Now that you have some novel ideas and know what genre you’ll write in, where do you write your book? Whether you plan first or dive right into the first draft, you need a place for that first draft and your notes. So, keep reading to learn about various writing software for your novel.
What Is Book Writing Software?
Before we get into the different programs, let’s discuss what book writing software will do for you. Writing software is a tool or program on your computer that will help you write your novel.
Every software is different. Some may be a safe space to write your words, while others might be more involved. For example, they’ll have folders for you to keep multiple files for worldbuilding, character profiles, and more.
Overall, novel writing software is meant to help make the creative writing process a smooth ride for you.
A List Of The Best Book Writing Software For You To Consider
If you’re in the market for some writing software options, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s an extensive list of free and paid options for you to write your novel.
Before you check out the list, I have yet to try all these options. Some of the information is from my experience or research on the specific program.
As always, research your options by checking out their websites and then decide which is the best choice for you.
If you’re like me and enjoy writing and video games, then 4TheWords is the best of both worlds. This website allows you to create an account and an avatar that you can customize with different outfits and accessories. Of course, one of the ways you earn accessories and other items is by writing.
4TheWords has a writing processor built within itself linked to a fantasy world with monsters to fight. Each writing session is a “battle” in which you must write a certain number of words within a time limit.
If you succeed, you win the battle and earn experience points. There’s more to it, as well. You can also go on quests, which is also done through writing.
There’s a nice writing community and forums as well.
I used to use this program but haven’t in a while. Not because I didn’t like it, but because I found something that suited my needs more.
Price: $4/month (has a 30-day free trial)
Atticus is not only a word processor but also a book formatter. As a result, this program has much of what you need to complete your book writing process.
I have not tried Atticus, but it’s on my list to try when I’m ready to format my manuscript.
Atticus is user friendly. You can write your book within the program, including front matter and back matter. So, if you want to use it as an outline tool, you could use it as an outline.
It’ll keep track of your daily word count, and you can also set goals. The best part is that if you already have a book started, you can import it to Atticus without needing to start over.
Price: $147 (one-time payment)
This particular book software for writers claims to be the “most versatile writing software.” And honestly? Campfire Writer might be.
Not only can you organize and write your story within the browser or on a desktop app, but you can also utilize their character creation and world-building tools.
You can annotate your own stories with notes and connect with other writers through their community. If you’re co-authoring a book, then you can sync your file with your co-writer to work together seamlessly.
Price: Varies depending on your needs, but they do have a free version
What if you’re not writing a novel and need screenwriting software? Well, you’re in luck because Celtx is a script writing software.
This program will take your script above and beyond immediately at the writing. You can collab with other writers on the same script, go offline for a distracted-free writing session, and more.
You can also use story development tools to keep track of characters and the like.
Price: Limited free plan or $13.49 – $53.99 per month across three tiers (offers a free trial)
Dabble prides itself on being a simple software for writing a book without the steep learning curve.
This writing software allows you to write your manuscript within their program online or offline. In addition, they have cloud backup, word count goals, fonts, sticky notes, spelling and grammar checks, and more.
The main features of this writing application allow you to focus and be productive in your work while keeping your notes neatly organized in one place.
Price: $10 – $20 per month across three tiers (offers a 14-day free trial)
This book writing software allows you to keep everything all in one place. It includes a tab for outlining with a kanban view to make notes and move ideas around.
In addition, there’s the manuscript tab, which is self-explanatory. You can write your book within the program with a summarized outline to the left, including your word count. The right side has extra notes.
Finally, there’s a third tab specifically for characters, settings, editing notes, and more.
FirstDraftPro has everything you need, from outlining templates, track changes, goal setting, and syncing with other writers to co-write or receive feedback.
Price: $18/month (paid monthly) or $14/month (paid annually). It also offers a 14-day free trial.
Google Docs And Sheets
Almost everyone has a Google account, which includes Google Drive. You also have access to Google Docs and Google Sheets. Docs is a word processor, while Sheets is a spreadsheet.
It may not be ideal for writing a full manuscript in Google Docs since it’s not specifically for writing a novel. However, some people utilize it for that purpose, and it works for them.
I use Google Docs and Sheets, but I’ll admit I’ve never tried writing a full novel with them. However, I can see why people enjoy using Docs for their manuscripts and Sheets for notes.
