Writing a book is hard work. Luckily, there are tools that can make the huge task of book creation a whole lot easier. Writing tools have been around since caveman times, but have fortunately evolved quite a bit from chisel and rock. These days, we don't even have to use our hands to write if we don't want to.
Below, we've rounded up the top writing tools for 2022 and beyond. Let's jump right into the list.
Grammarly is an easy-to-use tool that belongs in every writer's tool kit. It's a cloud-based writing assistant that can work on many different platforms, from Microsoft Office to your text messages. If you (like me) struggle with the very occasional typo, Grammarly will give peace of mind.
To be fair, the free version doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel. If you already have a spellchecker, the free version of Grammarly won't knock your socks off. It works in the background, proofreading your writing, and pointing out spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors.
However, the premium version will give you the biggest benefits. For example, premium Grammarly will suggest rewrites based on clarity or tone. It will prompt you to fix inconsistencies in your spelling and punctuation. It will also suggest better word choices so that you can effectively communicate your thoughts.
ProWritingAid bills itself as an AI-powered writing assistant. It's part style editor, part mentor, part plagiarism checker, and part grammar checker. This software will detect errors in your writing and make additional writing suggestions.
As with other options on this list, ProWritingAid is a freemium software. The free version checks your spelling and grammar up to a word limit of 500. But if you want to use this to write your book, you'll need to upgrade to the premium version. The premium version offers in-depth analytical reports, including suggestions on how to improve sentence structure and how to better define your writing style.
ProWritingAid offers plugins for all of the most popular word processors, including Microsoft Word and Google Docs. You can use ProWritingAid on both Windows and Mac.
One of my favorite writing tools is Hemingway Editor. Named after famed Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Ernest Hemingway, the Hemingway app is an editing tool that analyzes your writing for clarity and word choice. It hunts down all uses of passive voice, preys on adverbs, and dares you to improve your sentence structure. It's like having instant, round-the-clock access to a grammar teacher who will make you a better writer.
The online version of Hemingway Editor is free (although you will pay if you opt for the desktop version). To be honest, I think most writers can make do with the free version. The biggest benefit to using the desktop is that you can access it offline (but who's offline long enough to justify paying for the premium version?).
If there was a popularity test for word processing tools, Scrivener would be a major contender. It's a top tool for all types of writing, from novels to screenplays to memoirs and much more. If you're looking to organize your writing, research, notes, thoughts, and all in one central place, Scrivener delivers. That's because Scrivener is not like other word processors, such as Microsoft Word. Instead of using this tool to solely write your manuscript, you can also use Scrivener as a digital three-ring binder.
Scrivener can be your central hub that contains everything related to your writing project, from interviews to mood boards to your multiple drafts. In addition to a central table of contents, you can also import PDFs and images.
While Scrivener isn't free, it is reasonable at $49 for a standard license of the full version. You can also try before you buy with Scrivener's 30-day free trial.
Ah, an oldie but goodie. What roundup can be complete without a nod to the word processor that started it all for many writers? No doubt you're already familiar with Microsoft Word. But should you use Word for novel writing, especially if there are other, more robust options out there, like Scrivener? Absolutely, and here are a couple of reasons why this veteran is still around:
You already know how to use it. If you're like me, you cut your teeth on Microsoft Word. You're familiar with the interface and can get around without much frustration.
Formatting your novel is simple. Microsoft Office offers templates for formatting your novel. You can also find help online for formatting the headers, page numbers, and front and back matter of your novel online. Here are resources to get started:
You can also use the dictation feature in Microsoft Word to speak instead of type your thoughts. This can be a game-changer, in terms of speed, once you get comfortable with hearing your voice instead of your keyboard click clacks.
When it comes to working with a professional editing service, Microsoft Word also comes in handy. Here at NY Book Editors, we use Word to make comments that will help you polish up your manuscript. Learn more about our editing services here.
Finally, if you choose to self-publish your book, the process of uploading your manuscript onto the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) tool is straightforward. You simply save your manuscript to a DOC/ DOCX format and then upload it to the Amazon KDP platform.
By the way, Google Docs works similarly to Microsoft Word, so if you’re more comfortable using Docs, know that the above applies to both.
The main differences between the two whittles down to price and features. Google Docs is free, but it does lack some of the features that you'll find in Microsoft Word. However, both will get the job done.
Notion is a project management and note-taking tool. So how does that kind of tool help with writing your novel?
How doesn't it help?
If you've ever used a paper notebook, an online Kanban board, online note-taking apps (like Evernote), or sticky notes to jot down your ideas or plan out your novel, you already know how frustrating and uneven that process can be.
Perhaps the biggest problem with using such systems is that everything is decentralized. You type your manuscript with your word processor while then referring back to your handwritten notes. And it can be maddening to scour through your notebooks and stickies to find that one tiny note that you wrote about that one character. Toggling between multiple tools can be a huge time waster.
This is why Notion is a brilliant solution that will take you away from all of that madness.
Notion can house all of your information. It's kind of like Scrivener in that regard. You can create pages to hold your research, resources, important links, world-building, mood boards, character studies, and plot outlines. And that's just the beginning.
Notion isn't just for taking notes. You can write your entire book using this single tool. This is exactly how Alex MacCaw wrote his book.
With Notion, everything will be automatically saved in your workspace and can be downloaded periodically as a backup, making it a great alternative to traditional word processing tools.
You can create new pages for each chapter of your book, making it easy to organize and navigate through your manuscript at the click of a button.
Notion makes collaboration simple. Instead of sending files to contributors, you can invite them to the app where they can leave their comments and other feedback directly on your content. And you can control visibility, only sharing the parts of your manuscript that you're ready for others to see.
However, if you’re more comfortable using a traditional word processing tool, you can still use Notion for all of your research, note-taking, and outlining needs.
Check out this video as one great example of how author Brittany Wang uses Notion to write her books.
Wrap-Up: Over to You
Have you tried any of these writing tools? If so, which tool is your favorite? Or do you have another tool that we missed on the list? Let us know in the comments below.