Do you really need novel writing software?
That answer depends on who you ask, of course…
But ask any seasoned, career novelist and they’ll tell you: An efficient novel writing software is an integral part of any fiction author’s writing routine.
At first glance, the idea of novel writing software might seem a little superfluous. Can’t you just use a standard word processor?
While it’s possible to write a novel using standard software, it might not be the best approach. A novel intended for self-publishing is a complex project, requiring drafting and redrafting, as well as collaboration with others. Specialist novel writing software can make the production process much smoother.
To make your life a little easier, we’ve produced a guide to the best novel writing software out there.
Here is a rundown of your main options, along with information on the price of each software, which operating systems it works with, and some thoughts on if it’s the right option for you:
This is our list of the best novel writing software on the market:
- The Novel Factory
- Writer’s Blocks
- What is the best novel writing software?
#1 – AutoCrit
AutoCrit is an automated editing tool aimed at fiction authors.
The software works by analyzing real bestselling novels of different genres to come up with guidelines on aspects such as pacing, the number of adverbs, and if your word choices are cliched or not.
As well as providing feedback on the style of your prose and its technical competence, AutoCrit also acts as a word processing environment and basic grammar and spellcheck.
How much does AutoCrit cost?
AutoCrit is available at three different price points:
- Free. Basic access to the word processing, spellcheck, and grammar check features of AutoCrit.
- $30 per month. Access to the basic capabilities in the free plan plus the full suite of editing reports that are the main feature of AutoCrit.
- $297 per year. The same access to the editing reports found in the $30 per month plan as well as access to two free courses on varied writing and improved dialogue.
Which platforms is AutoCrit available for?
AutoCrit is available in the cloud. To use it, you need a machine capable of logging in online. There is no app to download, so no requirements in that area.
What are the pros and cons of using Autocrit?
So what are the advantages and disadvantages of using Autocrit as your novel writing software?
It takes its data from real novels. If you’re interested in comparing your work to some of the titans of the genre you write in, AutoCrit is a good choice. Many AutoCrit users have reported that the software’s suggestions match up well with those made by human readers.
One common criticism of AutoCrit is that its suggestions sometimes lack context. For example, it might criticize you for repetition, even if that repetition was a stylistic choice. Another reason you might want to look elsewhere is that AutoCrit provides great fiction feedback but isn’t that useful for planning novels, unlike some rival software.
If you’re an author writing genre fiction interested in seeing how your work compares to some of the biggest names out there, AutoCrit is perhaps the best choice for you.
#2 – Bibisco
Bibisco is a small novel writing software made by an Italian author.
Its major selling point is the ability to plan your novel with different narrative strands and to add in-depth notes and planning cards for different scenes.
Bibisco is an attractive option as the free version offers a lot of functionality while the paid option is available on a pay what you want basis.
Bibisco is a good choice for authors who want to plan and make notes on their novel without being weighed down by a complex or difficult to understand interface.
How much does Bibisco cost?
In terms of value for money, Bibisco is superb. It’s a passion project from its creator, and that’s reflected in its pricing.
The Community Edition of Bibisco is available for free. This is a fairly functional version of Bibisco but it lacks some important options, such as the ability to export to epub.
If you want the full edition, go for the Supporter’s Edition of Bibisco. This is available on a pay what you want basis. It includes features such as timelines and writing goals as well as the ability to export your novel to epub.
Which platforms is Bibisco available for?
At this time, Bibisco is available for users of:
- Windows 10
- MacOS Mojave
- Ubuntu 20
What are the pros and cons of using Bibisco?
So what are some reasons to consider using Bibisco, as well as some signs that it might not be the right choice for your needs?
On the plus side, Bibisco has an intuitive and easy to understand design. This isn’t one of those novel writing apps that require you to put hours and hours in to learn how it functions. It’s also great to see a value for money passion project produced by the author community.
In terms of its drawbacks, some users of Bibisco have reported that they find writing scene by scene to be a little frustrating, at least at first. Also, compared to some of the more powerful tools on this list, Bibisco doesn’t offer full editing feedback and capabilities.
Bibisco is worth a look if you want an intuitive novel writing assistant, made by an author with the author community in mind.
#3 – Dramatica
Of all the apps on this list claiming to help you write a better novel, Dramatica is arguably the one with the loftiest aims.
Rather than presenting itself as a software product, Dramatica claims to have a unique philosophy on the concept of story itself.
