent an email, only to realize that you'd made a glaring typo just as you hit “Send”? Well, no more!

Grammarly essentially functions like the spell checker tool from Microsoft Word or Google Docs, but here’s the great part: it’s a plug-in that will work wherever you happen to writing. That means Twitter, Gmail, Google Docs, Facebook — anywhere. Plus it offers vocabulary or alternate word suggestions — for instance, it might suggest you replace “walking aimlessly,” with the word “wandering.” For a more in-dept analysis, check our full Grammarly review . 

Check it out if: you’re typo-prone! (Read below for a comparison of Grammarly vs. ProWritingAid.)

21. ProWritingAid

Cost: Free browser extension or $79/year for the full software ProWritingAid is a tool you can install that will proofread and spell check your material for you , no matter where you’re writing. It will also offer suggestions to improve your overall language — outside of just grammatical technicalities. (You can even get 20% off via this special offer !) 

ProWritingAid vs Grammarly The two programs offer a lot of the same services, so you might be wondering which one to pick. We have a review of ProWritingAid  that dives deep into this comparison, but the main differences are:

  • Grammarly is free to use, and while ProWritingAid offers a free Google Chrome plug-in, this free option only offers spell checking services, it won’t make editorial suggestions.
  • ProWritingAid is slightly more tailored towards authors, while Grammarly is a slightly better fit for articles and essays. Ultimately, both tools lend a very helpful editing hand, so deciding between the two mostly boils down to the one you enjoy using more.

Check it out if: you want to make sure your writing is as polished as possible.

Workspace tools

At the end of the day, all you really need to write is a pen and paper. All the fancy tools and apps in the world won’t get the words out for you. That being said, creating an environment that’s appealing — and conducive! — to write in can make the whole process more enjoyable, and encourage you to get the job done.

Here are few physical tools to look over if you’re thinking of sprucing up your workspace.

22. Livescribe Pen

Cost: starts at $100 If you prefer writing on paper, but dread the process of transferring your words to a computer, Livescribe will likely be right up your alley. Through Bluetooth technology, the pen can actually transcribe your pen and paper words to your device. What’s more, it can also transcribe voice notes into digital documents for you.

writing tools

Check it out if: you’ve ever felt envy at Rita Skeeter’s Quick-Quotes Quill in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire .

23. Ergonomic desk setups

Cost: Varies As more and more of the workforce moves to sedentary jobs where the majority of 9am to 5pm is spent sitting — usually hunching — at a computer, a growing number of sitting-related health injuries have been occurring. That’s why looking into more ergonomically friendly desk setups is a good idea for writers who spend long hours at the computer — or even writing in a notebook. This could be a standing desk, or even just a number of textbooks piled under your desktop so that your screen is eye level, resulting in less stress on your shoulders.

Check it out if: you don’t want writing gains to come at the cost of growing back pains.

24. Computer Glasses

Cost: Varies Writers are all familiar with computer-caused eyestrains. Because you blink far less when looking at a screen than you do otherwise, computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a condition people have been developing due to long stretches of staring at a computer.

One way to help alleviate this — other than just making sure to take time looking away from your computer — is to invest in some computer glasses. They typically come in blue or amber shades, and are coated with a protective coating.

There are several brands you can check out, such as Pixel Eyewear or Felix Gray .

Check it out if: you notice itchy or tired eyes after long writing sessions.

Have you tried any of the above writing tools — and if so, which were your favorites? Or maybe you feel there are some great resources missing from this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Mystic says:

24/10/2019 – 03:38

I tried Cliche Finder several times and it found a couple of items in my text, but it didn't highlight where it was at. The rest of the tools here, that I can use since I'm on a strict income, are amazing!

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5 Best Writing Apps for Beginner Authors and Self-Publishing

Last Updated on July 2, 2023 by Michael Brockbank

I’m constantly looking for the best writing apps that are tailored for authors. This means I’m looking for elements that go above and beyond just a word processor. And so far, I’ve found a few that have great potential.

As such, I’m not mentioning the all-in-one word processing apps like Word, LibreOffice, or OneNote. I am specifically looking for those apps that are centered around writing books and self-publishing .

Unfortunately, I’m also not mentioning apps that are specific to macOS. Sorry, but I don’t have an Apple computer and I test everything that goes on this list.

Reedsy Book Editor

Scrivener 3, campfire writing, what features do i look for in writing apps, what apps do you prefer when writing a book, what are the best writing apps for authors.

There are quite a few web-based and downloadable apps for writing books . The hard part is picking the best ones to use for your next manuscript.

To really get the most out of the experience, you’ll want something more than just a way to type words with a spellchecker.

So, what writing apps have I tested that I would consider the best for authors ?

Reedsy Writing App

Perhaps one of my favorite book-writing apps is that of the free book editor from Reedsy . It’s the very platform on which I wrote my second book.

You can probably tell how much I like the Reedsy book editor simply from the number of blog posts and videos I’ve created for it.

The writing app itself is extremely easy to use with various tools to help you from creating goals to sharing with beta readers .

One of the more recent additions was that of the planning boards . Here, you can create the outline of your book, add notes, or even link to research concerning your manuscript.

Reedsy, itself, is a multi-purpose platform that connects you to a variety of professionals for every stage of publishing your book. However, the writing app is completely free to use and can export in an assortment of file formats.

Benefits of Using Reedsy:

  • Saves in real-time so you don’t lose any of your work.
  • Create writing goals for virtually any purpose.
  • The Grammarly Chrome Extension works great in the editor.
  • Author page that you can share for others to follow.
  • A writing timeline to keep track of all your additions and changes.

Atticus Writing App

Atticus is a browser-based writing app much like Reedsy. However, it has the capacity to work as a stand-alone program instead of logging into something like Reedsy to write your books.

It has all of the functions and features you’d want to write your manuscript including formatting options, setting goals, and even a sprint timer if you like performing writing sprints for your work.

While the writing aspect of Atticus is similar to free apps, Atticus excels at formatting your manuscript as well as a preview window that includes print versions of your books.

Since Atticus is browser-based, any extensions you have installed will work with the app. For instance, the Grammarly Chrome extension works perfectly in Atticus.

One of the downsides to Atticus, though, is that it doesn’t have a free trial or free version. You’ll have to fork over the $147, and if you don’t like it, you have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Benefits of Using Atticus:

  • Amazing preview section of your book
  • Custom formatting for eBook and print layouts
  • Clean and easy to use for beginners
  • Real-time saving of your manuscript
  • Includes writing goals and habits tracking

Cost: One-time purchase of $147

Scrivener 3

Another one of my favorite apps for writing is Scrivener 3 . While it’s a bit more on the advanced side of setting up a novel, it comes loaded with some really great features.

Scrivener provides all of the elements that any writer could need with the option to customize virtually every aspect. Once you understand where the tools are, it doesn’t take much to add things like chapters and back matter.

Unlike some of the others on this list, Scrivener is a program that you install onto your computer. It doesn’t have an “online” option available. This means you can write even if you have no Internet connection.

You might also like:

  • Review: Is Campfire Writing Worth Using for Your Novel?
  • Review: Is the Hemingway App Worth Using for Free?
  • Review: Is Scrivener 3 a Worthwhile Writing App for Authors?
  • Review of Writing a Book with Atticus: Is it Worth…
  • Review: Is the Reedsy Book Writing App Worth Using in 2023?

One of the greatest features is how you’re able to use notes and create folders specific to the story. This means you can save all of your research, links, images, and whatnot with the manuscript.

Not to mention showing those elements in a separate panel. This is useful if you use a notepad to keep track of things that happen in the story.

As for cost, you get a 30-day free trial and then it’s $60 to buy outright. What’s unique about Scrivener, though, is that the free trial is 30 actual days of use.

Theoretically, you could open the program once per month and have a free trial for 30 months.

Benefits of Using Scrivener:

  • Split-screen view to accommodate writing and notes simultaneously
  • Basic goal tracking for those who monitor writing progress
  • Lots of functions and features available for writing
  • Built-in tutorial pages for writing templates
  • Exports and saves in a wide range of file formats

Cost: 30- Day Free trial One-time purchase of $60

Campfire Writing

Campfire is one of the more unique writing apps . It provides a platform for writing your manuscript while also giving you a variety of ways to take notes on almost every aspect of world-building.

You can track characters, relationships, build your own encyclopedia, the different species in your story, items, cultures, magic systems, and much more.

Although Campfire Writing is more geared toward role-playing games and the fantasy genre, it has great potential for a hodgepodge of storylines.

What is perhaps the most interesting aspect of Campfire, though, is its pricing scheme. You only pay for what you plan to use.

In the free version, you are capped at 25,000 words and limited access to the Elements of your book. But if you want to unlock only unlimited words, Campfire would cost just $1.50 per month.

This doesn’t include adding any of the 15+ modules you can upgrade for $1 each or less to expand your account.

Benefits of Using Campfire Writing:

  • A mobile app is available for writing on the go.
  • Available notepad on screen while writing the manuscript.
  • Different themes to choose from for your app view.
  • Community sharing with other writers on Campfire.
  • Easy to invite editors to help clean up the manuscript (mobile editing is a pain, though).

Cost: Free (limited) Cost depends on the features you decide to “unlock.”


I’ve been using Grammarly for quite a few years. It started with installing the Chrome extension to help with writing content for clients on Textbroker. Now, it’s become one of my go-to’s for editing everything from blog posts to books.

The free account lets you create all kinds of content while providing the basics of spelling and grammar checking. One of the features of this is the ability to correct your spelling as you type. But that is limited to how badly you misspelled the word in the first place.

Grammarly comes with a built-in assistant that offers insights and suggestions regarding every aspect of your manuscript. You can double-click any word in your manuscript and Grammarly will try to find the best synonyms and alternates of that word.

This is very helpful if you find that you use some terms far too much.

The platform will give you an overall score while letting you track certain types of goals while writing the content.

One aspect that I like that is locked behind the premium version of Grammarly is the Plagiarism checker. You probably don’t need this while writing your book , but it is incredibly helpful for bloggers and those who accept guest blog posts.

