Writing Software: What Is Best For You?

Writing Software: What Is Best For You? Finding the perfect software to making your writing life easier this year is important. Most of us writers use Microsoft Office not knowing the plethora of software out there available. So below are different types of writing software for both platforms (Mac/PC) that can be used to enrich, inspire, and get you to write more this year. Check out the websites as well as many of the companies have free trials of their product. Have one that’s not listed? Share it with us!

Ms Office
Platforms: Mac/PC
Price range: $150+


Microsoft Office has been around forever it seems. A lot of writers find the simplicity of the program to write their stories while offering ways to edit and track changes. Office has improved in many ways over the years and continues to have added features. I like office because I can create a newsletter and do all my writing for school and for personal use. Most writers feel this is all they need to keep them organized and writing. This may be true, but I love to see other options.

iWork is the equivalent of the Microsoft Office.
This is made by Apple for Apple computers.
Price range: $79 (Single User)- 99 (Family Pack)

I like using iWork being a Mac user myself. There are many features that you won’t find in MS Office. iWork has a layout mode for page lay out and word processing all in one. iWork is not for customers who do a lot of spreadsheets and macros in Excel.

Pages ’09

Creating the perfect brochure, flyer, report, or resume is faster and easier than ever. Choose from 40 new Apple-designed templates (over 180 total). Focus on your writing with new full-screen view. Organize your ideas with dynamic outlines. Customize your documents using mail merge with Numbers. Insert equations with MathType 6 (sold separately). Create bibliographies with EndNote X2 (sold separately). Open, save, and email Microsoft Word files from within Pages. Learn more about Pages ’09 Numbers ’09 Create spreadsheets, organize data, and write formulas with simple yet powerful tools. Easily create formulas, using visual placeholders with plain language text. Perform calculations using over 250 functions. Organize your data instantly using Table Categories. Check your calculations at a glance with Formula List view. Create two-axis charts and combine line, column, and area series in a single mixed chart. Choose from twelve new Apple-designed templates (30 total). Open, save, and email Microsoft Excel files from within Numbers. Learn more about Numbers ’09 Keynote ’09 Now creating a show-stopping presentation is surprisingly simple. Easily create sophisticated animations with Magic Move. Add dramatic object and text transitions using new visual effects. Visualize your data with new styles and animations for 3D charts. Dramatically reduce file size without compromising quality. Create dynamic flowcharts and diagrams using connection lines. Choose from eight new Apple-designed themes (44 total). Open, save, and email Microsoft Power point files from within Keynote.

Platform: Mac OS X

Price: 39.95

Writing a book, short story or research paper is about more than hammering away at the keys until it’s done. Research, scrawling fragmentary ideas that don’t seem to fit anywhere yet, collecting faded photos from old newspapers, shuffling index cards to find that elusive structure – most writing software is only fired up after much of the hard work is already done. Enter Scrivener: writing software that stays with you from that first, unformed idea all the way through to the first – or even final – draft. Outline and structure your ideas. Take notes. Storyboard your masterpiece using a powerful virtual corkboard. View research while you write. Track themes using keywords. Dynamically combine multiple scenes into a single text just to see how they fit. Scrivener has already been enthusiastically adopted by best-selling novelists, academics, lawyers, script writers and journalists – whatever you write, grow your ideas in style.

Mariner: StoryMill
Platform: Mac OSX
Price: $44.95
Mariner Website

StoryMill features:
• Track, tag and filter characters, scenes, locations, and research with StoryMill’s unique dynamic outline.
• Visually and interactively display your story across time with StoryMill’s timeline view.
• Annotate any text in your project.
• Revise your work with innovative tools like a word frequency tracker and cliche finder.
• Set and achieve your daily writing goals with the progress meter.
• A built-in support for tracking submissions to editors and agents.
• Manage the creative writing process with Smart Views.
• Write, distraction-free, in Full Screen Mode.
• View your novel in multiple views.
• Back up any and all activity in StoryMill
• Native Cocoa, Universal, and Leopard compatible.

