The best story writing apps and software help writers express their ideas while keeping out of their way. This article round-ups your choices.
Finding the best story writing apps to help with creative writing means looking at a writing tool on your computer that is more than just a plain text editor in a word processor like Microsoft Word.
The best writing apps and software should be easy to use and fit with your creative workflow. That way, you can concentrate on writing a story and not on learning how to use an app.
They should help you arrange your story ideas too. These apps should also enable access to your document on multiple devices and support how you publish your work. Expect features for changing text layout and formatting, tracking changes and story templates.
Blog writers, fiction writers, and those with content writing experience need an app or software that is more extensive in what it offers. A creative writer wants something that makes their process of writing easier and offers distraction-free writing. Here are some of the best story writing apps you can try.
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Desktop story writing app. Mac, Windows, iOS.
Scrivener is by far one of the best story writing apps available. Many writers appreciate its versatility, as it can be used for writing novels, nonfiction, screenplays and other genres.
While the app does not tell you how to write, it does offer everything you need to start writing. Scrivener includes a handy drag-and-drop feature to help you revise your structure and organize different parts of your story.
It offers a selection of templates to help with any type of story you are writing, and it saves you time if you are starting from scratch. The full-screen mode helps enhance concentration, and a snapshot feature allows you to easily revisit earlier drafts.
Scrivener is exceptionally helpful for those who suffer from writer’s block because you can save all of your inspiration and resources from pictures to websites on a corkboard. You can keep photos for inspiration and use note-taking space to remember what changes to make or how to proceed with a storyline.
Compatible with both Mac and Windows, Scrivener can export in almost any format. It also offers Scapple, an app that helps with brainstorming and storyboard work. Although this is a well-rounded app, Scrivener has a few issues.
Currently, it’s not set up for collaboration when working with another person on a story or trying to get feedback. Also, it is not yet available on the Android app store. Those points aside, Scrivener is one of the best writing apps available. It does not provide tutorials, but many are available.
Read our Scrivener review.
Story-editing app. Web and desktop.
Pricing: $70 per year
Many people think ProWritingAid is simply another grammar tool; however, it includes some useful features and formatting options.
Functional and helpful for proofreading, this writing app will catch most errors when reviewing work. It integrates easily with most devices and browsers.
ProWritingAid also integrates with other writing apps, such as Scrivener, and gives you feedback on content, style, set up and readability. You can check for issues such as too many adverbs, repeated phrases or passive voice.
Overall, it’s an excellent creative writing app to improve your writing skills, but there is a downside. ProWritingAid allows you to work on only one piece of writing at a time. This app does not make organizing your writing easy, and currently it is formatted for writing only in the English language.
On the plus side, ProWritingAid lets you know which words you’re overusing, which areas are inconsistent and how to connect your ideas more smoothly. Though you have to pay to access the full range of features, you can take advantage of a trial-free version.
Read our ProWritingAid review.
ProWritingAid is a powerful, accurate grammar checker and style editor. It's suitable for non-fiction and fiction writers and doesn't require a monthly subscription. Save 20% per month or year.
Story planning and writing app, with templates. Web, Android and iOS
Pricing: From $8 per month
LivingWriter is an intuitive, efficient app for authors and novelists. Its drag and drop feature allows you to reorder your chapters or rearrange the story without having to copy and paste them.
One original and fun feature is that you can use the outlines successful authors have employed in famous stories and movies right in LivingWriter. In addition to light mode, this writing software offers a dark mode, which is good for your eyes if you like to write at night.
The handy AutoSuggest feature recommends story elements based, for example, on the character name or location. Unlike some other apps, LivingWriter, like Ulysses and Write!, allows you to sync your work to the cloud.
LivingWriter also integrates smoothly with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a fiction book writing challenge that takes place every November.
Read our LivingWriter review
4. Final Draft
Story writing app for screenwriters. Windows and Mac
Pricing: From $79
Final Draft is specially designed for TV and film industry writers. This app comes with more than 300 templates to help you get started writing for a book, screenplay or script.
One interesting feature is similar to a pinboard. You can brainstorm, pin and organize ideas. This is ideal for visual learners.
Overall, Final Draft makes building storyboards much easier than in other apps. The program also makes real-time collaboration simple, no matter where writers are located, thanks to a secure sharing option. It has good version retrieval and easy export.
Final Draft’s drawbacks are that it is not distraction-free, and customer support does not provide immediate help. This writing software is also at the pricier end of the scale for the best story writing apps at about $250.
Read our Final Draft review.
Story editing app. Web-based
Pricing: $30 per month
If you are writing fiction, Autocrit is a good app. It focuses on word selection and helps you avoid repeating phrases, thus making your writing stronger. This app goes beyond determining readability and spell-checking. It assesses the content of your article or book.
Autocrit offers immediate feedback on writing quality, pace, and word choice. The app provides suggestions tailored to fiction and offers suggestions for replacing words and phrases. The in-depth editorial functions of Autocrit set it apart from comparable apps.
This app easily integrates with writing tools such as Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format (RTF), so feedback can be exported easily. This unique feature allows Autocrit to analyze writing to show pace and highlight potentially confusing phrases or passages.
The thing to watch for when using Autocrit is that it might change the formatting when exporting. Also, the grammar checker is not perfect and currently works with only English documents
Read our Autocrit review
Distraction-free writing app. Web-based.
Pricing: From $30
This app has a great interface and offers distraction-free writing, and it’s this lack of distraction that is one of the greatest benefits of the app. It works in Full-Screen Mode or Focus Mode, so everything on the screen is de-emphasized compared to whatever you are working on.
