If you’re seriously planning to write a book or a novel, opting for writing software instead of other tools like Microsoft Word can take your project to the next level. Unfortunately, many of these writing tools will cost you some money to use, which many writers and novelists cannot afford.
The good news is, I have found some high-quality, free writing tools that can help you write a well-organized book or novel. Without doubt, one of the best free apps to do that is yWriter, which was developed by author and programmer Simon Haynes. Since its foundation in 2002, yWriter has helped many ambitious writers to write their dream novels and books, and it’s now one of the most reliable, free writing software in the world.
But is yWriter a perfect app? Nope. All writing tools has its flaws, even those that require payment. In this review, I'm breaking down the features of yWriter, where it stands out, and where it falls short. And at the end of our review, I'm going to help you decide whether you should download yWriter or not. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it!
- What yWriter Is
- The pros of yWriter
- The cons of yWriter
- Whether we think you should use it
Table of contents
The Bottom Line: There is actually another tool that I recommend more called Atticus. It's not just a great writing program built for authors, but it's also the best book formatting platform on the market. If you want to know why it's our favorite, check out our comparison of the best writing software on the market, of which yWriter ranks #5.
What Qualifies Me to Review yWriter?
This is an excellent question. The bottom line is that I've been in the publishing industry for well over 10 years, and I have a lot of experience working with various writing tools like yWriter, Scrivener, and a lot of others.
Plus, I've worked with hundreds of authors, many of them well known, and have a decent sense from what they've told me, and what others in my audience have mentioned in surveys, about what book writing tool they like the most.
So with that, let's take a closer look at yWriter.
Pros: Where yWrite Stands Out
yWriter has been a popular writing app that many writers and novelists rely on—and for good reason. yWriter has actually tons to like about! The following are some of the best features about yWriter:
1. It Costs $0!
One of the best things about yWriter is that it can be downloaded and used without spending a penny. Moreover, yWriter has no ads, and doesn't download annoying, sometimes dangerous software from outside sources. Simon Hayes, who created yWriter, suggested users to donate $24.95 or $11.95 to support him and give you some extra benefits. If you donate $24.95, you’ll get a discount on his ebook services, as well as manuscript evaluation. But there are no additional benefits you get when you pay, you’re merely helping the business grow.
When compared to other writing apps prices, the registration with yWriter only costs $24.95, which is quite affordable for many users. Typically, this type of writing software costs at least $50. Despite the fact that yWriter does not provide the same high-quality features as other apps does, including like Scrivener, it is still a fantastic deal for writers who want to enjoy acceptable writing features for free.
2. Smooth Writing Experience
The primary purpose of yWriter is to work as a writing app, and it seems that it does its intended job fairly well. I must say that yWriter has a user-friendly interface, so almost anyone with no experience can easily use this app. yWriter features a straightforward user interface that is easy to use to create scenes and chapters and inserting content into them.
yWriter also offers areas to save the setting and character information. Adding locations and characters to yWriter is truly a breeze, although there are some imperfect elements about it. Adding side characters, as well as adding a description to each character, is also quick and easy.
Another great thing about yWriter is that it makes it easy for you to start your work once you download and install it. yWriter provides users with a good number of fields to write any additional detail at any time. There are various fields for each scene and chapter where to type more info when you want to. It also gives you the ability to add descriptions for the locations and the character appearing in each scene.
So, your novel's planning and writing are basically the main focuses of the interface. The interface of yWriter is designed to aid in material creation and get a general idea about how you want your novel to look like. This interface is definitely helpful when it comes to planning out your characters and chapters. The StoryBoard in yWriter shows your chapters and scenes in graphs. It also shows where each character is present in your chapters and scenes.
To begin in yWriter, you’ll have to create chapters and scenes first. After that, you’ll get to write and enjoy some helpful writing features like paragraph alignment, bold, underline, and italic. There are also color, indent, and spacing for extra editing. Additionally, you’ll enjoy hearing what you wrote on yWriter through the app’s speech engine, giving you the feeling that your project has come to life.
I also like that the reference section of yWriter is organized and geared at writers. The tabs include sections. The tabs include sections for the chapters. characters, scenes, locations, and notes. The characters’ names, biographies, descriptions, pictures, and goals, are all listed in separate tabs in the ‘Characters’ section.
