Writing Software: A Review

There are a lot of writing programs available for use, and it can be overwhelming to figure out which one will work best for you and your writing habits. From cloud-based programs to your basic word processors, which one do you choose? Are you one for frills? Or do you prefer your basic blank page?

Photo by Kasia Palitava from Pexels

Whatever your preferences are, there’s a program out there for everyone. I’ve tried several of them, and here are my thoughts on a few of them.

  1. Scrivener
    My favorite writing application to date, and it remains one of the most popular writing programs out there today. While I’ve attempted to use other programs, I continually drift back to Scrivener. It has settings and features to organize my research and notes, organize my chapters and scenes, and even has functions to export to PDF, .docx, .epub, .mobi, and more. It offers templates to start you out, with editable inputs for when you export the file. The downfall to all these features? There’s definitely a learning curve to it all. On the upside, it’s a one-time purchase of $49; no recurring subscription fee required.

    You can purchase Scrivener at LiteratureandLatte.com.
  2. Dabble
    Dabble is a cloud-based writing program that aims to be like Scrivener, but fails to do so. I found it clunky to use, hard to organize your notes and research, and overall lacking. The only upside was that I could seamlessly move from my tablet to my phone to my laptop, picking up right where I left off. There’s also a regular subscription fee involved with Dabble, although it is fairly low, but again — recurring.

    You can find out more about Dabble at DabbleWriter.com.
  3. Novlr
    Similar to Dabble, Novlr is a cloud-based, online writing program. It offers a cleaner look than Dabble, and is aimed at increasing focus so you can get those words out. There are Day, Evening, and Night modes, with varying color schemes to reflect the time of day. Overall, however, there aren’t many features, but that can offer a more distraction-free environment for those who are prone to wandering minds. Novlr offers two recurring pay plans: monthly and yearly.

    You can find Novlr at Novlr.org.
  4. Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland
    I feel like the premise of this software from Weiland was tight and streamlined, and when I learned that Weiland was putting out this program, I was excited. She has a great series on outlining your novel and the three-act structure. If you like lots of questions and in-depth, thought-provoking prompts to really build your novel, this program is for you. Personally, I found it a tad overwhelming with so many questions, leading me to be let down by the program itself. It has a one-time fee of $40 USD.

    You can find Outlining Your Novel at HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors.com.
  5. Google Docs
    I’ve used Google Docs a lot in previous employment, and it’s quite fluent in seamless transitions between users. As an internet/cloud-based software, you’ll need an internet connection to access your work. (Although, I think Google Docs has a “work offline” mode? If it does, it’s not one I’ve used.) Users can leave comments, which is great for getting feedback from beta readers or editors. And if your computer ever crashes, you can rest assured your work isn’t lost. Overall, Google Docs is a seamless, clean, easy-to-use word processor.

    You can find Google Docs at Google.com.
  6. Microsoft Word
    The holy grail of clean, simple, easy-to-use word processors. There’s very little learning curve with Word, and you can export to a variety of file types. There is a recurring fee with Microsoft Office 365, but that subscription provides you with cloud-based storage for your files. There’s also an option for a one-time fee, but that limits you to one device. Be sure to save often in case of a crash, however, or you’ll lose all your work.

    You can find Microsoft Word at Microsoft.com.

There are a ton of other writing tools and programs you can utilize, such as ProWritingAid. Sometimes, however, I find good ol’ fashioned pen and paper are my best tools for writing, especially when I’m stuck on a particular scene.

What are you favorite writing programs to use for your craft? Let me know in the comments!

Best Writing Resources

There are a ton of writing resources out there, and it can be difficult to know which ones are actually useful for your writing. The truth is? Many of them can be useful, depending on what your needs are as a writer. That is, whether you need help with things such as plotting, characterization, description, prose… The list goes on. A lot of blogs on writing exist (including this one!), but how do you know which resources are good? Well, I’ve put together a list of my favorite writing resources that have helped me.

(Note: None of these are affiliate links, nor do I make any money when you make a purchase or click a link. These are simply resources I have found useful in my writing journey.)

Best Website for Novelists

HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors.com

This site, run by author K.M. Weiland, has a plethora of great resources in and of itself. She outlines how to plot a novel through the Three-Act Structure, and a recent addition to the site is a long list of character archetypes and how to write them. She has several books out for plotting your novel and creating character arcs, as well as a new program to help you plot out your novel.

Best Book for Perfecting Style and Prose

Dreyer is the copy chief of Random House, one of the “Big Five” publishing houses. He gives his thoughts on common writing mistakes that he sees constantly in manuscripts and mentions how to fix them, such as superfluous or redundant words. This book is both witty and instructive, with a solid dose of humor. Definitely a great read if you plan on submitting to agents.

Best Book(s) for Characterization/Description

Puglisi and Ackerman have a series of thesaurus-type books, including one on negative traits and emotional wounds. These books are great for building characters and crafting more detailed descriptions, rather than just saying, “She was angry.”

Best Necessity for Those Looking to Publish

The CMS, or Chicago Manual of Style, is the standard style guide for the publishing industry in the U.S. It’s a great reference tool when you’re not sure whether or not to use that comma or whether or not you need spaces around your em dash. If you want to publish, traditionally or not, I believe every writer needs this in their library.

Best Program for Novelists

Out of all the writing software and programs I’ve tried to use over the years, from Novlr to Dabble, Scrivener remains my favorite. It is a mountain of features and customization, whether you want to simply change the theme or move around that one particular scene that doesn’t go. It has templates and more for you to get your novel started. I’ve been using Scrivener for years, and it’s a program I can always count on.

And that’s it for my favorite resources! What are some of your favorite writing resources that have helped you in your writing journey?