Writing Software: Helpful Programs to Aid Every Writer

Posted on Posted in Blog, Practical Advice, Technology


While there will always be a certain romance to good old pen and paper, writers are increasingly making use of online apps and writing software to help them with the creative process.

And with good reason too! Nowadays, there’s a multitude of writing programs with genuinely useful features. The trick is knowing which will be the best fit for you.

Whether you’re writing a novel, screenplay or even submitting a job application, read on to see the best pieces of writing software available today.

iA Writer
Image showing the basic layout and Focus Mode feature of the writing software iA Writer
iA Writer’s simple design and focus-based features are aimed at minimizing interruptions

iA Writer is a purposely simple text editor that aims to provide you with a platform for “distraction-free” writing, and is the top selling app of its kind in the Apple Store.

Available on iOS, Mac and Android, iA Writer uses an extremely minimalist layout, with almost a complete absence of settings/preference options to prevent procrastination.

Other concentration-based features include “Focus Mode” and “Syntax Control”, which dim everything but the current sentence or syntax respectively. Put simply, this app is the epitome of less is more.

Image showing the homepage and storyboarding tools of the writing software Celtx
Subscribers to Celtx will gain access to some very useful storyboarding tools

Celtx (with over 3 million users) is a very popular piece of writing software with an array of versatile features. The basic version is also completely free to use.

This is no “bare bones” free version either: featuring a high-quality script editor and options for setting goals, tracking progress and analyzing your writing habits.

And, with very reasonably priced subscription plans, you’ll gain access to sophisticated storyboarding, scheduling and budgeting tools, as well as high priority email support.

Most of these features are also available with the mobile app too – perfect if inspiration strikes when you’re on the move!

Image of the writing app Hemingway, demonstrating its functionality
Hemingway’s colour-coded system highlights errors and potential areas of improvement

Hemingway is a piece of writing software with a heavy focus on visual features, and comes packaged as either a paid download or free web app.

Its key function is to spotlight grammatical errors and the use of overlong sentences. Hemingway highlights and colour codes such features, making them easy to identify and change.

As well as spotting errors or instances of poor writing practice, it will also make suggestions for how to improve your writing.

Essentially, Hemingway is all about ensuring that your text reads well. It’s a go-to resource for keeping your readers’ attention.

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Image showing the layout and character reporting feature of the writing software Trelby
Trelby collects and reports a large amount of info on your story’s characters

Another screenwriting tool, and a very comprehensive one at that – Trelby has a number of useful features to make life that little bit easier for budding playwrights.

These features include a built-in PDF generator, a wide range of formats for import/export, and even a character name database that contains “over 200,000 names from various countries”.

What’s more, Trelby is entirely free, is available for Windows and Linux, and works in exactly the same way whichever platform you’re working from.

Basically, it has more than you could possibly expect from a screenwriting software that doesn’t cost a penny.

Image showing the mouse-activated menus and customisable background of the writing software FocusWriter
The context-sensitive menus on FocusWriter avoid clutter while retaining practicality

Conceptually, FocusWriter is cut from the same cloth as iA Writer. It’s a “stripped down, relaxing” writing software, aimed once again at eliminating possible distractions.

FocusWriter is a little less draconian than iA Writer though. Instead of completely forgoing menus and settings, it simply hides these by default unless activated with a mouse gesture.

Other features include the ability to set alarms for time management, as well as being able to input daily goals in order to plan and track your writing progress.

There are also a couple of novelty options, like being able to personalise the background image and colours, and even a typewriter overlay (complete with sound effects) if you’re feeling particularly nostalgic.

Image showing the text input box and analysis feature of the writing software ProWritingAid
ProWritingAid’s analysis of your writing is incredibly thorough

ProWritingAid is one of the most convenient pieces of writing software available. Like Hemingway, it’s a free online app designed to improve your writing.

Simply paste your writing into the text box, and you’ll receive a detailed analysis on everything from overused words, sentence length, diction and even the use of clichés.

Visually, ProWritingAid is completely no-frills. Efficiency is its strong suit – generating a clear-cut report from your inputted writing.

If you’re in a pinch, or worried that you might’ve missed a glaring error in your latest chapter, there’s no better option than ProWritingAid for a speedy assessment of your writing.

Image showing the layout and features of the writing software WriteMonkey
WriteMonkey takes a substance over style approach and is packed with useful features

Yet another free software of the “NO DISTRACTIONS” variety, WriteMonkey boasts an impressive set of features despite it’s very minimal design.

It’s as in depth as they come: CSS templates, endless customisation options, detailed statistics, keyboard shortcuts, complete portability… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

WriteMonkey uses Markdown, a text-editing “language” designed to easily convert any text into a variety of formats (including HTML). It’s a huge time-saver once you get to grips with all the shortcuts and tags.

This also makes WriteMonkey incredibly versatile – you can use it to create copy for essentially anything you can think of that might require text.

Interested in honing your creative writing skills online?

Find out more about the Creative Writing for Beginners and Constructing a Novel courses from Penguin Random House, delivered to you 100% online by The Writers’ Academy:




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3 thoughts on “Writing Software: Helpful Programs to Aid Every Writer

  1. I’m using Hemingway for the longest time. It helps with simplifying of writing style, in a good way. I also have heard about FocusWriter and ProWritingAid but other apps are very new to me. I also like to use Evernote (https://evernote.com/) for the times I don’t have my laptop with me and Paraphrase Example (http://www.paraphraseexample.com/paraphrase-definition-and-examples/) for the times when I’m struggling with finding a synonym for the word.

    Thanks for creating this list. I’ll definitely try out new software.

    1. Hi Holland, thanks for the comment! That’s interesting about Evernote and Paraphrase – we’ll keep those in mind when we’re next updating the article. If you do try out any of the other programs, be sure to let us know what you think! – Thanks, Danny

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