Re:Fiction - The Fiction Writers' Magazine

What Novel-Writing Software Can Do For You

You know that feeling when you’re halfway through writing a novel. You’re stressed. You’ve completely lost the thread. The characters aren’t following the outline you wrote — an outline that’s spread out over a million little index cards.

Or, maybe you write by the seat of your pants, and the murder mystery you thought you were writing is turning into a historical fiction family drama. And you don’t even like historical fiction.

Luckily, we writers have something that previous generations didn’t: novel-writing software.

Yes, of course, some people have a nostalgia for older methods. They dream of working away into the night with a glass of bourbon and a trusty typewriter. Swapping out screens for real paper is romantic.

But let’s be honest. Most of us work in digital spaces now. And if you do work on a computer, novel-writing software can be your best friend.

There are many digital solutions for writing. Some of them are just fancy versions of Word. Others are more specific. The more niche-specific a solution is, the better tools it can offer you. 

Need to skim through all your character notes without leaving your place in the manuscript? Quickly reference your chapter outline? Version your scenes? Compare the length of chapters? Or even review your daily progress over the last few months? The best novel-writing software should give you all these options and much more. 

Here’s a quick overview of some dream features.

Brainstorming Your Novel

When we are in the research phase of writing, it can be easy to lose leads and forget lines of thought. And let’s not forget organization. We either end up with one huge file that’s difficult to navigate, or with 137 topic-specific files that are difficult to search across.

Good novel-writing software allows you to collect every piece of data in its own section, but also to link all relevant elements together and easily search through them all.

It should inspire you to add more interesting backstories and to explore your characters and world in depth. 

Plotting Your Novel

Let’s be honest, for many writers, plotting is plodding. But that might just be because you aren’t using the right tool for the job.

The best novel-writing software should allow you to keep a tidy outline and manage all your ideas with acts, chapter summaries, and scene cards. It should give you the tools you need to plot your work with such flexibility that you’ll fall in love with the process, whether you’re a “plotter” or a “pantser.”

Writing Smoothly

You know that moment where you really need some inspiration from your notes, but you don’t want to lose your train of thought?

The best novel-writing software should allow you to quickly search through your notes even as you’re writing, and display the best bits without leaving your place in the manuscript.

It should remind you where you’re going with the scene you’re writing now. It should help you understand when a chapter is done and if it has all the elements it needs. Plus, it should cheer you on along the way through the first draft.

Rewrites and Tweaks

You finish your first draft and a wave of accomplishment floods over you. You’ve done it. You have joined the pantheon of Dostoevsky, Hemingway and Woolf.

Then you read it, and the cruel certainty of a second draft rears its head out of the water.

The best novel-writing software should turn editing into an exciting effort, because you can feel your novel getting better from day to day. 

Moving a scene from one chapter to the next? No problem, just click and drag. Stashing a scene and writing a new version of it, without losing the previous version? Yes, please. Finally, you can try out that romantic subplot between the elf and the dragon slayer that you were too timid to attempt the first time. (And if it doesn’t work, you can revert to your old scene with another click of your mouse.)

Is It a Faraway Dream?

Maybe, but Litwise is plugging away at making it a solid reality for you. We’re developing this game-changing tool even as you read these lines. It could transform your writing process and make you the most productive and inspired version of yourself.

Click here to follow our progress, discover what we plan, and experiment a smidge of the new software with some free PDF tools. 

And if it’s not for you? That glass of bourbon and typewriter will still be there waiting for you when you come back. 

Jonathan Clark is a writer and farmer living in the Burnt Over District of New York. His writing includes fiction, poetry, criticism, and the occasional screed. You can find more of his work at www.jonathanclark.net.

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