A lot of authors can’t bang out a novel using Word or Pages. Like me, they require specialized software to help them plot it, understand their characters, and provide a word processing space specifically designed for writing a novel. Everything on this page, is software or services I have personally used (or currently use) as well as what I liked/didn’t like about them.
The purpose of writing software in my opinion is to provide a place for composition as well as giving me quick and easy access to “disposable characters”. Since I write serial killer horror, I have a lot of characters that I need almost no information about (victims, local law enforcement, family members of victims, etc). Below I have listed three writing programs (along with their cost and the links to download them). There are more, these are just the ones I am most familiar with. I will let you know now, that all of these programs use their own specific and dedicated file endings (You can’t open a WriteItNow file in Word or something for example).
WriteItNow: Cost $59.95 – This is the program I primarily use for writing. I love the ease of the word processing function. It provides a built in random name generator (which is really handy for disposable characters). It has plotting and planning functions built into it as well. I don’t use these functions much because I’m more of a pantser and because I prefer to have that kind of information available in my series bible. However, you can export any “sections” of a WriteItNow file to a DOCX, TXT, RTF, or PDF. You can also import any “section” from a DOCX, TXT, or RTF file as well. Available for PC and Mac.
WriteWayPro: Freeware ($0.00) – WriteWayPro has several functions including character sketches and plotting/planning options. When I first started writing, I used WriteWayPro primarily and I still use it for writing short stories and my daily “writer’s block writers’ prompt” stories. I know it’s available for PC, but I am not sure if it’s available for Mac.
Scrivener: Cost $49.00 – This was literally the very first specialized writing program I used and I know plenty of writers that love it. I used it for about a month. I hated it. I found it backwards and counterintuitive. However, it has lots of functionality and as I said, I know plenty of writers that love it. I’m just not one of them. Available for PC and Mac.
Plottr: Cost $25 – Plottr is not writing software. You cannot compose prose in it. It is exactly what the name says: it is plotting software. I use Plottr to plot out my series, not just my books. One of the things I absolutely love about this software is that I can plot my entire series; not just book 6 or whatever book I’m working on. It is incredibly user friendly (another plus) and I was able to transfer the terrible start I’d made on the Nephilim Narratives series bible to Plottr in less than an hour. The overall series has a plot timeline, outline, character sketch section, places section, and notes section. And each book within the series has these sections as well. You plot out the book (for example: Natural Born Exorcist, fill out the character sketches, and places, save it) and when you go to work on Book 2 all of that information is available to you as well as the information for the current book you’re working on. The functionality of having a series bible at my fingertips when plotting out a book is lacking in all the writing programs listed above) which is why I also use Plottr. The entire thing will also export to Word and you can create your own templates.
LivingWriter: Cost $9.99 a month or $96 a year – This is plotting and writing combo piece… I signed up for the free trial some time ago and then tried it again as I started this page. And I almost instantly remembered why I hated it. I don’t mind cloud storage and I use DropBox for a lot of things, including writing on my phone. But, I like apps and programs. I do not love cloud based programs and LivingWriter is completely cloud based. And so, I will stick with Plottr.