My Favorite Software for Writers

I’ve talked about my favorite software for writers before, but I want to focus on the tools I use to help me organize my writing. One of the things that I am still amazed by even after over 20 years is the fact that I can write as many documents as my computer has the memory to hold. To me, that’s an amazing thing. The software I use is equally, seemingly endless.

NOTE: All of the software I mention, I own and use regularly. I am not affiliated with any of these products.

Here are my favs:


As I have written about Scrivener in the past, you might know that I use it for everything I write – eventually. Anytime I am working on a nonfiction piece, I use Scrivener to keep my chapters in order and everything nice and neat.

I know that I don’t use it to its fullest application. There is a Facebook group for Scrivener users, and they are always asking questions about the software that is so far out of my ability to understand that I usually ignore those conversations. I’ve found that the software is as easy or as complicated as you would like it to be.

Scrivener software for writers help outline your stories.
Scrivener keeps my notes in order and gives you easy access to chapters.

Scrivener can be used as a series of notepads, which is what I use it for, or you can use the templates to build a story. It has a bit of a learning curve, and since I use other software, I’ve not gone that far with the tutorials.

Software for writers can compile text to document format

Once you’re done writing, you can compile the entire manuscript into several formats. The part I like the best is the tree on the side where I can see my chapters and get to them easily. I can’t do this in word or google docs.

The Novel Factory

I am trying to write fiction. I spent hours and many dollars reading books on how to write a novel, how to outline a novel, how write from the seat of my pants, and hours of trying to understand acts and beats.

It wasn’t until I gave The Novel Factory a trial run did all the things I had read fall into place. I wrote the first part of my very first novel in word until I couldn’t see my way through the fog. That’s when I started looking for something to help me stay on track. The Novel Factory software does that.

The Novel Factory puts your outline into focus keeping you on track.
This is the background of The Novel Factory where you can see the scene outlines at a glance.
The Novel Factory software for writers lets you focus on each scene.
This overlay gives you the scene details. You write into the text box. I love the scene blocking tab.

I bought the software as a standalone on my desktop, and I moved my first novel into it, and was able to finish it. It’s a mess that needs to be rewritten since it’s way off track, but I will get to that.

Keeps the story on track

The book second in the series started in The Novel Factory and it went very smoothly without any of the problems I ran into the first time. With the outlines and templates to work with or modify to meet your needs, it’s much easier to stay on course and wrap up the story. Both of those novels are 60K plus.

You can build your own outline/beat sheet or use pre-designed templates that are free to download. In fact, I had downloaded the free templates before I bought the software. I liked them so much that I decided to buy the software.

If you’re struggling with your plot, you might want to look into The Novel Factory. No, it does not give you cookie cutter stories.

More Software for Writers for Increased Organization


Plottr is a plotting software that I had to modify to get it to work the way that I wanted to use it. In its simplest form, it is a glorified excel workbook. That being said, it’s much more than that.

The outline below is a list of my current and future projects and different series using a template by another author who needed an organizational chart.

Plottr software for writers organizes your story scenes.
This outline shows my current and TBD projects at a glance.

Here is what it looks like when you plot a book:

Plottr software for writers organizes your story scenes.
Chapter outline on left in default mode.

My complaint in this format is that it’s hard for me to follow the chapters. I think I might be the only one though since everyone loves this software.  I used it halfway through my first novel, and it kind of helped me get things and people organize, but it still was hard for me to follow. This is why I moved to The Novel Factory.

Choose your view

I used it to lay out my second book, and once I flipped the view, I found it much easier for me to follow.  Here is the flipped version for the second book:

Plottr organizes your story scenes.
By flipping the view, I found it easier to see the chapters and my characters timeline.

Now I can see where in the story these things happen.

Plottr organizes your story scenes.
Another view of the character’s timeline.

I have J.K. Rowling to thank for this because someone posted her spreadsheet worksheet and it was laid out in the same format, but she had the chapters off to the left.

You can use a piece of notebook paper to outline your story. Any software for writers will keep your notes cleaner.
You can use a regular piece of notebook paper to write on.

There’s nothing expensive or sophisticated about her method. In fact, it’s not even a lined accounting spreadsheet. Just a piece of notebook paper.

Inexpensive Software for Writers

Liquid Story Binder XE

This is the first software I bought about 12 years ago. I used it to start my first novel, and at the time, I couldn’t afford Scrivener or anything else expensive, so I bought this software. I love the heck out of it. It’s easy to use, and it helped me to keep my story semi-organized.

Build character with photos

I think the part I really liked was that I could build my character pages and add photos. I could lay out my scene maps and make notes. It was everything I wanted that kept everything orderly and ready to use.

I confess that the story is still in its original condition, and I have not gone back to write on it for almost 8 years, but it is still a story I will go back to. What I didn’t know when I started writing was how plotting was important, so this is a seat of your pants story from beginning to end.

I am only a quarter of the way into the story, and I don’t’ know how it will end, but I have a good idea that it will continue to be a seat of the pants type story.

Liquid binder XE software for writers is a great way to start if you're on a budget.
Liquid Binder XE is an economical way to plot, organize, and write your novel. It’s a Scrivener alternative.

