Choose Your Free Book Writing Software To Write A New Book

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6 Free Book Writing Software

7 Free book writing apps to help you be more creative and productive

Many new writers and authors start out using a word processor such as Microsoft Word, iA Writer or Google Docs.

But word processors are not designed to help you with a creative writing project such as fiction books.

Word processing, spreadsheets, email managers and a desktop publisher are for commerce and administration. They are not the best tools at all for creative thinkers and the writing process.

You want to write a book or a novel, not a letter or a report so forget all about using Microsoft Office.

But don’t worry. There are plenty of alternatives when it comes to free book writing software.

 

Choosing the best book writing software to write your book

When you decide to write a book, you want a program designed for the task.

Look in an app store for a writing program that is distraction free (yes, no social media!). You want to be able to concentrate on writing your book.

There are a lot of book writing software packages available for writers. But, some like Ulysses, Vellum and even Word can all cost you a lot of money.

If you are a book writer and just starting writing your book, there are many free alternatives and editing software that you can try.

There is always a short learning curve when you start using new software programs. So it is much better if you can spend your time and not your money when you are learning how to use a new writing program.

Luckily though, most of the applications in this post are easy to learn how to use and set up for writing your new book.

It takes a long time to write a book. That’s why as a non-fiction or fiction writer you need software designed for the task.

The main criteria for good book writing software are that you can write chapter by chapter or even scene by scene. You also want to be able to keep notes about your characters, events and if possible mind maps and record a timeline. An auto save function is also desirable.

Another feature that is important to many writers is to have a distraction-free mode. Or at least reduce the clutter on your screen while you write in a text editor. Sometimes, a plain text editor is all you need.

Books are long-form writing. Working on one huge, long lump of text in one document is not only cumbersome but also prone to file and save errors.

It really is an unsafe way to write a book. The chances of something going wrong technically are very high. Especially with Word.

Another consideration is that a good program for writing a book is rarely suitable or available as a mobile Android or an iPhone or iPad iOS app.

When you try the software and online book writing apps below and start writing, you will immediately notice the difference. You will understand why writing a book needs a totally different approach.

To get you started, here is a selection of the seven very best totally free web-based and open source book writing apps, software and tools.

There are also details later in the article about three free trial book writing software programs.

 

7 Free book writing software choices for authors

 

1. yWriter (Free)

ywriter

I have to start with yWriter because it was developed by a writer, Simon Haynes.

He explains the reason for going to all the trouble to create this software, and it should resonate with many writers.

“I really struggled with my first novel because I wrote slabs of text into a big word processor file and I just couldn’t make sense of the whole thing at once. No real overview, no easy jumping from scene to scene, nothing.”

It is an excellent explanation as to why word processors are not designed for writing fiction.

The key feature of yWriter is that it breaks book writing into chapters and scenes. When writing a book, this is a must-have feature.

It also comes with the ability to build characters and locations.

ywriter desktop

More reading: The Four Essential Elements You Need To Sell Books On Amazon

 

2. Manuskript (Free)

manuskript

Manuskript is a feature-rich book writing tool. It has an outliner, word count, distraction-free mode and a novel assistant to help you develop characters using the snowflake method.

You can also keep track with notes about all your characters, the plot, events and places in your story which could certainly help improve your writing.

It is well worth a try for a new author.

Manuskript-0.6.0

3. Sigil (Free)

Sigil Logo

Sigil is open-source, free software that is well regarded for producing e-books in epub format. In this respect, it is similar to, if not even better than Calibre.

It has multiple views including book view, code view and preview as well as a WYSIWYG editor. It also has a Table of Contents generator with multi-level heading support.

There is a metadata editor as well as spell check with default and user dictionaries.

It also supports the import of EPUB and HTML files, images, and style sheets.

sigil desktop

4. Wordcradle (Free)

wordcradle

Wordcradle is a free online novel writing tool that really has a lot going for it.

You can set up projects with word count goals and how much time you want to allocate to your writing aims. These are great tools to have if you want to practice writing on a schedule.

The character cards allow you to construct a profile for each one during your rough draft and they are set in an attractive table layout.

Index cards are a must when writing a novel. Wordcradle is equipped to handle all your ideas and to track changes you might make to your storyline.

worcradle app

 

Related reading: Is The Free Hemingway Editor The Right Choice For You?

5. Bibisco (Free)

bibisco

Bibisco is open source software specially designed for writing a novel.

It has all the elements you will need including character development and tracking, chapter and scene organisation and note tracking.

Everything you need to write a novel in one free software package. Bibisco is available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

 

6. Focus Writer (Free)

focus writer

FocusWriter has one key attribute. It is about total distraction-free writing.

It has many options you need to set things up for your writing your book. But it has a hide-away interface that lets you concentrate on the one big thing you want to do. Write.

Forget about menus, toolbars, drag and drop or copy and paste with this app. There is all focus mode with nothing between you and your words.

It is very user-friendly, free and available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.

focuswriter_blues

 

7. Shaxpir

shaxpir

For a dedicated book writing app, Shaxpir gives you a lot of features in its free version.

The Manuscript Builder provides drag-and-drop tools to rearrange your manuscript. You can change the order and hierarchy of chapters and scenes, so you can find a structure that works for you.

shaxpir

You can set goals and track your progress. You can also keep detailed notes about your characters, places and events.

It also allows you to add margin comments as well as collect concept art.

There is also an in-built spellchecker.

As far as free book writing software goes, Shaxpir offers you a huge range of features.

It is available for Mac and PC with an option of cloud access.

Three free trial book writing software packages

 

1. Scrivener (Free Trial)

Scrivener-LogoAlthough it is not a free writing tool, I have to include Scrivener in this list.

Scrivener is recognised as the best writing software program for authors and screenwriters.

