Best free software for writing: 10 programs to unleash your creativity – Part Two

6. Storybook

Storybook is a versatile tool which aims to help you properly structure a novel, screenplay or other complex written work.

You’ll start by creating strands, one for each plotline. These have multiple scenes, telling your story. Each scene will be set in a defined location, with your choice of characters or items. And you can add, edit or rearrange any of this whenever you like.

While this sounds like a lot of work, it does help you to visualise and better understand your story. It’s easy to discover and fix problems. And the option to organise your scenes into chapters should help when you move on to writing the book.

7. wikidPad

Fully understanding your topic is a vital part of any writing project, and that’s where wikidPad can help. The program is a personal wiki, an interesting offline tool which helps you to link your ideas, and it’s surprisingly easy to use.

If you’ve just realised Steven Spielberg has to be covered in your piece, for instance, just type his name as one word, in mixed case – StevenSpielberg – and wikidPad will automatically turn your word into a link. Double-click this link at any time to create a Spielberg page, then repeat the process elsewhere to quickly build your own document outline.

The program can do much more, too – download it and see for yourself. (Please note, though, if you get an error message when launching the program then you should try running it as an administrator.)

8. FocusWriter

Most editors have a cluttered interface, packed with buttons and toolbars – but FocusWriter is different. Launch it and the program gets rid of all distractions by clearing the screen entirely, so you can concentrate on your writing.

Move your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, though, and menus appear with the usual editing basics: text formatting, search and replace, alignment, indents, spell check and so on.

Extra options include the ability to set yourself a daily goal (work for an hour, say, or write a certain number of words), while the program status bar shows you how close you are to achieving this.

If you need real editing power, then, FocusWriter won’t be for you. But if you just need to write, and will sort out all the layout complexities later, its distraction-free approach could help. (Q10 [] is another good example, while Writer [] is an online equivalent.)

9. yWriter5

YWriter5 is a small but very comprehensive tool which helps you to plan your novel.

Set up your various deadlines, for instance, and the program’s Work Schedule report will let you know how much you’ll have to do, each day, to finish on time.

Enter your characters, locations and items and you can freely organise them into scenes.

Put these in the right order and you’ll have a basic outline for the book, but you’re still free to change anything you like. So you can move a scene back a chapter, drop one character, add someone else, whatever you like.

And if you decide you’re going in the wrong direction, no problem – yWriter5 keeps all your previous scenes, and you can review or restore them as required.

10. Evernote

If there’s one essential research and note tool for writers (and everyone else, really), it has to be Evernote.

The program allows you to create detailed notes, with formatting and images, and save them to your online account.

You can also record web content: URLs, a snippet of text, a full page. And it’s just as easy to include images and attach files.

Evernote runs on just about every platform there is – Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone and more – and can be used from a browser for everyone else.

You can even share your notes with others, perfect if you’re collaborating on a big project.

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