Perhaps the only real drawback to using Grammarly to write an eBook is the fact that you can only export DOCX files. This means you’ll need another app to convert it to ePub or another acceptable format.

Luckily, most eBook platforms like Amazon KDP accepts DOCX files. In fact, Amazon will convert them automatically when uploading.

Benefits of Using Grammarly:

  • The free version is incredibly useful for finding errors.
  • Saves unlimited documents.
  • Explains why certain changes are necessary while offering suggestions.
  • Apps available for Windows, Chrome, iPhone, iPad, and Android in addition to the browser-based app.
  • Is a good alternative if you don’t have the money for an editor or proofreader.

Cost: Free (limited) Premium and Business Plans start at $12 per month.

Every author finds value in different features. The best writing apps are the ones that work for you. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using programs like Word or LibreOffice to write a manuscript.

Yet, I chose the above based on the criteria I’m looking for in a writing tool.

Setting Writing Goals

I love creating goals and challenges in my writing . It’s one of the ways that I keep myself motivated and determined to finish certain projects and meet self-imposed deadlines.

Goals can also help you build confidence, especially if you’re consistently meeting them and then raising the bar.

Taking Notes and Storyboarding

The ability to have notes displayed on the same screen as the manuscript is wondrous, in my opinion. I often forget a lot of details as I write, and having a pinned note in plain site helps me remember.

In addition, any app that has some kind of storyboarding platform or background manuscript planning is incredibly useful.

Easy Sharing with Others

I like to share my work easily with beta readers or anyone who is helping me edit. Sure, I can copy and paste the manuscript into a Google Doc, but then that’s an extra step that I’ll forget to later delete.

When you’re as busy as I am, you want to simplify the process as much as possible.

Front & Back Matter and Chapter Setup

Writing apps that have pre-made, editable front and back matter are very beneficial. Especially for those who are new to self-publishing and not sure what to add to their books or how to format the pages.

If an app also has a quick and easy way to add, move, or delete entire chapters, all the better.

Export File Types Support

Although most eBook retailers and print-on-demand services support DOCX files, I prefer to have the option for ePub, MOBI, PDF, and other file types as well.

This is mostly because I plan on selling my books directly from my website. Not to mention I don’t like the idea of an editable doc floating around of my book.

Built-in Spellcheck or Support for Grammarly

No one is 100% accurate 100% of the time when it comes to spelling and grammar. Any app that has functionality for this is essentially a time saver.

If it doesn’t, then hopefully it supports the Grammarly Chrome extension. Otherwise, I’ll have to copy and paste the manuscript back and forth, which is a bit of a pain.


Lastly, not everyone has a spare $4000 laying around for self-publishing fees. It’s my goal to find the most affordable platforms that offer the biggest bang for your buck while writing a book .

So far, I’ve come across a few additions that are worth the investment as it would save time writing the manuscript.

As I said earlier, the best writing apps are the ones you find the most value in using. Everyone is different when it comes to certain features and functions.

Nonetheless, there are some apps that just seem to go the extra mile specifically for authors. And the above apps are the best writing tools I’ve come across thus far.

This is an ever-growing list as I continue to scour the Internet for the best apps for writing . If you have something, in particular, you’d like me to try, feel free to comment down below.

I’m always interested in expanding my library of writing software .

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Creative Writing Tips for Beginners: 10 Top Tips

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Hannah Yang

creative writing tips for beginners

Creative writing can be a very fulfilling hobby.

Writing can help you explore deep questions, use your imagination, and express your thoughts and feelings in a healthy way.

If you want to learn creative writing, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn our top ten creative writing tips to help you get started.

How to Write Creatively

10 creative writing tips for beginners, how to get better at creative writing, where to find creative writing help.

Anyone can learn creative writing—all you need is a pen and paper, or your writing software of choice.

Once you’ve got your tools ready, it’s time to think of a story idea. You can draw inspiration from your own life, newspaper headlines, songs you like, or anything else around you.

If you don’t have any story ideas in mind, you can also try starting with a prompt. Here are a few creative writing prompts you can choose from:

  • Write about someone with a dangerous secret
  • Write a scene set at your favorite restaurant
  • Write a story about someone who wakes up with no memories, except for a single name
  • Write a story from the perspective of someone who isn’t human
  • Complete the sentence: “It was a completely normal Saturday except for…”

Pick up your pen, choose your favorite prompt, and start writing!

If you’re new to creative writing, here are ten fiction writing tips that you can try.

Tip 1: Read Widely

It’s hard to become a great musician without having heard a lot of great music.

The same is true for writing. Reading a lot of books is a great way to get inspired and to learn more about the anatomy of a story.

It’s important to read in whatever genre you want so you can understand the conventions of that genre. If you’re writing a fantasy story, for example, you should familiarize yourself with popular fantasy novels and short stories so you know what readers expect.

On the other hand, it’s just as important to read a diverse variety of books. Exposing yourself to lots of genres and authors can help you learn about different writing styles and techniques.

Tip 2: Experiment With Different Formats and Points of View

Creative writing can involve countless different formats. You can write a story that looks like a diary entry, a song, or a Charles Dickens novel.

Maybe you want to write a story in the form of a series of instructions to the reader, like a cooking recipe or a how-to manual.

Or maybe you want to write a story in the form of a confession from one character to another, in a mix of first-person and second-person POV.

four story formats

Try out different styles, even ones that don’t feel like your usual writing style. Doing this experimentation early on in your creative writing journey can help you find your own voice and figure out what works best for you.

Tip 3: Take Inspiration From Many Sources

No story is written in a vacuum. Every artist takes inspiration from other works of art, and you shouldn’t feel bad about writing a story that’s inspired by your favorite book or movie.

At the same time, though, it’s important not to write a story that actually plagiarizes an existing one. Directly copying the work of other creative writers is both unethical and illegal. Plus, it’s much less fun than writing your own stories.

A good rule of thumb if you’re looking for ideas is to take inspiration from many sources rather than a single one.

For example, maybe you like the sarcastic humor of one book, the sweet romance arc of another book, and the Gothic setting of your favorite TV show. When you merge those three things together, you’ll most likely create a story that feels unique and original, even though you took inspiration from existing stories.

Tip 4: Show, Don’t Tell

The phrase “Show, don’t tell” is a popular piece of writing advice that almost every writer has heard before.

Essentially, “show, don’t tell” means that you should immerse the reader in your story through sensory details and descriptive language instead of simply summarizing the story to them.

show, don't tell definition

For example, you could tell someone, “My sister’s room is messy.” That sentence conveys the facts, but the person you’re talking to probably wouldn’t be able to picture your sister’s room in their head.

On the other hand, you could say, “My sister basically uses the floor of her room as a giant laundry hamper—it’s covered with so many sweaters and scarves that I don’t even remember what color her carpet is.” This sentence gives your listener a much more specific idea of what your sister’s room looks like.

Tip 5: Write With Intention

Many newer writers put down words on the page based on what comes to mind first.

For example, let’s say you’re trying to describe a character. A new writer might note down whatever details they visualize right away, like the color of the character’s hair or the type of clothes they’re wearing.

This is a great way to write when you’re just starting out, but if you want to improve your skills, it’s important to learn how to write with intention.

Try to get in the habit of asking yourself: What details does the reader need to know and why? For example, what aspects of this character’s hair color and outfit could tell the reader something deeper about the character’s personality and motivations?

It’s also important to figure out what you want to convey emotionally. What do you want your reader to feel? Excited? Creeped out? Hopeful?

For example, you might describe a sunset as “blood-red” if you want the reader to feel creeped out, or as “glowing and bright” if you want the reader to feel hopeful.

Tip 6: Learn How to Edit

No first draft is perfect, even if you’re a seasoned writer.

Learning how to edit your work is just as important as learning how to write on a blank page. That’s how you can create a creative work you feel proud of.

One helpful tip is to try reading your work out loud. That can often help you spot places where your prose doesn’t flow.

AI-powered grammar checkers like ProWritingAid can also help you identify weaknesses in your prose and learn how to strengthen them. You can catch your grammatical mistakes, avoid unnecessary repetition, choose more evocative words, and more with our powerful tool.

Tip 7: Practice Overcoming Writer’s Block

At some point in their writing journey, every writer has reached a point where writing doesn’t feel fun anymore.

There are lots of different causes for writer’s block. You might be unsure what to write, afraid of failing, or simply burned out from writing too much.

It’s important to find ways to overcome creative blocks, so you don’t end up putting down your pen for good.

ways to overcome writer's block

One useful technique is to change your environment. If you normally write at home, try writing in a coffee shop or in your local library.

Another technique is to try a different activity for a while. Go for a walk, take a shower, do your dishes, or try another hobby. Before long, you’ll find yourself wanting to write again.

Perhaps the most underrated method is to simply take a break from writing. Give yourself permission to stop for a while—it’s always okay to take a step back.

Tip 8: Study Writing Craft

Many new writers falsely believe that writing can’t be taught; you’re either good at it or you’re not.

But the truth is that creative writing is a craft, just like woodworking, oil painting, or ballet. You wouldn’t expect anyone to be naturally good at ballet without years of training, so why is writing any different?

One way to learn new creative writing techniques is by reading craft books . Some great books to start with include On Writing by Stephen King, Story Genius by Lisa Cron, and The Creative Writer’s Handbook by Philip K. Jason.

These books can help you learn the basics of how to write well. For example, you can learn how to construct high-quality sentences, how to avoid passive voice, and how to use poetic devices.

The more you learn, the more powerful your writing will become.

Tip 9: Invent Your Own Process

When you’re just starting out as a writer, it can be tempting to copy someone else’s writing process.

Maybe you heard an interview with a bestselling author who said you have to outline a story before you draft it. Or maybe you found out your favorite author writes 1,000 words every day, and now you think you have to write 1,000 words every day too.

But it’s important to remember that no two writers have the exact same writing process. What works best for someone else might not work for you.

There’s no right or wrong way to be a creative writer. Your job is to find a writing process that makes you feel fulfilled, productive, and inspired—and if your favorite writers don’t write the same way, that’s perfectly okay.

