Writing a book is already quite a challenge, particularly for beginner writers. Although writing in notebooks and on note cards is still used by many writers as part of their process, most of us now prefer to use software. But as a beginner, how do you write a book on your computer?
Although there are plenty of options to choose from, most people will be happy choosing one of three main options. First, Scrivener, a tool designed specifically to help manage and write books, an existing tool you likely already have like Microsoft Office or the excellent and free Google Docs.
Let’s take a look at these three best options you should evaluate and choose from.
A Tool Made for Writers
Let’s start with a quick look at the tool made specifically for writers, Scrivener.
Although you could use any word processor for writing, two of which we will discuss shortly, using a tool like Scrivener can provide you with many benefits to help you improve your planning and writing process.
We all know that it is pretty common that we have great ideas for action scenes or short passages that we really need to write even though we don’t know where we want to use them.
Scrivener is perfect for supporting this. It has lots of tools like allowing you to easily manage any size pieces of the text and arrange them whenever and however you like. You can create a plan, and as you write, attach a chapter synopsis from the plan to each chapter, for example.
It makes it super easy to track writing against your plan.
The tools they have built-in really make editing far more straightforward. The drag and drop capability means you can very quickly and easily rearrange your text into a completely different order if you feel that makes more sense.
The only real downside of Scrivener is that there is a bit of a learning curve. It has lots of tools built in that simply don’t exist in anything else you’ve likely used and it can take some time and effort to get used to them.
Don’t let this scare you off, as it is an excellent tool once you get over the initial learning.
Head over to the page and look at their overview video for a better idea of the powerful tools they have built-in for you.
A Tool You May Already Have
Sometimes the easiest way to just get started is to use a tool you likely already have on your computer: Microsoft Word.
I’m sure most of us have used Microsoft’s Word application in school, college or work and are reasonably familiar with the basics of how it works.
Many computers come with at least a trial version and Microsoft has a reasonably priced subscription of Microsoft 365 that gives you Word and the whole office suite.
The familiarity most of us have with Word makes it a straightforward decision. We do not need to spend any time figuring out the basics and can therefore just start writing.
An excellent option built right into Word is the dictate function. Very few people typically try this, but I encourage you to get a microphone and have a go.
It works far better than most people realize and if you are only an average typer, you may find that talking rather than typing your manuscript will actually be far quicker and easier.
It can create a little additional editing, so speak clearly and be sure to watch the transcript as it goes carefully to catch obvious errors. With a bit of practice, I have found I can write two to three times quicker by incorporating at least some dictation into my process.
As another bonus, there are many document templates included if you get the subscription, which can help you design and write lots of different kinds of materials beyond books.
The Free Option
Finally, let’s take a look at what I think is the best free option available: Google Docs.
Although there are plenty of free text editors around, Google Docs has many additional features that make it worth evaluating.
It has all the critical features from the paid software and it includes things such as being able to redline and accept and reject changes and has a dictate feature similar to Word that we described above.
A great feature you get is due to Google Docs being linked to your Google account, files are stored online and you can access them from any system. That means you can write as you travel and even access your documents on your phone if you really need to do a bit of writing when you’re out and about.
A nice feature that is easy to use is the collaboration options that are supported. Google has made it simple to invite others to work on your document with you.
This makes it really easy to work with remote editors and agents on your manuscript without having to save and transfer documents to each other. Although there are a few limits, it is extremely useful.
If you don’t want to spend any money and still need a good piece of software with useful tools, then Google Docs is going to be your best friend.
Head over for more details and to sign up: Google Docs
I quite honestly could have written thousands of words covering more than two dozen different writing tools to help with grammar, planning, sentence structure, character development and lots more besides, but I will leave those to some more specific articles.
If you are looking for software to help you write a book on your computer, then as we have covered in this article, I’ve simplified your choice down to the top three.
They are all either very reasonably priced or completely free and will work for everybody.
Head over to the website for each one and pick the one that works best for you and let’s get writing!