Finishing a novel takes focus, dedication, motivation and time. Tools for book writing online make it much easier for you to plot a story, create a sustainable writing routine, draft without distraction and more. Don’t wait for NaNoWriMo to roll around again to finish your novel this year. Make headway now with the help of these 10 online writing tools:
Jot down whole swathes of your novel faster using this writing and collaboration tool.
The ‘Hemingway’ mode in Draft is a novel solution for those of us who love to go back and edit our work as we go incessantly. In Hemingway mode you can’t delete anything and can only move forward. It’s free, so try it if you need to stop yourself from editing your novel’s first page repeatedly.
Writing historical epics or romance? Or is your main character a medical professional, perhaps, and you need to research some facts about human anatomy for some dialogue? Factual detail can add extra richness to your novel.
But your fact-finding can easily bog you down, especially if you have to return repeatedly to find information you’ve already looked up before. Evernote lets you save articles and images you find online (in full or part) to the Evernote app, for later viewing. Installing the browser extension lets you instantly save any information you come across.
One feature of Evernote is that you can create individual journals containing multiple notes. Create journals such as ‘Characters’ or ‘Setting’ and fill them with details that you can use in your book. Store all the factual detail you’ll need as you go in an easy-to-use platform.
The app is available for desktop computers as well as mobile devices.
Book writing online can be overwhelming since there are so many competing ideas about how best to draft your novel. One truth about writing a novel is that organizing your thoughts and ideas speeds the process up. It helps forge a sense of direction.
Before you draft your story, you need an idea of why you are writing this story and where in particular the narrative might lead. Coggle is a useful (and visually beautiful) online brainstorming tool, that lets you visually map your ideas. There’s a free version that allows you to create unlimited mind maps, but to gain private maps costs $5 per month for subscription.
Use a mind mapping tool such as Coggle in conjunction with the Now Novel ideas finder to arrange and organize your creative ideas. Gathering all your initial ideas about specific characters, settings or plot events will kick-start the process of building a complete and satisfying story.
Oranization is a core challenge for many writers. Trello is an easy-to-use information organizing tool.
When logged into your free, private account you can create a ‘board’ on any topic of your choosing. Each board is a blank space where you can create side-by-side lists that can be rearranged as you desire. You can add cards to each list – blocks of text that can be moved around vertically within your list or dragged and dropped to other lists. You can also attach images and website links to individual cards.
Use Trello as a tool to structure your novel as this example illustrates:
Write scene summaries on individual cards. Shuffle them around to try out different plot and narrative sequences if you wish. You can do similar (with the added benefit of scene-tagging and filtering what you see) in Now Novel’s Story Builder.
5. Google Calendar
‘Not having time to write’ was the number one obstacle reported when we asked you what was stopping you finishing your novel (in a blog reader survey).
Not having time is so often simply not making time. Think of how when entering a new relationship or discovering a new hobby you will shift a lot of things around to make time? Being committed to writing a novel requires the same dedication.
It’s easier to find gaps in your schedule and manage your productivity when you have an easy-to-use, well-structured online calendar. Google Calendar in particular is a great booking writing online tool. Besides being able to color-code your scheduled events and activities, you can also set alarm reminders for your mobile phone. Often simply forget to spend some time writing? This will help you keep focused on your writing goals.
6. Pomodoro Technique Tools
To finish writing a book this year, you need focus in addition to determination. The Pomodoro technique is an approach to working smarter developed by Francesco Cirillo. You build frequent small breaks into your writing and in doing so become more focused and productive.
The idea behind this approach is that the ideal length of time for working without faltering attention is 25 minutes. There is an official Pomodoro app in the works, but you can find other digital timers online. Tomatoes is one free app, and you can optionally set a ticker sound to play through your internet browser and spur you on as you go.
7. The Now Novel Dashboard
Sure, this is shameless self-promotion. But Now Novel’s story outlining tool (‘the Dashboard’) provides a structured, guided process that will help you identify key elements of your story and create an outline or blueprint for your novel step-by-step.
The Scribble Pad is your private space on Now Novel where you can save extracts from your work in progress. These you can choose to share individually with the rest of the Now Novel community, either publicly or anonymously, for helpful feedback.
8. Power Thesaurus
Do you that your writing slows down sometimes because there’s an exact word you want and the alternative you’ve used just isn’t working? Thesauruses are essential tools for every writer. It doesn’t matter whether you aspire to be an author or are already published. A Thesaurus will help you find the right word with the most fitting connotations.
Power Thesaurus is an online tool that will help you quickly find a synonym that works for your passage. Also use a reliable, reputable dictionary as you go to check spellings or definitions you are unsure of. This will save you much time when it comes to editing.
Something else that can slow you down while writing a novel is coming up with names for your primary and secondary cast of characters.
Namepedia is a database containing thousands of names from around the world along with their meanings. You can also quickly find foreign-language equivalents for the names whose meanings best fit your characters. The name ‘Karl’, for example, means ‘brave’. If you have a Polish character, this becomes ‘Karol’. Use Namepedia to quickly find names that are symbolic of your characters’ backstories and choices.
Writer’s block is something that writers of all experience levels encounter. Some grapple with it more than others. One of its biggest causes is excessive self-censorship or self-criticism. One of the best ways to overcome writer’s block is to do free-writing. Write something – write anything – for at least 10 minutes. This loosens up the writing ‘muscle’.
A large part of becoming a productive and more confident writer is also practice. 750 words is a free online tool that helps you work your way up to writing 750 words per day. It’s a distraction-free writing environment, and you can view a breakdown of how often you’ve reached your word count target and other useful and interesting statistics. Use it either for free-writing or for reaching your daily word count targets.
Writing a novel is hard work in addition to being a fun-filled process of discovery. Try our story outlining tool and create a helpful, structured outline that will be like a trusty sidekick as you draft your book.