Alternatives to Chapterly: What Writing Tool is Best For You?
What Are Some Writing Alternatives to Chapterly?
These days, authors have a lot of options when it comes to the programs, software, and methods they use to write their books. And with artificial intelligence becoming more accessible and powerful than ever (which is equal parts terrifying and exciting), that list is only going to get longer.
And maybe you’re trying to decide which platform is best for your style and your stories, or perhaps your current platform just isn’t doing it for you. Heck, maybe you don’t even know where to start!
Amongst us writer folk and the platforms we use to write our books, Chapterly is one of the big players in the field. Even if you haven’t heard of it, odds are some of the writers you follow on Twitter or in your writing group have. Maybe they’ve even written a book with it.
But does that mean Chapterly is right for you? And, if it isn’t, what are your other options and how do they stack up against Chapterly?
Luckily, I’ve read your mind and am here to answer all that. In this article, we’re going to discuss:
- What Chapterly is, the features it boasts, and why you might want to use it
- The reasons authors might look for alternative writing software to Chapterly
- What you should look for in other novel writing software
- The top alternatives to Chapterly, including in-depth reviews and testimonials
Choosing the tools you use to write your novel isn’t an easy decision, nor should it be. That’s why I hope, by the end of this article, you’ll be one step closer to knowing which platform is right for you.
Full disclosure: Let’s address the elephant in the room before we get too far. It hopefully hasn’t escaped your notice that you’re reading this article on Dabble’s website, and I must tell you that I have written many articles for Dabble and use it to write my books. Dabble is a direct competitor with Chapterly.
That said, I was told to be as honest and transparent as possible when writing this article; I’m not here to sell you on Dabble but to help you decide what works best for you, and I’ve done my best to do just that, no strings attached.
In order to give a fair look into Chapterly, I signed up for the Premium version and used an old short story (that will never again see the light of day without a complete overhaul) as some copy for chapters.
Let’s start with the basics, though.
Chapterly claims to be “everything you’ll ever need to write and publish your story.” It’s combined a writing app with a handful of tools and features that can take you from ideation to publishing, including brainstorming, outlining, writing, editing, formatting, cover creation, and more along the way.
Their website says that Chapterly can replace Evernote, Scrivener, Livingwriting, MS Word, Google Docs, Canva, Milanote, Vellum, and InDesign, which sounds like a dream come true.
Chapterly has a lot of features under the hood, even including Chap, the platform’s artificial intelligence that claims to learn more as you write. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are the features most writers will be looking for when considering Chapterly:
- Writing tools
- Outlining and templates
- Goal setting
- Cover Design
- Artificial intelligence
There are other features and elements that don’t fall under those categories, which I’ll cover towards the end of this section. For now, let’s examine the biggest features of Chapterly to see if it’s right for you.
When you start with Chapterly, you’re given a fourteen-day free trial before anything is charged to your card. When you sign up, the system leads you through a short onboarding process to get to know you and your writing a bit more.
Up first, it asks whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction. I chose fiction, and it followed up with asking what genre and subgenre I was writing.
Honestly, I was impressed with the scope of options it had, as most writing apps will just end at sci-fi/fantasy, in my case. But of the seven genre options they had (Thriller & Suspense, Historical Fiction, Romance, Mystery & Crime, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Movie, TV, & Literary Fan Fiction, and Contemporary Fiction), all genres except fan fiction had six or more subgenres to choose from.
According to the program, this selection helps inform Chap, the AI, when it tries to help you later on.
You are also prompted to put a brief description of your book in before you get started. This can all be changed later in the book’s settings. Don’t judge my description too harshly, I was just trying to get to the good stuff.
After that introduction, you’re brought to the subscription page to choose your plan. As of August 2023, the two options are Standard at $9.99/month and Premium at $14.99 per month.
Standard gets you all the tools a writer would expect from their writing software, plus 3,500 AI-assisted words per month.
