Software for writing – Why I don’t recommend Word to write your whole book

Most people that own a computer know how to use some kind of word processor, whether it is Microsoft Word, Microsoft Works, Apache Open Office, Polaris Office, or Libre Office Writer.

I think probably the most used and most well-known would be Microsoft Word. That’s what I use. It is a good program and because it’s so widely used, the files created by Word are compatible with what most people are using.

But… There’s always a but. I don’t use Word anymore when it comes to writing a full-length novel. I tried it and found it to be too hard. You are probably wondering how an easy-to-use and widely used program could be too hard to use to write a book. And I don’t blame you. But if you’ve ever attempted it, you might understand. I had a novel that was about 120,000 words long at the time, and when I was editing and adding stuff, it became extremely difficult to find the section of the story that I wanted to edit.

I couldn’t remember which chapter had what in it and editing became a real nightmare. I tried to set up a spreadsheet to keep track of each chapter. Things like what was in it and what page it started and finished on. The problem was; those things kept changing. If I added a few paragraphs to a chapter, it would become longer (obviously) and the page numbers would have to be changed every time I worked on my book.

I found a program called Storylines, which let me add scenes along a timeline, and I could have separate timelines for each character. They appeared on the screen as cards on a caulk board. From there I could write a detailed scene for each scene/card. I had some difficulty with a lack of formatting for the text and I needed to italicise what people were thinking, so I went on the hunt for something else. Please note that I liked Storylines and that it was an older version. The formatting problem might not exist now.

I found a free program called yWriter which had been created by an author and programmer in order to make writing easier for himself. He now shares his creation with the world. I will do a post soon on yWriter to give more details about it, but for now I will say that I have found it to be thorough and easy to use and, of course, it makes the job of writing and keeping track of everything so much easier.

You can separate everything into scenes and chapters, write notes for each chapter, write descriptions for characters, items, and locations in the story, and write out the goals, actions, and reactions for each chapter. You can name each scene and put in a short description, so finding the section you want to edit is a breeze.

It can all be exported into an .rtf file format, which is similar to Word’s .doc or .docx formats and can be read by Word and a few other word processors. It can then be transferred into .doc or .docx formats, or even .pdf if you want.

There are reports you can print and you can keep track of your word count as well, to keep you motivated.

And it’s free.

I know there are other programs out there, like Scrivener, but a lot of authors aren’t made of money, so yWriter is worth checking out. It’s available at I don’t get anything moneywise out of recommending this software to people. I recommend it because it’s good.

Give it a go. It costs nothing to try.

I hope that this post has been helpful to you. Let me know in the comments.


Please check out some of the helpful tutorials for authors here at


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