Why use creative writing software?
We spent over 30 hours testing 10 creative writing programs and worked with several types of writing, including novels, poetry, song lyrics and screenplays, to see just how easily and effectively each program can help develop stories, edit massive amounts of text and create a full story outline. We recommend WriteItNow as the best creative writing software for anyone needing help with their writing. It is easy to use and has the most extensive and powerful tools for developing all aspects of your story and for editing it afterwards.
Best creative writing overall
WriteItNow offers the most powerful and comprehensive organizational features of the applications we reviewed. It’s a great tool to use to keep track of your novel, from the planning stages through to publication. WriteItNow offers plenty of tools to help with character development, including a detailed questionnaire that allows you to assign numerical values to certain traits like intelligence. This information is stored in the easily-accessible Character tab, and you can reference it at any point in your writing.
The software has similar tab features for keeping track of other elements as well to keep your story on track. As you write, WriteItNow makes it easy to stay organized with its variety of tools that cater to many different styles of outlining, whether you need timelines, graphs or color coding. In testing, we found all of this was extremely easy and intuitive to use, as the application’s modern interface was straightforward.
WriteItNow includes a built-in word processor and web browser, that make it easy to stay in one application while you work. The in-app editing tools and submissions manager make it a great tool to use through every step of the writing process. The only downsides to WriteItNow is that it isn’t great for other types of writing, and the company does not offer phone support.
Read the full review here: WriteItNow 5 Review
Most versatile creative writing software
Power Structure has a variety of formats to assist with several genres of writing. It keeps all your most important story elements in view at the top of your writing interface, so you can keep them in mind while you write. Its Index Cards feature works to sort out plot points, notes, chapters and ideas, which is a useful feature for plot development and structure, especially since Power Structure does not have genre outlines or brainstorming tools.
The application’s word processor has basic editing tools like spell check, but it does not have a built-in dictionary. In testing, we found Power Structure was easy to use, though we ran into a few glitches when seeking out the PDF user manual. The best thing about Power Structure is that its plethora of tools work not only with long-form prose but also with different genres, including playwriting. It’s a good choice for writers who dabbles in a little bit of everything.
Read the full review here: Power Structure Review
Best for Apple Users
Storyist is a Mac OSX compatible creative writing application with a sleek, easy-to-use interface. It has a feature-rich word processor with a dedicated space to jot down notes, so you don’t have to navigate to a new page and interrupt your flow when you think of an idea or question in the middle of writing a sentence. One of the best features of Storyist is its companion iOS app, which lets you write wherever inspiration strikes. Though most creative writing software’s in-app word processors include basic editing tools, Storyist’s are generally more powerful and include word count trackers and formatting functions.
Storyist offers plenty of organization tools to help you keep track of the important details in your writing. It offers customizable style sheets to ensure consistency. I also offers character trait sheets and bulletin-board-like systems to arrange notes and writing elements. One thing we particularly like about Storyist is its autosave and version history features, which make sure that your work is never lost, even if you accidentally delete a whole chapter. Overall, Storyist is easy to use and offers features for use on both OSX and iOS.
Read the full review here: Storyist Review
Best for Screenplays
Best for Screenplays
Contour is a good creative writing software application dedicated to movie screenplays. It helps you step-by-step through developing the characters, action and conflict of your movie. When you start a new screenplay file, the program asks you several questions to hone in on your most important characters and their actions. It then helps you outline 44 plot points throughout three acts, drawing examples from successful movies.
Though Contour is a great tool to help you write your screenplay, it acts more as a way to organize your notes and outlines than a place to actually write it out. The program does not include an in-app word processor, so most formatting happens outside of the application. If you need inspiration and a step-by-step process, Contour is ideal as its scripted steps provide structure. It’s not designed for a seasoned screenwriter, however.
Read the full review here: Contour Review
Best for Song Lyrics
Unlike most creative writing software applications, MasterWriter stays away from big-picture outlining and organization tools. MasterWriter is much more concerned with specific lines and word choices. Its focused specificity is why it is the best creative writing software for lyricists and poets. It has a database with 33,000 common word combinations to help you figure out that saying on the tip of your tongue, as well as 136,000 rhymes or rhyme phrases.
If you want to make a pop culture reference in your work, you can also utilize one of MasterWriter’s 12,000 movie and culture quotes from the Pop Culture feature. Another tool the software provides for finding exactly the right phrase is Word Families, which acts as a combination of a reference dictionary and thesaurus. This feature lets you filter results by part of speech, as well. To help you keep track of your ideas, MasterWriter allows you to keep both written and voice-recorded notes.
Read the full review here: MasterWriter Review
How does creative writing software differ from a word processor?
Creative writing software provides you with tools that are more refined than the ones typically found in word processors. Software specifically designed for writers typically offers developmental tools, storyboards, and features that help you spawn round characters, think through storylines and choose just the right word or phrase to add life to your writing. The software helps you develop and organize info on characters and subplots so you can keep intricate details straight throughout your story.
Some programs are geared toward a specific writing type, such as novels or screenwriting, while others are more general in scope. The best creative writing software helps instill and prompt these qualities through organization and structure.