The story has gone from word to Liquid Binder to Scrivener back to word, and one of these days, it might go to print. It’s a story I really want to write, and I daydream about it when I am supposed to be doing something else.

Plot or seat of your pants software for writers

Even though her mom was absent from her post, she could see her father sitting in his old, worn high-back leather chair. The ancient leather was worn thin in places and cracked in others. The sun had faded out half of the chair from buttery, gold leather to a pale, pink color. Her father had molded the cushions to suit his body from years of use to the point the no one else found it comfortable. That was one way to keep the guests out of it.

Although the hearth was cold and the fireplace clean, she saw her father sitting with his feet up on the hassock before it as if the temperatures were subzero and the Montana winds were bearing down on the old hotel.

Sandy noticed that he appeared to be talking to himself. On second glance, it seemed more likely that he was having a conversation with someone only he could see.

Her deep sigh reflected the sadness she felt about the loss of her father to his disease.

These are my favorite software for writers that have kept me sane and moving forward. Hopefully, you will find them helpful for productivity.  

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5 of My Favorite Books for Novel Writers

I will read anything, but I love nonfiction (which might be why I am primarily a nonfiction writer), but I do have a list of favorite fiction authors whose books I never miss. Somewhere in the last two years I decided that I wanted to write the fiction that I loved to read. I got tired of waiting years between books and was craving more stories.  Maybe it was being locked away working at home for a couple of years, or maybe it was just time, but I decided to try my hand at fiction.

I try to learn as much about something that I can before I start it; I’m the one at the library with 30 books on rock painting. So, I started looking for instructions on how to write a novel, and I spent time reading everything I could get my hands on. From freebies on Kindle to manuals on how to write, I was trying to find my place in the fictional world.

It turns out that there are bad instructions, and there are great instructions, but there are a lot of mediocre instructions in between. I do agree that the best way to write a novel is to read as many of them as you can, and never stop reading. At some point, you have to put pen to paper.

Here is a list of my favorite books on novel writing that I used to help me write my two novels:

Outlining Your Novel – Map Your Way to Success – K.M. Weiland 

Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland was not my first choice when looking for advice, but only because I didn’t know what I was even looking for. Once I read this book, I knew what I needed, so I bought all of her books in Kindle format.

Then I realized that I needed all of her books in print, so I bought those, too. Her whole series of Helping Writers Become Authors is a cornerstone of my reference library. While I do not write Sci-Fi or Fantasy, her tips on world building and story outlining kept me from spinning out of control while putting my book together. 

​The word OUTLINE tends to make people squirm, but your outline doesn’t need to be complicated. The first Act / Chapter can be something as simple as ‘the main character went shopping and found out she had a long-lost sister’. 

The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing – Writer’s Digest 

The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing is a compilation of notes, hints, helpful ideas and tips from many of the top authors of today, as well as from editors and agents. It helped me to get an idea of the process of writing, as well as the importance of making your first draft a unholy mess! 

It helped me see writing from a different perspective by seeing the parts of a story and how the parts all work together in the end. I found it so much easier to sit down and craft a chapter with the knowledge that it was just a part in the overall plan. There’s a lot less pressure that way. It’s from Writer’s Digest, and I have been reading their magazine and using their annual marketing list since the 1970s.

I have this in softback, so I can reference it easily. 

The Writers Helping Writers Series of Books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

Or you can buy all 8 of the books in this series here:​The Writers Helping Writers Series is an amazing tool, and I have all of them in Kindle format. They are not expensive, and they will add so much more depth and reality to your characters. 

Learn how the body language helps to portray an emotion, how to create conflict, or how to write rural or urban settings. The possibilities are endless, and each book will help you craft a character that we want to care about or hate with a thousand rays of sun. 

On Writing by Stephen King 

On Writing by Stephen King is on everyone’s list of books that actually help a budding novelist get started. This book offers a blueprint for the way that stories develop, and in Stephen King’s mind, there is nothing normal about that blueprint. 

Since I had spent months reading about structure, outlines, building blocks and more, this book was a cold blast of water that made me want to write even more. I do not write by the seat of my pants, but I do write by the seat of my pants. This book gave me permission to just throw it all up in the air and go with it. What I also learned was that approach didn’t totally work for me! 

I wrote my first novel with a loosely structured outline and seat of the pants writing. (For some reason, I hate the term ‘pantser’, so I refuse to use it.) When the first draft was done, I realized that maybe I should have had a bit more structure, so I sat on it.

Then I wrote the second book in the series with more structure and less seat of pants, and it went along smoothly. Now, I am tearing apart my first book to completely rewrite it with less pants and more structure. So, it is up to you as to which method defines you, but this book reminds you that not everything needs to be so uptight!

I also discovered that I am better at editing as I go along rather than letting it simmer like a really stinky stew!


I hope that my writer’s tool recommendations help you get from aspiring to slogging through your first draft. I know that all of these and more helped me get past the stage of wanting to write fiction to actually writing fiction. Now, if only someone would come along and unscramble my first draft, that would be awesome!