Tip 10: Don’t Aim for Perfection

There’s a good chance your writing is never going to be perfect. Mine definitely isn’t!

Remember that writing is about the process, not the product. Even if the final product is never perfect, the process has helped you grow as a writer—and hopefully, it’s also been a lot of fun.

You should decide what your main goal for writing is. Maybe it’s writing stories you might be able to publish someday. Maybe it’s telling stories about characters you rarely see in existing stories. Maybe it’s simply a fun new hobby.

Whatever your goal is, remember that you’re already on your way to achieving it. You don’t need to aim for perfection in order to succeed.

There’s no secret to getting better at creative writing. The process is very simple—it just takes a lot of hard work.

All you have to do is follow this two-step process:

  • Step 1: Write consistently
  • Step 2: Ask for feedback on your writing

The first step is fairly self-explanatory. Whenever you’re learning a new skill, it’s important to practice it. The more you write, the more you’ll learn about how to be a successful creative writer.

The second step is the one that receives more pushback from writers because it requires a lot of courage and vulnerability, but it’s just as important as the first step.

If you don’t get feedback, you could write every day and still never improve. That’s because most people can’t spot the weaknesses in their own stories.

You can ask for feedback from your friends, family, or writing groups. They can help you see your work from a different perspective and identify areas for improvement.

As long as you write consistently and listen to the feedback on the work you’re producing, you’ll be able to create a positive cycle where you create better and better stories over time.

If you want to improve your creative writing skills, there are numerous resources you can use to find help.

One great method is to join a writing community where you can share your work and get feedback from other writers.

You can look for free critique groups online, on websites such as Scribophile and Critique Circle. Or you can start your own group with your friends.

You can also consider joining a local writing class or retreat. Many schools and community centers offer classes and workshops you can join.

Another option is to use creative writing tools. ProWritingAid can give you AI-powered suggestions about how to improve your prose and make your writing shine.

Good luck, and happy writing!

creative writing software for beginners

Be confident about grammar

Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.

Hannah Yang is a speculative fiction writer who writes about all things strange and surreal. Her work has appeared in Analog Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, The Dark, and elsewhere, and two of her stories have been finalists for the Locus Award. Her favorite hobbies include watercolor painting, playing guitar, and rock climbing. You can follow her work on, or subscribe to her newsletter for publication updates.

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Microsoft 365 Life Hacks > Writing > Writing Essentials for Beginners: How to Get Started

Writing Essentials for Beginners: How to Get Started

Writing is everywhere. Crammed between the covers of books, popping up in text messages, and overflowing on the internet, writing is critical to how we communicate and make connections. And from the classroom to the office, it’s also a crucial skill in how we get ahead.

Whether you’re looking to pen the next Great American Novel or just get your homework in on time, we’ve compiled a guide to writing basics to help you take your writing to the next level. Find definitions to essential writing concepts as well as links to further resources to explore and deepen your writing knowledge.

Tiny people writing using a pencil.

The Basic Elements of Writing

From individual words to their place in sentences, paragraphs, pages, and beyond, brushing up on or building an expertise in the basic building blocks of writing can help you improve the way you communicate.

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  • Spelling: Coming up with the correct spelling of a wide range of words take practice. But this practice pays off: spelling helps convey that a writer cares about the quality of their work and has taken the time to ensure that it’s error-free. Of course, even with practice you won’t be able to catch everything. To help, built-in spellcheck capabilities in a word processor like Microsoft Word and a digital writing assistant like Microsoft Editor can both serve as backup for even the best of spellers.
  • Vocabulary: At the level of the individual word, there’s more than just spelling to consider. A broad vocabulary can provide any writer with the toolset they need to pick the right word for the right moment and add extra precision to their arguments and descriptions. Studying aids like flash cards are can help you memorize the definition of new and useful words.
  • Grammar: Beyond choosing single words, understanding the basic rules of grammar can help you deliver writing that clearly expresses your ideas. To learn the basics of grammar or get a little refresher before moving on to more advanced concepts, explore our Grammar 101 guide .
  • Structure: Whether you’re building suspense in a story or building a sound argument, knowing how to marshal your sentences into paragraphs and organize your paragraphs into a larger piece can make all the difference in the success of your writing.

Types of Writing

While you may be looking to improve your skills in a certain type of writing, the good news is that those skills often transfer easily to different purposes. Here is a list of common types of writing, along with some related resources where you can explore these topics in depth.

  • Academic and research writing: From basic book reports and college essays to doctoral dissertations, academic writing encompasses a range of formal writing that primarily serves to present the results of close study and analysis.
  • Business and professional writing: Even in a business world driven by conference calls and video chats, written communication still holds a crucial role. Whether you’re writing resumes and cover letters to get a job; business plans to start a new enterprise; or letters, emails, and reports during the work day, writing skills play a vital part in getting any job done.
  • Creative writing: Expressive writing in the form of fiction (novels and short stories), creative non-fiction (memoir, literary journalism, and personal essays), and poetry uses story and description to tackle big ideas and tell important stories.
  • Personal writing: The kinds of writing that we might do mostly for our own sake— daily diaries , travel journals , and freewriting —can help us better understand our feelings, expand on our ideas, and preserve our memories.

Styles of Writing

Writing is regularly broken down into four main styles: expository, persuasive, descriptive, and narrative. By learning about these styles of writing and knowing where to find them, you can better understand the things that you can accomplish in your own writing.

  • Expository: Expository writing, taking its name from the word exposition, which Merriam-Webster defines as “a setting forth of the meaning or purpose,” is all about information. Expository writing, in contrast to, say, creative writing, conveys facts and seeks to provide readers with an understanding of specific concepts. It’s typically found in academic writing, newspaper articles, business reports, or works of non-fiction.
  • Persuasive: Also known as argumentative writing, persuasive writing strives to prove a particular point or point of view. Using evidence and anecdotes to support their position, the persuasive writer tries to convince a reader to agree with them. Persuasive and argumentative writing can be found in newspaper and magazines’ opinion columns, academic essays, political speeches, and even advertisements.
  • Descriptive: Descriptive writing attempts to describe a person, place, thing, or event using sensory language. It’s often described as writing that tries to “paint a picture” for the reader, but descriptive writing can appeal to all five senses. While you may most closely associate this type of description with creative works like novels and poems, descriptive writing can be found in virtually any kind of writing.
  • Narrative: Narrative writing is any writing that tells a story. These stories can be based in reality or entirely fictional, but they will depict characters in action. Most commonly found in fiction, readers can also see narrative writing in use in biographies, memoirs, and anecdotes employed in other types of non-fiction.

Getting Started and Improving Your Writing Practice

Once you’ve spent some time getting to know the basics, one of the best ways to continue improving your writing is to simply keep on writing, as often as you can. While you might not have a school paper or a business report to write, finding enjoyment in other kinds of writing can offer a fun and rewarding way to get some practice in. Explore writing templates , and find pre-made templates for everything from screenplays to mindfulness journals that can help you get on your way.

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The 15 Best Book Writing Software Tools

The 15 Best Novel Writing Software For Authors (2023 Update)

POSTED ON Aug 18, 2023

P.J McNulty

Written by P.J McNulty

Do you really need novel writing software?  That answer depends on who you ask, of course…but ask any seasoned, career novelist and they’ll tell you: Efficient novel writing software is an integral part of any fiction author’s writing routine. 

At first glance, the idea of novel writing software might seem a little superfluous. Can’t you just use a standard word processor?

While it's possible to learn how to write a novel using standard software, it might not be the best approach. A novel intended for self-publishing is a complex project, requiring drafting and redrafting, as well as collaboration with others. Specialist novel writing software can make the production process much smoother. 

To make your life a little easier, we've produced a guide to the best novel writing software out there.

Here is a rundown of your main novel writing software options, along with which operating systems each works with, the associated price, and the pros and cons of each tool.

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This Guide to the Best Novel Writing Software Covers:

1. autocrit.

AutoCrit is an automated editing tool aimed at fiction authors.

The software works by analyzing real bestselling novels of different genres to come up with guidelines on aspects such as pacing, the number of adverbs, and if your word choices are cliche or not. 

Autocrit Novel Writing Software

On top of providing feedback on the style of your prose and its technical competence, AutoCrit acts as a word processing environment and basic grammar and spellcheck. 

How much does AutoCrit cost?

AutoCrit is available at three different price points:

  • Free . Basic access to the word processing, spellcheck, and grammar check features of AutoCrit. 
  • $30 per month . Access to the basic capabilities in the free plan plus the full suite of editing reports that are the main feature of AutoCrit.
  • $144 per year . The same access to the editing reports found in the $30 per month plan as well as access to two free courses on varied writing and improved dialogue.  

Which platforms is AutoCrit available for?

AutoCrit is available in the cloud. To use it, you need a machine capable of logging in online. There is no app to download, so no requirements in that area. 

What are the pros and cons of using AutoCrit?

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of using AutoCrit as your novel writing software?

Pros of AutoCrit:

AutoCrit takes its data from real novels. If you’re interested in comparing your work to some of the titans of the genre you write in (see our list of book genres here), AutoCrit is a good choice.

Many AutoCrit users have reported that the software’s suggestions match up well with those made by human readers. 

Cons of AutoCrit:

One common criticism of AutoCrit is that its suggestions sometimes lack context. For example, it might criticize you for repetition, even if that repetition was a stylistic choice.

Bibisco is a small novel writing software made by an Italian author. 

Its major selling point is the ability to plan your novel with different narrative strands and that it allows you to add in-depth notes and planning cards for different scenes.

Bibisco Software

Bibisco is attractive as the best writing software for novels. The free version offers a lot of functionality while the paid option is available on a pay-what-you-want basis. 

Bibisco is a good choice of novel writing software for authors who want to make notes on their novel without being weighed down by a complex interface. 

How much does Bibisco cost?

In terms of value for money, Bibisco is superb. It's a passion project from its creator, and that's reflected in its pricing.

The Community Edition of Bibisco is available for free . This is a fairly functional version of Bibisco, but lacks some important options, such as the ability to export to epub. 

If you want the full edition, go for the Supporter’s Edition of Bibisco. This is available on a pay-what-you-want basis . It includes features such as timelines and writing goals as well as the ability to export your novel to epub. 

