PROS / Power Writer has uncomplicated organizational tools and word processor functionality.
CONS / There are good writing prompts, but few general writing instructions or tips.
VERDICT / A powerful word processor with features to help organize and enhance your writing.
Power Writer, a writing software application by Write-Brain, has quite a lot going for it as a writing tool for beginner or intermediate authors. Its organizational features are not as extensive as WriteItNow, and its story development tools can't touch those of Writer's DreamKit, but it is precisely this simplicity that may make it a good choice and our TopTenREVIEWS Bronze Award winner of book writing software for a new writer who has a story to tell.
Power Writer is set up a lot like the most popular word processing programs. You can easily format text, and you'll find most of the same settings and available preferences. In fact, if you hide the other panes in the layout (which is accomplished by a simple mouse click), you'll have a writing space that feels much like any other word processor.
The other panes house the organizational and story tools that make this writing software more than just a place to type. The tree menu on the left functions as an outline; here you'll add new chapters and plot points. With Power Writer, you can divide your writing almost any way you'd like, and keep scenes separate from one another. These chunks of text can be rearranged on the tree menu outline simply by dragging and dropping a plot point to another location. This change will also then be reflected in the text.
Additionally, when you create a new plot point you can assign it to one of six categories. Each category is color coded and the plot point is highlighted in its color on the outline. In this way, you can see at a glance a colored representation of your story elements and quickly tell whether you've got too much comic relief, not enough exposition or a surplus of subplot.
One of the standout features of this software for writing is the notes tool. This feature allows you to embed notes directly into the text for easy reference. Or you may keep research or idea notes that are not tied to any particular spot in your story. Plus, these notes are searchable. If you know you wrote a research note about hat design in the 1850s, there's no need to scroll through all the notes you wrote – simply search for text in that note, and voila! You'll quickly be able to find any scrap of an idea you recorded in a note.
Power Writer's writing guides are much more basic and less comprehensive than our other top products. However, if you've got a good idea that's already pretty well thought out, this writing software can help you add some teeth to your thoughts and keep it all organized in one place. If you take the time to work through the questions thoughtfully, you'll end up with a pretty decent story outline and some interesting characters.
The pane at the bottom of the screen is where all the story tools are housed. Here you can brainstorm and record information about your general story, plot points, chapters, acts and characters. There's also a place to record and store other notes and research you want to keep on hand.
In each section, the software provides a handful of questions to spur your creative juices – basic questions like "How does this act move the story forward and thrust the reader into the next act or final climax?" and "What is this chapter's ticking clock – the thing (or things) that drive the story forward and keep the characters from just walking away." You can also add a checklist of things that must be accomplished in each act, chapter or plot point. This way you can check off each item when it's completed and make sure that you have included everything you wanted to include in each writing section.
The story tools for character development are a little more extensive. For each character there are about 20 questions that get at who that character is and how he or she fits into your story. Questions range from the general ("How would this character describe him or herself?") to the detailed ("What has been this character's biggest trauma in his/her life, and how does it affect who he/she is today?") to the specific ("What is revealed about this character by the events/actions of this plot point?"). You can also assign each character a role and a character type in your story.
Ease of Use
Because this writing software functions so similarly to the most common word processing applications, it's almost instantly usable if you're familiar with word processors. The only area a writer has to master is the organizational tools, and they are rather straightforward. The interface, for the most part, is clean and uncluttered. The tree menu on the left allows you to navigate to any part of your story quickly, and tools like the bookmark feature help you log significant places in your text and return to them easily. Because the organizational tools are basic, the writing prompts are few, and the word processing features are familiar to most computer users, this application is one of the more easy-to-use pieces of novel writing software we reviewed.
Help & Support
Help files in the program are plentiful and useful. They will guide you step-by-step through using the features of the book writing software. Additionally, there is an address for technical support on the Write-Brain website.
The familiar feel of a word processor combined with simple organizational and writing tools make Power Writer stand out among its peers. While it offers fewer tools than our other top software for writing, it’s this blend of simplicity and functionality that make it one of the best pieces of writing software out there.