LivingWriter makes book writing software easy to use.
You don’t need to download and install any software. All you need to do is open your account and start writing within a few minutes.
The problem with many book writing apps and programs is that it takes a lot of time to learn how to use them.
With this app, there is nothing you need to learn. It is an online application and the interface is clean and super easy to use. But you get all the tools you will ever need to write a book.
I rarely write full reviews for individual writing programs. There are a lot of book writing apps available now.
But this program is different, so it is worth taking a closer look at it.
Why is Living Writer different?
It is because the developers of this program seem to truly understand the writing process and what writers need to get the job done.
There is no complexity, but it is still loaded with all the writing tools and features an author of fiction or nonfiction needs.
To get started, the first screen you see gives you a few options to choose from to start your story.
You can simply start with a new blank story, select a preloaded template, or import your existing text in doc or docx Word format.
Once you make your selection, you are then on the main editor screen.
The LivingWriter editor screen
You don’t have to jump from one part of the program to another. Everything you need to write your book is located on this one screen.
In the left pane, you have all your stories, chapters, and story elements. These include character profiles, settings, objects and you can also add your own custom elements.
The text editor in the center pane is clear and easy to use.
If you are familiar with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or any other word processor, you will have no trouble using the menus.
The right side pane is where you can edit details and notes about your chapters, characters, and events.
But you can hide it at any time to avoid distractions.
From this main screen, you can drag and drop chapters or outlines, add new elements, or view your boards.
From the boards, you can edit your notes for every element you have added.
One other nice touch is one click to dark mode for those who prefer it.
You can add images, and if you don’t like purple, you can change the color of your elements.
Other very useful features
One feature you won’t see is a save button.
It is because you never need to perform a save. Every word you type or any changes you make to your elements and objects are auto-saved.
You never have to worry about losing a single word of your work.
On top of that, you can also view a version history for all of your sessions. You can revert, copy, rename or delete any of your versions.
Two other features are standout.
The first is autocomplete for character names or objects. It is extremely useful to make sure your spelling is consistent.
The other is that the program works with both the free and premium versions of the Grammarly editing tool. All you need is the browser extension.
You can see both in action in the image below. The character name autocomplete and the familiar red Grammarly icon, as well as one-click inline corrections.
These two features make writing much easier and more accurate.
There is another terrific feature.
You won’t need to use this until you finish writing the final draft of your book, but the export options available are excellent.
The program can export to Word or PDF.
But the best feature is that you can export the entire story in a single document or individual parts of your story. This is great if you are sending a chapter or two off to your editor.
However, there is another export option that is really clever.
You can export to a selection of twelve book sizes ready for publishing on Amazon.
If you have used other programs such as Scrivener or yWriter, you will find all the familiar functions, tools, and more.
But with LivingWriter, there is no learning curve. You don’t need to watch long training videos or read how-to guides.
It is an extremely intuitive program with all the tools an author could need for long-form writing projects.
Features I would like to have
While it is an excellent program, there are a couple of features that I think could make it better.
One is a full distraction-free writing mode.
It is not possible to hide the left sidebar, which is not really needed when writing. Update: you can now hide the left sidebar for distraction-free writing.
The other is that there is no zoom control in the view option in the main menu.
My eyes are not as good as they used to be. So being able to zoom the text a little would make life easier for me. However, I overcame this little problem for my eyes by increasing the font size.
If you like to write on the run, there is no mobile app as yet. But it is under development, so it may be available in the near future.
The pros and cons of LivingWriter
What I like about it.
- Easy drag and drop organization of chapters and elements in the left sidebar.
- Smart text autocomplete as you type.
- Grammarly integration.
- Quick view and editing of notes and descriptions in the right sidebar, and that you can hide it.
- The easy import tool.
- The five ready-to-go story templates.
- Simple sharing of chapters or your complete story.
- Full version history.
- Ability to export to Amazon manuscript templates.
On the negative side.
No full distraction-free writing mode.
- No mobile app.
- Lack of view options.
- It is not suited for script and screenwriting. (But it is coming soon I believe.)
There is a 30-day free trial, which is ample time to decide if the program is right for your writing needs.
You then have two subscription options.
You can pay month to month at $9.99. If you pay annually, the cost reduces to $8.00 per month.
If you decide to end your subscription, you will still have access to your work for one year. It is a great option if you only want to use the program to write one book.
Since writing this review, LivingWriter has been adding new features.
One of the latest is a plot board in either a fixed or free-form view.
The tool makes it easy to link all your plot points and make sure you don’t miss a trick in your story.
You can find out more about the new plot board by watching a short introductory video.
There is a lot to like about Living Writer.
For me, it has all the tools and functions I need to write.
But with some features in development including split-screen viewing, a mobile app, and writing achievements, it can only improve.
The biggest plus is that it is so easy to use. Unlike other programs, you don’t need to waste any time at all learning how to use it.
If you are a new author, you can get straight down to work and start writing your book.
I would give this program a solid 9 out of 10. It’s well worth taking it for a road test.