Which platforms is Bibisco available for?

At this time, Bibisco is available for users of:

  • MacOS Mojave

What are the pros and cons of using Bibisco?

So what are some reasons to consider using Bibisco, as well as some signs that this novel writing software might not be the right choice for your needs?

Pros of Bibisco:

On the plus side, Bibisco has an intuitive and easy-to-understand design. This isn't one of those novel writing software options that require you to put hours and hours in to learn how it functions. It's also great to see a value-for-money passion project produced by the author community. 

Cons of Bibisco:

In terms of its drawbacks, some users of Bibisco have reported that they find writing scene by scene to be a little frustrating , at least at first. Also, compared to some of the more powerful book writing software options on this list, Bibisco doesn’t offer full editing feedback and capabilities. 

Bibisco is worth a look if you want an intuitive novel writing assistant, made by an author with the author community in mind.

3. Dramatica

Of all the apps on this list claiming to help you write a better novel, Dramatica is arguably the one with the loftiest aims.

Rather than presenting itself as a novel writing software product, Dramatica claims to have a unique philosophy on the concept of story itself. 

Software For Writing Novels

Dramatica is a tool providing an in-depth look at story structure and character motivation .

To get a feel for the lens through which Dramatica sees stories, check out how it breaks down the indie film classic Donnie Darko . 

How much does Dramatica cost?

If you want to try out Dramatica, you have both free and paid options. There are also different editions for Windows and Mac, as follows: 

  • There is a free demo of Dramatica available for both Windows and Mac.
  • The paid version of Dramatica for Mac, Dramatica Story Expert 5, costs $199.95.
  • The paid version of Dramatica for Windows, Dramatica Pro, costs $119.95. 

Which platforms is Dramatica available for?

Dramatica is available for Mac and Windows , but each platform has a different version.

Dramatica Story Expert is the version for Mac, offering a greater level of functionality than the Windows version.

Dramatica Pro is available for Windows and is similar to the Mac version but a little less powerful. 

What are the pros and cons of using Dramatica?

So what are the strongest and weakest aspects of Dramatica?

Pros of Dramatica:

While a lot of the novel writing software in this guide offer similar levels of functionality, Dramatica brings something different to the table. The way it analyzes story and character is truly unique and like nothing else out there. A lot of major fiction and screenplay writers have thrown their support and praise behind Dramatica. 

Cons of Dramatica:

If you're looking for novel writing software that helps you with structure and grammar, Dramatica might be more powerful than you need it to be. Not everyone will agree with (or want) to learn the theory and philosophy underpinning Dramatica. Those who do will find there is a learning curve involved in understanding its take on story.

Dramatica is one of the most interesting and unique products in this novel writing software guide. While it won’t be right for every aspiring novelist, if you like the sound of its philosophy of story and character, it will give you a unique insight into your writing. 

4. FastPencil/Opyrus

For years, FastPencil was a standalone writing and collaboration platform available in the cloud.

Now, it’s part of a larger self-publishing services package that has been rebranded as Opyrus.

The novel writing software is still known as FastPencil, so we will refer to it by that name for the rest of the review.

Fastpencil Software

How much does FastPencil cost?

FastPencil is no longer available as a standalone product. Instead, it's available as part of an Opyrus package, available at three different price points:

  • Free. Access to only basic features.
  • Personal. $45.67 annual billing or $4.95 per month. 
  • Professional. $138 annually or $14.95 per month. 

Which platforms is FastPencil available for?

If you want to use FastPencil, you simply need any computer capable of logging into the cloud. 

What are the pros and cons of using FastPencil?

So what are some advantages and disadvantages of opting for FastPencil as your choice of novel writing software?

Pros of FastPencil:

Unlike some of the other novel writing software out there, FastPencil has been going a long time. There are two decades of experience behind the product. 

Cons of FastPencil:

While FastPencil is good at what it does, it doesn't bring anything unique to the table. You can get a lot of the same functionality elsewhere at a lower price point .

Also, now that FastPencil is part of the wider Opyrus system, many authors will find that they don't need everything they are paying for. 

By all means, see if you like the way that FastPencil helps you craft a novel, but we feel the majority of authors are better off looking elsewhere for their novel writing software. 

5. FocusWriter

At this point in our guide, you’ll notice that some novel writing software options aim to offer almost every function you could think of, while others try and do one thing well. 

FocusWriter is very much an example of the latter. This isn't a tool that aims to pack itself full of bells and whistles.

Instead, FocusWriter aims to solve a common pain point for novelists – the ability to drill down into your work, get into a creative flow state, and make progress on your word count target.

FocusWriter does this by offering a very minimalist writing environment, with some degree of customization . You can set timers and goals to help you write.


Ultimately, FocusWriter doesn’t offer everything you need to produce a novel. However, for times when you’re distracted, it might just help to improve focus . 

How much does FocusWriter cost?

FocusWriter is available for free on every platform, but if you’re a fan of the tool, you have the option to leave a tip and support its creator. 

Which platforms is FocusWriter available for?

At this time, FocusWriter is compatible with:

What are the pros and cons of using FocusWriter?

So what are the best and worst things about using FocusWriter as your novel writing software?

Pros of FocusWriter:

FocusWriter is a great choice if you’re finding it hard to make progress with your writing. You can create a minimalist, distraction-free environment that is customized to your needs. 

Cons of FocusWriter:

The major downside to using FocusWriter is it doesn’t offer the functionality you need to produce a novel. It will help you break through periods of writer’s block , but you’ll need different novel writing software for planning, editing, and exporting your work.

FocusWriter is a great choice to get you out of a sticky situation where you're struggling with your word count. For every other stage of the novel writing process, it probably isn't the smartest choice. 

6. Milanote

Milanote is a tool that allows you to gather together ideas and inspiration and store them in mood boards and mindmaps. 


One specific application of Milanote featured on its website is its use as a novel planning tool. You can create book outlines , make character information cards, and more. 

There’s no denying that Milanote is a stylish-looking novel writing software option. But how much will it set you back, and is it right for your next book?

How much does Milanote cost?

You can try out Milanote for free, but the paid option has a lot more functionality.

  • Free – Store 100 notes, images, and links without the ability to search.
  • $12.50 per month or $119.98 annually – Allows for unlimited notes, images, and links and full search functionality.

Which platforms is Milanote available for?

If you want to give Milanote a go for yourself, you can get it for:

What are the pros and cons of using Milanote?

So which kind of novelist might find Milanote a good choice of novel writing software?

Pros of Milanote:

Milanote is very stylish and easy to use. If you are prone to moments of inspiration on the move and want to ensure they aren't lost, Milanote is a great way to capture them and use them as creative fuel for a novel. 

Cons of Milanote:

Perhaps the major drawback to Milanote is its cost. You need to be comfortable with paying for a research and planning tool, albeit a really good one.

Ultimately, if you're looking for an all-in-one novel writing software, Milanote isn't it. If you are comfortable using a separate tool for research and planning, consider checking out Milanote. 

7. Novellus

Novellus is an affordable solution for novelists that offers some advantages over a standard Word Processor app.

Unlike a standard word processor document that quickly becomes cluttered and unwieldy, Novellus allows you to better organize a lengthy project into different scenes and sections. 

Novellus Writing Software

Novellus also offers some functionality as a proofreading aid. While this will never take the place of a human editor, it will help you send your editor cleaner text to work with.

How much does Novellus cost?

Novellus is available for a one-off cost of $29.99 . This is an advantage if you don’t like signing up to a subscription plan. 

Which platforms is Novellus available for?

At this time, Novellus is available only for MacOS . 

What are the pros and cons of using Novellus?

How should you weigh up if Novellus is the right novel writing software for you?

Pros of Novellus:

Novellus is preferable to using a standard word processor. Its functionality will make planning and keeping track of your novel far easier. 

Cons of Novellus:

Unless you have MacOS, you won’t be able to use this novel writing software. Also, for a slightly higher investment, you can purchase a more powerful solution.

Although Novellus isn’t the best choice for the majority of self-published authors, if you’re using MacOS and want an affordable upgrade over a standard word processor, Novellus may work well for you. 

Novlr is a stylish, specialist writing tool intended just for novelists. 

Novlr Writing Tool

When you use Novlr, you enjoy better planning and organization capabilities than those offered by a standard word processor.

There is also upcoming support for features such as the ability to connect with designers and editors directly through Novlr. In addition, Novlr is now writer-owned!

How much does Novlr cost?

Novlr has multiple price options, including:

  • Starter – FREE
  • Plus – $5 a month or $48 a year
  • Pro – $18 a month or $168 a year

You can even pay $499 for lifetime membership and co-ownership of this novel writing software!

Which platforms is Novlr available for?

Novlr is available on any device capable of logging into the cloud, which makes it one of the best writing apps for Android or iOS.

What are the pros and cons of using Novlr?

So, why should or shouldn’t you choose Novlr as your novel writing software?

Pros of Novlr:

Novlr is a stylish novel writing software that will help you create a comfortable virtual writing environment . It also offers productivity and tracking advantages over more standardized solutions. Plus, you can even invest in being a co-owner of the software!

Cons of Novlr:

There aren't many downsides to Novlr if you like using it! Overall, Novlr is an attractive place to write your next novel.

9. Scrivener

Scrivener has a cult following among the writing community. It’s a novel writing software option famed for both its power and complexity.

If you ask around about Scrivener, many writers will admit that they find it a bit intimidating to learn. What many writers don't know is that the latest version of Scrivener is a lot easier to use than earlier editions.

Scrivener Novel Writing

In terms of planning, writing, and even exporting your novel, Scrivener offers a level of power not found elsewhere. 

If you’re willing to learn how to use it, Scrivener is the only novel writing software you’ll ever need. 

How much does Scrivener cost?

Scrivener has one of the best free trials in the whole industry, and is available at an affordable price point to buy as a one-off software:

  • 30-day free trial , even use on non-consecutive days
  • $49 macOS standard license
  • $49 Windows standard license
  • $19.99 for the iOS version of Scrivener 

Which platforms is Scrivener available for?

