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best online novel writing software

The Best Novel Writing Software in 2023: A Comparison of Ten of the Most Popular Apps

There are many ways to write a novel – and I’m not talking planners and pantsers right now.

I’m talking about how you get the actual novel from your head and onto a sheet of paper (even if that’s a digital sheet of paper).

Some people swear by old school pen and paper, writing everything out longhand.

Others insist that all you need is Word.

But increasingly, writers are turning to specialised tools to help them write novels more efficiently and effectively, and in most cases, that means novel writing software.

‘Novel writing software’ is a bit of a nebulous term, and there are many aspects of novel writing that software could help with, for example:

To achieve these goals, many writers use software that isn’t necessarily designed for novel writing.

For example, Word isn’t designed specifically for novel writing, any more than a sheet of paper is created for writing a novel on. It can be used for non-fiction, recipes, shopping lists, essays – anything with words.

Nonetheless, it meets the vast majority of the requirements of writing a novel.

Likewise, other authors use productivity software such as Trello or Evernote to keep track of various details of their novels, such as subplot details, sections that need re-editing, historical research etc.

But in this article, we’re going to focus on comparing ten of the top programs which are purpose built for novelists. Designed with novel writing in mind from day one. All the programs detailed below include a word processor, as this is a basic minimum for writing a novel. Most have some features to help with plotting. Many of them have dedicated features for character development, goal setting and word count tracking. A few of them even include integrated guides to writing your first novel.

We’ll look at the strengths and weaknesses of each, taking into account how writers’ needs differ and making suggestions as to which software might be best for your specific requirements as a writer, including: budget; approach to writing (do you prefer to do a lot of planning or very little); platform (PC, Mac or Web-Based); collaboration requirements (many writers work together on the same novel, or others may wish to share their manuscript with their editor); mental processing style (e.g. visual, freeform, very structured, how much aesthetics matters); and whether the writer is looking for novel writing craft assistance as well as databases and tools.

The 10 Best Novel Writing Software Apps

The novel factory.

The Novel Factory Writing Software

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.

best online novel writing software

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.

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:

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

If you’d like a free trial of the Novel Factory to see if it really lives up to what we say, you can do so here.

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Last updated on Feb 07, 2023

The Best Novel Writing Software of 2023 (+ 5 Free Programs)

So, you’ve just started writing a novel — which means you’re figuring things out as you go. You probably have a flock of Google Docs to wrangle, you’re always scribbling on napkins, and you have no idea where anything is. Know what you need? Some good ol’ fashioned (well, more like new-fashioned) novel writing software.

Luckily for you, we’ve come up with this list of the best, most affordable pieces of novel writing software in 2023. All of these will help you stay organized and inspire you to keep writing until the very last page! You can jump to each review using the ToC on your left, but here's a quick rundown of these writing programs and how much they cost:

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?

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Otherwise, let's head for the reviews! In the spirit of thriftiness, we're starting with your free options.

PLd7yqJwzFI Video Thumb

Reedsy Book Editor

💰 Price tag: Free software ✅ Features: Format as you write, track changes, export files that are ready for instant distribution, choose between “classic” and “romance” themes

Though modesty should forbid us from crowing about the Reedsy Book Editor ( RBE ), we've seen first-hand how this writing app has totally changed how many authors write and publish their novels. While some writers like programs brimming with bells and whistles (tools to research, structure, and outline your book) and others prefer software that's free from those distractions, the Reedsy Book Editor offers a happy medium between these poles.

Definitely more than a blank piece of paper, the RBE's functions are super user-friendly and geared toward a single goal: creating a beautiful book. This is a production tool that typesets as you write , turning your manuscript into a fully-formatted book or ebook that can compete with traditionally published, professionally formatted books.

In "Writing Mode," you can insert chapter breaks, scene breaks, images, and endnotes. It comes with a spell-checker that offers an automatic proof as you write — and a goal reminder system that you can toggle on if you find that you're falling behind on your writing schedule! You can view previous versions of your manuscript, in case you removed a passage you now want to re-add. When you've completed your book on the RBE (congratulations!), you can export a distribution-ready EPUB or PDF file.

