Open Source Word Processing Software
Many of the following, and some commercial products, are compared on Wikipedia.
- AbiWord: A free word processing program similar to Microsoft Word.
- Document.Editor: A multi-tab .NET/Ribbon based word processor for Windows XP, Vista, and 7.
- EZ Word: A free word processor that is part of the "Andrew User Interface System".
- Feng Office: An open source online office suite package similar to Microsoft Office Live.
- Fiction: A free word processor for Windows.
- iWriter: A free Visual Basic 6 based open source word processor for Windows.
- LyX: A "document processor" which encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents and not simply their appearance. Runs on UNIX, Linux, Mac, and Windows.
- OpenOffice.org: This open source application is comparable to Microsoft Office. It includes Writer (which is similar to Word), Calc (similar to Excel), Impress (like PowerPoint), Draw (similar to the drawing tools in Office), and Base (like Access).
- Pathetic Writer: An open-source GUI word processor.
- Ted: A free word processor running under X Windows on Linux.
- WordGrinder: A "unicode aware character cell word processor that runs in a terminal or Windows console window.
Open Source Fiction/Screenwriting Tools:
While there are plenty of "novel writing" software projects listed on SourceForge (an open source software repository), few have any actual code available to download. Those listed below have actual software available that you can download.
- Celtx: Described as "the world's first all-in-one media pre-production system", Celtx includes a wide variety of features including autocomplete, scene management, embedded notes, spellchecker, and more.
- StorYBook: Open source novel writing software which helps the author manage characters, locations, chapters, parts, ideas, background information, task lists, and storyboards. It can also display charts showing the appearance of characters by scene/date, occurrence of locations, etc. (This tool has a number of similarities to my personal tool of choice, Scrivener.)
- Kabikaboo: A tree-based note pad designed to help you plan a book or complex project.
- NaNoWriTool: A text editor specifically geared toward NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. It features the ability to edit text files, a real-time word counter that uses the same algorithm as the NaNoWriMo site, and other features.
- The Writer's Forge: A suite of free software tools for writers of fiction.
- Dramatis Personae 2: A Macintosh app designed to track the personalities and information used by authors in writing fiction.
- WordIt: A word processor designed to be more reliable than Microsoft Word and smaller than Word or OpenOffice.
- Amaya: A web-based word processor and authoring tool.
- Scribus: An open source page layout and desktop publishing tool.
- NeoOffice: A free office suite for Mac OS X that includes a word processor.
Free Word Processing Tools:
The following word processing tools are free of charge but are not (to my knowledge) open source:
- Bean: A small, easy-to-use word prcessor for Mac OS X.
- Dark Room: A full-screen, distraction-free writing environment for Windows. The Mac version, Write Room, is a licensed product that must be purchased.
- IBM Lotus Symphony: Free-of-charge office suite from IBM.
- Jarte: A word processor for Windows that is based on the WordPad engine.
- LedIt!: A free, cross-platform, multi-lingual unicode word processor with features such as subscript, superscript, full undo, word wrapping, and the ability to be embedded into other apps.
- PolyEdit Lite: A free word processor designed to be lightweight, reliable, easy to use, and fast.
- Q10: A full-screen, minimal distraction writing tool.
- QJot: A small USB portable alternative rich text (RTF) editor that is meant to serve as a WordPad replacement.
- RoughDraft: A donationware word processor designed for writers.
- SoftMaker Office 2006: Windows suite that describes itself as "so easy to use that you will wonder why you bothered with Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org for so long".
- TED Notepad: A freeware Notepad replacement for Windows.
Other Open Source Tools Useful for Writers:
- Awesome Name Generator: A simple generator for names for fictional characters.
- FreeMind: An open source mind-mapping tool written in Java and usable on most platforms.
- Graviax: A grammar checker for the English language.
- Jarnal: An open source Java note taker and PDF annotator
- PDF Creator: Open Source PDF creation tools.
- Research Assistant: A multi-platform tool for researchers to organize their work.
- Style and Diction: Two standard UNIX commands. Diction identifies wordy and commonly misused phrases while Style analyzes the surface characteristics of a document such as word length and readability measures.