At this time, Scrivener is available for:

What are the pros and cons of using Scrivener?

So how can you decide if Scrivener is the best choice of novel writing software for your book?

Pros of Scrivener:

In terms of sheer functionality, Scrivener is unmatched. It does anything and everything you could dream of when writing a novel. It’s also available at a one-off price point , so you avoid being tied into an expensive monthly or annual subscription. 

Cons of Scrivener:

The major downside to using Scrivener is its learning curve . However, since the release of Scrivener 3, the software is a lot easier to learn and use than older versions were. 

10. Storyist

If you’re looking to produce a novel or screenplay, and you happen to use Apple products, Storyist is one option available to you.

Storyist Software

As well as full word processing capabilities, Storyist has outlining and story development functions that you won't find in Microsoft Word. You can also easily create and track info on your characters to avoid any errors or gaps. 

How much does Storyist cost?

Storyist is available at two price points, depending on if you choose the mobile or desktop version:

  • Storyist for iOS $19.00

Which platforms is Storyist available for?

If you’re a Windows or Linux user, Storyist isn’t available to you. 

It’s currently only available for:

What are the pros and cons of using Storyist?

Should you use Storyist to write your next novel?

Pros of Storyist:

Storyist is a good choice for screenwriters. Its functionality is also useful for novelists, but it seems that screenwriting is Storyist’s prime concern.

As a one-off purchase, it’s more affordable than the majority of subscription novel writing software options. 

Cons of Storyist:

Most novelists will find software intended for novelists only, rather than screenwriters and novelists, to be a better fit. Windows users are out of luck here.

11. The Novel Factory

The Novel Factory is available as both a downloadable app and a cloud login platform.

It aims to give novelists a specialist environment to work on their book, full of features not found in standard writing applications. 

The Novel Factory

Some of the features created with novelists in mind include the ability to store information on and track your characters, access detailed notes about the different locations your novel takes place in, manage version control for different drafts, and to set targets and writing goals .

How much does The Novel Factory cost?

To get started with The Novel Factory, you have three options:

  • Basic – One novel and 50MB of storage for $75 a year
  • Standard – Unlimited novels and 500MB of storage for $198 a year
  • Premium – Unlimited novels and 5GB of storage for $600 a year

Which platforms is The Novel Factory available for?

The Novel Factory can currently be used in two ways:

  • Downloaded app. Available only for Windows.
  • Cloud login. Available for any device capable of logging into the Cloud. 

What are the pros and cons of using The Novel Factory?

So what are the good and bad points of using The Novel Factory as your novel writing software?

Pros of The Novel Factory:

The Novel Factory is very simple and easy to use. There’s no chance you’ll be confused by its interface. It also offers better functionality in terms of tracking your characters and locations than a standard word processor. 

Cons of The Novel Factory:

If you opt for the online version, you need to have an active internet connection to work on your novel. This is a drawback if you want to work on a plane or disconnect to focus better. The Novel Factory can also be very expensive depending on the amount of space you are looking for.

If you want a very easy-to-use novel writing software, and are comfortable with having to be online to use it, give The Novel Factory's free trial a spin to see if it's a good fit for your writing style. 

12. Ulysses

Broadly speaking, specialist novel writing software usually falls into one of two categories – fully-featured and complicated, or minimalist and easy to use.

Ulysses is an example of the minimalist school of thought. But how can it help novelists?


Ulysses is known for its minimalist writing interface and how it syncs between desktop and mobile. It also supports writing markups, and allows you to publish directly from the app to blogs. 

How much does Ulysses cost?

Ulysses is available at three price points:

  • Free trial. 
  • Monthly subscription for $5.99
  • Annual subscription for $39.99

Which platforms is Ulysses available for?

Like many writing tools, Ulysses is only available for Apple users. You can get it for:

  • MacOS 

What are the pros and cons of using Ulysses?

So what are the major pros and cons of using Ulysses as your novel writing software?

Pros of Ulysses:

Ulysses is a stylish, focused place to write. It’s easy to access your notes and images and use them for inspiration while you work. 

Cons of Ulysses:

As is often the case, Windows users aren't able to enjoy Ulysses. Also, while Ulysses supports markup and publishing directly to WordPress or Ghost, these are features more suited to blogging than novel writing. 

Ulysses is a great writing app for Apple users who blog , but novelists might want to seek another solution. 

13. WriteItNow

Unlike some of the other tools featured in this guide, WriteItNow is intended just for novelists.

Writeitnow Software

Some of the functionality offered by WriteItNow includes support for chapters and scenes, the inclusion of research and background notes, the option to view your novel as a storyboard, and the setting of writing targets and goals to help you stay on schedule. 

How much does WriteItNow cost?

So how much does it cost to get started with WriteItNow?

  • Free trial. Fully-featured but doesn't allow for saving. 
  • $59.95. One-off purchase price

Which platforms is WriteItNow available for?

At this time, WriteItNow is available for:

What are the pros and cons of using WriteItNow?

Here are some things to consider before choosing WriteItNow as your novel writing software:

Pros of WriteItNow:

WriteItNow offers some great features that will make writing your next novel far easier than using a standard writing app. It's also available at an affordable price point that doesn't tie you into a subscription.

Cons of WriteItNow:

If you’re looking for a mobile novel writing software, or one which supports Cloud functionality, WriteItNow isn’t the right option for you.

14. Writer’s Blocks

Do you struggle to plan and organize your thoughts? If so, Writer’s Blocks is intended for writers just like you!

Writer's Blocks is aimed at both screenwriters and novelists. In addition to full word processing capabilities, the software organizes your writing into blocks. These can be color-coded, dragged and dropped, and rearranged. 

Novel Software Writers Blocks

While the organizational abilities of Writer's Blocks are useful, it doesn't offer the level of functionality seen in some other options on this list. 

How much does Writer’s Blocks cost?

Writer's Blocks costs $149 as a one-off payment.

Which platforms is Writer’s Blocks available for?

Writer’s Blocks is only available for Windows . 

What are the pros and cons of using Writer’s Blocks?

What do you need to know about using Writer’s Blocks?

Pros of Writer's Blocks:

If you struggle with organizing your writing and planning , Writer’s Blocks makes life a lot easier in comparison to most word processors. 

Cons of Writer's Blocks:

In our opinion, Writer’s Blocks offers a lower level of functionality than some other software. It also costs more . 

Unless you’ve tried out Writer’s Blocks and prefer the way it works, we’d suggest looking at Scrivener or WriteItNow instead of this. 

15. yWriter 

yWriter has gained an appreciative fanbase in the author community. It was made by an author who also happens to be a programmer. 


yWriter also has a long history of being updated and offering improvements.

Best of all? yWriter is free. It offers a lot of power and functionality for a free tool. Because it was made by a novelist with novelists in mind, it allows you to track info related to your characters, settings , and even objects. 

It’s a great choice for detail-rich novels. 

How much does yWriter cost?

yWriter is free across all versions and platforms. 

Which platforms is yWriter available for?

yWriter’s primary platform is Windows, but you can find it on:

  • Full version available for Windows 
  • Mac Alpha version (the creator of yWriter suggests using Scrivener for Mac instead of yWriter

What are the pros and cons of using yWriter?

Is yWriter the right choice of software for your novel?

Pros of yWriter:

If you’re a novelist working on Windows, you can’t do better than yWriter as a free tool . It offers a lot of the functionality of paid tools without the need to spend a single cent. 

Cons of yWriter:

If you work on a Mac or iOS device , yWriter isn't the best choice for you. Consider software such as Scrivener instead or one of the specialist Mac-only novel writing apps found in this guide. 

Final Verdict: What is the Best Novel Writing Software?

YouTube video

Thank you for checking out our guide to specialist novel writing software available for authors.

At this point, you know you have a lot of options! But which one is the best writing software for novels?

Ultimately, there’s no substitute for trying out software for yourself and seeing if you enjoy the experience of using it. 

The best writing software for novels is an entirely personal choice, and will come down to the following factors:

  • Functionality. Which features are available in one software but not another? Which features do you need, and which are you unlikely to make use of when working on a novel?
  • Price. How much are you willing to invest? Would you prefer a one-off payment cost or a monthly or annual subscription?
  • Compatibility. Is the novel writing software you're considering compatible with your operating system? Is it still being updated and likely to remain compatible in the future?

If you’re looking for somewhere to start, we suggest taking advantage of the free trial edition of Scrivener.

As Scrivener offers almost everything out there in terms of functionality, by using it, you’ll soon get a feel for the features you do and don’t need. 

By the time your 30 days of Scrivener are over, you can make the choice to either stick with the full version or opt for something a little less complex.

If you’ve used any of the novel writing software in this guide, please feel free to leave a comment!

Now that you're equipped with the right tools to start writing your book, it's a good time to also think about what happens after you have your manuscript. Book writing software will help you make sure your book is polished and ready to publish.

What is your favorite novel writing software?

creative writing software for beginners


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Novel Factory

It will come as little surprise that we think the Novel Factory is the best writing software. That’s because we’ve spent the last ten years trying to work out what makes novel writing software great, and then building it.

Nonetheless, we are aware that writers’ needs vary, and that there are apps out there that are more established or have a different focus or a development team with different areas of expertise.

So we have genuinely done our best in this review to give an honest rundown of some of the best novel writing software options, analysing their strengths and weaknesses. But we’ll start with the one we know best.

The main strengths of Novel Factory are its intuitive, clean design and the wealth and detail of the novel writing resources.

As well as providing a word processor, features for creating plots and managing subplots, and areas for keeping notes on characters, locations and items – the software integrates what some have described as ‘an MA in writing’.

As well as the Roadmap, which is a step-by-step guide to writing a novel, it includes detailed character development questionnaires, world building guides and plot templates based on popular genres.

So it’s not just the car, but the engine and map as well.

The software has a section for setting your writing targets, and then automatically updates colour-coded graphs so you can track your progress towards them.

It also autosaves your manuscript and has version history, so you can access previous drafts of your writing.

And as the data is centrally stored, it’s easy for writers to collaborate on a single novel, always able to access the latest changes.