StoryMill supports the following languages: English, French, German, Italian

Platform: PC
Price: $54.99 (download) or Cd $59.99
NewNovelist Website

Take a look at what you can do with NewNovelist:

Start with character development, or work on a plot turn
Describe an event first
Work backward by writing the ending FIRST!
Write Your Novel YOUR WAY!




Write it Now


Platform: PC & Mac OSX


Keep your writing and background material together.

Get rid of any scraps of paper and keep your story text and background material (Characters, Locations, Events and Notes) in one place.

Keep Track of Who Does What and When

Use the Event Chart and Event Summary. Keep an eye on Relationships as well.

Re-Organize Your Story as You Like

Move Chapters, Characters and Events around. Add and delete sections as often as you like.

Don’t Worry About Formatting

While you’re writing, WriteItNow lets you concentrate on what you’re writing. When you’ve finished writing it takes just a few key-presses to create a neatly formatted manuscript.

Keep a Record of Submissions

Use the Submissions Tab to remember exactly who you’ve sent each story to, when they replied and (hopefully) when you were paid.

Keep in Control

The main writing tools are described here but WriteItNow has lots of other features which help.
E.g. when you change the story date each character’s age is automatically updated.
When you start WriteItNow it remembers the last story you were working on and loads it.
WriteItNow runs on PCs and Mac. You can buy one unlock code and use it on your PC and your Mac. The CD includes both PC and Mac versions.

Visual Thesaurus
Platform: PC & Mac OSX
Price: 39.95

With the Visual Thesaurus, you can:

  • Find the right word. The Visual Thesaurus has over 145,000 English words and 115,000 meanings. Find the word you need and discover related meanings.


  • Develop a better vocabulary. See how words are used in different parts of speech.


  • Use words precisely. The intuitive interface helps you find words through their semantic relationship with other words and meanings.


  • Master word usage. Roll over a meaning to see its definition and example sentences that express that meaning.


  • Improve your grammar. Meanings are color-coded to indicate parts of speech.


  • Explore 39,000 proper nouns. Historical figures, phrases and trademarks are included. Look up Mozart, Manda or simply, “M.”


  • Check your spelling. The Visual Thesaurus suggests a word if you spell it wrong.


  • Hear words pronounced correctly. The Visual Thesaurus offers both American and British pronunciations (Internet connection necessary)


  • Personalize your experience. Use the Settings Panel to control font size, filter content, display up to 17 semantic relationships and more.


  • Browse language in 2D or 3D. Rotate word maps in three dimensions to reveal complex relationships.


  • Connect to the Internet. Right-click on any word to launch an Internet search for images or information.





Denise Alicea
the authorDenise Alicea
This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc


  • Wow, Denisse, this is great. So much information! I'll be sure to let people know this is here.

  • I've tried Scrivener but I just can't do all that preliminary work or I'll lose the story. So while it sounds like an awesome tool, it's just not for me.

    Now, MS's OneNote on the other hand… OMG, since I started playing around with this little gem, I've been tickled pink! All my research/story ideas/deleted scenes in one place with easy access and links. Love love love OneNote.

  • It's doubtful I'll be able to afford any new software soon, but the choices are amazing. Thanks for sharing! Since my first draft is plot driven, I can see that some of this software (like Scrivener) could be valuable in making notations for fleshing out characters and scenes. Cool!

  • These sound like great tools Denisse – even to a reader like me! Just curious – have you tried any of the speaking to type programs? I had Dragon Speaking and Kurzweil Voice a number of years back and may want to try a newer version! I think I was able to train the Kurzweil better but the computer crashed that had all the training so I would have to start again anyway! 🙂

  • Thank you ladies for stopping by!

    Martha- I have not tried speech as I still love writing, but hey if it works, it works! Thanks for sharing that with us.

    Judi- Everyone has their favorite program. Have you tried write it now, you can create your own characters and then work from there and able to export out to Word.

    Susan & Miriam- Thanks! I am glad to be able to share that with you. Susan try the free trail and work with it until it expires.

  • Like most Mac people, I use scrivener. I absolutely love it. I don't use the story board feature. That is done manually on my bedroom/office wall with pretty multi-colored post-its (a different color for each storyline).

