Easily Improve Your Writing – There’s an App for that!
Writing Tools for Authors Compared
My long standing favorite writing tool is Scrivener. It is a comprehensive tool that has helped me improve my writing. I am using it right now. It is my go to writing tool. I like it because:
- I can gather information in one place
- It syncs to Dropbox (no worries about losing content)
- Designed for writers
- It is easy to organize projects
- I can add hyperlinks
- I can import files from other programs (Microsoft Word)
- Editing is a breeze
- Built-in tools that make it easy to save and share what I write in Scrivener
- I can find templates for just about any kind of writing project
- The spelling and grammar features work well
- I can customize the interface
- It works
I started using Scrivener 4 years ago. My writing coach, Amber Starfire, revealed this wonderful tool. I immediately put it into my repertoire. Scrivener has a downside: Literature and Latte promised an iOS version of the program in 2012. We are still waiting in 2016. There are other iOS apps that can stand in for Scrivener and I will tell you about them next.
This is a powerhouse app that helps you improve your writing. Most note programs are fine for short bits. Most of them lack serious formatting tools. Enter Textilus, which comes in a free and a pro version. I downloaded the free version to see how it performs. I used it for the first time yesterday and I like what I see. Textilus has formatting options like those in Apple Notes. Did you know that if you log out of your iCloud account, you will lose those notes saved to iCloud?
Textilus has the full power of a desktop app like Microsoft Word. It is isn’t perfect. You can choose where you will save or share your files. It connects with Dropbox, via email, iCloud or other cloud-based services. I imported the notes file I saved to Dropbox in RTF (Rich Text Format) into Scrivener. The file naming part of the app is a bit weak, but without looking at any help files or a manual, I figured it out.
Did I mention that is PC/MAC compatible? You can save to these formats:
- Universal RTF and PDF based document file formats
- RTF , RTFD , PDF , ePUB, Plain text, PNG and HTML
This is where it shows how powerful it is:
- Auto-Syncing With iCloud Drive, Dropbox , Google Drive, Box, Scrivener, Evernote
- Includes automated document syncing with most popular cloud services
- Open-in email attachments. Send many documents in the same email
- Open-in your Textilus documents with other apps
I say you will be happy if you use this app on your smart phone or tablet. You can get from the iTunes App Store
“Hemingway App makes your writing bold and clear.” That is a powerful statement. Just what I am looking for to easily improve my writing. I started my journey with this app recently. Lisa LaMagna is set to share this app at the next meeting of the Bay Area Consultants Network. We have a segment, Life Hacks, where we share tools and resources that make life better.
I was curious about this app. I have a tendency to write over long sentences and this is an app that is training me to write cleaner and better. It highlights the different types of issues that are common to writers:
Yellow: hard to read rating.
Red: hard to read
Purple: Phrase has a simpler alternative
Blue: Adverb. Remove it
Green: Use of passive voice.
I ran my paragraph about Hemingway through the app and it told me that my sentence about Life Hacks is hard to read. I got a grade of 7 (good). I plan to draft my writing in Scrivener, then run it through Hemingway to see where I can improve. It come in a desktop and browser edition.
Carla King shared this app at the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. Poetic is available from https://poetica.com/. It is a WordPress plugin. It allows you to collaborate, markup your writing, from within WordPress. I plan to start using this with my clients. It will save us from having to send a slew of emails and the pain of using Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Everything in one place. Sounds cool. I will report back on how well this works.
Here are additional apps to consider, depending on your style or writing focus:
- Storyist for Mac OS X is a tool for novelists and screenwriters. www.storyist.com
- Ulysses for Mac and iPad, www.ulysses.com/mac offers a clutter-free writing environment. An iOS version is available or you can sync with Daedalus Touch. Uylsses using a library for storing documents, which is like the binder in Scrivener. You can save your documents to iCloud, Dropbox or in your MacFinder. It has a Markdown sidebar were you can add web and e-pub friendly formatting. Ulysses includes tools you may already know and love, such as word and character count. You can export to PDF, Word, RTF, TXT and ePub. $44.99 from the Mac App Store. If you write on the desktop and on your iOS devices, you will enjoy Ulysses. It includes auto-backup, smart lists, text-to-speech and themes. $19.99 for the iPad. This looks like what Scrivener promised and has yet to deliver for iOS.