Sheets allow you to have multiple tabs within one document, so you can keep your notes in one place and neatly organize them.
Price: Free up to 15 GB, then ranges from $1.99 – $9.99 per month across three tiers
The Hemingway App is a browser application with a desktop version for offline work. This program allows you to write directly into the processor, and it’ll edit the work as you go.
No, it won’t make changes, but it’ll highlight words and sentences based on the suggestions. So, for example, it picks up active voice, adverbs, and hard-to-read sentences.
I use Hemingway App quite often. I mostly use it for website articles rather than creative writing. I’ve tried it with flash fiction pieces. I didn’t agree with some suggestions because this app focuses on academic writing than creative writing software.
Regardless, it’s a great tool to check sentences or paragraphs you may have questions about.
Microsoft Word And Excel
Similar to Google Docs and Sheets, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel are word processors and spreadsheet applications, respectfully. However, Microsoft isn’t on your browser but is applied on your computer.
Before all these other writing software were created (or maybe before I knew about all these different programs), Microsoft Word seemed to be the best software for writing a book.
Formatting can be tricky, but Word is a great place to keep track of your work. Keep in mind that there’s no cloud backup so you may end up with many files. Excel is great for note-taking, but you may end up with multiple files.
This particular software to write a book includes everything you need for your manuscript all in one place. In addition, Novel Factory provides plenty of resources to help you along the way to turn your book into reality.
You can create your manuscript directly into the application. There are also sections for notes, characters, plot, settings, outlines, and much more. You can have multiple stories, but if it’s your first novel, the application has step-by-step instructions to help you write your book.
I haven’t used this program myself before, and it looks nice outside. However, the price might spook you if you’re a beginner writer (or wherever you are in your journey).
Price: $75 – $600 per year across three tiers (offers a 30-day free trial)
NovelPad helps you write your book from start to finish, whether online or offline. It includes editing and notes.
You can import your work from Microsft Word if you’ve already started your book there. NovelPad has stats and a visual timeline of your word count and progress. Also, they have individual trackers of your characters.
Finally, you can collab with other writers through this software or share it with others for feedback on your work.
Price: $15 per month or $120 per year (offers a free two-week trial)
If you’re looking for a program that allows you to write and analyze your work without the note-taking and editing portions, then Novlr is a solid option.
You can write your book within the program with analytics that shows your progress, allowing you to create and meet goals and deadlines.
No matter where you are in your writing journey, Novlr also includes free and paid writing courses.
Price: Free, or $18 per month, $15 per month (if paid annually), $499 for lifetime access
Technically, Plottr isn’t writing software, but it does seem to be an excellent writing tool. I haven’t used it myself, but Plottr does what the name suggests: it helps you plot your novel.
If you’re a planner like me, this program allows you to keep all your notes in one place. You can create timelines for characters and plot points, create a story bible, summarize chapters, and more.
So, no, you can’t write directly in this program, but I thought to include this software anyway. So you can export your notes to Microsoft Word and Scrivener writing software and write your novel in those programs while still having excellent notes in one place.
Price: Annual pricing offers $25 – $99 based on the number of devices, or lifetime access ranging from $99 – $299
Reedsy Book Editor
The Reedsy Book Editor is an excellent free option for any writing. You can connect your Google or Facebook account to log in.
This free book tool allows you to write your manuscript within the editor. Then, you can edit within the program while connected to other writers for collaboration.
Finally, it acts as a formatter. You can export your story to PDF or ePub when it’s all done.
The writing portion of this software is simple and easy to use. It doesn’t seem to have too many bells and whistles, so if you’re looking for something user-friendly, this is a good option.
Scrivener And Scapple
Scrivener and Scapple are two different programs, but I’ve grouped them because the same company makes them.
Scrivener is a writing program that allows you to write your manuscript (whether it’s a novel, short story, play, essay, or anything else) through the many templates they have. There’s also a corkboard for notes and outlining purposes.
When all is said and done, you can compile your scenes and chapters into one document for backup purposes or print a hard copy.
On the other hand, Scapple isn’t writing software. It’s a mind map that allows you to create a map for anything. I’ve used it for outlining, timelines, character creation, and setting creation.
I actively use both of these programs and highly recommend them.