Creative Writing Software: How We Tested, What We Found
In our tests, we explored each program fully and evaluated how easy it was to download, install and use. We compared the features and functionality of each application to determine which were the best. We also looked for the programs that provide the most comprehensive tools to assist you in the writing process from beginning to end, no matter your writing style or experience level.
We found that the best creative writing software not only accommodates many types of writing – like screenplays or song lyrics – it also has editing tools, a customizable interface and built-in plot and character development tools. The top programs are also backed by prompt, friendly customer service.
The top creative writing programs should have features that spark creativity, help you organize story lines and aid in developing characters, conflicts, settings and plots. It should contain a built-in word processor and be user-friendly so that even a beginning writer can feel confident enough to practice and write with the application.
Crucial factors to consider with creative writing software
Organization Tools The software should offer sufficient features to help you brainstorm ideas, organize your thoughts, create believable characters and keep track of their activities in minute detail. The best software offers structure templates with tools to develop conflict, characters, plots and settings. It will also help you power through moments of writer’s block by helping you brainstorm ideas, outline your story and develop each setting and arc along the way.
Writing & Editing The best creative writing software offers a host of practical tools. If your computer didn’t come preinstalled with Microsoft Word or a similar word processing application, consider one of the programs that has one built into it. The main benefit of using a program with a built-in word processor is that your notes and outlines will be in the same place as your writing. You can easily access your notes, view your storyboard and write in the same window, which means you won’t have to waste time switching between programs. The best programs also provide tools to help you find just the right word, like a dictionary, thesaurus or a vast library of rhyming words or alliterations.
Ease of Use Good creative writing software should be easy to use. It should also have user-friendly features so anyone can download, install and quickly figure it out. The best programs have an intuitive, modern interface that’s easy to navigate with no hidden menus or features.
Help & Support Creative writing software should offer a variety of support options. You can contact any of the software publishers in our lineup via email or contact form, and a few even offer technical support over the phone. While most of these companies don’t offer live chat support, they make up for it by hosting a veritable artillery of informational resources on their websites. From video tutorials to extremely detailed PDF user manuals and community user forums, most of these programs have you covered when you’re troubleshooting.
Supported Configurations If you find a creative writing program that you like, double check that it’s compatible with your computer’s operating system. Most programs are compatible with all recent versions of Windows, though a few only work on Mac OS X. Although a couple can technically run on a Linux computer, there may be further limitations or extra software to install before the program will work properly. As for mobile use, a few programs either have compatible smartphone apps or can be used on a mobile web browser.
Don’t worry if you’re trying to stick to your budget – there are multiple options available for about $40. However, if your budget’s really tight, we recommend MasterWriter, which has monthly payment plans available for just under $10 per month. The software may be simple but it provides you with a place to write and store multiple stories, poems or song lyrics. It even includes an impressive bank full of alliterations, rhymes and other words so you can easily find just the right word.
Our creative writing software reviews can help you find just the right software package. While some programs have a broader focus than others, you can find one to help with just about any type of creative writing project. Whether you want to focus on finishing your novel or getting ideas for a screenplay, our reviews are a wonderful place to start.
Similar Kinds of Programs
Experienced writers know that writing can be a multi-faceted process laden with distractions and that it’s important to have the right tools to get the job done. Luckily, there are tons of programs and tools to help novice and veteran writers alike stay organized and produce high-quality writing. Below, we share a variety of tools to help you through the entire writing process:
For learning how to type. If you hunt and peck at your keyboard, it may be beneficial to learn how to type before setting out to write your best-seller. There are free websites, such as TypingClub, that teach you the basics of typing, or you can pay for entire courses through sites like KAZ. If you prefer to download a program onto your computer, check out our typing software reviews.
For organizing. Many writers have brilliant novel or screenplay ideas in their heads but never get them down on paper because they find it’s difficult to organize everything. There are programs out there designed specifically to help you organize your entire writing project – including tasks, plot points, character info and everything else relevant to your story – in a single place. Gingko is one such program. If you want something made for more of a general task management, consider MeisterTask or Basecamp. Once you have all the logistics written out, it should clear the path for you to focus on writing.
For minimizing distractions. Whether it’s a new email or a neighbor knocking on your door, distractions are everywhere, and they are the enemy of writers. Although we can’t help you with nosy neighbors, we can recommend some applications and other tools to help maximize your focus. Browser extensions, such as Mindful Browsing, limit the type of websites you can access or simply remind you to stretch and get back to work. We also recommend using focusing playlists designed to help you stay energized and on task. Websites like Brain.fm work, as does a quick search on your favorite music streaming service.
For checking grammar and improving vocabulary. Writing a great story is tough enough without having to worry if you misused a word or used incorrect grammar. Thankfully, there are websites ready to help you check your work before sending it off to a publisher. They can check for incorrect punctuation, misused words and spelling errors as well as grammatical errors. Plenty of these sites, including WhiteSmoke, are free, though you can pay for a service, such as Grammarly, should you wish. Some of these sites can also check for plagiarism, which is handy.
For sharing your work. Once you’ve polished your masterpiece, you’ll want somewhere to post it. If blogging is your thing, check out WordPress or Blogger. If you prefer to create a website for your portfolio, check out sites like Squarespace or Weebly or hire a professional website designer to make a custom site for your work.