Premium increases that word count to 11,500 words per month plus the ability for your Chap to learn from your writing sessions.
I opted for the Premium version to see how capable the AI was, which we’ll discuss later.
After this step, the onboarding experience took a bit of a sour detour. Once I entered my payment info (sorry, no screenshot of that), I was brought to an upsell page.
Folks can hate on upsell pages all they want, but they’re an important and effective part of business, so I wasn’t too put out. I reviewed the offer and politely declined by clicking no thanks.
I’m not here to judge whether the offer was worth it or not; I’ll leave that up to you.
After that page, I was met with a “are you sure?” with parts of the offer for less money. Again, no thanks.
And, again, that’s fine in my books, especially if someone finds value in it. But then…
Three upsell pages when I want to start writing novels and exploring Chapterly was just a bit much to cram into the onboarding process. By then, I’d mostly forgotten about the positives of the first few interactions.
Luckily, after saying no once more, it brought me to a page to choose from three outline styles (The 20-day method, 27-chapter method, and Freytag’s Pyramid, though there are a few more nonfiction-specific options, too). From those outlines, you also choose a story archetype, which Chapterly provides some information on.
This allows Chapterly to tailor the outline to your needs. I thought this part of the onboarding process was great, since so many new or inexperienced authors don’t even know where to start.
Luckily, Chapterly auto-populates the outline into your project, including an overview of what it is, why it’s useful, and how to use it. Even for pantsers, this is quite helpful.
From there, Chapterly plops you into your new manuscript, presenting the outline in front of you. At this point, you’re ready to start writing, if you want.
As far as writing tools go, Chapterly does a great job of keeping things out of your way when you’re writing. There are two collapsible panels, one on either side of the screen, and a navigation pane that hangs out on the left and expands when you hover over it.
If that’s not enough, you can also enter fullscreen mode, which puts your manuscript in the middle of the screen and hides everything else.
The writing part of Chapterly has most of the things you’d expect: basic formatting and styles, a clean look, and the ability to break your manuscript up into chapters.
Chapterly also has space for you to create character and location profiles, front and back matter info (with suggestions for different content), a place to make and store book covers, and even built-in Boards to make mind maps and storyboards.
I love a good character sketch or profile, and Chapterly gives you a place to house that sort of information. Based on information you provide, Chap can generate basic character ideas for you and populate some info, but you have space to come up with:
- Their name
- A short description
- A bio
It’s unclear how a short description, bio, and notes are supposed to differ from one another, and Chapterly doesn’t do anything to help in that regard.
You can also upload an image to represent your character and give them attributes that are like a quick reference of traits and information.
Similar to characters, you can make location profiles for the different settings in your story. This includes the name, nickname, short and long descriptions, and notes, as well as attributes.
It’s a handy tool to have, especially for people who are investing a lot of time in worldbuilding.
Outlining and Templates
As I mentioned before, there are a few outlining methods and seven story archetypes you can choose from to automatically populate an outline for you to use in your story.
Yes, you still need to put all the work in, but this makes the plotting process a lot easier than starting from scratch and still gives you the flexibility to make it your own.
A graphic on Chapterly’s website implies that outlining methods like the Snowflake Method are available, but only the three previously mentioned templates are currently integrated into the platform.
On top of that, there are no templates available to structure your story or other folders (i.e., worldbuilding templates, character templates, etc.) available at the time of writing.
Writing a book is such a large endeavor that I can’t imagine anyone doing it in a realistic time frame without setting goals. I’m a huge goal-setting advocate, and Chapterly provides the option to set custom goals and reminders.
With Chapterly, you can set customs goals including the number of words, your time frame (per day, week, or month), which book should be considered part of the goal, and when you want reminders.
While it’s not necessarily as comprehensive as other novel writing platforms and their goal setting, the flexibility of daily, weekly, and monthly goals, as well as the ability to set multiple goals, is great and lends itself well to developing a strong writing process.