Learn more about using the Reedsy Book Editor 📖

Novel Writing Software | Fastpencil

💰 Price tag: Free software ✅ Features:  Easily navigable dashboard, drag-and-drop chapters, collaborative editing, multiple layout preview options, publication setup

FastPencil is essentially Google Docs for the professional (or aspiring) author. This online platform cannot be downloaded and is therefore only usable if you have WiFi. However, its nonexistent price tag more-or-less makes up for the inconvenience of not being able to work on planes, outdoors, etc.

FastPencil’s simple, streamlined interface allows users to set up a writing project, invite collaborators, and communicate entirely through the app if they wish. Two people can also upload mutually accessible “Assets” for reference during the writing process, and devise “Tasks” for each other to complete. Remember PalmPilots and other personal digital assistants? FastPencil is like a 21st-century, writing-oriented version of that.

Once your book is done, you can preview it with distinct layout templates for different genres — such as “Business,” “Memoir,” and “Dragon” (designed for YA fiction). These templates are pretty basic, but they'll give you a solid idea of what your published book will look like.

Finally, you can export your manuscript under “Publication Setup.”

Looking for the perfect playlist to get you in the writing mood? Tell us about your book, and we'll give you a made-for-you writing playlist.

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Novel Writing Software | Bibisco

💰 Price tag: Free software (Community Edition) ✅ Features: Overview screen for story “architecture,” separate section to construct characters, scene-by-scene word processing, distribution analysis for each story element

If you find most desktop writing programs unwieldy and overwhelming, then the minimalist interface of Bibisco might just solve all your problems. This is especially true if you're a plotter rather than a pantser , as Bibisco is that rare breed of free story planning  software, with plenty of virtual outlines and notecards to help you out.

With the free “Community” version of Bibisco, you can navigate among six different screens to organize and expand upon the elements of your novel. The architecture screen (above) is perhaps the most unique part of this software, with notecards for your premise, setting, and fabula. Here you can create narrative threads and articulate how they connect to one another, then flesh them out using your “scene” notecards.

Indeed, the name of Bibisco's game is breaking down your work into bite-sized, manageable pieces. Of course, this approach may make it difficult to envision your manuscript as a whole , especially as you can only write scene-by-scene — a feature which may frustrate users who are accustomed to writing in one long, all-inclusive document.

Still, Bibisco is a good choice for any author who's tired of busy interfaces and wants to prioritize productivity. And if that sounds like you, don't miss out on this next piece of book writing software ... 

Novel Writing Software | Evernote

💰 Price tag:  free “basic” plan, $9.99/month for “premium,” $14.99/month for “business" ✅ Features: writing templates, web clipper function for easily storing research, the ability to sync across multiple devices

If only the process of writing a book involved just sitting down and  going . Although sure, to an extent, this may be true. But most of us need to find the right way to capture and organize our ideas before our fingers start flying over the keyboard — or risk running out of steam. Evernote is great for the writer who needs to declutter a space (or their mind) before they can make real headway on a project.

Some of their great organizational features include their writing templates — some of which are user-created, and others are created by Evernote themselves. If you spot a chapter outline, a storyboard template, or character development profile you enjoy, you can save it and come back to it each time. The web clipper function is also popular amongst writers — especially for genres like sci-fi or historical — as you can use the clipper to save pertinent facts or articles you come across online, and save them right into your Evernote folders. 

At its core, Evernote excels as a brainstorming tool. This is why its syncing ability is also key — if you're out and about, you can drop ideas into your Evernote app and continue working on them at a later point.


Novel Writing Software | Focuswriter

💰 Price tag: Free software (you can tip, though!) ✅ Features:  A beautiful blank page for you to write your novel

FocusWriter isn’t novel-specific software per se, but it will help you rocket-boost your productivity. And of course, it's completely, permanently free — no limited-time trial, no payment with a warranty, no “premium upgrade” — so you may as well try it out!

This software is exactly what it sounds like: it helps you laser-focus your efforts onto writing , and nothing else. You can still format your manuscript and check your word count and daily goals via offscreen tools, but the default state is simply a blank page. You can also use full-screen mode so the only thing you see is the page in front of you — just like writing IRL.