It also offers cloud saving, so edited documents can be accessed anywhere, no matter what device is being used. There are no limits on the amount of data that can be saved.
Write! also has features for collaboration. Documents can be published on the internet where there is access to a link that is shareable. Unlike many other apps, it also has multiple language options, and it will spell check up to 35 different languages.
Write! has its limitations in that there is no mobile app available, so work is limited to computers. The second negative is that exporting is limited compared to other apps, and there is no way to go back to older versions when needed.
Story planning and world-building app. Web-based.
Pricing: From $12.50 per month
Campfire is a good, easy-to-use writing app for both novelists and screenwriters. It helps writers develop characters and design plots. Characters, events and scenes are fully customizable, using templates. Campfire can help you get organized with your writing.
You can try the free demo version before buying the pro version for $49.99, or pro plus worldbuilding pack for $74.98. The paid versions obviously come with a lot more features.
If you’re seeking guidance or would like to become part of a writing community, Campfire’s YouTube channel provides instructional video tutorials. Other help is available on their podcast and blog.
While it might not include all the bells and whistles other writing apps do, Campfire is worth a look. Given the worldbuilding feature, it might appeal to fantasy and sci-fi writers in particular, or anyone working on historical fiction.
Powerful writing app. Mac and IOS.
Pricing: $49.99 per year
The overall writing experience on the Ulysses app for iPad is satisfying. While it provides as many features as comparable apps, it’s sleek and clean with a well-designed interface. Ulysses is a safe and solid choice for writers.
Ulysses supports markup, images, footnotes and links, and comments. In addition, you can export PDFs, web pages, e-books or Word documents. It has a nostalgic typewriter mode. This app features a nice distraction-free interface, a three-panel layout and a customizable color palette.
You can set daily writing goals to help you stay on track, which is a useful feature. Goals can help you reach a specific word count, ideal reading time and limit the length of your work.
At about $40 per year, with a monthly payment option, Ulysses is an excellent choice. You can try a free trial too.
Blog writers might find this iOS app a good option, as you can easily post your writing to social media sites such as WordPress, Ghost and Medium.
Read our Ulysses review.
Minimalist story-writing app. Web-based and some older platforms.
yWriter is a good novel writing app, as it is both simple and intuitive. This writing software helps you break your novel into distinct chapters and scenes, allowing you to easily keep track of your work while you focus on the process of creating. yWriter7 is free to download for use and includes Epub and Mobi export.
This app has everything you need to get a first draft together. You can drag and drop elements to reorganize your novel as you go. A nice storyboard view provides a visual layout of your writing.
yWriter can export selected chapters to RTF, proof them, check the grammar then import them back in. It also saves previous drafts so nothing is ever lost. It collects a fair bit of metadata as you go. Just try not to let that distract you.
One drawback is that yWriter does not come with preloaded templates. Otherwise, it’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a free app.
10. iA Writer
Minimalist writing app. Mac, Android, Windows and IOS.
One of the most compelling features of the iA Writing app is the minimal interface. This app makes for a clean and distraction-free writing environment. The Focus Mode hides everything but the sentence or paragraph you are working on.
iA Writer is available on Apple Mac and iOS. It also supports typing in Markdown and allows you to preview your pages in PDF format as you go.
This app has no templates and offers fewer features and tools than comparable apps, but it is simple and relatively inexpensive, at $29.99. While it might not be the first choice for screenwriters, iA Writer is a good choice for bloggers and other short-form writers.
Read our IA Writer review.
11. The Novel Factory
Story-planning app. Web-based. 30-day free trial available.
Pricing: From free to $6.25 per month
The Novel Factory is a type of popular web-based software built for…writing novels. It contains plot templates, writing guides and character builders. You can also use this app for mapping out scenes, locations and timelines for your stories. The basic subscription costs $6.25 per month, although you can take out a free trial.
Katja L Kaine of the Novel Factory wrote an article for Become a Writer Today explaining how to analyze a book or story, using story writing software like this.
Our Testing Criteria
We selected these writing apps based on their ability to help writers turn their ideas into both short and long-form stories. We focused on ease of use, price and useful features. Our choices are best suited to writers who work digitally.
In some cases, we reviewed the individual apps (e.g. ProWritingAid, Ulysses) extensively and we’ve provided links to these reviews. In one writer’s cased (Bryan’s), I’ve written and published several books using some of these apps. We selected apps geared towards writers with no, modest and higher budgets, across all platforms.
The Best Story Writing Apps: Final Thoughts
While all these apps are great for story writing, it is important to make sure that you keep in mind what type of writing is being done. Some apps are going to be better for certain types of story writing than others. A little bit of research will have any writer up and going quickly and on the road to great story writing content.
Want more? Read our guide How to Write a Book.
FAQs About The Best Story Writing Apps
What is the best free app for writing a book?
The best free writing app out there for writing a book is yWriter. You can select the option to register your app for a small fee ($11.95), but they apply no pressure to do so. This app offers plenty of useful features and tools to help you develop your story and characters and stay organized and on track with your writing. yWriter also collects lots of metadata as you go, so it appeals to data nerds.
What is the best app for writing a novel?
Scrivener is the best novel writing app. A well-designed and popular writing app for novelists, it is packed with all the features you need. Scrivener offers a wealth of tools to help you track plot threads, store notes on characters and locations and structure your work. Given the range of features, Scrivener is reasonably priced at about $45. Living Writer is a newer entry on the market and also worth checking out.
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