Writing Freeware

I was talking to fellow writer and blogger Jan of Writer’s Flow today about writer-friendly word processing programs. I have a couple of suggestions if you’re looking for something that helps you keep track of your WIP, whether novel or screenplay.

The first is called yWriter, created by Simon Haynes, chief cook and bottle washer at Spacejock.com. It’s up to version 5 now, for Windows XP/Vista, although version 4 for earlier versions of Windows is also available for free download from the yWriter site. There’s even a Google group devoted to it, presumably for support and understanding the nuances of the program. It seems very simple:

What is yWriter?
It’s a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes. It will not write your novel for you, suggest plot ideas or perform creative tasks of any kind. It does help you keep track of your work, leaving your mind free to create.


All scenes are stored in RTF files, and these can be edited with regular word processors if you wish (assuming yWriter isn’t running at the same time). The editor also allows setting of font style and size, plus bold, italics and underline.

yWriter now contains an importer. Just save your work-in-progress as an RTF file with chapter headings (e.g. Chapter 1, Chapter 2) and scene breaks (* * *), and you can import it as a fully-laid-out project split into chapters and scenes.

So that’s probably enough to figure out if you want to check it out or not. It’s also available for download through C|NET, and ZDNET.

The second I ran across in a blog post at Boshemia’s Bohemia. The program is called RoughDraft. This one apparently has special modes for plays and screenplays, which I don’t think (but I could be wrong) yWriter has. My main reservation about this program is it apparently hasn’t been updated since April, 2005, so I don’t know how it would interact with the latest versions of Windows, or Word if you were to try to import your files from W0rd 2007. Boshemia has a good write-up on the features so you may want to read that before downloading the program.

Anyway, just a couple of programs to check out if you’re in the market for some free writing software.

ADDENDUM: Boshie contacted me with some further info on the RoughDraft software which I will quote here:

To answer your questions I have run Roughdraft on every computer I own. Including two Vista machines. I haven’t had any trouble with it at all.

It is such a clean and simple program, it doesn’t have a lot of fancy features to malfunction. The only part I don’t like are the dictionary/thesaurus. Which is actually Word Web, it has very limited choices sometimes but it is better than MS.

As for bringing it over from MS. That is a problem because RoughDraft only uses RTF files. You can open all of your writing files individually and convert them, which is what I did, but it takes a very long time.

So if there is a drawback to RoughDraft, that is it. Other than that it is a smooth program. I write on several different computers so I’m always moving files around. I’ve never had a problem from one version to the next or one one computer to the next.

So there you have it. Always good to talk to someone who has actually used the program. Thanks, Boshie!


6 thoughts on “Writing Freeware”

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  2. thanks for the followup info…its always nice to have friends do the research for me :)haha…I have been using Word for so long, it is hard to change but that is the theme this year so I should embrace it, right?…change we can believe in 🙂


  3. Yes indeedy!

    My thing is with Word it’s hard to keep track of different chapters. I feel like Jack Kerouac, writing the whole thing in one long continuous roll of paper. I’ll let you know if I get around to trying one of these.


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