Over the years I’ve tested various writing programs to find an improvement over Microsoft Word for managing the development of a novel. They’ve included Grammatica, New Novelist, Story Weaver, yWriter5, and others I’ve forgotten the names of.

None appealed to me.Scrivener logo

I had two particular requirements: the ability to export to Word; and a means of locating all scenes in which a character appeared.

When Scrivener for Windows first appeared, I gave it a shot, but it seemed rough around the edges, falling short of the Mac version’s capabilities. It joined the others as not being up to the task.

Later on, I read an article which was not only complimentary of the latest version of Scrivener, but also mentioned the two features I was looking for. I decided to give it another go. I’m pleased I did.

If you’ve not tried it, you might be interested in these reviews:

Jacqueline Ward is a big fan

Maxi Bransdale’s a fan, too

Write Your Own Happy Ending

9 Reasons I’ve Decided to Use Scrivener to Write My Nonfiction Books

Lit Reactor’s Review


WordWeb Pro

Word Web Pro is a program I’ve used for as long as I can remember. It’s a combined dictionary and thesaurus and sits in my system tray, ready for any query I might throw at it. However, it’s real strength is its ability, when I highlight a word and click the system tray icon, to pop up a definition and a list of synonyms. For a writer, that’s invaluable. The basic version is free. I have the Pro Bundle version and for A$129 I get audio pronunciations, many other dictionaries (e.g. Oxford, Cambridge), and geographical names.

Editing and Proofreading Software

I use two programs for checking my writing after I’ve carried out visual proofreading. They are PerfectIt and SmartEdit. They do similar jobs, but are different in application. For example, PerfectIt is better for technical material, while SmartEdit is geared towards fiction.

PerfectIt is a Microsoft Word add-in. It works well with documents that require consistent abbreviations, acronyms, hyphenations, capitalisation, spellings, compound words, and so on.

The Standard version appears no longer to be offered. The Professional version is US$99. The licensed user can install the software on three computers as long as the licensee is the primary user of each system.

SmartEdit is a standalone editor that checks for adverb usage, clichés, repeated words and phrases, dialogue tags, and a host of other things that fiction writers should be aware of. It will check Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, RTF, and text documents.

It costs US$67 for the standalone version and can be used for up to three PCs for the licensed user. The integrated Word version is $77. The two can be bought in combination for US$109.