It has an outliner, corkboard, side by side viewing, word count targets and a full-screen editor. There are print, export and publishing tools. It has everything a writer could ever need.

scivener corkboard

Scrivener is a top quality premium program.

However, there is a 30 day free trial period offered by Scrivener. But it is counted by days that you use the software. So if you use it every second day, your trial period will last for 60 days.

Scrivener is available for download for both Windows and Mac.

Take a look at Scrivener in action.

 

2. The Novel Factory (Free trial)

novel factory logo

The big feature of The Novel Factory is the Roadmap.

It puts together tested techniques from leading novelists. It breaks down writing a novel into small tasks so beginners can learn the craft of writing.

novel factory

The Locations tab allows you to take down details for your locations. It includes multiple images to help your inspiration. It encourages you to consider all of the senses in your descriptions, in order to build an immersive story world.

The Characters tab you can see your characters in an overview. Or you can open each one to see all the details, including introduction, basic information, your questionnaire, viewpoint synopsis and well as your history and notes.

Once you’ve written your long synopsis, you have the option to automatically generate scenes directly from it. Adjust where each scene breaks and all your scenes will be created automatically. Then you can get on with writing your first draft.

Unlike some other book writing programs, the Novel Factory doesn’t need hours of learning. It’s intuitive from the very first time you open it.

The Novel Factory is available in an online version that works with all operating systems.  There is also a desktop version for PC only.

 

3. Ulysses (Free trial)

small ulysses logo

Ulysses is a Mac and Apple only application.

It works with a unified library which holds everything you’ll ever write a book. The features are designed to manage writing projects of any size or ambition. You can write notes, blog posts or a whole novel.

It has all the tools you need for writing, with the main focus on getting the words down.

Ulysses can export to perfect PDFs, Word files as well as ebooks. All totally formatted and styled. You can also export to HTML for use anywhere on the web.

You can even publish to WordPress and Medium from within the app. Everything is just a click away, with on-the-fly switching of styles and a live preview built right in.

Ulysses operates and syncs on Mac, iPhone and iPad. It is the ideal writing software for Apple users.

ulysses

 

Bonus Free Writing App

ProWritingAid logo

For more and more writers, an online grammar checker is becoming a must-have editing tool.

Most tools can highlight common grammar and spelling mistakes and offer quick and easy corrections to help improve your writing.

There are a lot of free and premium grammar checking writing tools available online, and most can offer you basic help.

But to get really useful, in-depth analysis of your grammar and writing style, you will need to consider using an editing tool that is designed especially for authors.

ProWritingAid is one of the best choices for authors. It is an online writing tool that can analyse very long documents in depth. ProWritingAid is also the only grammar checker that is compatible with Scrivener.

The free version has plenty to offer you.

But the very reasonably priced premium version allows you to dig much deeper into your writing. You get a host of reports, writing tips, analytics and suggestions on how you can improve your manuscript.

Read our full review of ProWritingAid

 

Wrap up on free book writing software

From the choices of the pieces of software above, you’ll find at least one of these free book writing apps will help you write and publish better, overcome writer’s block and be more organised no matter what your writing style.

Combined with a reliable online grammar checker to keep your use of adverbs, passive voice and repeated words under control, you are surely going to be writing more and better every day.

So forget about office applications that belong to cubicle warriors. Start learning how to write a book or even a short story with tools that are specifically designed for the purpose of creative writing and maximising your writing time.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are many fine paid apps which come highly recommended. But they are very often more suited to professional writers, content writers and writing a blog post.

However, there is no need to make a big investment in book writing software if you are just getting started on moving away from Word and Google Docs.

Try a few of these free writing apps and see if they work for you and if they can help you write a better book or novel. They might not turn you into a bestselling author overnight. But you never know, do you?

 

More apps: We have another article listing 40 free and productive writing apps for writers and bloggers that may interest you. Take a look.

 

Related reading: How To Use The Amazon Kindle Create App For Better Ebooks

 

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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

8 thoughts on “Choose Your Free Book Writing Software To Write A New Book

  • July 9, 2019 at 7:32 pm
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    I’ve downloaded Grammarly and ProWritingAid of the free writing apps, but how, with the free apps, do I go about checking a complete manuscript? Nor do I see page numbers to keep check on which page I am. Reception here is practically non-existent – none of the writing apps can be used offline. Any advice please?
    Lastly, if I want to improve or enlarge Word Thesaurus that can be used offline and incorporated into the Word Thesaurus, any ideas please.

    Reply
    • July 9, 2019 at 7:48 pm
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      Hi Kasha. Free versions always have certain limitations. That’s why they are free. Yet they still offer a lot of functionality. But you can’t expect to have unlimited access to all the pro tools for free for a long complex manuscript.

      Reply
  • November 16, 2018 at 2:05 pm
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    Thanks for the information, I am very motivated to get started on my book project!.

    Reply
  • September 17, 2018 at 2:14 pm
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    Just getting started. Thank you for writing this article.

    Reply
  • July 13, 2018 at 10:42 am
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    This was an excellent post, as it’s always good to see the new products on the market and get some evaluation of them.
    And as always, it confirms to me that writing in ordinary wordprocessing with judicious use of styles, page breaks, and grammar checker set to casual, works just fine for me.
    Thank goodness we are all different!

    Reply
  • July 13, 2018 at 9:19 am
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    Surely, the same risk applies, whichever programme you use? Do any of these programmes save your work independently, or would we have to do it?

    Reply
  • June 12, 2018 at 5:08 pm
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    Brilliant. I had no idea there was free software for creative writing. now I just have to choose between them. I like the idea of Wordcradle with the index cards. That would be most useful, I think. I also like the idea of Manuskript.
    Thank you for this insight.

    Reply

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