I’m a terrible writer. Ever so often I growl in envy, that some people simply have the skill to build words in such a manner that they create the most vivid scenes in a mere fraction of the composition. And ever so effortlessly, these people seem to do this in the first draft, with perhaps a few comma’s thrown in for editing. Life. Is. Just. Not. Fair!
Okay, I’m done sulking.
For the rest of us, there are tricks, check-boxes and most importantly free applications to use to improve our prose. Here I’d like to pause. Unfortunately, no application, book or quick fix can magically wave a wand over you and turn you into J.K. Rowling. And even the greats need a human editor… However used often, some of these do actually in time improve your writing. Or maybe writing and reading improves your writing, but then …
In the past year, where I’ve taken on re-writing one of my yawn effect drafts into something hopefully one day enjoyable, I’ve gone looking for something to help me along the way. And since everyone seems to be sharing their, ‘must read list for 2018’(or at least they were when I first drafted this) it seems fitting to throw in my ‘very useful app list for writers in 2018’.
Back in the day, any writer with merit would have told you a good dictionary is like the screwdriver in a mechanic’s toolbox. In 2018 we have a time-saving app for that. It is definitely much easier to type in the word you want to look up. It’s also lighter to carry if you decided you wanted to go sit in the spare office during your lunch hour to get some writing time in.
And while a search in your preferred App-Shop, would probably reveal many a program worth using – I like to use WordWeb. Not only does it explain the word to you, like that heavy, bulky, The Concise Oxford Dictionary, but it often also suggests alternative words to use. It’s like a dictionary and thesaurus thrown into one. Best of all, no pop-up ads, and it works off-line. I have mine installed on my phone. The app is available for Android, iPhone and Windows.
If like me, you bought your computer, tablet or another writing device with only Windows Home or similar installed on it, you know that this does not come with the Microsoft Office package. It seems that even though, there are several other writing programs, which I’ll discuss later, on a writer’s most wanted list – Microsoft Word is still a must-have – or not. I use Libre Office Writer, which is just as good as the Microsoft version. Best of all, this Open Source software is, wait for it, ABSOLUTELY FREE! The writer comes along with the entire Libre Office package, which also includes a spreadsheet and a drawing program. And to top it all off, Libre can easily open and save your files in the popular Microsoft formats.
If you simply don’t want, need or have a lack of space for the Libre Office package – Abi Word may be more appealing. It too is an Open Source, ABSOLUTELY FREE, software which only features a writing application similar to Word. No spreadsheets applications are thrown in.
Grammarly is like your spell check on steroids. It spots so much more than your average Language Tool. Used over time, Grammarly will help you spot mistakes on your own. You can use Grammarly for free, online. The only pitfall is that it will not work offline, even the paid version. But otherwise, it is a seriously excellent, spelling and grammar checking application.
Like Grammarly, Pro Writing Aid is your spell check on steroids. Also, like Grammarly, you can use it for free online. Again like Grammarly, it only works online – even the trial version downloadable app needs a working internet connection. The free version is limited and checks only 500 words per go. Unlike Grammarly, this App has what it calls reports. It will check more than just your spelling and grammar. There are reports to tell you if you have overused a word, reports to tell you how readable your text is and much, much more.
Like Pro Writing Aid, Hemingway is yet another grammar checking application, which will point out adverbs, passive voice, and hard to read sentences. I’ve not had the chance to fully explore this app yet, but unlike its counterparts, the paid desktop app will work off-line.
If you are into writing full-fledged novels, yWriter6 is a very useful App. The windows version is free to download. It’s primarily there to help you organize your scenes and chapters into one workable document. There are also some very nifty tools, such as a read out loud feature, a word counter to tell you how many times you have used a certain word, a word per minute meter, basic spell check, and more. It’s an excellent tool to write your first draft on. And while it’s not as colorful as it’s pricey counterpart Scrivener – yWriter does come packed with many features.
Recently, an app has been added to Android devices, but this is not free.
Bibisco is another App you can use to organize your chapters into one workable document. Unlike Ywriter which is classified as Freeware, Bibisco is Open Source.While it certainly seems not to be created for smaller devices such as tablets, it’s an app I still plan on exploring further.
Open Source versus Free-Ware
In case you were wondering, Open Source Software is a group project for programmers. The programming code is open to being downloaded for free. Anybody can contribute towards making the program better. These contributors are often not paid for doing so.
Freeware is usually created by only one individual or company who will distribute the program or part of the program for free. Often you are required to purchase the program to gain access to all its features, such as Grammerly and Pro Writing Aid.
There are many more applications to help you improve your writing, many, many more. These are only a few which I found seemed most popular and useful. As I continue discovering other applications, I may write another post to expand on this one. For now, I hope you find something on this list to help shape you into a better writer.
About the Author
Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.
Find her here: