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yWriter – A Word Processor For Creative Writing

Simon Slangen 24-03-2009

yWriter - A Word Processor For Creative Writing ywriterThe tools used in the creative writing process differ as wildly as the authors; some perform best when using old school pen and paper, while others prefer top-notch text processors.


I, for one, used to put my words down in Microsoft Word, although I never quite thought it to be the ultimate tool for the job.

These days, where programs can be found for every thinkable task, a dedicated creative writing application ought to exist, whether for writing out a script for the local play, or your next novel.

When I went looking for these applications, several candidates popped up, but there’s only one that I still use today.


yWriter is one of those applications and perhaps the most fitted tool for the job if you aim to write a story. Besides throwing down the words, yWriter also assists in other creative writing necessities, such as keeping a close eye on basic plot – and character development, amongst others.

yWriter - A Word Processor For Creative Writing 23 03 2009 20 00 46


As you can view in the above screenshot, every Project is defined by several Chapters. These chapters are then divided into several Scenes.

Extra information can be added to both Chapters and Scenes, as notations, and some information is generated automatically, such as a basic character and location overview.

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The application features a rich text editor to write down the scenes. Though it might not have the looks of say, Office 2007, it features all the tools needed and more.


The interface offers options for easy highlighting and annotating your text, and lets you define your scene more specifically by choosing characters and viewpoints, scene importance, location, pictures, and even time and duration.

Note that the character viewpoints are specified per scene.

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Adding a character, and filling out the details is pretty easy. Extended as well, as they can be divided into major and minor characters, and provided with a biography, notes, goals and a picture or concept drawing.



In StoryBoard mode, you can view and arrange the different chapters and their meanings, to shine some light on the overall plot development and to keep a clear view of where you’re going.

The interface is pretty simple, and thus also somewhat limited. A short note can be assigned to each scene, which are arranged according to the different viewpoints. To quickly change your story outline, you can drag and drop these scenes, and hereby alter their order and viewpoint.

Note that these StoryBoards don’t take on the whole story, but only separate scenes.

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Daily Word Count

There are several other tools integrated in yWriter, but the one I probably like most is Daily Word Count.

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This nifty tool allows you to set yourself a word count objective, and a set date to reach it. Word Count Target will then keep an eye on the progress, showing you how much you’ve achieved at the moment, and what lies ahead still.

Do you see the little Update button in the screenshot above? If you aim to write say, 800 words each time, you can use that button to reset your word count.

I certainly hope this application will prove as useful to some of you as it did to me. Feel free to share your opinion on this program or possible alternatives in the comments below, and don’t be afraid to show off with what you’re writing!

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  1. Nemu
    November 29, 2009 at 1:15 am

    just a question. is there any way i can re-use characters in a story? from a previous story that is, without having to copy and paste/type everything all out again.

    thank you for reading.

    • KR
      December 15, 2009 at 8:37 pm

      Not sure if you'll see this Nemu or if you've figured it out, but you just need to export characters. It'll create a file for them. Then go to a new project and hit import characters. Bam. All done. :)

  2. Renton
    March 28, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Thanks for this one, guys! Really awesome piece of software. You deserve a beer. ;)

  3. Easter Ellen
    March 26, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Does anyone know of a similar program (hopefully not to pricey) for Mac. I would (if anyone knows of) appreciate suggestions for any tool that you may use for shorter items such as poetry as well as novels.

    Thanks in advance,

    Easter Ellen

    • Thom
      October 29, 2009 at 11:56 am

      Scrivener is a really good OS X app. I used it when I ran a Mac. I am hoping yWriter fills the void I feel in Windows right now without Scrivener.

      Also you may want to try out Story Mill by Mariner Soft. That is another really good app.

      Scrivener is $40 and Story Mill is $50. Both have a demo you can download that is basically the full program for 30 days. That way you can check out which you like more and guarantee it's what you're looking for.

  4. Plat
    March 25, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Sounds like too much using MS Word for making up for the lack of true crital thought. Creative writing is too subjective, unless you don't mind going without an income. A good writer does not need a crutch.

    • Randy
      March 25, 2009 at 8:47 am

      Plat, "constructive" criticism would be more helpful than just criticism. Having said that, I'm not tied to MS Word. In fact, I'd prefer a portable solution (running from my thumb drive). I have made use of a nice outliner called the Guide ( and this is very helpful for creating my initial outlines for any writing project. What I'm looking for is a tool to assist me in pulling together external pieces.

      Zemanta ( has what I'm looking for, but I'm not blogging. I write, then submit to my tech editor (thus the need for MS Word). So, any ideas?

  5. Simon
    March 25, 2009 at 7:06 am

    yWriter is for fiction, but there's another app called yEdit2 on my site which has the same autobackup feature and also has a countdown word counter. (E.g. set it to 1000 words and type until it hits zero.) Might be of interest to article/non-fic writers.

    Sonar is also useful to fiction and non-fic writers - you can add markets and pieces of work, then track where you've submitted them, what their status is, whether you've sold them, etc.

    They're both free to download and use.

    Thanks for the yWriter review by the way... much appreciated.

    Finally, bear in mind you can use yWriter as a sort of project manager for multiple pieces. Just create 'chapters' and rename them to whatever category you like (travel, sports, etc, etc) and then use 'scenes' for the actual articles, with a summary in the description field. I use yWriter in this fashion for all my short fiction.

    • Randy
      March 25, 2009 at 8:49 am

      Simon, thank you for the suggestions. I'll look into those packages.

  6. Randy
    March 25, 2009 at 6:21 am

    I also came here to check out this app, as I've been looking for something to assist with my writing. I write tech articles of approximately 1500 words, so this won't be of much use to me. I've been looking at Zemanta, but it doesn't work with Word - it's geared more toward blogging. Any thoughts from anyone on apps similar to Zemanta???

    • Andraz Tori
      April 2, 2009 at 1:26 pm


      Zemanta actually has an API and an eager developer can easily integrate it with Word... we'd be very happy to help him.

      Andraz Tori, Zemanta

  7. lori
    March 24, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Hmm, as a writer, I jumped on this link right away. However, I realize it's got no use for me since I'm a features writer NOT a novelist. Oh well, good info anyway. Thanks!

  8. Shevonne Polastre
    March 24, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Scrivener is pretty good