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Top 12 software to write a novel

Getting to the end of the first draft of your novel can be daunting.  You have undoubtedly written and rewritten, changed plots, killed off characters, recreated them and fabricated long-lost relatives. Then, when you are about to pull the rest of your hair out, you bring the entire story to a meaningful crescendo.


Writing a novel takes much more than plunking away at your keyboard until you’ve met your word count. It includes research, timelines, and notes. Achieving this using a word processor like Microsoft word can be overwhelming, and scary. When editing such a large document, the risk of losing your work or slowing down your computer is high.

No one has time for a slow computer when your muse is dancing on your fingers.

The solution is to use software made for writing a novel or screenplay instead of using a tool made for laying out documents or short works.

12 Best in class software to write your novel


1. Scrivener

Everything related to your project is in one place.

Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allow you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.

Keep all of your background material—images, PDF files, movies, web pages, sound files—right inside Scrivener.

Once you’re ready to go, control everything from how footnotes, headers and footers appear to fine-tuning the formatting of each level of your draft—or keep it simple by choosing from one of Scrivener’s convenient presets. Print a novel using standard manuscript formatting. Export your finished document to a wide variety of file formats, including Microsoft Word, RTF, PDF and HTML.

2. StoryMill

Distraction-free full screen to help you finish your manuscript. You can set a daily writing goal and keep track of it using the progress meter. It’s clean and simple software that also keeps tracks of clique’s in your prose and overused words.

Two cool features:

StoryMill’s timeline. You can group the scenes so you can see the relationship between them. Change the unit of time measurement all the way from minutes to centuries. Insert scenes or events and view the list of un-timed scenes.

StoryMill’s snapshot feature. You can go to any scene or chapter and take a snapshot of your work. Then view two versions of your writing, make edits and revisions in one so you can compare it to the other. If you like what you see you can keep or go back to the original.

Cons: Only for Mac 10.6+ (intel only)

3. WriteitNow

Writitnow allows you to write your novel in a series of chapters and scenes. Your characters, scenes, events and ideas are organized in separate folders. It also includes a handy thesaurus, Storyboard to change the order of events, spelling checker, readability checker, word count and charts.

A cool feature of WriteitNow is the character, name, and plot generator. I know I’ve been stuck when coming up with names in the past. You may not use the suggestions, but it can lead you in the right path.


Helps you:

  • Organize your work in a way that suits you.
  • Place your character summaries and plot outlines wherever you wish.
  • Chapters and notes, all at your fingertips.
  • PageFour’s powerful Search tool helps you quickly find that paragraph you wrote last week. No more Windows Search or frantically opening document after document.
  • Password protects those sensitive Pages or chapters.
  • Spell checker dictionaries available in many languages – German, French, Spanish, etc.

5.NewNovelist Version 3

Newnovelist is a Windows program that helps people who want to write a novel… complete their novel. NewNovelist novel-writing software breaks down the process of writing a novel into manageable chunks. What does this mean to you?

Help and advice on how to write a novel from start to finish
• Helps you plan, research and outline your story
• It uses tried and proven writing methods
• Provides extensive template advice to loosely fit your ideas
• Includes a dedicated novel writers word processor
• Graphical Visualizer helps you keep it all together
• Spell checker and word analyzer/thesaurus
• Comprehensive ‘Notes’ handling
• Facilities to build your library of characters/story elements
• Story boarding with characters/story element interactions
• Advanced review and publishing tools.
• Dictation and synthetic speech read-back (Windows 7/Vista Only)
• Text and word count analysis tools
• Advanced search and replace facilities

Installation is very easy. Simply download the installation program and run it – You’ll be up and running in minutes!

6. yWriter

yWriter is a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes, helping you keep track of your work while leaving your mind free to create. It will not write your novel for you, suggest plot ideas or perform creative tasks of any kind.

yWriter is free to download and use, but you’re encouraged to register your copy if you find it useful.

(Although yWriter was designed for novels, enterprising users have created their own translation files to customize the program to work with plays, non-fiction and even sermons.)

Feature list:

  • Organize your novel using a project.
  • Add chapters to the project.
  • Add scenes, characters, items and locations.
  • Display the word count for every file in the project, along with a total.
  • Saves a log file every day, showing words per file and the total. (Tracks your progress)
  • Saves automatic backups at user-specified intervals.
  • Allows multiple scenes within chapters
  • Viewpoint character, goal, conflict and outcome fields for each scene.
  • Multiple characters per scene.
  • Storyboard view, a visual layout of your work.
  • Re-order scenes within chapters.
  • Drag and drop of chapters, scenes, characters, items and locations.
  • Automatic chapter renumbering.
  • … And many more

7. Google Drive

Best for writing a book with someone. You can view words being typed by someone else as they are being written in real-time.

It is best to make each chapter a separate file.

Keep notes in a separate file

Develop a timeline in a spreadsheet

Keep all research, notes, and files in its own folder to keep up to date.

