Logo courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
Logo courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

In the past two weeks you have made a commitment to join National Novel Writing Month in November and looked at resources to help you plan your novel. This week are going to look at a few writing tools that can help you get that novel out of your head. Instead of focusing on more familar writing tools like paper and pencil/pen or Microsoft Word, we'll be looking at software especially geared towards writers. Make sure to hit "Read More" to see the paid writing tools as well as this week's assigment. 

Free and Trial-Based Writing Tools

Scrivener is available for Mac and Windows users. This is one of the most popular writing programs out there. The special feature of this program is that you can get your story back out in multiple formats including Microsoft Word, RTF, PDF, ePub, Mobi, Open Office, and HTML. You can use a trial version of Scrivener especially for NaNoWriMo which will last till December 7th.

Storyist is a Mac and iPad writing tool that "helps you track your plot, characters, and settings, and keeps all of your writing organized and accessible so you can focus on your manuscript." A trial version is available for NaNoWriMo writers. At the end of the month, you can then export to Mobi (which is Kindle friendly) or ePub. 

Yarny is a cloud-based writing tool that automatically saves every word you write so you'll never lose your work. It is free for NaNo writers this November and will then go into subscription-based service along with a "free forever plan." The downside to this tool is that since your novel exists in the cloud, you will only be able to use it as long as you are online.

yWriter works on Linux, Mac, and Windows computers. It is a stand alone program which means that you will need your own back-up methods to keep your story safe. yWriter was developed by a computer programmer who is also a writer, so he developed a customized system which met his author needs.

Paid Writing Tools

Liquid Story Binder XE is one of the most fully-featured programs out there. While it gives you all the flexiblity and more tools than you can imagine in organizing your story, this also means that you will have to set aside some time to figure out how to set up the writing environment that works best for you.

Microsoft OneNote is what I used to organize and write my novel in last year. If you have Microsoft Office on your computer, you may already have this program on your computer. OneNote works sorta like a physical notebook with tabs, sections, and you can add as many page as you want. The program features keyword search in text, images as well as in audio snippets. My favorite part of OneNote is that you can write (or add images, take a screenshot of a page or add audio) something down then and then click anywhere else on the screen to add another bit of information. You can then drag the information anywhere you write on the screen to visually organize the text/audio/images in a way that makes sense to you. 

Writer's Cafe is a slightly older program which opens up to look like a special writer's desktop. On the desktop you can find icons to help you generate character names, get inspired by quotes from writers, and also manage your writing process through outlines, timelines, and more. The stand out feature of this program is the focus on character profiles which helps you keep track of your characters.

Assignment for this week

Try out some of these writing software tools to see if one of them could help you write your novel. Next week we will have a guest post by NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison, Charles Muir.

How's your novel planning going?