If we have to focus on the weaknesses of the Novel Factory, then we have to admit it’s not the cheapest option out there. Writers on a tight budget may not be able to stretch to $7.50 per month. We hate the idea of anyone being priced out, so we do run promos a few times a year which bring the price down, and we offer educational discounts and occasionally free licences on a hardship basis (get in touch with us for more info).

Is the Novel Factory the best novel writing software for me?

The Novel Factory is perfect for new writers, who want to learn their craft while writing their first novel.

It’s great for planners, who want to use established structures to make their story skeleton bullet-proof and develop complex characters with desires, flaws and internal conflicts.

It’s the right fit if you want somewhere to keep track of all supporting data, as well as writing the novel itself, and if you want options to work Online and Offline, as it suits you.

It’s good for visual learners, who appreciate being able to add a lot of images, who like to see how different aspects of the novel link together and who like everything clearly categorised and aesthetically appealing.

It’s less useful for writers who want something more freeform, or something where they can set up and rearrange the categories themselves. And discovery writers may prefer something a bit more streamlined and simple, as they may not need the additional sections for supporting data.

Click here to find out more about the features included in the Novel Factory 3.0, or click here for a free 30 day trial .

Scrivener Novel Writing Software

No novel writing software list would be complete without Scrivener – the Goliath of the writing software world.

Scrivener was one of the first apps to appear on the market, and is by far the most well-known program today.

The main strengths of Scrivener are its flexibility and richness of features. It has had a long time to mature, and take into account feedback from its huge community, so it is packed full of features, from index cards to name generators. It offers goal tracking, word counts and places to keep your notes.

Plus, because the community is so huge, you can take advantage of freely shared resources, such as character and plot templates.

Scrivener is very reasonably priced at £47, and is available for Mac, PC and even IOS (though the licences for each of these are sold separately), though there isn’t a web-based version.

The widely accepted main weakness of Scrivener is the other side of the coin of its strength – it’s complexity.

The ‘steep learning curve’ is cited by many as a real issue, and while there are dozens of courses to help you get to grips with the intricacies of the program, people who are trying to write a novel are usually already struggling to find enough time just to write their manuscript. And it’s quite a big ask to require someone to invest dozens of hours learning a program before they’re even sure it’s the right one for them.

Is Scrivener the best creative writing software for me?

Scrivener is a great app, with tons of fantastic features, and there’s a reason it’s used by so many writers.

As they state on their website, they, ‘won’t tell you how to write’, so this it’s best suited to an experienced novelist who has time to learn the features and work out how to use them to plan and write their novel.

It offers a lot of flexibility and customisation so, you can use the tools in lots of different ways, to suit your style.

But for a newer novelist, who is just learning their craft and might want a little more guidance, it can be a bit overwhelming, while not offering guidance on how to actually write a novel.

And having so many choices can also lead to decision paralysis, or not really knowing the best way to proceed, so it probably won’t suit people who are less comfortable with advanced technology and customisation.

Click here to find out more about Scrivener and get a free trial.

creative writing software for beginners

YWriter is another veteran piece of software which is widely respected and loved.

YWriter contains all the key features you’d expect from novel writing software, including clearly defined places to keep track of your characters , locations, scenes, chapters and somewhere to write your novel.

A big strength is that it allows you to link everything together and handily cross-reference, and it has lots of tools to keep track of your word counts and progress.

The main weakness of yWriter is that it’s not clear where to start when you first open it, and the word processor takes a while to find. Also, some sections of the interface are a bit primitive, requiring you to enter code syntax, rather than offering a proper graphic user interface where you can simply, click, drag and drop.

The characters, locations and tools tabs are all fairly straightforward, but the interface is all table-based, which can get a bit monotonous. While you can add images to characters, locations and items, they’re not displayed in the main interface for quick reference.

Like Scrivener, it doesn’t give you any guidance on how to actually write a novel.

Is yWriter the best free novel writing software for me?

While yWriter isn’t the most intuitive software to use, or the most fully featured, it has one major advantage which, for many writers, will rocket it above all the competitors.

That is that it is completely free.

For a free product, yWriter is quite phenomenal and it is extremely generous of the developer to give away such a great app with no charge at all. Of course, you can donate to help support future development, but even the suggested donations are only up to $24.95 as a one off.

So if you are looking for dedicated software to keep track of the key aspects of your novel but you’re on a tight budget, then yWriter is a fantastic option.

Click here to find out more about yWriter.

Fictionary Novel Editing Software

Fictionary is an online creative writing software that approaches the process from a different point of view. Instead of starting with an idea and helping the writer grow it into a full novel, Fictionary has a stronger focus on improving your manuscript after you’ve written it.

The main strength of Fictionary is its analytical capabilities once you import your manuscript. It can help you get an overarching view of your story arc.

It has an attractive interface and a sidebar with lots of useful prompts to help you think about various aspects of each scene.

The ‘Plot’ section of the sidebar gives useful prompts to encourage you to consider the type, role and goals of each scene.

Likewise, the ‘settings’ section offers useful prompts to help you think not only about the practical details of your setting, but also how it impacts the story.

The main weakness of Fictionary is that the data is only as good as what you enter, and the analysis relies a lot on your own understanding of story and character.

It offers a lot of numerical analysis and helps you identify tangible things such as chapters or scenes which are excessively long, or which contain excessive numbers of characters, but whether those things are actually an issue or not depends a lot on context and your own choices, and at the end of the day, the quality of a novel can’t be boiled down to statistics.

Also, everything is viewed by scenes, so you can’t get much of an overview of your plot, apart from the quite limited Story Arc.

Also, like Novlr, it doesn’t have much support for plot structure development or developing your characters, which isn’t that surprising, since its focus is on after you’ve written the novel. You can enter your characters, but the data is limited to name and whether that character is POV. You can’t add any further information, or images. You can add information about locations to each scene, but there’s no database of locations that stands alone.

It’s also the most expensive option on our list, at $20 per month or $200 per year.

Is Fictionary the best novel editing software for me?

Fictionary is useful if you’ve already written a manuscript and you want to analyse it to find out where the inconsistencies or weak areas are.

It’s great if you love obsessing over data, and it can help you think about aspects of scenes to make them stronger and more compelling.

It’s not very useful for new novelists who want to learn how to write their first novel, or for planners who are looking for tools to structure, outline and develop characters before writing their novel.

Click here to find out more about Fictionary and get a free trial.

Atticus Novel Writing Software

Atticus is a newcomer to the market, created by established self-publishing marketing guru, Dave Chesson.

The key unique strength of Atticus is its formatting and publishing functions. As a self-published author, Dave rightly recognised that there were few options on the market that allowed you to easily ready your manuscript for self-publishing – and even fewer if you weren’t on a Mac.

Atticus allows you to easily select between various formatting styles, and export your novel to a ready-to-go ebook format for all the major self-publishing platforms.

In conjunction with that, Atticus includes dedicated spaces for front matter and back matter, and it allows you to set writing goals, and even select which days of the week you plan to write, which is a nice touch.

It works in a browser, and you can also download apps for Windows and Mac, making it one of the most cross-platform options out there.

It’s got a slick, attractive, highly intuitive interface. It even features a cute cartoon dog – what’s not to like?

The weakness of Atticus compared to other novel writing software, is that it doesn’t offer any areas for keeping track of characters or locations, managing your plot. Of course if you don’t need those features, then that’s not a problem at all.

It also doesn’t get into the business of teaching you how to write a novel, so if you’re a beginner looking for more craft guidance, you’ll need to find that info somewhere else.

It doesn’t offer any free trial, which could be quite off-putting to some people, and the price isn’t that cheap, at $147, though that is a one-off cost. Asking people to pay that much without having been able to poke at the software first demands quite a lot of trust, though there is a no-quibble 30 day money back guarantee.

Is Atticus the best novel formatting software for me?

Atticus is almost certainly the best option for actively self-publishing authors who have a reasonable budget available and prefer to just get on with writing their novels without doing a lot of additional work creating character profiles, locations sheets or planning documents.

It offers a clean interface for writing, and easy formatting and publishing to all the major platforms, something very few of the other options offer.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for more comprehensive novel writing software which includes features and functions to help you keep track of characters, manage your plot and subplots and give novel writing advice, then Atticus is not that sort of one-stop-shop.

Click here to check out Atticus.

Write It Now

WriteItNow Novel Writing Software

Write it Now is a desktop based novel writing software app available for both Windows and Mac, with a wide range of features, but quite a cluttered, dated interface.

The main strength of Write It Now is the wide range of features it includes.

As well as having sections to keep your characters, locations, events, props, notes and research, it has some cool tools which are rare in other programs, such as character relationship charts.

There are some prompts and guidance with regards to characters, such as including their birth and death date, and their relationship to other characters, but ‘personality’ is limited to sliders on different personality traits, such as ‘health’ or ‘aggression’.

Another strength is that it includes places for front and back matter, and offers a wide range of export options.

By far the biggest weakness of the software is its interface. Balance, style and consistency are lacking and it’s cluttered with fussy icons. And while at the top level the sections are quite intuitive, many of the buttons within the sections are quite confusing and it’s unclear what the intent behind them is, even after you’ve clicked them.

Finally, it doesn’t appear to offer many overview options, so apart from the tree list on the left hand side, you can’t view all of your characters at a glance. There also doesn’t seem to be a way to get an overview of your plot structure.

Is Write It Now the best novel planning software for me?

Write It Now is good for writers who are comfortable with technology and like to have lots of detailed features and functions, and who want to be able to drill down into lots of detail, and customise the software to suit themselves. And who aren’t that fussed about aesthetics.

It’s also a good option for users who prefer Desktop software, as many of the novel writing apps out there now are solely web-based.

It’s not good for people who value an aesthetically pleasing, intuitive interface. It’s also not good for people who want to keep things simple.

It doesn’t include any guidance on how to write a novel, so it’s less useful for new novel writers.

Click here to check out Write It Now.


Focus Writer Novel Writing App

FocusWriter is a super-simple, free app to help writers focus and avoid distractions.

It’s biggest strength is exactly what it says – its focus. Its main objective is to minimise distractions, so you can get on with writing your novel.