Google Docs is available on all devices that can get on the internet. Whether you desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you can access your novel anytime. You can add notes or changes to your document when the inspiration hits you.

8. Evernote

Similar to Google Docs, without the collaboration Save each chapter in its own file. Work anywhere. Access everywhere. Great access to browser plugins. You are able to save full web pages, urls, pictures etc. in its own note when doing research.

Fast and works very well.

9. Storybook

Storybook is free Open Source novel-writing software for creative writers, novelists and authors. Starting with the plot to the finished book — with Storybook you’ll never lose the overview. Storybook helps you to keep an overview of multiple plot-lines while writing books, novels or other written works.

Storybook assists you in structuring your book

Manage all your data such as characters, locations, scenes, items, tags and ideas in one place. A simple interface is provided to enable you to assign your defined objects to each scene and to keep an overview of your work with user-friendly chart tools. With Storybook Memoria each object can be tracked in relation to time.

Storybook comes with 4 views:

  • The Chronological View shows the scenes sorted by date. Each strand has its own column.
  • The Manage Chapters and Scenes view shows all chapters and their assigned scenes. Scenes can be moved and renumbered by Drag-and-Drop.
  • The Book View shows all chapters and their assigned scenes sorted by chapter and scene numbers, as you would read it in the final book.
  • The Reading View shows the text as in a final book. Strands can be shown or hidden.
  • Storybook helps you to keep the overview, especially helpful for complex stories with two or more plot-lines (strands). Imagine it as a kind of an interactive, dynamic mind map.
  • Strands (Plot-Lines): Each scene belongs to a primary strand. Optionally, other related secondary-strands can be linked to a scene.
  • Characters: Add, edit or remove characters and assign them to scenes. A character’s gender can be male or female, or you can add your own genders, too.
  • Locations: Add, edit or remove locations and assign them to scenes.
  • Tags and items: Tags and items can be assigned to scenes, locations and characters. The time frame can be defined by setting a start scene and end scene. A table overview shows all assigned objects.
  • Chapters: Define your chapters and assign scenes to them.
  • Parts: Large projects can be split into well-arranged parts.
  • Object Tree: A hierarchic tree shows all characters, locations, tags and items as well as chapters and their assigned scenes. Below the tree all important information about the selected object is shown. If scenes are missing or exist twice, a warning informs you.
  • Global Ideas: While writing authors have all kind of ideas that come up suddenly. No more Post-it needed! With the “Global Ideas” feature, you can save your ideas anytime and assign them to the levels “Not started”, “Started”, “Completed” and “Abandoned”.
  • Adjustable view: All views can be re-sized to fit to screen or to get a better overview. Even more working space is available if you hide the information panel with a simple click on the toolbar.
  • Task List and Navigation: The task list shows all scenes with a status other than “done”. With the “Go to date” respectively “Go to chapter” navigation you can easily jump to the desired date or chapter-number.
  • Spell Check: Your text can be checked for spelling. New words can be added to your personal user directory.

10. Open Office

Open Office is a suite of software applications, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software, and database. It is an “open source” application which for the end user means it is free to download and use on your computer. It rivals MS Office for ability, and on the whole does a good job of it, actually improving in some areas. You can download and read more about it at: https://www.openoffice.org/.


wrote a guide on using open office to write your novel.

11. Character Writer


Comprehensive, easy-to-use software for every fiction writer. Try it now!

Everything you need to write fiction
Writer’s Café is a set of power tools for all fiction writers, whether experienced or just starting out. The heart of Writer’s Café is StoryLines, a powerful but simple to use story development tool that dramatically accelerates the creation and structuring of your novel or screenplay.

Fully portable – can run from a USB drive Designed by published novelist Harriet Smart, Writer’s Café also includes a notebook, journal, research organizer, pinboard, inspirational quotations, daily writing tips, writing exercises, name generation, and a 60-page ebook, Fiction: The Facts, distilling 20 years of writing experience.

Writer’s Café is designed to be a playground for the imagination, making writing fiction fun and fulfilling. But it’s also a serious tool for professionals, with highly configurable formatting, import/export and reporting facilities.

12. Celtx


Whether you’re writing on your own or making a production with others, Celtx has the tools you need to do the job better. Sign up for your free account and get innovative, internet-friendly software and services for improving how you create and collaborate!

Write better scripts…
Get online, desktop, and mobile software to let you write and collaborate on scripts and novels. You can sync and share with writing partners and your entire production team.

Create better setups…
Be more creative and productive with innovative tools like an app that lets you create multi-sequence storyboards and block camera & lighting setups – on or off set!

Work better together…
With a Celtx online workspace, you and your partners can sync and share scripts and production files, and discuss your work as it is being created.

Be better prepared…
Get everyone and everything organized in advance and make sure the production stays on schedule and on budget. With Celtx, your team will be better prepared.

Do you use any software to organize as you write? Let me know in the comments.

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