Over the centuries, technology has helped make a plethora of jobs and tasks easier for people—and writing is no exception. If you are working on a manuscript that seems stuck or are a writer looking to delve into increasingly complicated projects, consider adding book-writing software to your tool set. And while we can’t claim which is the best writing software, we can help explain what writing software should be able to help you with so you can decide which best suits your specific needs.
What is book-writing software?
The simplest definition of book-writing software is any software that helps writers create manuscripts; they generally include a word processor (a Microsoft Word–type program), or the ability to be used in conjunction with a word processor, as well as additional tools to organize and keep track of details. Investing in book-writing software is especially important if you’re planning on submitting your manuscript to a publisher or if you’re publishing an e-book.
What can book-writing software do?
Think of writing software as an assistant, a fact-checker, a storyboard, and a proofreader all in one. Different book-writing software programs include varying degrees of the following tools:
- Content Organization: Use writing software to create an outline of the entire manuscript, to rearrange pieces of the story for smoother flow, and to have a bird’s-eye view with a storyboard. Imagine a digital corkboard filled with sticky notes, each with a small piece of the story puzzle, that can be edited quickly and moved around as needed.
- Character and Plot Organization: Take a stab at consistency errors with writing software tools that keep track of characters, dates, details, etc., by creating character profiles that can include physical and personality attributes, name spelling, any dates or information mentioned about them elsewhere in the manuscript, and so on. This tool can also help close gaps in time or information provided that might not be immediately evident without having all the information right in front of you.
- Grammar and Rhetoric Errors: As with most word processors, writing software also checks for grammatical errors and spelling errors. However, many also go a step further and try to pinpoint weak sentences, choppy flow and other rhetorical errors that affect the readability as well as the correctness of your text.
- Formatting: Formatting a manuscript can be pretty time consuming, especially when different publishers or agents require manuscripts in different formats. Writing software includes formatting tools that are specifically designed to format manuscripts and make it easier to convert your manuscript into other formats.
What are the pros and cons of using writing software?
Writing software is a great resource for helping writers keep their ideas in one place, for keeping a manuscript cohesive and pointing out where it’s not, and for coordinating forward motion in concept development. Yet there are a few considerations you should take into account before investing in it.
- Monetary Investment: Writing software generally costs money, ranging from $20 to $30 all the way to several hundred dollars. If you end up liking the physical aspect of writing on sticky notes for creating a story line or you’re unwilling to invest the time in truly learning the software in order to use it, you may find that it turns out to be a waste of money.
- Quality Limitations: It does not provide any creative elements—in other words, it cannot make a poor idea into a great book or script, even if the manuscript uses perfect grammar. And writing software is limited in its ability to truly improve writing talent; simply using writing software will not turn a horrible writer into Shakespeare, no matter how much it pinpoints areas in need of improvement.
What are some of the most popular book-writing software programs?
There are a ton of writing software options available, many geared to specific genres—novel-writing software, script-writing software, collaborative-writing software, etc.—or problem areas for writers—formatting software, ESL-writer software, etc. The most popular and well known are WriteItNow and Scrivener, but the list is much longer. Check out some of these links to help you pick the software that fits your needs the best—and happy writing!