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3 very different examples of writing software

20 March 2017

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We’ve come a long way since the early days of authorship. Once, writers had to rely on large, clunky mechanical machines in order to get their words onto paper, and while typewriters will forever retain a special place in the world of literature, their modern equivalents are a sight to behold.

However, there’s just one problem; while innovation in the world of writing tools is to be celebrated, it does result in an awful lot of choice for the end user. From free web-based writing software to the more traditional, licence-based word processors, picking the right one is getting increasingly tricky.

To help you choose a tool that is best suited to your working style, we’ve picked out three very different examples of writing software and considered the benefits each one offers.

1. Microsoft Word

Firmly a household name, Microsoft Word is a stalwart of the word processor world used in offices, schools and homes in virtually every corner of the Earth.

Chances are, you’ll have used Word at some stage and either grown to love it or simply put up with it because you’ve had no choice. Whichever side of the fence you currently sit on, Word has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and is now available in PC, tablet and web-based form as part of the Office 365 suite.

Key benefit: tried-and-tested, trusted user interface
Be aware of: although not expensive, Word is now part of Office 365 - a subscription-based service you’ll need to budget for
More info

2. Google Docs

Google’s free suite of office-centric software applications includes the venerable ‘Docs’, which is the search giant’s take on the modern word processor.

Relying primarily on an internet connection, Google Docs frees you from the need to work on a designated computer and offers an admirably simple user interface. If you’re already ensconced in the Google world, you’ll be glad to hear it plays very nicely with their other products and services, too.

Key benefit: free and easy to get to grips with
Be aware of: although you can work with Google Docs offline, it’s at its best when you have an internet connection
More info

3. Scrivener

Scrivener is the brainchild of Literature & Latte, a software development team based in Truro. Used by some of the biggest names in literature and screenwriting, it’s a powerhouse of a word processor - so much so, in fact, that labelling it a ‘word processor’ doesn’t really do it justice.

With Scrivener, you can plan your novels, draw in external research material and get down to the business of writing all from within the same piece of software. Rearranging chapters and exporting to a variety of formats completes perhaps the most comprehensive writing tool available.

With companion iPad and iPhone apps now available, it’s satisfyingly portable, too.

Key benefit: brilliant for keeping source and research material close at hand during the writing process
Be aware of: the learning curve
More info

Final thoughts

Picking just one writing tool (and sticking with it) is an important step in becoming a productive writer; the software you choose needs to complement the way in which you approach writing, rather than hinder it.

Never forget the golden rule: if a writing tool gets in the way or offers up distractions, it isn’t for you.

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