Software for writing

Computer ScreenThe first of my posts on tools is about choosing software to help with writing. Currently I have been working in Microsoft Word which is a solid, general-purpose tools but doesn’t support any of the creative process. I have been researched, narrowed down to a choice of two tools and also worked out a way to pick one of them.

If you want to know more, please keep reading…

Basic Research

I read around a few review sites, came up with a list of three or four and then looked for reviews of these and found blogs of other writers who had used some of these products. The number of tools is low (from a quick survey) and the choice of technology and budget is important. I run on a PC and don’t want to spend a lot of money at this point in time.

Key features (for me) are:

  • good documentation
  • free demo available
  • regular releases
  • flexible in how you use them
  • tools for spotting common mistakes (eg adverb overuse!)
  • templates
  • usable for fiction, articles and possibly blogging
  • compatibility with MS Office.

No tool meets all of these – the tools for common mistakes seem rare. My reading also suggests that it is common to export from the tool to (eg) RTF then take to Word to finalise for printing / submission.

My Short-list

I have ended up with Scrivener (Literature and Latte) and WriteItNow (Ravenshead Services). I summarise my initial impressions before using them in the following table.

Scrivener WriteItNow
  • Templates for script writing
  • Tools for measuring progress
  • Good GUI for plotting
  • Lots of blogs of dedicated users
  • Good website
  • Tools for creating characters
  • On screen interface looks more intuitive (to me)
  • Good GUI elements
  • Scored high in a best of 2013 review
Less good
  • Proprietary file format
  • Not sure about the ‘corkboard’
  • Austere web site
  • Proprietary file format

Evaluation Approach

I intend to create a short story outline in each tool using it for no more than a couple of hours and making sure I:

  • Create at least three characters
  • Have at least six scenes
  • Have at least two locations
  • Add a fourth character after I add sample content to each scene
  • Reorder two scenes

I’m sure more will occur to me but this is enough to allow me to get a feel for each. I will let you know how it turns out!



  1. Hi Tony – did you come to a decision at all? I’m a paid user of Scrivener, which I have found to have an “i’ll have ago at that tomorrow’ learning curve. That said, I’m in now in an arm wrestle with both Writeitnow and Novelfactory. Any thoughts?
    Jeff P, Sheffield UK


    • Jeff,

      I have taken to Scrivener despite having a lot of respect for Novel Factory. In the end I don’t want to write in a prescribed way. Not only that but I now write on Mac and PC which changes the field.

      I have plenty of time for other packages and Scrivener does annoy me a lot (it is really a Mac package and lacks a lot of the UI consistency that Windows gives).

      Thanks for the question!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.