Word Processor for Novels

The best word processor is the one that connects your brain directly to the page. Alas, that’s not something speculative fiction writers can purchase, yet.

If you are writing a novel, use a tool appropriate to the job. Any word processor works well for the first scene, but what about:

  • backing up automatically
  • editing, spell checking and grammar checking
  • shuffling scenes
  • moving chapters
  • making a table of contents
  • using sections to separate front matter
  • inserting images
  • using more than one computer
  • numbering chapters automatically
  • setting styles for font, pitch, indents and margins
  • saving in e-book format

Writers don’t want software to stand between them and the creative process, so avoid complex software with features you will never use. Cost is important; however, you often get what you pay for. Software that “chokes” (becomes slow) on documents over 50,000 words is not acceptable (typical of business-oriented word processors). Anything you use must be able to save files in doc or docx format.

The bottom line:

In 2019, Scrivener (Mac and PC, $45) is probably the best for a serious writer who is willing to spend several weeks learning how to use the system. The downside, from my perspective, is the lack of a “what you see, is what you get” visual presentation. I love the “card” system to summarize scenes and to shuffle them as needed.

Excellent alternatives to Scrivener include:

Good hunting. Most of the above have a free trial version — see how quickly you can learn to type and save a paragraph. Search help on a particular topic in the software – it’s ideal if the text is understandable!

Leave a Reply