    One thing that I've heard PC people talk about is liquid binder. Talk about bells and whistles. I'd be too busy playing with everything to get any writing done.

  • I so want a mac! I just love that so many have very few problems with it compared to the PC with Windows. I do want to try one with like a NetBook. I do use an EBookWise reader but NY pubs books I need to use the computer with and even a laptop can be bulky to read them on. So I'm really considering them for giving it a try for ebooks! I don't like the small PDA's since its hard for me to read that small print long.

    I don't have Microsoft Word and miss it! I have some sort of free program for substituting it and its just not the same.

    I thought it was neat, my previous pastor and wife from the church used to type to me as the sermon and mass went. Then they loaned for a while this equipment that hears and types whats being said! It may not have been perfect but it got so much and I was able to read along!

  • Mac's are amazing, no virus or spam headaches ever. Since I moved to Mac 2 years ago I have no had a problem at all. Netbooks are just for portability and nothing else, you sacrifice a lot. At least with a Mac you can get training, etc.

  • Sorry, the last post was all messed up. I'll try again.

    Hi Denisse,
    Thanks so much for getting all these options in one place. Great blog. I saw a couple I would be very interested in when I have time to experiment. Right now, I'm on Word.
    And I love text aloud for reading back parts of a manuscript I'm having trouble with. Something about hearing it helps me decide what to keep, change, or throw out.

  • Hi Denisse:
    Miriam sent me. She's right about your post being loaded with good information. I especially like the Visual Thesaurus.

  • MarthE
    I have Dragon Naturally Speaking and love it. I speak into a Sony recorder and transcribe it with the Dragon. Saves time and prevents losing ideas and text.

  • What an awesome list! Thanks, Denisse, for taking the time to put all that information together. I have a Mac, but haven't used any programs yet. Your compilation makes it much easier. Julie

  • Great list – I'm so going to look into these! I recently acquired Liquid Story Binder, which has some good tools, but I'm still exploring. It's cheap (free for an easy version). My publisher has us use OpenOffice to do edits in since it almost identical to Word and is easier to translate to whatever program he uses for publishing. It's also free, for anyone who doesn't have Word I'd highly recommend this. I'd LOVE a real good story boarding software. Any suggestions? M:o)

  • Wow, anyone ever feel like there's way too much information and stuff and gadgets to choose from? LOL. They all sound terrific. Thanks for all of it, now it's just choosing what's right for you!

  • Thanks for the list. I have Word, but some of the others sound interesting. As soon as I get a little extra money, will have to look into getting one of them. You have helped cut down on some of the research time.

  • I use Microsoft Word. Have a Folder for my Romance. Have Characterization Doc.s there. Have separate Doc.s for each chapter.

    I tryed a software before (not listed here), but gave up and returned to MW.

    After your blog I downloaded & installed Demo of Write It Now.

    I'm not sure. I didn't like the divide scenes feauture much. Like I said before I have a doc. for each chapter, but prefer have all scenes there. However, I believe that for someone who writers for Harlequine series the scene divide option in the WriteItNow will be handy. I've heard that there is a strict standard within a Harlequine line; like what should happen in which chapter/scene.

    By the way, I think I found a bug in the WriteItNow software. I created charts for my main heroes: Elizabeth & Christian. So I added in each character's relations "Loves" (Elizabeth loves Christian, Christian loves Elizabeth). Now if you open Christian's chart it shows, Christian – arrow loves – Elizabeth, but then another arrow from Elizabeth goes that she loves Christian in other direction. So it repeats the hero's name twice in different directions. Same with Elizabeth's chart; repeats Elizabeth twice.

  • Adila, thanks for the heads up on Write it Now. No software is perfect, even MS Word makes mistakes as they are constantly updating their software. You can always report the bug to the company.

  • Surprised you didn't mention yWriter. It's free and does most of what the other programs you mentioned do–keeps track of scenes, characters, locations, etc, integrated storyboarding, and did I mention it's free? The same guy who makes that one also has submission tracking software that's also free.

    Some think free means "not as good," but that's not always the case.

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