It also has some customisation options, so you can change the background image to something you like and it’s available in multiple languages.

Its weakness is that it doesn’t offer anything else.

There is nowhere to keep track of any supporting information, such as that of characters, locations, items, research or notes. Of course, it doesn’t intend to offer those things, but if you want them – that’s a problem.

There’s no support on how to write a novel, and despite its simplicity, the interface still manages to look slightly dated.

Is FocusWriter the best novel writing software for me?

FocusWriter is perfect for authors who just want to get on and write a manuscript and not faff around with lots of planning and research. So it’s far better suited to discovery writers, rather than planners.

People who like to have a completely clear desk, and who find clutter impacts on their train of thought, will find FocusWriter the perfect solution.

If you’re looking for a more fully featured program, which will help keep track of supporting information, as well as the manuscript itself, then this is not the app for you.

Likewise, if you’re a new writer who wants a program that integrates guidance, templates and novel writing advice, then this is not a good option.

Click here to download FocusWriter.

Bibisco Novel Writing Software

Bibisco is a desktop based app with a clean, uncluttered layout and a good range of features.

It’s main strengths are the simplicity of its interface and the fact it has sections for all the major aspects of novel writing.

It’s nicely laid out, with the option to add images to things such as characters and locations. It has graphs to visualise things such as chapter lengths and character and object distribution. Another great feature is the character relationships tool.

It includes quite a few character development prompts, though how you fill them in is a little confusing at first, and it’s not possible to easily see all the information at a glance, you have to keep clicking to drill down, and then clicking to go back up to the top level again.

Another nice touch is the popup help boxes that appear as you move through the app, giving you extra hints and tips without making you grind to a halt to complete a lengthy tutorial.

The biggest weaknesses of the software are the fact that it has no free trial, and the lack of clear flow of overarching structure to the software.

This is one of the only programs that doesn’t offer a free trial. The price is very low (only $18, though you can pay more if you feel inclined to), so you could just take a punt on it, but it seems a big ask to require people to fork out before they’ve ever had a chance to take it for a test drive and see if it suits them.

The other issue is that it’s not always clear the best way to use the software. For many this is fine, as they’ll use it how they please – but if you’re looking for something that will guide you through the novel writing process, you’ll be disappointed.

Is Bibisco the best novel writing software for me?

If you’re looking for a low-cost desktop app to keep track of key information relating to your novel, then Bibisco is a great choice. It has a nice clean interface, contains all the key sections you could require with a few nice extras, and is very modestly priced.

However, if you’re a discovery writer who just wants to get writing, it’s unlikely to suit you, as the emphasis is on supporting data, rather than the manuscript. It actually takes a while to find the word processor.

And if you’re a planner looking for a way to shuffle around plot points and get a bird’s eye view of your structure, Bibisco doesn’t provide that.

It also isn’t designed for new writers who are looking for guidance on how to actually write their novel, as it doesn’t contain that sort of information.

Click here to find out more about Bibisco.

Wavemaler Novel Writing Software

Wavemaker is a smart novel writing app which contains a range of useful features for novelists.

Like yWriter, it is a labour of love by a single developer who wanted to create software for his own writing, and like yWriter it is also available for free, with a gentle encouragement for you to donate money so he can spend more time on it.

It’s a progressive web app, which means it runs in a browser, but continues to work if you go offline, syncing as soon as it gets a connection back.

Our favourite Wavemaker strengths are its range of elegant planning features and its beautiful interface.

Wavemaker contains several different ways to plan your novel and gather your notes, each slightly different to take into account different ways of processing information, but allowing you to drag and drop items, and link ideas and notes in different ways.

It includes tagging, which can be very useful for cross-referencing and sorting, and it has a sidebar so you can view some of your notes while writing your manuscript.

It is very clean and pleasing to look at, and using the tools is very intuitive.

The main weakness of Wavemaker is that while it is a great selection of tools, they don’t integrate in any coherent way. You can’t enter info in one and then view it in one of the other sections to get a different perspective. There’s no flow, where you start in one section, then when that’s complete, move to the next. Then again, the freeform way will work better for many people.

Also, the tools mostly stop at the top level functionality, so they do what they say, but there’s not a lot more below the surface.

It doesn’t have any novel writing teaching resources, so people who are looking to write their first novel will need to find that information somewhere else, and there’s little in the way of prompts, to show you how to develop characters or settings, or structure a plot.

Is Wavemaker the best free novel writing software for me?

Wavemaker is great if you want a flexible, intuitive and aesthetically pleasing toolbox for working out the plot of your novel.

It will also be good for discovery writers who want a clean interface which works online and offline.

It’s less useful for new writers who are looking for writing craft guidance, or for those who like to see how all their data links together across the different sections.

Click here to check out Wavemaker.

Novlr Novel Writing Software

Novlr is a web-based novel writing app with a beautiful interface, a bunch of great features and plenty of resources to help teach you how to write a novel.

One of the biggest strengths of Novlr is how attractive and pleasing it is to look at, with its slick layout. For some people, this may be considered unimportant compared to the features available, but for many of us a clear, uncluttered interface helps our thoughts flow more clearly.

It also offers spelling and grammar suggestions, in the same way Word does, which not many novel writing apps do.

It autosaves and creates a version history, which gives great peace of mind.

It includes word count info and even motivational messages when you achieve your goals.

One of its weaknesses is the price – it is among the higher priced apps at $100 per year.

Another potential weakness (though could be a strength, depending on your point of view), is that it doesn’t have any features relating to characters, plotting or locations. The focus of Novlr is solely on the manuscript, so any related research or development you want to do has to be done elsewhere.

Is Novlr the right story writing software for me?

Novlr is perfect for discovery writers (also known as pantsers), with its beautiful, clean interface, proofreading tools and version history.

It’s also good for new writers as, like the Novel Factory, it has an integrated course to help you write your novel.

It’s not so useful for writers who are looking for a more all round software, which will give them somewhere to keep track of their cast of characters, offer plotting tools and world building resources.

Click here to find out more about Novlr and get a free trial.

In summary – what is the best novel writing software for you? Our top three recommendations, for planners, pantsers, and those on a budget.

As we’ve seen, if you’re looking for novel writing software, you’re spoiled for choice. You can find software that will take care of all your supporting novel data, such as characters and locations, or you can find absolute minimalist apps to help you avoid distractions.

There is software that teaches you how to write a novel, and there’s software that gives you imaginative ways to view your data, such as index cards, mind maps and relationship charts.

Some of the software is perfect for discovery writers, while others are a dream come true for planners. You may also want to consider using Papertyper, a free AI essay writer tool that can help you organize your thoughts and ideas. This is also worth your attention.

Some are aesthetically pleasing and calming to look at and use, while others prioritise highly customisable detail.

The right software for you will depend on your personal preferences and priorities, but here’s a summary of our top three favourites, for the most diverse requirements:

Here are our top recommendations:

  • Best all round novel writing software: The Novel Factory
  • Best minimalist writing software: FocusWriter
  • Best free novel writing software: Wavemaker

Whatever your needs, we hope you find the tool that’s a perfect partner for your novel writing future!

Unlock your writing potential

If you liked this article by the Novel Factory, then why not try the Novel Factory app for writers?

It includes:

  • Plot Templates
  • Character Questionnaires
  • Writing Guides
  • Drag & Drop Plotting Tools
  • World Building resources
  • Much, much more

creative writing software for beginners

Become a Writer Today

Creative Writing for Beginners: 10 Top Tips

These creative writing for beginners tips can help with a short story, poem or novel .

Writing is a great pursuit, but many first-time writers find that it’s not as easy as they think. If you are dabbling in creative writing activities or fiction writing for the first time, you will likely discover that writing courses and writing exercises fall short in helping you truly develop characters and overcome writer’s block.

Thankfully, you can take some steps to embrace your inner author and write your first short story or novel. Whether you have an end product in mind or are simply looking to start your writing journey, these writing tips will help you get started.

1. Dig Deep to Choose Your Topic

2. spend time reading, 3. write daily, 4. tackle writing exercises, 5. consider a writing course, 6. keep it unique, 7. practice, practice, practice, 8. try a different medium, 9. embrace your critics, 10. write first, perfect later, the final word on creative writing for beginners.

Living Writer contains time-saving templates for authors and novelists. iOS and Android apps available

Living Writer

First, determine what you will write about. Your starting point will guide character development and your overall plot. If you’re having trouble finding a topic, consider using these starting points:

  • Start with a story — If you have a compelling storyline or main character in mind, start there.
  • Use personal experiences — Something that happened in your life can help you start a story. Taking our own stories and transforming them into fiction writing can create true masterpieces because the feeling in the writing is personal.
  • Consider a hot topic — Is there a political or social issue that is important to you? Weave that into compelling prose to start your story.

Starting with these ideas, you should be able to settle on a basic idea for your story.

Creative writers are usually readers. Reading helps you learn about the nuances of written language, storytelling and character development.

Read a wide range of genres too. While novels are always helpful, non-fiction writing and short stories will teach you as well.

Set aside time every day to write . Make it part of your daily routine, and protect that time as much as you can. By having it scheduled into your day, you can overcome the frustration and delays of writer’s block.

During your writing time, limit distractions. Let your housemates or family members know you aren’t available during that time. Write, even if you don’t think what you’re writing is high quality, just to keep the words flowing.

By having daily writing time, you will start to improve your writing skills . Soon you will see a quality piece of writing coming together as you work your way towards your next bestseller.

If you find that getting started with creative writing is hard for you, consider some basic writing exercises. Creative writing prompts to get your ideas flowing can be the start of compelling writing as you create your own writing style. Writing exercises can help you learn the importance of the first sentence of your story or the development of your characters.

Sometimes writing exercises do not lead to a final product that you would publish, and that’s fine. The goal isn’t always to create something to share. Sometimes the goal is simply to gain writing experience and hone your craft.

Writing courses can be a great jumping-off point for creative writers. Writing courses teach structure, character development and overall writing techniques.

In a writing course, you will have writing exercises to perform each week and accountability for those assignments. This combination can help many first time writers start writing. Over time the writing skills build up and the writing becomes more natural.

