Best Software For Creative Writing

Hey. I was wondering. There are so many softwares and websites out there that help writers to work, but I haven’t found any honest comparision about them. Which software is the best to use for writing right now? So far I used only Word and Google Docs, and I’m curious if it worth to switch from those.
What I would look for:

  • Sleek and simple design
  • Easy to use
  • Has some Git-like version control system
  • Function that helps to outline the story, the characters, the setting
  • Grammar and writing style help (like Grammarly or Hemingwayapp)
  • Preferably has a web version, as I write from several computers (though it’s the least important part)

I know many people love Scrivener, and it has most of these features, but to me it looks too bloated.

What kind of software do you use for writing? Why do you like it more than the other alternatives?

Just my personal experience, but I tried to use Scrivener for maybe 6 months and never liked it / got the hang of it. I know a lot of writers swear by it but I just found it personally very clunky and overly complicated. I really prefer the simple and streamlined nature of Word. Pop it open and start writing.

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I use Word because of the formatting options. Quoll is ok if you like the idea of Scrivener but don’t want to pay for it.

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Check out Dabble Writer. I love it.

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This is an interesting take. I’ve been considering giving Scrivener a try but it just looks too complicated and I’ve been fine with Word. I think there is a free trial of Scrivener, so maybe I’ll give that a shot one of these days.

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You can try Scrivener, but I personally don’t prefer it. If you write on your mobile device give Jotterpad a try, the premium version offers a night mode and there are a lot of many useful features.

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Google Docs all the way or OneNote.

Google Docs is simple to use, nothing fancy, and copies and pastes easily.
One Note is also minimalistic but has some cool ways to make your draft like an idea board. If I really had to choose, I’d go with One Note! :slight_smile:

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I use Word (on a Mac). Why? It’s what I’ve always used so I know it. But also, if I were to submit an attachment to an agent or publisher they’d want it in doc or docx format. You can input a docx file to Calibre to create an ebook and I believe to KDP (I don’t do that because I upload an epub to KDP). It supports hyperlinks that I use on my cover page. It provides a table of contents on the side of the document to easily jump to a chapter (assuming the chapter names are defined as Heading 1). It has great editing and formatting and not a bad spellchecker. The grammar checker is questionable.

I personally have two docx files for each WIP novel. One is the manuscript itself. The other is my notes about the story: info about the characters, any research I did, a summary for each chapter written, word count for each chapter, etc. Even ideas for future scenes.

It doesn’t force me into a process.

It’s not a web application, but if you need to take your docx files from one computer to another, simply put it on a thumb drive. When you go to another computer (assuming it has Word), copy it from the thumb drive onto that computer’s hard drive. When done, copy it back onto the thumb drive. You end up with a backup as well.

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I use Scrivener, and like it. But I don’t like it so much that I’d recommend it to anyone who already has a license for Word, especially if you have an inexpensive student license or something.

What I like about Scrivener:

  • Its workmanlike ability to compile to several formats such as ePub and manuscript. Flip side: ‘compile’ setup is cranky and not intuitive, despite two iterations of it by the developer.
  • Versioning with diffs - much better than Word’s change tracking, which is designed for lawyers and is useless for authors.
  • A nice side-bar for seeing the whole book by part, chapter, scene.
  • Doesn’t crash or get really slow for large documents the way Word does. (Except for images: Scrivener is not efficient for large images)

That’s it. Scrivener touts many other features like corkboard views, but I never use them. It is missing features some writers find essential like grammar and style help (I don’t care about those). No web version; you have to use some app like dropbox to sync.

Scrivener’s eBook output is fine for trials but just not good enough for final production, so if you want to self-publish, you’ll end up using another tool (e.g. Vellum) for that.

Google docs: I second the recommendation. Free GDocs is simpler and cleaner than Word, and has much better automatic change tracking (versioning). If you want something simple and cheap, and always work on a computer with reliable Internet access, it’s a good option.

But it is useless at output formats. It has broken features like built-in picture editing that destroys the picture. Huge disadvantage that it doesn’t work unless you’re connected to the Internet, despite touting offline mode.

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I use Word because I find it easy to use and I get it for free through my work. I also use Scrivener for self publishing at the time I format the completed and edited manuscript to generate the Mobi and epub files. Scrivenere and I have a love/hate relationship, but I’ve been using the program long enough now to make it work for the most part, but I couldn’t see myself using it as my main writing software.

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That’s how I do it too (only I do it in Google Docs) but there are so many programs designed for creative writing, I hoped I can find a better way.

That’s one of my problems with it (besides the fact that it looks bloated for my taste). I need such tools, as English isn’t my native language. I don’t need it, when I write in my own language, but I’m far from being good enough in English to not rely on such helpers.

Thank you. I’ll definitely check it out :slight_smile:

I’ll give it a go. Thank you very much :slight_smile:

I know the feeling. I just want to find something that’s better for creative writing. I feel Word inefficient since I started to study programming, and I met awesome programs that help programming by much. And I haven’t really found a go-to program for Writing as I found VSCode for programming.

I personally love Scrivener, but I really like to have everything obsessively organized when I’m working on it. I like that I can mark something as a draft, or change the icon next to it. It also lets me write notes on the side of each little text snippet so I know what each thing is, which is helpful when your stories start to reach longer lengths.
I also really like its search function. I can type in a word in the search box and it will show me which areas I’ve used it in and highlight them. I tend to use that a lot when I’m trying to remember if I’ve already written about a certain thing.
I really like their mobile app. I have it synched to Dropbox so that I can write either on the go, or on my computer and everything is up to date and backed up in the cloud. I’ve been known to open up Scrivener and get a few sentences down when waiting in the grocery line for example!
Also, as others have mentioned, the compile function is great.

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I really just love Google Docs.
Simple, easy, saves automatically - say goodbye to losing chapters! :slight_smile:

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I know, that’s what I use now, I just hoped there is something more efficient than that. Something that knows the things I listed.

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Oh, I’m not sure about that but I recently found ProWritingAid, a free chrome extension which is like a free version of Grammarly pro! MIght help? x

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I love Scrivener! I wouldn’t write any other way now.

I’ve used Scrivener on both Windows and MacOS. The Mac version is far superior, but the Windows version is still better than MS Word (IMO). I love how each scene and chapter is an individual folder/file that you can mix and match. Its split-screen capabilities are great for rewrites and edits, too!