Brainstorming with Boards
In addition to giving you outlining templates, places to store information on your characters and locations, and the ability to organize notes and folders with all the info you can come up with, Chapterly has built-in “Boards” that allow you to visualize your brainstorming.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at these sorts of visualization tools, but I know other authors who absolutely adore them.
Chapterly Boards let you add content directly from your book (i.e., characters, chapters, locations) as well as custom text, images, and links.
In keeping with the idea of an all-in-one tool, Chapterly has a cover design feature that lets you start with a blank cover or choose from a bank of existing covers to modify and expand upon.
The design tool is pretty straightforward: you can add images, text, and shapes. The writing software also comes with templates for multiple types of covers, like e-books, dust jackets, paperbacks, etc.
There aren’t a ton of features, especially compared to a free design tool like Book Brush, nor is it as user friendly or comprehensive as platforms like Canva. Still, it gets the job done if you have a knack for design.
Now we get to the feature that sets Chapterly apart from most other novel writing platforms. Chap, the AI bot/module/assistant/friend in Chapterly is a newer feature that can, among other things, help you:
- Come up with new character ideas
- Simplify your prose
- Compose new passages
- Generate a title
- Create a book description
Let’s take a quick look at each one. And an actual quick look, I promise!
New Character Ideas
I think this is where Chap shines the most. Using what you’ve written, your genre, description, title, voice, characters, locations, and notes, Chap will come up with a handful of character names and short descriptions.
The ideas aren’t bad, though sometimes it feels like Chap is just ignoring information you already have (e.g., Lilly's notes include her not knowing about monsters, but Chap insists on describing her as someone who believes in magic).
Still, it can be helpful to have some fresh character ideas when your imagination is being stubborn.
Simplify Your Prose
I think all authors, myself included, can trim some of our fluff words from our first draft or two. In fact, I know I always need to.
Chap gives you the option to do that with the click of a button.
It’s pretty effective at cutting out the fluff and getting right to the point. Sometimes, as in the image above, it goes a little too far for my taste and removes any of the details that add to immersion or describe the setting.
That said, it can still be a helpful tool for trimming down a line or two when you know you’ve gone a bit too far with your exposition.
Compose New Passages
Similarly, Chap can compose brand new lines for you. While it seems to do better than your standard ChatGPT passage, it struggles without context and can add details that just don’t jive with what you have.
For example, it gave my protagonist a crossbow in the middle of a fight, even though I didn’t mention it before nor does it really work with the entire scene.
Even so, the idea isn’t to write your book for you but provide inspiration for you to mold and add on to.
Chap can also help you generate a title for your book.
My results, below, weren’t great. It suggested the current title, a very generic title (Monster Hunter), one with a name that doesn’t exist in the information provided(Eve and Claire), and Power Couple, which just… doesn’t make sense with the story.
It might improve when it has full notes, character profiles, and more than the 4,000 words I provided it. Or you can just keep providing feedback until it comes up with something you like.
Create a Book Description
Lastly, Chap can come up with a description for your book if you’re struggling. And writing descriptions can be harder than writing the book itself.
Unfortunately, Chapterly’s AI just comes up with random book descriptions to inspire a new story. Unlike characters or titles, it doesn’t factor in what you’ve already written when it generates a book description, resulting in:
So if you’re completely stuck on a new idea for your next book, this might be able to help you out.
Finally, Chapterly has a handful of other features that don’t fall into the other categories.
Collaboration - Chapterly features real-time collaboration for co-authoring, editing, and commenting for helpful folks like beta readers and critique partners.
Formatting and exporting - While I didn’t finish a novel in my time with Chapterly, I looked at the formatting and exporting options built into the Chapterly ecosystem. These tools provide e-book and print options (including multiple print sizes), preset themes, font choices for all the different elements of your book, and formatting templates for chapters, headers and footers, and body text.