Creative writing for beginners

When it comes to creative writing, uniqueness is a key component. To capture readers, you need something that hasn’t been done before, or you need to approach a story from a new perspective.

To give you a source for creative ideas, take time to brainstorm . Keep a journal where you can jot down ideas as they come or explore storylines. Soon you will find a unique twist to take your characters on.

Writing is a creative process , but that does not mean that practice is futile. Practicing daily gets your creativity flowing. You will polish your writing skills and learn more about how brainstorming works for you.

Today’s writers rarely put pen to paper, but rather finger to keyboard. Sometimes, a different medium may make the creativity flow.

Ernest Hemingway knew this. He wrote all of his manuscripts on paper with pencil, only typing them for the final drafts. This gave him the chance to edit during the final typing, and he felt that writing longhand spurred his creativity.

If you’re struggling with writer’s block , channel your inner Ernest Hemingway and try writing with pencil and paper instead. It just might get you over that hump.

A good writer can make an interesting story out of nothing. A great writer can do the same thing, then learn from critics to make the writing even better. Whether in a writing class, on social media or in the proofreading stages, have people read and critique your writing.

Accept criticism and use it to grow. Sometimes, you will gain new insight into how you can make your writing better. Sometimes, you will ignore the critics and allow your writing to stand.

Either way, critics will help you polish your art and learn how to craft a story that you are proud to call your own.

When writing a book or short story, don’t focus on perfection at the start. Get your ideas down and polish your storylines and character development, not necessarily the writing and grammar. This comes later when you proofread your work.

Your first draft is the place to get the story going. After you complete that draft, go back and edit it. Make it more powerful, fix your shortcomings and try to perfect it, but only after the main ideas are complete.

Remember, striving for perfection with the first draft is sure to create writer’s block . Move past it by understanding you can perfect later.

Creative writing for beginners can feel daunting. You know you have good ideas, but getting those ideas on paper feels like an overwhelming task. By scheduling time to write every day, brainstorming your ideas and not striving for perfection at first, all while taking advantage of writing exercises and writing classes, you can succeed in becoming a creative writer.

Want more? Check out out list of writing tips .

creative writing software for beginners

Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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I first came across MasterWriter in an ad in Writer’s Digest.  I tried a trial and saw the program’s value immediately.  It allows you to find synonyms of words, meanings, rhymes, alliterations, and more…When I’m writing, I tend to keep MasterWriter open and use it as often as possible.  It comes in handy whether I’m working on poetry, fiction, or nonfiction—all forms of writing.  In addition, the program is easy to use.  In a nutshell: I highly recommend this program to take your sentences to the next level!
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creative writing software for beginners

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Best book writing software: Apps that will elevate your writing

creative writing software for beginners

1. The best paid book writing app

2. The best free book writing software for beginners

3. Best book writing apps for Mac

4. Dictating your book

5. Final word

➡️  Consistency and efficiency are key to success as an author. You need to find tools and software that maximise your time, so you can thrive as a writer.

➡️  There are a number of free writing tools available for writers. From Google Docs to Grammarly, use free apps and software if you’re on a tight budget.

➡️  Scrivener is the best paid writing app you can use. You can jump to ideas, chapters, and use Scrivener’s ready-made templates to make your writing process smoother.

What do you use to write?

Some authors swear by the good old typewriter. Both George R.R. Martin and Tom Wolfe don’t use any modern technology to write.Who’s to judge?

A typewriter does not distract you from writing with pop-ups and updates. It does not ask to be fed electricity to let you work.

And it (almost) never breaks. Which saves you from disruptions in your creative process , unnecessary expenses, and trouble that anyone using a computer may have to endure. But it’s not easier. And it’s not faster.

If you want to become a best-selling author, consistency and efficiency are key to your success. You can’t waste time.

The bottom line is, even with its evident flaws, technology will make you a more efficient writer. You just need to pick the right one that works for you and your writing workflow.

From basic word processors to dictation software, and more – we take a quick look at the what’s out there.

The best paid book writing app - Scrivener

We’re starting with the writing program that’s been promoted by NY Times best-selling authors,Hollywood’s top screenwriters, and many up-and-comers – Scrivener. For more than 15 yearsScrivener has been writers’ favourite software for writing fiction, non-fiction, screenplays, even poetry. At this point, Scrivener is virtually a verb. So, what has made Scrivener such a sought-after piece of technology? 

The app’s biggest advantage is the way it handles long-form content like books and screenplays. Let’s say you need to find a small piece of information in your 300-page book. With a text editor, your best bet was to use the 'Find' function. Not ideal.

At Scrivener jumping between ideas and chapters is quick and easy. Plus, there are tons of ready-to-use templates already.


  • Makes writers be more efficient
  • Regular updates and feature additions
  • Templates you can customise to optimise your writing 
  • Available on most platforms
  • No Android or Linux support
  • Might be overwhelming to get started 

The best free book writing software for beginners

If you’re looking for free writing software, there are tons of browser-based options.

With different add-ons, Google Docs can be a good tool to store and format your book. The content is automatically saved (no need to worry about hitting ‘Save’ after every line). If you want to share you work, people can view it live and even add comments!

And you can also use Grammarly, the Hemingway app to improve your writing.

It does an amazing job to provide a distraction-free writing environment. And, when you think about it, it’s all you need.  

But if you want something more geared around writing for free, check, the FocusWriter.

Arguably, the software’s best feature is FocusedText, which grays out everything out, except the space you’re writing on. It also offers a calendar, goals, built-in and customisable themes, and more.

  • Available on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
  • Goals with a built-in calendar
  • Writing timer
  • No templates
  • No book formatting
  • No mobile support

Best book writing apps for Mac – Vellum & IA writer

While it’s quite expensive, you can get a lot out ofVellum. In fact, it’s fair to call Vellum a book-publishing powerhouse.

If you do the writing, Vellum will do everything else from formatting to converting your work ready for publishing on Amazon KDP,iBooks, or Kobo.

If you need writing software just for ebooks, you can get Vellum eBooks for $199. Vellum Press ($249) will produce both unlimited ebooks and paperback books.

As to which one is better - Scrivener or Vellum?They both are good for different reasons. If you have the money to invest and plan to publish a lot of books, in the end, Vellum will pay for itself.

  • One-button style adjustment (8 distinct styles)
  • Auto-generate pages (table of contents, copyright page, etc.)
  • Easy navigation
  • Preview feature
  • Instant conversion to Kindle, Apple Books, Kobo, and more
  • Only on Mac

But another piece of software, the FocusWriter is much better for the process of writing. iA Writer can sync documents using iCloud or Dropbox from within the editor for use across multiple devices. It also comes with noise-free writing experience, so you can focus on your work.  

Dictating your book

In the beginning, we said that we’ll pick one piece of software for each category. This one’s a unique case. Finding speech-to-text software won’t be problem as there’s a lot of options there. What you ultimately need to consider is the that your writing process can be quite different.   

You can easily dictate on your iPhone or Android device but  if you’re looking for a more specialised software, take a look at Screen Notes. It has basic editing functionality, other already well-integrated with the writing software (Scrivener, MS Word). 

There are three reasons why you might consider dictating– health reasons, speed and increased creativity. But you need to get used to the process and get get used to transcribing and editing . It’s a skill you have to practice. So dedicate time for deliberate practice. Then most dictation apps will be good for you.

There seems to be a piece of software for everything now.

We don’t suggest burning all your paper notes. Although, if you have ever found yourself lost in a pile of notes and writings, you’ll understand how today’s writing apps elevate your writing process.

Technology takes time to learn. It’s often frustrating to a point you’re sure you’re better off without it. But in most. cases, if you stick with it, you’ll become a better writer.

Advice from a published writer

Drop us a message, we'll be happy to help.

Jamal Shashore

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  1. Book Writing Software (2024): Top 10 for Writers

    Vellum ProWritingAid Publisher Rocket Atticus Freedom Microsoft Word Bonus: Note Taking Apps Bonus: Google Drive OR Dropbox Worst Pieces of Software for Writing a Book Before we discuss writing software that will help you write a beautiful book, it's important to understand (and eliminate) what will hurt your writing progress.

  2. Best free writing app of 2024

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  4. 15 Best Book Writing Software Options in 2024

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  5. The Creative Writer's Toolkit: 6 Tools You Can't Write Without

    7 Creative Writing Tools Every Writer Needs. But before we get to the basic tools you need, we have to know what tools are at a writer's disposal. For a beginner, this is as good a place to start as any. 1. Books! If you want to write books, you've got to read books. A whole freaking lot of it.

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    iA Writer Best for Online Writing (Medium, WordPress) Jump To Details $29.99 at iA Inc

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    The Ultimate List of 127 Writing Apps in 2024 | Reedsy Craft your masterpiece in Reedsy Studio Plan, write, edit, and format your book in our free app made for authors. Best Writing Apps in 2024 Showing 127 writing apps that match your search. Typely Add to shortlist A reliable proofreading tool and essay editor for any writer or student.

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    ProWritingAid Free Writing Editing Tool. QuillBot's Writing Tools. Best Book Promotion Software For Authors. KDSPY Power Tools for Authors. Sell More Books with Publisher Rocket. Free Amazon Book Description Generator Tool. Free Course to Build an Indie Author Website.

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  11. 13 Book Writing Software That Actually Make a Difference

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    Find fellow Novlr writers on Discord. Join them to thrash out ideas, share your struggles, get advice, or just hang out with a likeminded community. With Novlr, you can achieve your writing goals. Built by writers and owned by its writing community, Novlr helps you progress along every stage of your writing journey.

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    Here are a few creative writing prompts you can choose from: Write about someone with a dangerous secret. Write a scene set at your favorite restaurant. Write a story about someone who wakes up with no memories, except for a single name. Write a story from the perspective of someone who isn't human.

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    Read our AutoCrit review. 12. Storyist (for Mac) Use for: Organizing plots and developing characters. Pricing: $59. Storyist is useful for writing stories. Storyist is a versatile writing app ideal for novelists, screenwriters, and non-fiction writers. Storyist is one of the best story-building apps available for Mac.

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