When it's time for Halloween, it's also time for another autumn tradition -- National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. Over the years, a number of TUAW bloggers and readers have participated in the annual event, which runs exactly thirty days and is designed to give would-be writers the confidence and support needed to write a 50,000-word novel. Let's look at some tools for helping you crank out your novel, and revel in some deals on tools for planning and writing that book.
You may mock the idea of using an iOS device as a serious writing platform, but with an external keyboard you can definitely get some work done. All of my NaNoWriMo 2012 pre-planning work has been done on an iPad with a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover in Apple's Pages (US$9.99) app, and it works very well. This year, thanks to iCloud syncing, I've decided to use Pages as my virtual typewriter and paper for NaNoWriMo.
If I want to do work on the iPad, I can turn on the Logitech keyboard, fire up Pages, and get to work. When I am sitting at a Mac, I'll fire up Pages and pull in the document from there. The app, combined with iCloud, is finally quite useful in round-tripping between devices.
One other advantage pointed out by my erstwhile publishing companion Erica Sadun was that I should be able to use Dictation on the iPad (as well as my OS X Mountain Lion Mac and iPhone) to write, so perhaps I can actually do some writing on the iPhone this year. When Erica brought this up, it occurred to me that Dictation could be very helpful in writing more realistic dialogue between characters. I'll let you know how that goes...
Anyway, let's look at some app choices you have for the iPad other than Pages. I'll leave it to the reader to determine which app fits your writing style and wallet.
- My Writing Spot for iPad ($4.99)
- Novel in 30 ($4.99)
- NanoWriter ($1.99)
- Storyist for iPad ($9.99)
- Yarny (free, for iPhone, requires Yarny Pro cloud account)
- iA Writer ($0.99, universal app)
- PlainText (free, universal app)
- A Novel Idea (free, universal app)
- DraftPad (free, universal app)
- celtx script ($4.99, universal app, screenwriting)
- Write 2 ($2.99, universal app)
- Elements for Dropbox (On sale for $2.99, universal app)
- Free Writing (free, universal app)
- Just Type ($0.99, universal app)
- enso Writer ($3.99, universal app)
- WriteRoom ($1.99, universal app)
- Werdsmith (free, $2.99 in-app purchase for full features, universal app)
- Writing Kit ($4.99, universal app)
- Byword (On sale for $2.99, universal app)
Of all of these choices, my personal recommendations would be Pages, Storyist for iPad, iA Writer, PlainText, or WriteRoom.
Many writers are probably going to want to sit down at a keyboard in front of a MacBook or iMac to do their work. It's comfortable, it makes you feel like a real writing professional and with a larger screen you have the ability to tweet your friends while slaving over your hot novel (that's known as having writer's block...).
As mentioned, I'll be doing work on the iPad this year, if anything just to see how much the tools have improved. But my MacBook Air and iMac will also be pulling duty as I crank out my daily allotment of 1,666 words. Here are some Mac writing tools you can count on to get your novel written by 11:59:59 PM on November 30, 2012.
- Pages ($19.99)
- Write 2 ($6.99)
- TextEdit (free, comes with OS X, iCloud enabled)
- Notepad (free)
- FoldingText ($24.99)
- WriteRoom ($4.99)
- WordMate ($12.99)
- Clean Writer Pro ($0.99)
- Writer ($2.99)
- MultiMarkdown Composer ($9.99)
- StoryMill ($29.99)
- Manuscript ($39.99)
- Nisus Writer Pro ($79.99)
- Zen Writer ($19.99)
- Microsoft Word (Part of Microsoft Office 2011, $149.99 for Home & Student Edition)
- Scrivener 2.0 (50% off normal price of $45 for NaNoWriMo winners, 20% off for all participants, and free trial version available for the month of November)
- Storyist ($59 for download version, use code NANOWRIMO12 for a 25% discount, free Nanowrimo trial edition (download link) is available)
- Ulysses ($11.99)
Although I've personally tried a lot of these apps for TUAW reviews, some tools I'd consider using are Pages, WriteRoom, StoryMill, Ulysses, Microsoft Word 2011 and Storyist. Why Word? Well, if I was going to send my novel to a publisher, chances are very good that they'd want the manuscript in Word format, so make sure that whatever app you use can save your document into Word. Me? I'm using Pages.
Good luck, NaNoWriMo participants, and if you're so inclined sign me up as your writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo site -- I'm "Tantalus."