I am a developer. I'm curious what features other writers look for in writing software.

(I am, of course, excluding features of typical word processors such as options to change font size, paragraph alignment, etc.)

*Important - this is only in reference to novel writing, not screen writing.

  • Welcome to Writers. We've had this question before so I've closed it as a duplicate. The duplicate was closed because it was more of a discussion/opinion-poll question than one that can be answered objectively. You could edit this to address both those problems by focusing on the problem you are trying to solve. Are you trying to decide what writing software to buy? If so, please describe what you want to do with it (track lots of characters, manage a complex plot, whatever). Once we know what problem you're trying to solve, we'll be better able to help you. Thanks. Jul 6, 2015 at 15:38
  • No I'm working with a developer to create writing software and I'm interested to know what features people look for. I searched and I did not see where this specific question was asked. Jul 7, 2015 at 14:44

2 Answers 2


To be able to write nonlinearly

I want to be able to write chapter 3 before finishing chapter 1.

To have a thesaurus built-in

To have a proof-reading mode (like the track changes feature in Word)

Built-in Integration with Dropbox or Google Drive

Version Control, so that one can choose which are major changes, and can be reverted back to if needed.

  • 1
    For me: no thesaurus, please. All the built in thesauri, dictionaries etc. are of very poor quality and I would rather use the best available resources (e.g. OED) than some free open source crap bloating my software. Also, for me: no built-in integration with any third party cloud data thieves. And I want to be independent of the internet, which often does not work where I write (trains driving through network holes, mountain tops). I'd rather sync through a cable. Finally, every text editor allows you to insert text anywhere, so writing non-linearly is a basic feature in all of them.
    – user5645
    Jul 8, 2015 at 6:08
  • I understand that the quality of the thesauri is low, but I have sometimes been able to construct new thoughts, simply by looking a synonym, and the little differences in their meanings. As for being able to write without the network, well, that's always possible. The files would sync only when there's network. My most salient point was the non-linearity. Inserting texts isn't a big deal, but it's easy to mess up the cut and paste, by a sentence or two. The proofreading becomes taxed for unnecessary reasons. Jul 8, 2015 at 13:13
  • If you want something Cloud-connected, you have internet. If you have internet, all the world's thesauri are available to you. Why not go for a modular approach instead of cramming every function into one bloated app?
    – user5645
    Jul 8, 2015 at 13:16
  • Because, moving out of the app would be distracting. Jul 8, 2015 at 13:17
  • I see. But that is a question of character. People where able to write great books before the distraction free writing screen, and I'm sure if you are truly motivated to write, you'll be able to focus despite having to get up and walk to the shelf with the dictionary.
    – user5645
    Jul 8, 2015 at 13:33
  1. A no-distraction fullscreen mode.

  2. Seamless integration with cloud based storage but obviously not reliant on the cloud or internet connectivity.

  3. A visual layout / outlining mode that allows you to build a basic graphical outline of your story. Nothing fancy.

  4. Good built-in thesaurus with a solid dictionary. When I'm looking for a synonym I don't want the software to just tell me that two words are interchangeable - I want to make that call on my own. The ideal thesaurus would suggest a list of words and then provide easy access to their definitions so that the writer can easily choose between them.

  5. Version control / easy editing mode.

  • This is a duplicate of Abinash's answer and downvoted for the same reasons.
    – user5645
    Jul 8, 2015 at 6:09
  • 1
    Well my reasoning here was that since I am a new user and cannot upvote other users' posts the only way that I can add my preference into the OP's assessment of the answers was to post what I am thinking, even if much of it has been said by another user.
    – user251563
    Jul 8, 2015 at 12:24

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.