Price: Scrivener – $49 lifetime, Scapple – $18 lifetime
This application is an app for iOS and macOS. Unfortunately, there’s no browser or desktop version. So, if you prefer to write on your phone or tablet, then Storyist is a solid choice.
Storyist is a simple tool for book writing and screenwriting. It includes a full word processor, index cards, and importing and exporting to other document file types.
Price: Free 14-day trial, then $19.99
Ulysses is a relatively popular choice among Apple users. But unfortunately, it’s only available for Macs, iPhones, and iPads.
This writing software allows you to write your full manuscript within its app. You can also edit and track your progress through word count goals and other stats.
It also syncs across all your devices, so you can write anytime, anywhere, with whatever device you have.
Price: $39.99 per year
World Anvil is an in-depth writing software, but that doesn’t seem to be its prominent feature. You can outline, write, and edit your whole manuscript within this application, but this program is typically used for much more than that.
For example, you can create mind maps of characters, places, government and magic systems, and much more. You can also create a story bible, design interactive maps, give your story’s history a timeline, and more.
This program is a solid choice if you write fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, or similar genres.
Price: Free or $54 – $299 per year across three tiers
Written Kitten is an adorable option whether you’re a hobbyist writer or a professional. Although there’s no formatting, it’s a simple online tool to help you boost your overall word count.
I used to use Written Kitten a lot back in the day. It’s great to use if you only want to write x-amount of words for the day or you want to get something written to say you wrote that day.
How it works is that you can aim to write 100, 200, 500, or 1000 words. Then, an adorable image of a kitten (puppy or bunny) will appear whenever you meet that amount.
You can write directly within Freedom, but I include it as a “bonus” because it’s not necessarily created as writing software.
The main gimmick of Freedom is that it promotes distraction-free writing for creative writing, academic work, and anything else you can think of.
Freedom allows you to set a schedule for a certain amount of time each day and gives you control over certain websites and applications to block. During the time you set up, Freedom will block those websites so that you don’t get distracted and have no choice but to get your work done.
For this to be super effective, you should move your phone to another room or turn it off. Freedom has its limits and can’t block real-life distractions.
Price: 7-use free trial, or $8.99 per month (paid monthly), $3.33 per month (paid annually), $159.99 lifetime
How To Decide Which Is The Best Writing Software For You
You can undoubtedly use Docs and Sheets if you have a Google account. If Microsoft Word and Excel came with your PC, then those are good options, too.
But if you want to upgrade from one of those, or maybe you’re looking for a program that does more, asks yourself the following questions.
What Tools Do I Need?
This list of writing software ranges from basic writing processors to various bells and whistles. For example, you might need a word processor that allows you to write or prefer a space to write and format.
Do you want editing to be included within the package? Do you plan to collab with other authors or share the file with beta readers for feedback? Then you’ll need to find software that allows sharing.
Also, think about the genre you write in. For example, if your book calls for a map, having a program that helps you create maps is ideal.
Don’t forget outlining and notes. Whether you’re a planner, you might want extra space to jot down quick brain-dumping ideas or editing notes.
Or, if you are an outliner, maybe software with a corkboard, index cards, mind mapping, or timeline features is a good option.
What’s My Budget?
Some of these programs are pricey. Some are entirely free. Others have limited free trials. You can easily narrow your options based on how much you want to spend. Then, test out a few through their free trials.
It may take a while to actively use, no matter which writing software you decide to use. There’s a lot of trial and error involved.
Also, the software you choose today may only last a year or so for you until your book’s needs or budgeting changes.
Which Writing Software Do You Use?
I’m sure there is plenty of other writing software I don’t know about. Choosing which software to use can be tricky and involves trial and error based on your book’s needs. However, writing should be smooth sailing once you find one you like.
- Podcast Episode: What Writing Programs Do We Use?
- Podcast Episode: How Can You Organize Your Books With Trello?
- Podcast Episode: Are You A Planner, Pantser, Or Plantser?
Rachel Poli is an indie author, podcaster, and content writer working on her debut cozy mystery novel.
Although she favors mystery, Rachel is a multi-genre author with too many ideas and characters in her head, often experimenting with short stories and flash fiction.
When she’s not writing, she’s reading, organizing something, or playing video games. She currently resides in New England with her zoo.