Technology has changed the way people write and share and publish books. In the five years I’ve been writing, I’ve found various ways to organise and improve my writing skills. Also, it’s really fun and gives me a creative break while still being productive with my writing.
Ok, let’s get the boring disclaimer out of the way. I am NOT promoting these apps or software for any personal gain. I’m offering my personal take on how the software helps me make writing easier and more accessible. Whether the paid or free version, I use all the apps below. Also, I use Windows and Android, so any iPhone versions may vary. I can’t possibly cover all the things I use within the software, but I’ll try to point out the main benefits.
Let’s start with the stuff that’s free or offers a great basic package.
I thought it best to start with the software you’re using to view this post. Here’s my WP page I Love Fantasy Novels. And that’s based on the free version.
- Great for following writing blogs.
- The free version includes a ton of customisable themes for a blog if you like ranting just as I do.
- Add backgrounds and personalise your icon. I strongly recommend using copyright-free images like from Pixabay, Pexels, or Unsplash to name a few. I love Deviantart, but not all the images are usable.
- You can make pages that aren’t available front eh main menu for special people to check out your WIP page with images and synopses. I have some, but only people with the link can view it so there are no spoilers for potential readers.
- With the paid version, you can customize your web address and get a whole host of themes for a personalised layout. I know I’ll but upgrading when I can justify it.
- You can add contributors so others can share their thoughts on writing via your blog to create a great community.
- You can connect to your other accounts like Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, and even connect your Google photos for quick access to your images when posting.
OMG. I loooove Gdrive. Let me count the ways…
- Synchronising across devices.
- 15gb of storage on the free version.
- Editing documents online, including Word documents.
- Link your account with multiple websites so you don’t have to remember a ton of usernames and passwords.
- You can share documents for viewing, commenting or editing so others can give you critiques of your work.
- You can link your own Google accounts so you don’t have to switch from one to the other.
- If you use Chrome as your browser, you can make files available offline for editing on the go.
- Built-in spellcheck or you can use add-ons such as Grammarly. More on that in a moment.
- You can upgrade for more storage or to the GSuite. I use GSuite at work, and it includes things like Google Meet’s full package, personalised email addresses and other great apps for business use which may come in handy for promotion and marketing.
- You can sync all your photos to it, or send saved images directly to your Google Photos from your phone.
Right now, I use the free version, but I intend to upgrade for the creative language suggestions at some point. Even the basic version is more advanced than Word’s editor, so it’s worth downloading.
- Works with Word and Chrome as an add-on, and also as a standalone app.
- Great for picking out phrases and those pesky words like there, their and they’re. I completely admit I get caught out by those when I’m concentrating on my creative side as opposed to my grammar side. They don’t mix.
- It has various versions of spellcheck based on the style and register you’re going for.
- It’s easy to edit with highlighted words and phrases based on colours as well as a personalised dictionary attached to all apps you connect your Grammarly login to.
Pro Writing Aid
Pro Writing Aid isn’t unlike Grammarly, but the pro version is compatible with Word, Chrome, and Scrivener, and many more. I use the free version on Chrome because it offers just a smidge more that the free version of Grammarly.
- Checks SpaG errors in Chrome.
- Works with any text input and Gdocs.
- Has some stylistic suggestions and explains why it’s a better option.
- Paid version works with a whole host of apps and software.
I’m still working on this from a writing perspective, but its free version is really versatile. I love it. Download it here for free.
- Create chat groups to discuss whatever you want, including writing.
- Create channels to keep conversations organised.
- Invite users from all over the world and add moderators as your group grows.
- It has both group and private messaging as well as video and voice calls.
- There are amazing add-ons called bots. I have RYTHM where anyone can add music links or playlists and it plays like a radio station for everyone who connects to it.
This text to speech software has both an online version, a free desktop and paid version. I use the basic, free version. Here’s the link.
- You can choose from American, British, male, female just in the basic version.
- Free Chrome add-on.
- Talkback is really good, but in the free version, you have to copy anything you want read aloud into its own software or use it through Chrome. If you use GDocs, then it’s not an issue.
- The paid version has plug-ins for Word along with various other software.
- You can sample some of the premium voices for a limited time each day. This is great for short pieces of writing.
This is either a free app, or slightly better version with Office 365, which I’ll discuss below. I find this great for brainbursts and jotting down thoughts quickly.
- Quick notes, thoughts, or links on your phone or PC/laptop anywhere, anytime.
- You can print to OneNotes the same way you can a PDF. Sometimes the format is different, but sometimes it works better depending on what you want it for.
- You can create tabs, each with multiple pages so you can organise your thoughts and ideas in categories or novels. Whatever works for you.
Now for the stuff I subscribe to.
Microsoft 365 (Previously Office 365)
I pay for an annual subscription to the personal version which varies depending on the country. But I feel like it’s worth it. There is a free trial, but for ongoing use, you have to pay.
- 1tb of synchronisable (not a word but it should be) storage and online access.
- The full Office package with Word, Excel, OneNotes upgrade etc.
- Sharing with other users.
- Great formatting options.
- Word has its own tts option, but it takes a while to get used to. Personally, I quite like it and got used to it just fine.
Same as Office 365, you get a free trial before shelling out for the full package. I’ve found it immensely helpful in organising my writing. Also, I haven’t even used all the features properly yet so this is just what I use so far. Check out their site for more info.
- You can create separate collections for each novel or series.
- You can organise folders for novels, versions, chapters etc.
- You want to add feedback from your critters, you can do that in another folder.
- There are character and worldbuilding templates.
- It has an ebook maker so you get an idea of what an actual book will look like.
- It has a built-in editor.
- An iPhone user told me she can access her Scrivener on her phone, but there are ways to access the individual pages via Android if you have a txt editor on your phone. Or make the notes in a note app like OneNotes, and copy them when you’re on your laptop or PC.
- You can add general or detailed outlines and synopses for your novel as well as individual chapters.
- You can organise chapters or scenes with colour codes for different POVs or locations or whatever else you want to file them as.
- Mark things “To Do”, “Done” etc to help with productivity.
CC is an amazing writing website where people can share and critique one another’s work either with a free or premium account. I’ve learnt a lot from feedback as well as giving it, and even though I was terrified when I first shared, I found people were pretty nice, bar a few grumpypants. Click here for the site and here for my profile.
- Everyone can share and crit in the public queue with a free account.
- Stories are organised by genre and can have a subgenre so it’s easy to find stories you’re more likely to enjoy.
- The credit system is great in my opinion. You get credits for each story based on the length.
- There is a weekly cycle in the public queue to make way for new submissions every week.
- With a premium version, you can make a private group and invite the critters you think will bring out the best in your work.
- There are public and private discussion areas where you can share thoughts on writing, ask for feedback on short snippets or poems, and ask other writers about anything that will help with your writing from life experiences, writing advice or brainstorming.
- You can organise your stories by novels so people can jump easily between chapters. You can even add outlining info and character descriptions.
We’re in the 21st century people. This is digital evolution.