Dramatica is a tool providing an in-depth look at story structure and character motivation.
To get a feel for the lens through which Dramatica sees stories, check out how it breaks down the indie film classic Donnie Darko.
How much does Dramatica cost?
If you want to try out Dramatica, you have both free and paid options. There are also different editions for Windows and Mac, as follows:
- There is a free demo of Dramatica available for both Windows and Mac.
- The paid version of Dramatica for Mac, Dramatica Story Expert 5, costs $139.95.
- The paid version of Dramatica for Windows, Dramatica Pro, costs $119.95.
Which platforms is Dramatica available for?
Dramatica is available for Mac and Windows, but each platform has a different version.
Dramatica Story Expert is the version for Mac, offering a greater level of functionality than the Windows version.
Dramatica Pro is available for Windows and is similar to the Mac version but a little less powerful.
What are the pros and cons of using Dramatica?
So what are the strongest and weakest aspects of Dramatica?
While a lot of apps in this guide offer similar levels of functionality, Dramatica brings something different to the table. The way it analyzes story and character is truly unique and like nothing else out there. A lot of major writers from the worlds of fiction and screenplay have thrown their support and praise behind Dramatica.
If you’re looking for a novel writing tool that helps you with structure and grammar, Dramatica might be more powerful than you need it to be. Not everyone will agree with or want to learn the theory and philosophy underpinning Dramatica. Those who do will find there is a learning curve involved in understanding its take on story.
Dramatica is one of the most interesting and unique products in this guide. While it won’t be right for every aspiring novelist, if you like the sound of its philosophy of story and character, it will give you a unique insight into your writing.
#4 – FastPencil/Opyrus
For years, FastPencil was a standalone writing and collaboration platform available in the cloud.
Now, it’s part of a larger self-publishing services package that has been rebranded as Opyrus.
The novel writing app is still known as FastPencil, so we will refer to it by that name for the rest of the review.
How much does FastPencil cost?
FastPencil is no longer available as a standalone product. Instead, it’s available as part of an Opyrus package, available at three different price points:
- Free. Access to only basic features.
- Personal. $45.67 annual billing or $4.95 per month.
- Professional. $138 annual or $14.95 per month.
Which platforms is FastPencil available for?
If you want to use FastPencil, you simply need any computer capable of logging into the cloud environment in which it operates.
What are the pros and cons of using FastPencil?
So what are some advantages and disadvantages of opting for FastPencil as your choice of novel software?
Unlike some of the other writing apps out there, FastPencil has been going a long time. There are two decades of experience behind the product.
While FastPencil is good at what it does, it doesn’t bring anything unique to the table. You can get a lot of the same functionality elsewhere at a lower price point. Also, now that FastPencil is part of the wider Opyrus system, many authors will find that they don’t need everything they are paying for.
By all means, see if you like the way that FastPencil helps you craft a novel, but we feel the majority of authors are better off looking elsewhere.
#5 – FocusWriter
At this point in our guide, you’ll notice that some novel writing solutions aim to offer almost every function you could think of, while others try and do one thing well.
FocusWriter is very much an example of the latter. This isn’t a tool that aims to pack itself full of bells and whistles.
Instead, FocusWriter aims to solve a common pain point for novelists – the ability to drill down into your work, get into a creative flow state, and make progress on your word count target.
FocusWriter does this by offering a very minimalist writing environment, with some degree of customization. You can set timers and goals to help you write.
Ultimately, FocusWriter doesn’t offer everything you need to produce a novel. However, for times when you’re finding it impossible to focus, it might just help you make a breakthrough.
How much does FocusWriter cost?
FocusWriter is available for free on every platform, but if you’re a fan of the tool, you have the option to leave a tip and support its creator.
Which platforms is FocusWriter available for?
At this time, FocusWriter is compatible with:
What are the pros and cons of using FocusWriter?
So what are the best and worst things about using FocusWriter to work on your novel?
FocusWriter is a great choice if you’re finding it hard to make progress with your writing. You can create a minimalist, distraction-free environment that is customized to your needs.
The major downside to using FocusWriter is it doesn’t offer the functionality you need to produce a novel. It will help you break through periods of writer’s block, but you’ll need another tool for planning, editing, and exporting your work.
FocusWriter is a great choice to get you out of a sticky situation where you’re struggling with your word count. For every other stage of the novel writing process, it probably isn’t the smartest choice.
