The mechanics of writing have evolved over the centuries. From using pen and ink to pecking away on a typewriter to fingers flying over computer keyboards, the process has gotten easier. Writers are now more productive than ever.
When I first started writing seriously back in the late ‘80s, it was all pen and paper until I got my fancy Brother EM-630 stand-alone word processing machine – similar to a typewriter, with a minuscule text preview window and a rudimentary ability to make corrections before printing. Then, in the mid-’90s, I got my first computer and was able to type away, making corrections with the flick of a key (although the software back then was not as user-friendly, and my dot-matrix printer was far from optimal).
Now PCs and Macs have made our jobs so much easier and faster. Although Microsoft Word is the standard software for word processing, it also has its drawbacks. Writing a novel using Word gets messy and cumbersome when trying to piece your chapters together into a cohesive work.
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So – although some of you still swear by pen and paper or your beloved typewriter – for those who prefer more choices and flexibility, there is a wealth of software available that improves efficiency, facilitates organization, helps with story and development, and lets a writer tailor her process to her own tastes.
Here’s what we’ve found that might make your writing process easier, more effective, and possibly even more fun.
Creative writing for novels/screenplays
Word processing software geared to novelists and screenwriters. Has the capability to organize scenes and chapters, compile, and save all research and description documents in one place. Can also convert files to different formats.
Cost: $40 for PC, $45 for macOS
Best for: Novelists and screenwriters who want to have all documents in one place, and easily organize and revise their writing.
Word processing software and writing organizer. Currently only available for macOS and Apple mobile products.
Cost: Mac app – $44.99; iPhone and iPad app – $24.99
Best for: Apple fans who want to have their writing and documents in one place, and easily organize and revise their writing.
3. Power Writer
Writing software advertised as “the convergence of organization and creativity.” Includes word processing, integrated outlining, the ability to save and organize notes and research, and story development tools.
Best for: Writers who want to write their stories/novels, organize, and save research all in one place.
4. Final Draft 11
Writing software for screenplays, stage plays, and teleplays. Includes over 100 templates as well as options for collaboration and alternate dialogue.
Cost: From $99 to $249
Best for: Screenwriters and playwrights.
5. Dramatica Story Expert/Dramatica Pro
Story development tool that addresses both story analysis and creation.
Cost: $129 to $159
Best for: Writers who want to sharpen their story structure and get help with character interactions.
6. Truby’s Blockbuster 6.0
Story and character development software for screenplays. Can customize with genre-specific add-ons.
Best for: Screenwriters who want specific storyline development and help in keeping up with plot, structure, and characters.
7. Storyist 3.4
Novel and screenplay writing software that includes word processing, the ability to organize chapters and scenes, and a process to outline your story using notecards. Formats and compiles final manuscript. Currently only available for Macs, iPhones, and iPads; users can also work from the cloud.
Best for: Apple users who travel often or appreciate a more visual-minded way to organize their work.
Novel-writing software that includes word processing, the ability to organize your manuscript, and tools for creating outlines, synopses, and story notecards. Also includes a function that will read your manuscript out loud. Note: For Windows only.
Best for: Writers who want to organize their manuscripts with a user-friendly interface.