For authors who struggle to concentrate on their work more than anything else, FocusWriter is a dream come true. You might also consider combining it with app-blocking software, like the next entry on this list, to achieve maximum productivity.

And that rounds off our section on free writing software! Now let's get into your options for paid programs.

Novel Writing Software | Freedom

💰  Price tag: $6.99/month or $20/year, free 7-session trial ✅ Features: Website and app blocking, advance block scheduling, customizable block lists and whitelisting, optional “Locked Mode,” session history, syncing across devices

Writers who procrastinate uncontrollably, get ready for a game-changer: Freedom.  This is by far our favorite time management software due to the crisp user interface, the thoughtfully designed features, and the crucial fact that it works — unlike that fickle mistress, human willpower.

Freedom allows you to block specific apps, sites, or the entire Web for any amount of time. You can schedule your blocks in advance and sync across all your devices, so you can't have a last-minute, Netflix-based change of heart. And if you're prone to mid-work moments of weakness, simply put Freedom in Locked Mode! This completely prevents you from disabling it until that time is up.

Yes, Freedom might be a difficult adjustment for someone unaccustomed to any kind of discipline, self-imposed or otherwise — but hey, we're writers. We all need a little tough love sometimes to get us going. In that sense, there's no novel writing software more effective than Freedom.

Novel Writing Software | Scrivener

💰  Price tag: $44.99 license fee, free 30-day trial ✅ Features:  Corkboard planner with virtual index cards, planning templates, integrated outlining system, customizable full-screen interface, split-screen function, import and export capabilities

Scrivener is one of the most storied (no pun intended) programs in use today. It markets itself as a “typewriter, ring-binder, and scrapbook all in one,” and comprises tons of helpful features . But perhaps Scrivener’s greatest benefit is the freedom it enables: with so many sections that you can arrange to your heart’s desire, the program lets you write however works best for you.

With Scrivener, you can do as much or as little planning as you want, so you don’t feel pressured to stay within certain constraints. You can shuffle your notes, outlines, and even chapters around wherever you need. It also has one of the most generous trial periods on offer — you can use it free for 30 days, but they don’t have to be consecutive. (When you do decide to pull the trigger, make sure to apply a discount !)

The only potential catch with Scrivener is that some authors might find it a little too liberating. It doesn’t provide much novel-specific instruction, as some other programs do. But it’s still an excellent organizational tool with a great interface. Whether or not you choose Scrivener just depends on how much guidance you feel you need.

Novel Writing Software | Milanote

💰 Price tag: $12.50/month or $119.88/year, free “basic” plan ✅ Features: Easy drag-and-drop interface, flexible notes board, "moodboard" for inspiration, web clipper to save research and inspiration from the Internet

As all authors know, writing isn't always linear, because thinking itself isn't linear. Too often, straight-laced writing apps can't match up to the messy, chaotic, and wonderful way in which writers brainstorm and develop their stories — especially when they're just starting to take shape.

That's where this software comes in! Milanote is a super-versatile app that allows you to organize your research, ideas, characters and outline in one single place. Its visual workspace lets you clearly connect your thoughts, create mind maps, and develop moodboards. And for those who really struggle to get started, Milanote's amazingly detailed templates (see above) could be just what you need to hit the ground running.

In other words, Milanote is ideal for the initial planning stages of your novel. Not to mention it's incredibly easy-to-use, so authors can concentrate on the important stuff — their writing — rather than trying to figure out all the complexities of the app.

Novel Writing Software | Novlr

💰 Price tag: $10/month or $100/year, free two-week trial ✅ Features: Flexible word processing, mechanical and stylistic notes, goal-setting and progress tracking, learning courses

When it comes to writing apps that really push you to improve,  Novlr is pretty darn effective. A relative newcomer to the novel writing software scene, Novlr has been climbing the ranks since 2017, with constant improvements being made based on user feedback.

