Writing software

Using special writing software can really make it easier to write, particularly as your manuscript starts getting larger and more unwieldy. Once you reach 20-30,000 words in Word, it becomes difficult to navigate around, reorganise chapters or move sections of text.

Here are some of the options available – these are all apps targeted at novel writing, as opposed to basic word processors and note writing apps.


Scrivener is software designed and built for all kinds of writers, from novelists, screenwriters and non-fiction writers to students, academics, lawyers, journalists and translators. You can write in different chunks, sections and scenes, making it easy to move work around, as well as export everything as one seamless piece of writing. It’s very feature rich but you can just use the basic writing functions, or use it to format and export for publication. There’s also an iOS version, and you can sync your writing projects between desktop and mobile. Some Linux users have also got it to work. USD$45 desktop, USD$19.99 mobile Mac, iOS, Windows


Ulysses is a Mac-only writing app which has been designed to reduce distractions. It can be operated without having to use a mouse, so your fingers stay on the keyboard, and there’s even a Typewriter Mode. You can sync work between mobile and desktop, and also publish directly to WordPress and Medium from the app, as well as export into different eBook formats. AUD$6.99/month or AUD$54.99/year Mac, iOS


Manuskript is open-source software for writers, and is therefore free. It enables hierarchical organisation of ideas and writing, as well as a distraction-free mode. There’s also a unique Novel Assistant that lets you build your work out using the snowflake method. Free MacOS, Windows, Linux


Hemingway has a unique editing view, which highlights potential issues in your work in different colours, such as overly complex sentences, complicated words and passive voice. You can write in the regular Write view, then click the Edit button to see its suggestions. You can export to formats including pdf and Word, and also publish directly to WordPress and Medium USD$19.99 Mac, Windows


Wavemaker is a browser-based writing app (desktop versions are in beta as of February 2019) that you use by signing in with a Google account. When you start writing, you can choose a blank template, or one designed for NaNoWriMo or BetterNovelProject YA novel, which uses Cards to prompt you what to write in each chapter. Free Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome, Web


yWriter is popular for beginner writers as it’s free but has all the basic features of novel writing software. It breaks up your novel into chapters and scenes which you can drag and drop around as you need. Free Mac, Windows, Android, iOS


iAWriter is designed to remove distractions and give a “calm, focused writing space”. It also has a Syntax Mode which highlights the different parts of speech, to assist with editing. There’s a Night Mode if you prefer to write white-on-black. MacOS USD$28.99, Windows USD$19.99, Android Free, iOS USD$8.99 Mac, Windows, Android, iOS

Novel Factory

Novel Factory is explicitly designed for novels, with features that help you manage plots, subplots, scenes, locations, character development, etc. It’s only available for Windows, but Mac and Linux users can use the online version. You can’t currently synchronise between platforms. Windows USD$39.99, Web USD$6.25/month Windows, Web

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