#6 – Milanote
Milanote is a tool that allows you to gather together ideas and inspiration and store them in mood boards and mindmaps.
One specific application of Milanote featured on its website is its use as a novel planning tool. You can create story outlines, make character information cards, and more.
There’s no denying that Milanote is a stylish looking tool. But how much will it set you back, and is it right for your next book?
How much does Milanote cost?
You can try out Milanote for free, but the paid option has a lot more functionality, as the following price points indicate:
- Free – Store 100 notes, images, and links without the ability to search.
- $12.50 per month. Allows for unlimited notes, images, and links and allows full search functionality.
Which platforms is Milanote available for?
If you want to give Milanote a go for yourself, you can get it for:
What are the pros and cons of using Milanote?
So which kind of novelist might find Milanote a good choice of tool?
Milanote is very stylish and easy to use. If you are prone to moments of inspiration on the move and want to ensure they aren’t lost, Milanote is a great way to capture them and use them as creative fuel for a novel.
Perhaps the major drawback to Milanote is its cost. You need to be comfortable with paying for a research and planning tool, albeit a really good one.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for an all-in-one novel writing software, Milanote isn’t it. If you are comfortable using a separate tool for research and planning, consider checking out Milanote.
#6 – Novellus
Novellus is an affordable solution for novelists that offers some advantages over a standard Word Processor app.
Unlike a standard word processor document that quickly becomes cluttered and unwieldy, Novellus allows you to better organize a lengthy project such as a novel into different scenes and sections.
Novellus also offers some functionality as a proofreading aid. While this will never take the place of a human editor, it will help you send your editor cleaner text to work with.
How much does Novellus cost?
Novellus is available for a one-off cost of $29.99. This is an advantage if you don’t like signing up to a subscription plan.
Which platforms is Novellus available for?
At this time, Novellus is available only for MacOS.
What are the pros and cons of using Novellus?
How should you weigh up if Novellus is the right solution for you?
Novellus is preferable to using a standard word processor. Its functionality will make planning and keeping track of your novel far easier.
Unless you have MacOS, you won’t be able to use Novellus. Also, for a slightly higher investment, you can purchase a more powerful solution such as Scrivener.
Although Novellus isn’t the best choice for the majority of self-published authors, if you’re using MacOS and what an affordable upgrade over a standard word processor, you might want to check out Novellus further.
#7 – Novlr
Novlr is a stylish, specialist writing tool intended just for novelists.
When you use Novlr, you enjoy better planning and organization capabilities than offered by a standard word processor.
There is also upcoming support for features such as the ability to connect with designers and editors directly through Novlr.
How much does Novlr cost?
Novlr is a subscription service, available at the following price points:
- Free trial – 2-week free trial, does not require a credit card.
- Monthly – $10 per month.
- Annual – $100 billed annually.
Which platforms is Novlr available for?
Novlr is available on any device capable of logging into the Cloud.
What are the pros and cons of using Novlr?
So, why should or shouldn’t you choose Novlr?
Novlr is a stylish tool that will help you create a comfortable virtual writing environment. It also offers productivity and tracking advantages over more standardized solutions.
The major downside to Novlr is its cost. As it’s only available as a subscription model, you need to make sure you’re comfortable paying Novlr far into the future.
Overall, Novlr is an attractive place to write your next novel. However, the cost of using it might put some authors off when compared to other software out there.
#8 – OmniaWrite
OmniaWrite lacks the profile and reputation of many other tools on this list.
So what exactly does it do, and how is it beneficial for a novel-writing project?
OmniaWrite provides you a minimalist, cloud environment to write your novel. It allows for organization into chapters and scenes, which makes it easier to keep track of your project than a simple Word file would.
OmniaWrite doesn’t offer a lot of other functionality at this time.
How much does OmniaWrite cost?
OmniaWrite is currently a completely free tool. Its creator has stated they might charge for Cloud storage in the future, but at this time it’s free.
Which platforms is OmniaWrite available for?
OmniaWrite is compatible with:
What are the pros and cons of using OmniaWrite?
What should you weigh up when considering using OmniaWrite?
If you want a very minimalist writing environment based around the Cloud, Omniawrite offers exactly that for free.
OmniaWrite doesn’t offer a lot of functionality. To produce a quality novel, you’ll need other tools than OmniaWrite, so you might want to skip it entirely.
#9 – Scrivener
Scrivener has a cult following among the writing community. It’s a tool famed for both its power and complexity.