In terms of actual writing, Novlr features a clean word processor which users can customize as they please. For example, there's “Evening” mode for those who prefer a darker color scheme, and “Focus Mode” to help with concentration. Making even the smallest formatting change, such as font size, will automatically update the entire text — convenient for writers who like to keep their aesthetics fresh.

Then when it's time to edit, the Proof Reader function at the bottom of the screen offers suggestions re: punctuation, adverb use, passive voice, and more. And for authors hoping to boost their productivity as well as their prose, a quick trip to the Dashboard reveals tons of useful features: a place to set your writing goals, an analytics tab for progress, and so on.

The one thing Novlr noticeably lacks is templates for story elements like plot, characters, etc. This may be a dealbreaker for writers who require (or simply prefer) that kind of structural guidance. But for seasoned writers looking for a sophisticated, web-based writing tool — and who don't mind paying for access to it — Novlr could be just the program for you.

Or you can check out the Reedsy Book Editor — a sophisticated, web-based tool that's 100% FREE (and not just for two weeks, either).

Novel Writing Software | Writeitnow

💰 Price tag: $59.95 license fee, free demo (doesn’t save your work) ✅ Features:  Chapter outlines, element sheets, editing tools including readability score and repetition finder, prompts and other tools for story inspiration

WriteItNow ’s no-frills design facilitates that all-too-elusive endeavor for authors: to simply write . Its interface is pretty basic, with a planning toolbar and a sidebar to keep track of the actual writing. But don’t let its minimalism deceive you: WriteItNow also offers a variety of unique resources, especially for editing your manuscript.

After you’ve written a chapter or two with WriteItNow, not only can you check things like spelling and word count, you can also run editorial “Critiques” via the Editor Tools tab. The program will point out any repetitive phrases, unnecessary “padding” words, and even clichés you might have used — helping you polish your writing in the same way a professional copy editor might.

Another one-of-a-kind feature in WriteItNow is the “Create Idea” function. You can select a character and type of idea — in a maneuver reminiscent of choosing personality traits on The Sims — and the program will spit out creative prompts for you to integrate!

This program may seem a bit on the pricey side, but the license fee does cover both Mac and PC. In any case, WriteItNow absolutely lives up to its name in terms of helping writers get their work done. (And as every veteran writer knows, you can’t put a price on that.)

For book formatting software, check out this post on Vellum .

Novel Writing Software | Autocrit

💰 Price tag:  $10/month for the “basic” plan, $30/month for “professional,” $80/month for “elite,” or $1 for a two-week trial ✅ Features:  “Professional” plan entails genre filtering, an array of editing options for pacing, dialogue, “strong writing,” word choice, repetition, and direct comparisons to bestselling works

While other pieces of novel-writing software help you organize, develop, and even self-edit your story, they don’t include the in-depth editorial functions that AutoCrit does. This is the program to use if you already have a decent draft ready to edit. (Or if you’re a micromanaging kind of writer who likes to edit meticulously as you go.)

AutoCrit tests your work for all the factors above, and even individual elements within those factors. So for example, after selecting “word choice” as your focus area, AutoCrit allows you to narrow it down even more. Do you want to check for generic-sounding descriptions? Improve your sentence starters? Work on personal phrases? You can achieve all that and more with AutoCrit.

The program also boasts an appealing modern interface, and decent prices considering the range of editing possibilities. Some writers might be reluctant to shell out for an editing program — but those writers probably don't know how hard it is to self-edit . When you think of it that way, AutoCrit is an amazing service: it helps you edit your manuscript with the perspective of a professional, all by yourself.

Novel Writing Software | Ulysses

💰 Price tag: $5.99/month or $49.99/year ($4.17/month) ✅ Features: Typewriter mode, themeable editor, distraction-free interface, ability to set writing goals, ability to sync between multiple devices.

Ulysses is lauded for its sleek, clean, "distraction-free" interface. Some reviewers claim that this writing app gives you just the right amount of customization options in terms of appearance — without offering so many different options that it tempts you away from the actual goal of writing.

