Tools of the Writing Trade


Time was all you needed to write a novel was a good idea and a pocketful of gumption. Well, we’re in modern times now, and you’d be a silly, silly person not to take advantage of all the great software available out there. Here are some of my favorite tools, presented in order of when they show up in my novel-writing process. Hopefully, you find something useful here!

Disclaimer: Some of the software below costs money, but just like hiring an editor or an artist to do your cover, there are some things you just have to shell out the cash for. And if you don’t have the cash, you’ll have to find a way. 

Focus Writer (free, tip! )

I use this in my day-to-day scratch writing. That is, whenever I’m not working on a novel and just want to play around with some story ideas, I open up Focus Writer, put the date at the top, and just go.

I also use it when I’m starting a novel and looking for a way into to the story. Once I log a few “chapters” in Focus Writer, I copy them over to Scrivener to keep things organized.

The best part is in the name; Focus Writer gives you a distraction-free environment for writing. No Facebook or Twitter integrations are available at all.

Scrivener ($45)

I used Scrivener on my very first novel and every novel since, but don’t let that cloud your judgment. While it is full-featured and does many wonderful things, I primarily use it for organization and motivation.

Creating individual files for chapters helps move them around or insert something new if necessary. The chapter list on the left (which can be organized into folders as well) gives you an overview of how the novel is structured and how it flows.

In terms of motivation, Scrivener provides both per-project and per-chapter word count targets. Tell it you want to write 2,000 words per chapter and it’ll let you know how far away you are and when you hit the goal. Only 1,000 words to go… Only 500 words to go…

It is available for both Windows and Mac.

FreeMind (free)

Office 365 ($99/yr)

I know, the last thing an aspiring author wants to do is pay money for software. However, there really is no getting around this one. Microsoft Word is a necessity. And at some point, you’re gonna have to 

Natural Reader ($89???)

Buy my books. You will love them. Or else.