If you ask around about Scrivener, many writers will admit that they find it a bit intimidating to learn. What many writers don’t know is that the latest version of Scrivener is a lot easier to use than earlier editions.
In terms of planning, writing, and even exporting your novel, Scrivener offers a level of power not found elsewhere.
If you’re willing to learn how to use it, Scrivener is the only novel writing tool you’ll ever need.
How much does Scrivener cost?
Scrivener is available with either one of the best free trials in the whole industry, or at an affordable price point to buy as a one-off software:
- 30-day free trial, even use on non-consecutive days
- $49 macOS standard license
- $49 Windows standard license
- $19.99 for the iOS version of Scrivener
Which platforms is Scrivener available for?
At this time, Scrivener is available for:
What are the pros and cons of using Scrivener?
So how can you decide if Scrivener is the best choice for your book?
In terms of sheer functionality, Scrivener is unmatched. It does anything and everything you could dream of when writing a novel. It’s also available at a one-off price point, so you avoid being tied into an expensive monthly or annual subscription.
The major downside to using Scrivener is its learning curve. However, since the release of Scrivener 3, the software is a lot easier to learn and use than older versions were.
#10 – Storyist
If you’re looking to produce a novel or screenplay, and you happen to use Apple products, Storyist is one option available to you.
As well as full wordprocessing capabilities, Storyist has outlining and story development functions that you won’t find in Microsoft Word. You can also easily create and track info on your characters to avoid any errors or gaps.
How much does Storyist cost?
Storyist is available at two price points, depending on if you choose the mobile or desktop version:
- Storyist 4 for MacOS $59
- Storyist for iOS $19.99
Which platforms is Storyist available for?
If you’re a Windows or Linux user, Storyist isn’t available to you.
It’s currently only available for:
What are the pros and cons of using Storyist?
Should you use Storyist to write your next novel?
Storyist is a good choice for screenwriters. Its functionality is also useful for novelists, but it seems that screenwriting is Storyist’s prime concern.
As a one-off purchase, it’s more affordable than the majority of subscription solutions.
Most novelists will find software intended for novelists only, rather than screenwriters and novelists, to be a better fit. Windows users are out of luck here.
#11 – The Novel Factory
The Novel Factory is available as both a download software app and a cloud login platform.
It aims to give novelists a specialist environment to work on their book, full of features not found in standard writing applications.
Some of the features created with novelists in mind include the ability to store information on and track your characters, access detailed notes about the different locations your novel takes place in, manage version control for different drafts, and to set targets and writing goals.
How much does The Novel Factory cost?
To get started with The Novel Factory, you have three options:
- 30-day free trial
- Windows desktop version – $39.99
- Online version – Starting at $6.25 per month
Which platforms is The Novel Factory available for?
The Novel Factory can currently be used in two ways:
- Downloaded app. Available only for Windows.
- Cloud login. Available for any device capable of logging into the Cloud.
What are the pros and cons of using The Novel Factory?
So what are the good and bad points of using The Novel Factory for a book project?
The Novel Factory is very simple and easy to use. There’s no chance you’ll be confused by its interface. It also offers better functionality in terms of tracking your characters and locations than a standard word processor.
If you opt for the online version, you need to have an active internet connection to work on your novel. This is a drawback if you want to work on a plane or disconnect to focus better.
If you’re looking for a very easy to use specialist novel-writing tool, and are comfortable with having to be online to use it, give The Novel Factory’s free trial a spin to see if it’s a good fit for your way of writing.
#12 – Ulysses
Broadly speaking, specialist writing software usually falls into one of two categories – fully-featured and complicated, or minimalist and easy to use.
Ulysses is an example of the minimalist school of thought. But how can it help novelists?
Ulysses is known for its minimalist writing interface and how it syncs between desktop and mobile. It also supports writing formats such as markup and allows you to publish directly from the app to blogs.
How much does Ulysses cost?
Ulysses is available at three price points:
- Free trial.
- Monthly subscription for $5.49
- Annual subscription for $49.99
Which platforms is Ulysses available for?
Like many writing tools, Ulysses is only available for Apple users. You can get it for:
What are the pros and cons of using Ulysses?
So what are the major pros and cons to using Ulysses?
Ulysses is a stylish, focused place to write. It’s easy to access your notes and images and use them for inspiration while you write.