It does, of course, offer up a number of different functions that will appeal to authors. For instance, you can set daily writing goals, and even keep tabs on your progress so you can see when there are dips or spikes in your productivity. You can also organize your file into various groupings — for instance, you can just have one group called 'Works in Progress,' or you can set multiple subgroups like 'Characters Names' within 'Fantasy Novel Ideas' within 'Works in Progress,' etc., etc.

At the end of the day, Ulysses is something of a digital typewriter. You will find various features that may help you along the way, but the software is built such that when you arrive to it, you get to work right away.


No novel writing software is actually magic — that is, none of it is going to write your book for you. But with the right tools to lend you some focus, structure, and a dash of inspiration, you might just be able to get ‘er done all by yourself. 🙌

[updated: 08/10/2020 UTC]

Iain Wood says:

06/03/2019 – 14:51

You missed out wavemaker.. Https://wavemaker.co.uk

Comments are currently closed.

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Best free writing apps (March 2023): top writing software for everyone

Bring your words to life with the best free writing apps

Person writing on a laptop

The best free writing apps help you focus on your writing - wherever you are, and wherever inspiration strikes. 

Whether it’s essays, work documents, or your latest novel, free writing apps and free word processors lets you organize your thoughts on the page without breaking the bank. But the best free writing software and apps make it even easier to save, share, and sync documents online. 

Some of the best choices offer distraction-free interfaces and gamification-style challenges to keep you in the zone. Others focus on professional document creation for work. You’ll even find advanced features like speech-to-text transcription and online collaboration tools . 

Our picks cover the best free writing apps and software on the web and across Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS free of charge. Optional subscription upgrades are also available for some tools, unlocking extra features, but they’re not essential. 

To help you find the right tool, we've tested the best free writing apps for all types of writers, whether you’re at a desk or writing on the go. Tools that let you just focus on the art of writing, without worrying about costs or distracting features you’re never going to use. Just you, your keyboard, and your creativity. 

We’ve also rounded up the best note-taking apps to make sure you can keep on writing wherever you are.

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 free like the tools below, but it's well worth the investment if your budget will allow it.

The best free writing apps 2023

1. google docs.

Our expert review:


Reasons to buy, reasons to avoid.

Google Docs is the perfect companion 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 consumer-friendly 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. 

Read our full Google Docs review

2. FocusWriter

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 . 

3. 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 . 

4. 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 .

5. 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 for $28.99. Unless you need automatic formatting on export, you can stick with the free version. 

Best free writing apps: Buying advice

How to choose the best free writing app for you.

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test .

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. 

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 top PDF editors (and even free PDF editors , 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 we test the best free writing software

Testing the best free writing 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. 

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Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.

best online novel writing software

Novel Writing Software: 16 Best Novel Writing Software For Authors

BY P.J McNulty | Jul 22, 2020 | Writing

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: An 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 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 options, along with information on the price of each software, which operating systems it works with, and some thoughts on if it's the right option for you:

This is our list of the best novel writing software on the market:

best online novel writing software

Get A Fiction Book Outline To Write Your Book!

Includes Acknowledgement page, Table of Contents, Author Bio, and More!

best online novel writing software

#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 cliched or not. 

autocrit novel writing software

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

How much does AutoCrit cost?

AutoCrit is available at three different price points:

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?

It 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, AutoCrit is a good choice. Many AutoCrit users have reported that the software’s suggestions match up well with those made by human readers. 

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. Another reason you might want to look elsewhere is that AutoCrit provides great fiction feedback but isn't that useful for planning novels, unlike some rival software. 

If you’re an author writing genre fiction interested in seeing how your work compares to some of the biggest names out there, AutoCrit is perhaps the best choice for you. 

#2 – Bibisco

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 to add in-depth notes and planning cards for different scenes.

bibisco software

Bibisco is an attractive option as 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 for authors who want to plan and make notes on their novel without being weighed down by a complex or difficult to understand 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 it 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:

What are the pros and cons of using Bibisco?

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

On the plus side, Bibisco has an intuitive and easy to understand design. This isn't one of those novel writing apps 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. 

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 tools 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 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: 

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?

While a lot of apps 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 writers from the worlds of fiction and screenplay have thrown their support and praise behind Dramatica. 