Courses and services - Chapterly offers a whole host of mini courses and professional services ranging from editing to coaching to cover design.
Audience monetization - There’s an Audience tab with a form to request early access to Audience tools which Chapterly promises authors can use to “engage and monetize their audience during the creative process.” There weren’t any other details available, though.
Why Look for Chapterly Alternatives?
Okay, so now that we have an in-depth overview of Chapterly, is there even a reason for authors to look elsewhere?
Sure! I think that can be said of every writing platform. There will be some authors who love what it has to offer, and some who find it lacking. Here’s a quick glance at the pros and cons of Chapterly to help you decide.
Here are some of the reasons you might want to start using or stick with Chapterly:
All in one place - Chapterly has all the tools you need to go from idea to formatted manuscript in one place, meaning you don’t need to worry about exporting until you’re sending your book to an agent, publisher, or self-publishing platform like KDP.
Notes, characters, and locations - It’s nice to have a dedicated place for your character sketches, location profiles, and story notes all within easy access of your manuscript. No one should have to keep multiple documents open when writing their stories these days.
Outlining templates - The ability to choose from three different outlining styles and seven story archetypes can be a real help to those who hate outlining or don’t know where to start.
Integrated mind maps - For the visually inclined, the fact that all your content integrates with Boards is a great quality of life feature.
Automatic Syncing - Losing your work is rough, and automatic syncing means you never lose a word, even with power outages or switching devices.
Custom goal setting - Goals are the best. Custom goals are even better.
On the flip side, here are some reasons you might look elsewhere for your writing app of choice:
Jack of all trades, master of none - Though it’s great to have all stages of the writing process in one place, Chapterly doesn’t do the individual parts better than other software or tools. There are better writing platforms, worldbuilding systems, cover designers, formatters, and planning tools out there, but none bring all those options together like Chapterly does.
Responsiveness - Maybe this is nitpicking, but the web client of Chapterly wasn’t as responsive as I’d like it to be. I frequently had to click on a chapter two or three times to bring it up. During automatic syncing, the platform would also have an occasional hiccup or revert back a word or two.
Lack of integration - Though the Boards pull in your work, nowhere else integrates across your book. This means you can’t make scene-specific notes that are easily accessed from those scenes, nor can you attach location info to the places where you’re using those locations.
Minimal tooltips or tutorials - For all the features Chapterly has, there are a real lack of tooltips when hovering over the various icons and the tutorials/guides available are not very comprehensive.
Lack of community - Chapterly doesn’t have any social media presence I could find, nor does it strive to create a sense of community amongst its users. While it does have value-add products in the form of paid services, it felt like that was the priority over providing more content and community for its subscribers.
Developing AI - I’m not going to smack-talk Chap here, because artificial intelligence is still growing every day and few, if any, other writing apps or platforms have integrated it like Chapterly has. That said, the AI here felt clunky and unlearned at the best of times. That may change as you use the platform more and as technology evolves, but for now it doesn’t feel great to use.
The list of cons isn’t enough to make every writer forsake Chapterly, nor is that the point of this article. I actually enjoyed my time with Chapterly and can see a lot of potential for those who use it more than a couple of times.
And all that it does, it does just fine. Like I said, it’s a Jack of all trades. It has basically everything you need, but it doesn’t specialize in any one area.
What to Look for in Chapterly Alternatives
Let’s get down to the brass tacks. If you aren’t happy with Chapterly, what should you be looking for in other writing apps and platforms?
The decision then comes down to what you need.
Chapterly is a great option to give you a one-stop shop for your book. And with its latest updates introducing the outlining tools and artificial intelligence, Chapterly is on the path to buffing up the elements of its broad offering.
So if you’re looking for alternatives, we want to focus on specializations. Identify where you need help or more comprehensive tools and find an alternative that brings that benefit.