- Daedalus App lets you write on your iOS devices. It includes a built-in web browser. I was impress by these formatting features: dynamic size and kerning. These are features usually reserved for full-blown page layout programs like InDesign.
- Write for Mac is a note taking and markdown writing app, writeapp.net/mac/. It and features tags which you can sync in the cloud with all your devices. Sync documents and folders in more than one location: iCloud, Dropbox, and Google Drive. You can add tags and it supports Markdown. Sharing is possible using AirDrop, Messages, Twitter, Facebook and it offers HTML previews. It comes in a desktop ($9.99) and iOS version ($1.99).
- Writer for Mac, https://ia.net/writer/mac/ makes writing for websites, apps and videos easy. It comes in a free and pro version ($19.99). It syncs with iCloud and Dropbox, export to pdf or html, to and from Word.
- For bloggers, check into MarsEdit, which is one of the priciest of the apps at $40. It looks and feels like Scrivener. MarsEdit supports WordPress and other popular blogging platforms like Tumblr and TypePad. Like Scrivener, you can embed url links, with the addition of images and header formats. You write in WYSIWYG and it converts to HTML automatically.
“On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.” – DAVID OGILVY
This is a special category of writing. Headlines are an invitation to your audience. If your headline is boring, nobody will read the rest of your stuff. If you write blog posts, articles stories, you would do well to check into one or more of these headline analyzer tools.
I use to these apps to write better headlines and titles. Two of them are free to use browser-based analyzers. The third is a paid desktop app with some unique features that make it worth the investment.
Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Analyzer
“Paste your headline in the text area below. The analysis engine will automatically cut your submission at 20 words, so we encourage you to do a word count before submitting! This will ensure the most accurate analysis.three areas:, Intellectual, Empathetic, Spiritual.
Scores are shown for each area and how you compare to expert copywriters. Using this tool will easily improve your writing.
Coschedule Headline Analyzer
This analyzer has a different way of looking at your headlines. You paste in your headline and you are given a letter grade. This tools gives you an analysis of the overall structure, grammar, and readability of your headline.
It shows the make-up of your headline: common words, uncommon words, emotional words, and power words. It shows the number of characters and words used in your headline too. The counts are helpful for SEO. It shows the keywords used in your headline.
These headline analyzers differ in focus. Using them has helped me write attention grabbing headlines. I primarily use them for blog post titles and for email subject lines.
This is a paid program. It includes swipe files and up to the minute results about what titles are getting viewers. Results are based on Google and Bing searches. It also possible to see what headlines/titles are trending in real time. You can see the keywords in the headlines. I can save my own headlines for future reference. This is a timesaver for generating headlines that you know will work. MAC and PC compatible.
There are many choices and my advice is…
I haven’t even touched on many of the specialty writing tools available. When evaluating apps, I begin with the features I need, then I look at what else is possible. Being able access my files on any device is a “must have” for me. I use Scrivener when I am on my desktop. Before starting this article, I was unaware of some of the other writing tools available and may be switching over to one of these newer powerhouse apps.
My main purpose in seeking a good writing app is is to make my mobile note taking easier. My list of needs:
- taking notes at meetings
- blogging (drafts and editing)
- prepare presentations
- workshop materials
- compose sales copy
- Developing course materials
I was all set to buy Textilus Pro. After researching writing apps for this article, I am considering a move to Ulysses for my iPad. I like the features of Write and Writer too. My advice is to try out the apps you are considering if possible and many offer a free trial or have a free version and a paid version.
I almost forgot, another app I use on my iPad and iPhone: Index Card 4 – Corkboard Writing App. It uses note cards for each of your files, just as you find in Scrivener. You can reorder the cards and it rearranges your content. You move your writing around just as if you were using paper notecards. Index Card syncs with Scrivener which is how I can to use it. It is a stand in for the long-promised iOS version of Scrivener. You can save and share documents as RTF, TXT, PDF, Scrivener, Notecard, and OPML format. $4.99 available from iTunes and from the developer’s website: http://www.denvog.com/.
Markdown is code. Browsers need instructions to know how to display text and media.
Web pages and e-publications are built with html Markdown. It identifies the parts of a page: paragraphs, headings, lists, links, images,and tables.
Learn more about Markdown at Markdown Cheatsheet.
Go out and use one or more of these tools and write better. I’d love to hear which one you are using and why you like it.