If you're looking for a novel writing tool 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 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 app 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:

Which platforms is FastPencil available for?

If you want to use FastPencil, you simply need any computer capable of logging into the cloud environment in which it operates. 

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 software?

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

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. 

#5 – FocusWriter

At this point in our guide, you’ll notice that some novel writing solutions 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 finding it impossible to focus, it might just help you make a breakthrough. 

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 to work on your novel?

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. 

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 another tool 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 story outlines , make character information cards, and more. 

There’s no denying that Milanote is a stylish looking tool. 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, as the following price points indicate:

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 tool?

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. 

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. 

#6 – 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 such as a novel 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 solution for you?

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

Unless you have MacOS, you won’t be able to use Novellus. Also, for a slightly higher investment, you can purchase a more powerful solution such as Scrivener.

Although Novellus isn’t the best choice for the majority of self-published authors, if you’re using MacOS and what an affordable upgrade over a standard word processor, you might want to check out Novellus further. 

#7 – Novlr

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 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. 

How much does Novlr cost?

Novlr is a subscription service, available at the following price points:

Which platforms is Novlr available for?

Novlr is available on any device capable of logging into the Cloud.

What are the pros and cons of using Novlr?

So, why should or shouldn’t you choose Novlr?

Novlr is a stylish tool that will help you create a comfortable virtual writing environment . It also offers productivity and tracking advantages over more standardized solutions. 

The major downside to Novlr is its cost . As it’s only available as a subscription model, you need to make sure you’re comfortable paying Novlr far into the future.

Overall, Novlr is an attractive place to write your next novel. However, the cost of using it might put some authors off when compared to other software out there. 

#8 – OmniaWrite

OmniaWrite lacks the profile and reputation of many other tools on this list.

So what exactly does it do, and how is it beneficial for a novel-writing project?

OmniaWrite provides you a minimalist, cloud environment to write your novel . It allows for organization into chapters and scenes, which makes it easier to keep track of your project than a simple Word file would. 


OmniaWrite doesn’t offer a lot of other functionality at this time. 

How much does OmniaWrite cost?

OmniaWrite is currently a completely free tool. Its creator has stated they might charge for Cloud storage in the future, but at this time it’s free.

Which platforms is OmniaWrite available for?

OmniaWrite is compatible with:

What are the pros and cons of using OmniaWrite?

What should you weigh up when considering using OmniaWrite?

If you want a very minimalist writing environment based around the Cloud, Omniawrite offers exactly that for free . 

OmniaWrite doesn’t offer a lot of functionality . To produce a quality novel, you’ll need other tools than OmniaWrite, so you might want to skip it entirely. 

#9 – Scrivener

Scrivener has a cult following among the writing community. It’s a tool 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 tool you’ll ever need. 

How much does Scrivener cost?

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

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 for your book?

In terms of sheer functionality, Scrivener is unmatched. It does a nything 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. 

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 wordprocessing 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:

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?

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 solutions. 

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 download software 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:

Which platforms is The Novel Factory available for?

The Novel Factory can currently be used in two ways:

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

So what are the good and bad points of using The Novel Factory for a book project?

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. 

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.

If you're looking for a very easy to use specialist novel-writing tool, 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 way of writing. 

#12 – Ulysses

Broadly speaking, specialist 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 formats such as markup and allows you to publish directly from the app to blogs. 

How much does Ulysses cost?

Ulysses is available at three price points:

Which platforms is Ulysses available for?

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

What are the pros and cons of using Ulysses?

So what are the major pros and cons to using 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 write. 

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?

Which platforms is WriteItNow available for?

At this time, WriteItNow is available for:

What are the pros and cons of using 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.

If you’re looking for a mobile novel writing app, 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. 

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?

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

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. Unlike many of the other options on this list, yWriter 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 offering an absorbing level of detail. 

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:

What are the pros and cons of using yWriter?

Is yWriter the right choice of software for your novel?

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. 

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?

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 how do you find the right one for you?

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

If you’re unsure of which options to try out, consider the following factors:

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!

What is your favorite novel writing software?

best online novel writing software

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