Novel Writing Tools Beyond Your Basic Word Processor
Writing a novel requires a great deal of organization if you want to do it right. You have endless details to work out, thoughts and ideas to put together, and research to keep track of. Depending on the type of novel you are writing, you may have extensive world-building to manage as well. Some people may do this successfully with a series of notebooks and/or single Word documents, but there is a better way. There are a ton of digital novel writing tools available to help a writer stay organized, and many of them can be used in tandem.
Grammarly is another useful program for writers, and while there are paid upgrades available, the basic version is completely free! Grammarly is an editing tool that is designed to not only catch spelling and punctuation errors, but it makes word choice suggestions and can even comment on sentence structure.
There are two different ways you can use Grammarly. First, you have the option to upload and/or copy and paste a completed document or piece of writing onto the Grammarly website. It will ask you a few general questions about the piece – tone, intended audience, etc. – and it will take you through the document error by error, showing you what should be changed. You have the option to either leave it as is or with a single click, you can implement the change they are suggesting.
The other option is to install Grammarly right into your web browser. This will have it automatically analyze any writing you do on the web in real time, offering suggestions and edits as you go. This ensures that even things like emails and social media posts are written correctly. Grammarly will no doubt help you save time in your writing process, whether you choose to upgrade to the premium features or not. Grammarly premium is available for a monthly fee. If you want to go month by month, you are looking at $30/month. If you decide to pay for an entire year at a time, it averages out to about $11/month.
Scrivener is a word processor, just like Microsoft Word. However, it is explicitly tailored to creative writers. Like Word, you have blank space in which to write the actual words of your novel. In addition to this, they also have tools to assist you in brainstorming, storyboarding, and even random note taking. The corkboard feature allows you to layout all your notes and ideas and rearrange them in any order or structure that you want. This can help you with putting together a timeline and filling those pesky plot holes. It will even help you format your story for publishing as an e-book if you so desire.
The scratch pad feature is another stroke of genius. It allows you to bring up a virtual “notepad” on top of your current screen and save the notes away for later without even having to stop what you’re doing. So, if you come with the greatest twist ending imaginable while you’re in the middle of the first chapter – no problem, the scratch pad has your back!
Scrivener also keeps your projects themselves organized. Most writers tend to have several projects on the go at once. Whether they are working on multiple novels, or they have some short stories and poems going on as well, there are sometimes files everywhere. Scrivener saves each project as one file, and you can find everything within that single file. When you open the project, it is all there for you in one big document with different sections. You don’t have to sort through all kinds of single documents, create multiple folders, and sit there wondering what on earth you named your research files!
Scrivener does come with a cost, but they offer a 30-day free trial, which is ample time for you to determine whether you like it or not. After 30 days, you will need to buy the product at $45. This is a one-time fee, and you have the software for life.
You’re Not Seeing Things…
It’s a New Scrivener Logo…
Introducing… Scrivener 3.
A Completely Revamped Writing Tool for Authors.
While Scrivener is fantastic for taking and organizing notes on your novel, if you are an extensive note taker, or you tend to think on the fly or when out and about, a note-taking software like Evernote may be of use to you. Evernote has everything you could ever imagine needing to take notes. The most common way to take notes, of course, is a simple text note. Evernote does offer this, but you can do so much more if you want to. You can add images to a note, either uploaded from your computer or retrieved straight from your mobile device. PDF files, links, websites, and audio notes can also be entered, saved, and organized.
One of the most useful parts of Evernote is that it is available on multiple devices. If you are connected to the internet, you can use Evernote. If you are walking around the grocery store and you come up with an idea, you can jot it down with your cell phone on Evernote, and access it on your computer later without having to upload or sync anything.
Evernote also allows you to organize all your notes in a very efficient way. You can create different “notebooks” and then put certain notebooks together to create different “stacks.” You can also tag all the notes for easy referencing and searchability. You can even create shortcuts that allow you to bring up data that you need to access frequently and regularly.
Evernote is available at $9.99/month for the regular premium, which is all an individual writer should need. There is a business plan available, but the features included with this wouldn’t be of any use to a novelist.
In this age of cell phones, social media, and internet, distraction is everywhere. Studies have shown that when you pause your work to check an email or respond to a text, your mind takes an average of 23 minutes to refocus and get back on task. This can become costly if you are constantly distracted. It is easy enough to say that you just won’t look at your phone, or won’t open the internet, but willpower is limited and may run out. Willpower is even harder to demonstrate if you have already developed bad habits.
Freedom is a program that allows you to block certain apps, websites, or even the entire internet if you need to. When these distractions are blocked, and you have no choice in the matter, it will be much easier to remain on task and get your work done. After some time, you will find that the annoying, Facebook-checking habits are gone, too.
In comparison to other novel writing tools, Freedom is a straightforward program with a simple concept, and it gets the job done. Freedom has over 750,000 users and multitudes of positive reviews and happy customers. Freedom does offer a free trial but will cost $6.99/month afterward. If you really like it and want to pay for one year all at once, it will average out to $2.42/month. Alternatively, you can pay $120 for unlimited, lifetime access.
Writing a novel is hard work, and everyone has a different process. Each of these novel writing tools is designed with writers in mind, and they are versatile enough to be adapted into almost any writing process! The features available are extensive, allowing you to pick and choose which ones you like and what works for you. You may decide that paying for the premium versions is a worthy investment, but even if you don’t, the free versions have a lot to offer on their own.