Free Apps for Writers

Bethany Dean By Bethany Dean, 3rd Apr 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Writing

Short and sweet summaries of the best, tried and tested authors' software available - for free - to help you write that novel, short story or screenplay. Updated 2013.

Why Apps?

The Room of One's Own, a dedicated writing space where you can have your books, notes, favourite pens and pencils to hand is nothing but a dream for writers who have been hit hard by the economy or simply lead busy lives. Luckily, this need has been recognised, and more and more software is being developed with writers' needs in mind to create a set-up on the go - so you can be in the zone anywhere you want.


This is just plain handy to have. Dropbox is a cloud service which lets you host files for easy access and backup. Not a new idea, but Dropbox does it the best. Creative professionals adore it the world over, and this is why:

  • Make your Dropbox public or private and share the link: collaborate with people all over the world
  • Installed on your desktop, it acts like a normal folder: drag and drop files, delete and create folder structures
  • Syncs immediately (requires internet connection), whenever you have wifi, or only when you tell it to
  • It's available on all your devices, so your files are always on hand and editable, and you can star your favourite files to be available offline
  • It's free and the storage is very reasonable, but you can get more GB by completing easy tasks (referring friends, taking the tour) or buying plans

More and more mobile apps have Dropbox functionality, making it a breeze to keep your files updated wherever you go.


Q10 is a frills-free full-screen writing program for maximum writing peace. Free and simple to use, all you need to do is install it, open it up and hit F1 to bring up a list of basic commands: there are no menus here, and no clutter except for an optional info bar at the bottom of the screen which can display your current word count, clock, date, and other essentials.

Q10 has just the right amount of formatting options: enough to personalise it to your taste, but not enough to aid procrastination. Change font and text size, margins, colours and indent the text. It opens the last file you were working on (though unfortunately not where you left off) and saves in .txt format which can be read by almost any other software. It's my personal favourite full-screen editor.


If you're looking for a more involved program for your writing, Celtx is a popular and efficient option. It's more of a screenwriting animal with novel capabilities, with modes for graphic novel creation and radio scripts thrown in: camera setups, props lists and even casting lists and collections of inspirational images can be created in-house and shared with other authors over Celtx's own network, and it's easy to create new scenes and arrange them via drag and drop into any order you wish.

Its free version is easy to use and packed with capabilities, however often the most useful features such as word count and full-screen editing only available after you part with a little cash. You can buy the full version of the software or buy well-thought out and reasonably priced add-on packages such as the Writers' Pack and Pre-Visualisation Tools, which include things like Index Card View, production schedules and progress reports. Celtx leads the way in cross-platform productivity, and its mobile apps are highly recommended.

For the writer who likes experimenting with different formats, isn't afraid to spend a little money and doesn't mind a slightly cluttered view, Celtx is a good option.


This is another full-screen writing app, though only available currently through the App Store. It's even simpler than Q10 with no formatting options to fiddle with, so it's lucky it looks so beautiful. With minimalist black and grey typography and titles in caps, it looks and feels sleek and productive, with the focus squarely on your text. Plaintext was made to sync with Dropbox, so every file is saved in .txt format and synced in a folder within your Dropbox, available on your PC or mobile device wherever you go. You can get a word count by selecting a paragraph, and there's no need to worry as it saves after every keystroke. It's completely free with non-intrusive banner ads, but to go ads-free is incredibly cheap and worth it.

Built as an alternative to the default Notes app, Plaintext looks and feels a lot more like BlackBerry's Memopad, with the added benefit of easy syncing. It does get a little tricky writing prose on a tiny touchscreen, so it's worth investing like I did in a Bluetooth keyboard. This is my favourite writing setup, as it's perfect for on the go - switch on the keyboard, open Plaintext and you've got the simplest, easiest writing set-up imaginable. I can easily switch between my novel and my shopping lists if I get a flash of inspiration!


Author, Celtx, Dropbox, Indie Author, Narrative, Novel, Plaintext, Q10, Software, Story, Writing, Zen Writer

Meet the author

author avatar Bethany Dean
Author of the Rose Prince, available on Kindle and in paperback. | @bethanyrdean

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
22nd Apr 2013 (#)

One of the most useful tools that I have found is Evernote. I can write - on the phone - on my computer - anywhere I can find a browser. I allows me to collect so many great ideas.

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author avatar Bethany Dean
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

I did try Evernote! Lots of people rave about it. I might give it another go sometime soon - thanks for reading Peter!

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author avatar Susan Jane
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

Thanks for sharing this very useful information, Bethany. It should be a great help to many aspiring and professional writers.

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author avatar Songbird B
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

Wow! I never knew that there was such a selection of Apps out there Bethany, so this was enlightening to say the least my friend. Great article and easy to read even for a technophobe like me! Great job! \0/x

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author avatar Bethany Dean
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

Thanks everyone! I'm glad it helped you Songbird!

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author avatar Delicia Powers
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

Very nice, thanks...:0)

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author avatar Helen-FifeWriter
18th May 2013 (#)

I didn't know about most of these - many thanks for the tips and the great article!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
17th Jun 2013 (#)

Writers are always on the lookout for good apps. I'll be recommending your article to other writers. Thanks!!

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