- WikidPad: A wiki-style notepad to keep ideas and notes in a single place and allow cross-referencing.
- Writer's Tools for OpenOffice/LibreOffice: This set of utilities is designed to help OpenOffice perform a number of useful functions for writers, including looking up words, translating to other languages, and more.
Other Free Tools for Novelists and Writers
- Bibus: A bibliographic database that is helpful for citing sources correctly.
- EverNote: A cloud-based tool that allows you to capture ideas and information and store it for later use. Items stored in the cloud are accessible via computer, tablet, cell phone, etc.
- LitLift: An online novel writing application.
- SAMM: Submission tracking for Windows, Mac, and DOS.
- Sonar: Tool to help writers track their manuscript submissions.
- TiddlyWiki: A "reusable non-linear personal web notebook"
- TreePad: An award-winning personal information manager for Windows and Linux/Wine. It can be used to store, edit, search, organize, and browse any type of textual information.
- WordNet: A "large lexical database of English…nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are grouped into sets of cognitive synonyms, each expressing a distinct concept." Available online and as an application you can run on your computer.
- WordWeb: A dictionary and thesaurus.
- yWriter: From SpaceJock software, this tool is designed specifically for novelists, by a novelist. It helps break the novel down into chapters and scenes, and provides other useful features like word counts, automatic backups, a storyboard view, drag-and-drop scene/chapter reordering, etc.
Commercial, Shareware, and "Paid-for" Writing Software
Over the past couple of months, I’ve become aware of many software tools of value to fiction writers (some of these include Windows, Linux, and Macintosh versions, others are Windows only). The Fiction and Novel Writing Software List below is the result of my research:
- Black Obelisk Software’s “Liquid Story Binder”: This Windows-only application is rather daunting for first-time users. It incorporates character dossiers, timelines, storyboards, journals, outlines mind maps, and more. It probably has every tool you would want, and although I own two licenses to it (long story, involving keeping bad records) I’ve yet to actually really learn it.
- Richard Salsbury’s (no relation) “RoughDraft”: This is a donationware word processor designed for writers. Richard stopped development on it in December 2009.
- Anthemion Software’s “Writer’s Café”: This application promises to include “everything you need to write fiction”. It features drag and drop cards to help you lay out a storyline, auto-formatting for screenplays, various built-in writing resources like writing prompts and an e-book of author Harriet Smart’s writing experiences.
- Write Brothers’ “Dramatica Pro 4.0”: I purchased an inexpensive copy of this from eBay a few weeks ago. I’ve decided to use its StoryGuide feature to make the first cut through my NaNoWriMo 2010 novel idea. I may supplement with other software later.
- Typing Chimp Software’s “Character Writer”: This looks like a pretty helpful tool for fleshing out a fictional character. It asks questions about the character’s mental health, personality type, psychology, childhood, dialogue style, relationships, etc..
- Space Jock Software’s “yWriter5”: This free software, created by an author, helps a writer track characters, chapters, scenes, locations, etc..
- StoryCraft: This software has been on the market for 15 years, and purportedly guides you through the story development process, helps outline it, improve character development, etc..
- Ravenshead Services’ “WriteItNow”: Includes storyboarding, monitoring your progress against writing targets, a thesaurus, a built-in editor, a “tree view” look at your work, and character profiles.
- StyleWriter: This application is a “style and usage checker” for writers that plugs into Microsoft Word on Windows. It looks for things like jargon, abstract words, passive verbs, clichés, and long sentences.
- Write Brain’s “PowerWriter”: This program includes integrated outlining, story development tools, integrated dictionary and thesaurus, and integrated storage of research.
- Write Brain’s “Power Structure”: This software is supposed to encourage writers to think through their stories. It helps the writer graphically analyze the evolution of conflicts in the story, organize story points in an index card style view, and supposedly acts as a “playground of the mind” for exploring the story you’re writing.
- NewNovelist: This product claims that you can use it to write a novel “your way” whether that means starting with the characters, the ending, or something in the middle. There isn’t a lot of detail about the software on the site, but there are a lot of linked reviews and testimonials from people who have used it. (I reviewed the 2.0 version on this site.)
