Which Writing Software Should I Use to Write My Book?

Dear Veronica…

The best choice for you is the software that facilitates your unique creative process rather than impedes it. I’m comfortable with Word so I use it exclusively, as do many writers I surveyed this week via social media. After receiving your question, I posted, “Writer friends: Your fav writing software and why?” The detailed responses were so illuminating I’ve compiled them anonymously as a pdf for you: Writing Software Testimonials. (Dear readers, I’d love to hear your fav and why.) Many writers shared that they use different programs at different stages of writing. Well-known  Scrivener is beloved for features that help organize the story, tracking characters, plot lines, etc. If research is part of your project, you might like its split screen feature, allowing you to view research as you write the story. It can be complicated to a newbie but its devotees are many. Sometimes writers use Scrivener for outlining only, or maybe writing a first draft, then move to more straightforward Word (or Pages, Apple’s word processing program). Power Structure was praised for organizing, and Evernote for collecting inspiration and research. Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium is new to me: this voice-to-text software can read your words back to you, helpful for editing because you “hear things your eyes might miss.” Co-writers told me they use Google Docs to work on the same manuscript from separate computers. And let’s not ignore old-fashioned pen and paper. My dear friend Jean Ferris first-drafted all her novels longhand on a legal tablet, then edited as she typed that into Word. Many writers hail the tactile act of putting pen to paper as essential to their creative process. Read the 2-page pdf—it’s intriguing! Whichever your choice, you’ll eventually convert the manuscript to Word, the format most agents, editors, and publishers require for manuscript transmittal.

Happy writing!
The Editor


  1. I recently switched from Scrivener to Ulysses. It is very minimal but extremely powerful. The feature that sold me was the iCloud sync which enables me to working seamlessly from any of my devices (my laptop, iPad, or even my phone). No need to set up Dropbox folders like I did with Scrivener or worry if the latest version of my novel has been synced. It allows you to break writing into scenes and chapters (like Scrivener) and tag sections various ways. I tag scenes by POV and structure, which is great when you need to search through your manuscript. Lastly, you can easily export to Word or other apps for editing, printing, or sharing with others. It’s really helped my writing process.

  2. I was so glad to see you mention the indubitable Jean Ferris, Dear Editor! She was a genius with words and many writers I know agree with her on the use of yellow pads and pens for capturing fresh-from-the-mind writing . . . there’s something about the hand/mind connection! Thanks.

  3. I’ve used Word for years, and tried Scrivener (at the time you could test it out for 30 days for free), but decided I didn’t need all it’s extra features. I create a folder for a project and can save multiple files* in that folder besides the manuscript itself.

    *such as research notes, character names and notes, schedules, images, etc.

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