We often think that writing is a natural talent. But at ProWritingAid, we believe writing is a skill that can be learned and strengthened over time. All it takes is having the right tools.
Writing software helps writers to streamline their processes and make more time for what actually matters—writing.
We’ve gathered together the best free and paid writing software to help you build your best writing practice.
Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that if you end up purchasing anything through one of the links, we’ll receive a small percentage. You get a shiny new writing app and you help us to keep improving ProWritingAid for you. Win-win! We only share resources with you that we would use and do use ourselves.
With that, let’s get started!
First, download the free version of ProWritingAid now
Before we get to the list, we just wanted to make sure that you have already signed up for your free ProWritingAid account.
ProWritingAid was built by writers, for writers, focussing on the problem areas that stop you reaching your full writing potential. ProWritingAid goes beyond grammar, though it will check that too. You’ll find over 20 reports looking at readability, structure, repeated words, pronoun use, sticky sentences, transition words, and more. Each report will help you learn more about your own writing—and how to make it better.
With the free version of ProWritingAid, you get:
- 20+ reports you can run an unlimited number of times
- Personalized writing and editing goals tailored to your purpose
- A comprehensive overview of your writing through our Summary Report
- Hundreds of in-tool articles, videos, and quizzes to help you learn as your write
Instead of just accepting suggestions, ProWritingAid gives you the tools to learn why you’re making changes, helping you avoid repeat mistakes and learn how to write better first time.
Now on to the lists!
Campfire Blaze is a cloud-based web app from the makers of the Campfire Pro desktop app.
It has everything you need to create your story all in one place—and it has a free tier.
With Campfire Blaze, you can create:
- Character profiles
- Timelines for your story
- World-building bibles for settings, religions, cultures, and more
Price: Free, then priced on a pay-for-what-you-use basis
Best for: Keeping all your novel’s key info in one place that you can access anywhere.
See what author Krystal Kraiker thinks about Campfire Blaze.
Dynalist’s unique feature is its focus on “nesting.”
Each Dynalist bullet point can be collapsed, leaving you with the core outline of your project. When you want to work on a specific section, just click to expand (and you can expand infinitely.)
All formatting and controls are accessed through keyboard shortcuts. This can take a bit of getting used to, but it does encourage you to keep typing and avoid getting distracted.
Best for: Writers who want the option to outline in as much or as little detail as they like.
If you’re not into super-detailed outlines, Simplenote’s clean, easy-to-use notes app is perfect for making sure your ideas don’t get lost.
Simplenote’s key features:
- Available in browser and as an app on Android, iPhone, Mac, and PC
- Uses cloud storage so you can access your notes on all your devices and work collaboratively
- Add checklists, headings, and bullets to structure your ideas and stay organized
- Tag your notes to group them by project
- Offers markdown support—perfect for bloggers
Simplenote is like an advanced notes app. If you want different document types, this isn’t for you.
Best for: Pantsers who want somewhere to keep all their notes in one place.
Trello is a drag-and-drop style organization tool based on the Kanban system. Kanban involves writing tasks on cards and then moving them between lists according to how close they are to being complete.
Here’s what that looks like in Trello:
With a Trello board, you can add ideas, plot points, articles, and to-dos to cards to help you visualize your writing process, story outline, content workflow, and more.
- As a writing planning tool: move blog post ideas or author tasks across the board from to-do to done as you work on them
- As an outlining tool: Create columns for your character, setting and research info, and movable cards to help you plot your novel
Best for: Planners who like a bird’s-eye view and want the freedom to move things around.
Milanote is great for visual planners. If you want to be able to see all of the different parts of your novel at once, their pin-board–like interface is perfect. It’s also super-simple to set up, with tailored project templates to help you get started:
Milanote’s flexible interface allows you to do things like:
- Write notes and to-do lists (handy for keeping yourself on track with your book-writing plan or content schedule)
- Upload images and files (useful for keeping visual inspiration for everything from scenery to character outfits)
- Save images, texts, and links from the web
Best for: Visual planners looking for an adaptable plan template.
If you liked the text-editor based interface offered by Simplenote, but want a few more planning, organization, writing, and formatting tools, Evernote has you covered.
You can do just about everything in Evernote, from creating to-do lists and checklists to drawing out specific notes to capturing receipts for tracking business expenses.
Evernote offers up to 60 MB of space on its free plan, which is plenty if you’re just using plain text notes. If you’d like to add more graphic or larger files, you can upgrade your storage for small fees.
Best for: Writers who want to plan in a variety of styles in different document types.
Journalling has become increasingly popular recently, but Day One’s journalling software can do far more than act as a digital stand-in for your diary.
Day One is built to be a journal, but this can open up some fun new aspects of outlining. Each journal entry allows you to add headings, checklists, highlights, and quotations. You can add images to an entry as well as your location. If you’re looking to build your writing habit into a daily practice, DayOne could give you the tools you need.
Plus, once you’ve finished a project, you’ll be able to look back on exactly what you did each day to work towards your goal.
Best for: Pantsers who like to write on the fly, or writers looking to create a daily writing practice.
The fantasy writers in the ProWritingAid community love World Anvil. It’s the tool for world-builders.
World Anvil has every feature you could think of from interactive maps, historical timelines, and wiki-like articles to an RPG Campaign Manager and novel-writing software.
We were joined by Janet and Dimitris from World Anvil for a full software walkthrough:
Price: Tiered, ranging from free to $93/year
Best for: Novelists creating immersive worlds in their stories who want to plan every detail.