Home » Reviews » What’s Out There For Me? Part One — Writing Applications

What’s Out There For Me? Part One — Writing Applications

There are so many different types of writing software in the market today that it can be a chore finding the one that best suits your needs. So over the next few weeks, I’ll be taking a look at some of the more popular tools available to us as writers. This week it’s the turn of word processing and note-taking applications.

Disclaimer: While I acknowledge that there are many more applications out there (OpenOffice and Storyist to name a couple), I’m only discussing the ones I’ve used personally. I, as an individual, and Sarcastic Muse, as an entity, are in no way affiliated with any of the below companies beyond having purchased their products.

1. Scrivener (Windows and Mac) – $45/£33.90 exc. Tax – Literature and Latte

ScScrivener writing applicationsrivener is so well know amongst writers that its name is almost synonymous with writing software. A behemoth of a program, Scrivener offers an all inclusive plotting, writing, and publishing package and, with so many users out there, it’s now so simple to find a template that suits your writing needs.

Key features:

  • Distraction-free writing,
  • Cork board,
  • Scratch pad,
  • Scriptwriting functionality,
  • Statistics and targets.

Free trial available.

2. Ulysses (Mac and iOS) – From $44.99/£34.99 – The Soulmen GbR

Ulysses-writing application

Ulysses is the distraction-free writer to end all distraction-free writers. The concept of this program is simple — you only need concern yourself with the words. Ulysses developers have removed all the complicated toolbars of the WYSIWYG editors, leaving behind a clean working area for you and your words.

Key features:

  • Built-in file library — all your documents in one place,
  • Seamless iCloud/Dropbox sync — take your writing with you,
  • Goals and statistics,
  • Downloadable themes and styles to quickly edit and publish.

Free trial available.

3. Novlr (web based) – From $10/£7 per month – Novlr LTD

Novlr-logo writing applicationDon’t let the fact that Novlr is a web-based writing program put you off. It’s functionality is easily the rival of some of the big hitters out there and the cross-platform capabilities are astounding. With a beautiful, minimalist writing area, offline writing mode, and room to store an entire library of works in progress, you’ll never have a problem snatching moments to work on your novel.

Key features:

  • Constant access to all your words — all you need’s a web browser,
  • Automatic saving and word count updates,
  • Automatic backups to GoogleDrive and Dropbox,
  • Writing statistics.

Free trial available.

4. MS Word (Windows and Mac) – From $149.99/£119.99 for standalone licence – Microsoft

What can I say about MS Word that hasn’t already been said? This program is one of the most popular, and widespread, word processors on the market. It’s so widely utilised that almost all publishers and agents require electronically-submitted manuscripts in the .doc and .docx formats.

Key features:

  • Used industry wide,
  • Simple(ish) to use,
  • WYSIWYG editor with almost an almost limitless template library.

5. Pages (Mac and iOS) – From $9.99/£14.99 – Apple

Pages is Apple’s answer to the juggernaught that is Microsoft Word and, like its counterpart, I haven’t really got much to say about it. It’s a fully functional word processing software with Apple’s ubiquitous minimal design.

Key features:

  • WYSIWYG editor,
  • Cheaper alternative to MS Word for iOS and Mac,
  • Seamless iCloud syncing,
  • Works on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

6. Evernote (Windows and Mac) – From Free – Evernote Corporation

evernote-logo writing applicationBefore I discovered Novlr and Ulysses, Evernote was my go to application for writing on the move. With its myriad of note-taking features (text, photo, ever audio notes) and cross-platform applications, you’ll never find yourself in a position where you can’t meet your daily word count (except through procrastination but that’s your problem, not mine).

Key features:

  • You can attach pretty much anything to a note,
  • Cross-platform syncing,
  • Web-clipping plugins allow you to keep all your research together.

What are some of your experiences with/thoughts on our featured software? Are there any others you feel need highlighting?


12 thoughts on “What’s Out There For Me? Part One — Writing Applications

  1. It’s not a writing program, but I really like Trello for organizing tasks and research around my writing projects. It’s web-based but it has good mobile support via Apps. It fills a project management gap that Evernote doesn’t get quite right.

  2. I’m using Microsoft Word for most of my writing and Evernote to keep track of book ideas and random scraps of research for one project or another, as well as for playing with “what if” scenarios. For some reason, Scrivener and I just didn’t get along, but I’ve been using Evernote for a few days, now, and I don’t hate it. It helps that I have an app on my iPhone for it, too, and it syncs with the software on my laptop.

    • Full reviews of both will be posted in the coming weeks and I do use both extensively. Novlr is still in development with new features being added all the time whereas Scrivener’s been in development for a long time so is a more rounded package. I like Novlr’s ‘write anywhere’ mentality which doesn’t tie you to a laptop (although it works better on laptops and large screen tablets) but it really is a difficult call.

  3. Pingback: About This Writing Stuff… | Phil Giunta – Paranormal, Fantasy, and SF Writer

  4. The first one that comes up with a word processor with easy to use built-in format conversion capability for e-books, I’m in. Word, I use it and it’s way to complex. I’m a writer not a computer geek. Give me accessible templates already formatted in standard submission form. Damn it Jim, I’m a wordsmith not a warp drive engineer.

    • She cannae take it, captain. Thompson’s gonnae blow. I agree with you though. Most programmes are vastly complicated when it comes to outputting your work in a valid, workable, and good-looking format. To date, the simplest I’ve found has been Ulysses. It’s almost a one click (and a few mouse drags) operation, but it still requires you to find the right template for you from a host of third-party providers.

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