After completing your project, you can export it from yWriter in more than one format. For additional editing, you can export your work as a LaTeX or RTF file. You can also export it in the ePub or Kindle formats if you want to view your project in the format of an e-book.
3. Displays Your Word Count
Word count can be a source of frustration for Microsoft Word and Google Docs users. If you want to keep track of the number of words you write on these apps to reach a certain word count goal, you wouldn’t be able to do that unless you write down the number of words you start with and do some calculations or try to remember the point you started at and highlight your text.
However, yWriter makes your life easier by displaying your word count in front of you, letting you know the number of words you wrote each day. Moreover, yWriter enables you to track your progress in writing. On your table of content, you can view the number of your scenes, the chapters, the word count of chapters, and the word count of your project.
4. Can Run on Windows, iOS, and Android
Windows, iOS, and Android, all support yWriter. This is great about yWriters because it ensures that a bigger number of writers can download and use yWriters, not just those who own a certain type of device. There is currently a Mac beta version available, however, if your work on yWriter is really important, relying on beta software is not the best idea.
Cons: Where yWrite Falls Short
While yWriter has a lot to like, it still falls short in several areas. Here’s what I don’t like about yWriter:
1. Interface Flaws
While yWriter makes it easy for you to create chapters and scenes, you can only work on each scene separately. Additionally, the interface shows your scenes’ text, but editing the text from there is not possible. The only way to do that is to edit them through a new editing window that you open from a section, which can be annoying for some writers. Moreover, yWriter does not offer a zooming option in its interface.
When compared to other writing apps, yWriter is a database tool with tabs, whereas other apps like Scrivener have a more word processor-like interface. yWriter does not originally provide you with a place to write—it only shows you a list of your chapters. characters, scenes, locations, and notes, which are all listed under separate tabs in a pane. There are only empty spaces in front of you when you start writing, which is not the most user-friendly feature in yWriter since it makes it harder for users to figure out the way to start their project.
I also didn’t like the fact that there are some annoying distractions in the writing environment. For example, you can see a weird pane that you don’t know its use shown under the text of your chapters. But the app already provides you with a note tab, so it’s a bit unclear why the developer put this pane in this area. Is it there to make outlines of the chapter and use it while writing? I simply don’t know, all I know is that it does more harm than good.
2. Too Basic and Too Complicated at The Same Time
Another thing that is not great about yWriter is that it has either too basic, outdated features, or excessively complicated ones—there’s no in between! Complicated features are fine since different novelists use different approaches in writing, there are also some writers who require extra space to include more information. But the fact that the info has to be stored in different places can be super annoying sometimes, because it makes it more difficult for you to remember the place of the info you’re looking for.
The windows of the character and scene details include options that help you keep track of many details. The majority of writers would only fill out the ‘Scene title’, ‘Viewpoint’, and ‘Status’. But filling out this big amount of info can be time-consuming and not worth it.
The outlining feature in yWriter is quite basic. You need to use a certain syntax to write the text. It will be shown in graphs when you click on ‘Preview’. Finally, yWriter only offers outlining for scenes and chapters. The new parts will be added in the project after clicking on ‘OK’.
3. You Can’t Work Online
One of the things that I didn’t like about yWriter is that it’s an offline program. Of course, I'm aware that some writing apps are offline, but imagine if you can work on your project online on yWriter and enjoy some extra features like Google Docs. Much cooler, huh?
The Final Verdict: Should You Get yWriter?
I do not recommend that you get yWriter when compared to the many other software out there. In particular, I recommend Atticus as not only the best writing software, but the best formatting software as well. Not only is it priced on a lifetime guarantee so you will never have to pay for updates, but it's available on virtually every platform.
Otherwise, if you don’t mind some interface flaws and working offline, yWriter might be worth trying, especially since it will literally cost you nothing to try and see whether it’s a good option for you or not. Overall, yWrite provides you novel-writing-focused features, which may appeal more to novelists' tastes. The app has specific sections where you can create everything about your novel or book, including characters and locations, which might help you plan more efficiently.