Writing Tools

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Angel Martinez started a discussion on great software tools and apps for writers, so we thought we’d corral all the great ideas that generated in a page of QSF writer-recommended apps for writing, editing, and other parts of the author’s daily work.

Aeon Timeline
“Aeon timeline software, by scribblecode is fantastic. Customisable timeline software that lets you do single and multiple story arcs (great for series). Characters, events, buildings, etc, can all be entered and cross referenced. If you put in a birth or creation date, it will tell you how old someone or something is at an event they are cross referenced for. It’s fab.” —Violet Joicey-Cowen

“Programs like Autocrit and Pro Writing Aid also have free options available and can help, for instance, with “weak” words, (words that probably have a stronger, more evocative alternative) words that you might use too frequently, and sentence length and variation.” —Angel Martinez

Edit Minion
“A free software option that checks spag and for cliches, repetition, passive voice and crutch words. It was made by the same genius who made Write Or Die and I think it works pretty well for a free online bit of kit. You just paste in sections of your text – I wouldn’t try a whole novel tbh but it’ll do a chapter – press the button and it returns a version with all the causes for concern colour coded.” —Elin Gregory

“I use Editor by Serenity Software for my major editing. It has a free trial and catches things others overlook. It takes six individual passes checking for problems. I also use another program called Smart Edit for other editing problems.” —Damian Bloodstone

“There’s a free version without all the bells and whistles, or you can download the premium subscription (which allows you to set for the type of document and style) for a fee. Not a huge one. Grammarly helps with spelling in context, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and style with the free version–all things that should be cleaned up prior to doing your first hand-off. Granted, this is fiction. You need to make allowances for dialogue and such. You, as the writer, need to make those calls, but Grammarly will help you spot your demons more easily.” —Angel Martinez

“A great little app that hides all your other apps so you can concentrate on your writing.”
J. Scott Coatsworth

Perfect It
“Perfect It is really good at ensuring consistency in things like spelling, hyphenation, and capitalization. And it is customizable to your style (or your publishers’.) You can try it out for 30 days for free before committing. (I don’t mean to be an advertisement, but this program helps me a lot as an editor.)” —Ann Byassee

“I don’t take all of its suggestions but it at least forces me to rethink my sentences and make them stronger.” —Aidee Ladnier

“I use a program called Scrivener. It’s mainly for organizing your ideas, keeping track of you research, notes about characters and places, and such. Really helpful–especially when writing spec. But it also can help you format and organize the writing itself. By dragging a “scene” index card from one place to another, you move the entire scene with in the manuscript. It can also eformat the manuscript too apparently. It’s also really cheap.” —Neil Thomas

Voice Dream Reader
“An app that reads the book to you. I listen and read at the same time and it helps catch errors I wouldn’t see if I didn’t hear them. Though typically I use it right before publishing rather than before I sent the manuscript to my editor.” —Silvia Violet