As is often the case, Windows users aren’t able to enjoy Ulysses. Also, while Ulysses supports markup and publishing directly to WordPress or Ghost, these are features more suited to blogging than novel writing.
Ulysses is a great writing app for Apple users who blog, but novelists might want to seek another solution.
#13 – WriteItNow
Unlike some of the other tools featured in this guide, WriteItNow is intended just for novelists.
Some of the functionality offered by WriteItNow includes support for chapters and scenes, the inclusion of research and background notes, the option to view your novel as a storyboard, and the setting of writing targets and goals to help you stay on schedule.
How much does WriteItNow cost?
So how much does it cost to get started with WriteItNow?
- Free trial. Fully-featured but doesn’t allow for saving.
- $59.95. One-off purchase price
Which platforms is WriteItNow available for?
At this time, WriteItNow is available for:
What are the pros and cons of using WriteItNow?
WriteItNow offers some great features that will make writing your next novel far easier than using a standard writing app. It’s also available at an affordable price point that doesn’t tie you into a subscription.
If you’re looking for a mobile novel writing app, or one which supports Cloud functionality, WriteItNow isn’t the right option for you.
#14 – Writer’s Blocks
Do you struggle to plan and organize your thoughts? If so, Writer’s Blocks is intended for writers just like you!
Writer’s Blocks is aimed at both screenwriters and novelists. In addition to full word processing capabilities, the software organizes your writing into blocks. These can be color-coded, dragged and dropped, and rearranged.
While the organizational abilities of Writer’s Blocks are useful, it doesn’t offer the level of functionality seen in some other options.
How much does Writer’s Blocks cost?
Writer’s Blocks costs $149 as a one-off payment.
Which platforms is Writer’s Blocks available for?
Writer’s Blocks is only available for Windows.
What are the pros and cons of using Writer’s Blocks?
What do you need to know about using Writer’s Blocks?
If you struggle with organizing your writing and planning, Writer’s Blocks makes life a lot easier in comparison to most word processors.
In our opinion, Writer’s Blocks offers a lower level of functionality than some other software. It also costs more.
Unless you’ve tried out Writer’s Blocks and prefer the way it works, we’d suggest looking at Scrivener or WriteItNow instead of this.
#15 – yWriter
yWriter has gained an appreciative fanbase in the author community. Unlike many of the other options on this list, yWriter was made by an author who also happens to be a programmer.
yWriter also has a long history of being updated and offering improvements.
Best of all? yWriter is free. It offers a lot of power and functionality for a free tool. Because it was made by a novelist with novelists in mind, it allows you to track info related to your characters, settings, and even objects.
It’s a great choice for detail-rich novels offering an absorbing level of detail.
How much does yWriter cost?
yWriter is free across all versions and platforms.
Which platforms is yWriter available for?
yWriter’s primary platform is Windows, but you can find it on:
- Full version available for Windows
- Mac Alpha version (the creator of yWriter suggests using Scrivener for Mac instead of yWriter
What are the pros and cons of using yWriter?
Is yWriter the right choice of software for your novel?
If you’re a novelist working on Windows, you can’t do better than yWriter as a free tool. It offers a lot of the functionality of paid tools without the need to spend a single cent.
If you work on a Mac or iOS device, yWriter isn’t the best choice for you. Consider software such as Scrivener instead or one of the specialist Mac-only novel writing apps found in this guide.
Final Verdict: What is the best novel writing software?
Thank you for checking out our guide to specialist novel writing software available for authors.
At this point, you know you have a lot of options! But how do you find the right one for you?
Ultimately, there’s no substitute for trying out software for yourself and seeing if you enjoy the experience of using it.
If you’re unsure of which options to try out, consider the following factors:
- Functionality. Which features are available in one software but not another? Which features do you need, and which are you unlikely to make use of when working on a novel?
- Price. How much are you willing to invest? Would you prefer a one-off payment cost or a monthly or annual subscription?
- Compatibility. Is the novel writing software you’re considering compatible with your operating system? Is it still being updated and likely to remain compatible in the future?
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, we suggest taking advantage of the free trial edition of Scrivener.
As Scrivener offers almost everything out there in terms of functionality, by using it, you’ll soon get a feel for the features you do and don’t need.
By the time your 30 days of Scrivener are over, you can make the choice to either stick with the full version or opt for something a little less complex.
If you’ve used any of the novel writing software in this guide, please feel free to leave a comment!
Extra reading: Check out this awesome post by BtlEditorial on novel length!