- Fahim Farook’s “PlotCraft”: Described as a “complete idea/research management database utility for writers” this free software allows you to storage and save ideas for later use, including hyperlinks and images.
- Storybook: This free, open source software helps a writer organize characters, story strands, locations, and other details. It features a chronological view of the story, as well as a “book” view and “chapter/scene” view.
- Anthemion Software “Storylines”: This looks like it may be a defunct product, from the same folks who produce Writer’s Café. It is a storyboarding tool that helps organize the plot of a fictional story. My biggest gripe about this software is it's appearance. It reminds me of one of those "child's computer desktop" packages that tries to simulate a computer inside an application.
- Ashley Software’s “Writer’s Blocks 3”: Claiming to be “The Smartest Way to Write”, this software encourages the writer to create “blocks” of text that can be rearranged to better structure the story. It helps outline, organize research, structure the content, and more.
- wikidPad: This free open source software is designed to be a “wiki-like notebook” for storing thoughts, ideas, lists, contacts, etc. on your computer. It features text auto-completion, document history, auto save, search and replace, export to HTML, and more.
- WordWeb: This software is offered in free and Pro versions. It is described as a “comprehensive one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows”. It can look up words, show their definitions, synonyms, and related words. It also includes pronunciations and usage examples.
- WriteSparks: This software can reportedly generate over 10 million story ideas to help you come up with a story idea when you need one. (I haven’t had any trouble with that so far.)
- Fahim Farook’s “WriteTrack”: This is a submission-tracking tool for writers, to help them keep a handle on where they’ve submitted their work, when, etc..
- Spacejock Software’s “yEdit”: This looks like an ideal tool for NaNoWriMo. You set a target number of words to write, and the software tracks your progress toward that goal. It’s free of charge, too.
- WriteWay Pro: Includes book organization, outlining, composition, dictionary, thesaurus, notecards, character profiles and templates, word/page count tracking, reports and statistics, storyboarding, research folders, and more.
- Celtx: This software is described as “the world’s first all-in-one media pre-production system”. It includes screenplay, stageplay, AV script, audio play, comic book, and plain text editors. It contains storyboarding, sketching, document management, and more. Although aimed at screenwriters, it’s of value to all kinds of writers. I’ve seen this one being sold on eBay.
- The Literary Machine: This software is described as a “dynamic archive and an idea management tool aimed at creative thinking” for writers.
- Outline 4D for Windows: Outlining software for fiction, playwriting, and screenwriting.
- Literature and Latte's Scrivener: This software, a product of Literature and Latte Ltd., is my current tool of choice for novel writing activities. While the current version is Mac-only, there are free public betas of Windows and Linux (at the bottom of the Windows page) versions available as of April 2011. I posted a review of the Scrivener for Windows beta on the site.
- Dramatica Pro: This software is kind of "story brainstorming on steroids". You start by making some selections about the kind of story you want to write, and Dramatica helps guide you through the plotting and characterization to produce a well-fleshed-out story.
- Sol Stein's WritePro: Helps you flesh out characters, plot, etc.
- Book Writer: A word processor for creative writers.
- Serenity Software's Editor: Proofreading and style checking tool for writers.
- Ashleywilde Software's Storybase: Given information about your characters and their mindsets, it generates a list of plot ideas you might want to use. They are currently beta testing an online version of the tool: Storybase.net
- MasterWriter: Word/phrase finding software which claims to help you find the right word or phrase for any situation.
- Melanie Ann Philips' Storyweaver: Provides step by step guidance to completing a story.
- Storyist: Mac-only story development software
- StoryO: Story development software that resembles index cards
- Storymind Software's Master Storyteller: Having not actually used it, and not seeing a lot of detail on the vendor's web site, it looks like a set of "flash cards" with tips and tricks to help you tell stories better. They describe it as a set of interactive exercises.
- Power Structure: A story structure and outlining tool.
- Mariner Software's Contour: Software to help you brainstorm characters for your stories and keep track of their characteristics. Doesn't help with plot, word processing, etc.
- Snowflake Pro: Randy Ingermanson's software that helps you develop a story using the Snowflake Method.