1. EvilHorse

    EvilHorse New Member

    Apr 12, 2013
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    Melbourne, Australia

    Tools and apps for writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by EvilHorse, Apr 12, 2013.


    So, we're here in the 21st century (even if some of our characters may not be) so I've decided to take full advantage of the technology. While I do find it helpful to write and jot down ideas in a notebook, there are times when I just need to organise all my ideas and pieces of paper get lost way too easily.

    These are some that have helped me. They're all free (I'm a cheapskate) and all have no or non-invasive advertising (because I hate being flooded with ads, sponsored notifications and the like). All the apps are available on Android mobiles, but might also be available for other operating systems:

    General writing tools

    StayFocusd [PC] - plug-in for Chrome (might be for other browsers too), basically it blocks sites of my choosing during set hours of the day (or for a chosen time period) so I don't end up procrastinating on various social media sites. Has improved my productivity immensely - and this forum might be added to the blacklist if I get too addicted :D

    yWriter5 [PC] - a handy program for writing, good once the idea has really started to take shape. I can organise chapters, make notes on locations, items or characters and link it all up together. And it can be exported to Word.

    Evernote [app] - note-taking tool. Notes can be in text, audio, image clippings etc and you can have multiple notebooks going if I have more than one project. Syncs across devices.

    Fiction Idea Generator [app] - Generates random plots, masterplots, characters, words, first sentences, emotions, items and locations. I tend to find the word generator the most helpful as the others can interfere with my imagination a bit, but that might just be personal preference.

    Words and names

    Dictionary.com [mobile, website] - just handy to have to hand, but I also get a "word of the day" email, because I love discovering new words or finding the origins of a word.

    EtymLive [app] - etymological dictionary, especially handy if you're attempting to use appropriate language for a historical or fantasy novel, or if (like me) you're just interested in language development.

    BEIKS Etymology [app] - name etymology and meanings, handy for finding names that mean a specific thing, or finding the origins of a name or related names. Has been a bit buggy for me but that's balanced by its helpfulness.

    Name Generator [app] - generates male and female names (given and surnames) for various languages. Handy as a prompt.


    RPG Character [app] - this is probably most suited to fantasy or sci-fi writers but it is pretty customisable so it can be used for any writing really. Just a good way to begin creating a character. I can record basic stuff like appearance, occupation, past experiences, family, community info, personality, quirks or features, beliefs and the like. It's really handy if I'm stuck creating a character because it really helps to prompt.my imagination.


    Pocket [app] - handy way of collecting and tagging web pages, articles, diagrams etc to be read later in a visually friendly interface. I have heaps of stuff tagged so I can read it (or read it again) later. And I can pocket stuff on your mobile or on the computer and it all syncs together.

    Phytotherapy [app] - a visually appealing herbal, covering the properties of plants. Just a handy thing for a fantasy or historical writer to have to hand.


    Of course, none of this stuff actually writes for me, but it just helps organise all my ideas so I don't lose them, prompts me when I'm stuck, and it helps keep my research in order. I still draw maps, characters, places and items by hand (for scanning in), I still jot down handwritten notes. And I still find that the most helpful thing is reading strange information - ancient texts like Pliny's Natural History or history books are really helpful for me. And of course I can read them all on my mobile (generally cheaper and often free if it's out of copyright). Still, all this technology (while it can be distracting) sure beats writing things out with a quill and ink...

    What apps, programs, tools etc have helped you?
  2. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
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    Near Los Angeles
    Microsoft Word. But I've just moved to Scrivener, which is much better, I think.
  3. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    all i use [and all anyone really needs] is ms word, which is the lingua franca of the writing/publishing world... you can do all your arranging with it easily enough...

    the only thing i don't use ms word for is scripts, for which i use the lingua franca of the movie biz, final draft... for newbies who can't yet afford it, celtx is free and is okay while learning... but if/when they get serious about screenwriting as a career, they'll need to have a professional formatting program...

    all else is just fancy stuff that many new writers like to use... i doubt the majority of pros would bother with any of that...

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