Here are some key areas of specialization you might want to consider when looking for Chapterly alternatives:
Writing tool - The core of any platform, Chapterly’s writing app offers basic formatting and a full-screen option. It doesn’t offer features like focus mode, auto-fade, keeping your current line in the center or top of the screen, or the ability to divide your writing up into scenes.
Outlining and planning - The outlining templates in Chapterly are great, but they are limited in scope and don’t integrate at all with the manuscript. Essentially, they’re just pre-populated notes. And that’s fine, but there are tools out there that are more comprehensive for planning a novel.
Worldbuilding - While Chapterly has a dedicated space for location profiles, the content is limited.
Character development - Like locations, the character section of Chapterly is perfectly fine, but it doesn’t do much to aid in character development or creation.
Formatting - Chapterly’s formatting is quite user-friendly and has a bunch of options, but it’s not as intricate as you can get, nor does it have the number of templates or details other platforms boast.
Value-add content - Chapterly provides a lot of opportunities to pay for more content (almost to a detrimental degree), but it doesn’t provide much in the way of free content to improve your craft or connect you with other authors. You get what you pay for and nothing else.
Do any of those resonate with you? Unfortunately, no writing app does all of these perfectly. Different platforms have different strengths, weaknesses, and specializations.
And now we’re going to look at the alternatives you might want to consider using.
Ten Writing Platform Alternatives to Chapterly
With the following options for your authorly ambitions, I’m going to explain what the writing tool is, the specialty it excels at, the pros and cons, some basic info, and why you might choose it over Chapterly.
It’s important to note that these alternatives are in no particular order and numbered solely for organization, not as some sort of ranking system.
Specialties: Outlining and planning, value-add content
Price: Starting at $9.99/month
“Dabble has everything I need for creating and writing my stories (fantasy novels, which need a LOT of notes), without anything I don’t. It’s simplistic in the best way, and it’s gorgeous to boot. The Plot Grid may have blown my mind. I have never been so excited about outlining in my life. All in all, I love Dabble and I hope it sticks around for a looooong time, because I never want to write with anything else!” - Constance, Dabble user
It should come as no surprise that Dabble’s writing platform will make this list of Chapterly alternatives. I was upfront about my connection with Dabble and the very website you’re reading this on, but I’m including it as a viable Chapterly alternative because of the features it comes with.
As far as an actual writing tool, Dabble and Chapterly share many similarities. You can write your manuscript in either, though Dabble lets you divide chapters up into scenes, which are important for integration into your planning and outlining. Dabble includes a focus and auto-fade mode, which Chapterly is missing, but you can easily create a distraction free writing environment with this alternative tool.
When it comes to worldbuilding and character development, both platforms have notes and folders to help you organize your thoughts and keep them one click away during your writing process.
Where Dabble truly differentiates itself is the Plot Grid. This tool allows you to organize your plot, subplots, character development, relationships, conflicts, themes, and anything else you can think of alongside each individual scene. These notes are then populated in the sidebar of the associated scene, making it that much easier to stay consistent and include everything you brainstormed beforehand.
On top of that, Dabble provides a lot of value-add content outside of its software. DabbleU has hundreds of free articles to help improve your craft and achieve your writing dream. We have a free e-book that makes finishing your first draft possible, even for new writers. The Story Craft Café is our online community of writers—both Dabblers and non-Dabblers—with a podcast where my friend Hank interviews bestselling authors from all genres.
Both platforms have a fourteen-day free trial, though Dabble doesn’t ask for your credit card info until you’re ready to become a subscriber. Which, with virtually no learning curve, should be pretty darn quick.
#2. World Anvil
Specialty: Worldbuilding, value-add content
Price: Starting at $10 CAD/month, free basic tier available
“Trust me, this platform was built by worldbuilders for worldbuilders. If you need it, World Anvil has it.” - GinnyDi, World Anvil user
I’ll admit, I have a bit of a crush on World Anvil. This program started as a tool meant for dungeon masters and game masters of tabletop role playing games (like Dungeons & Dragons) to build their worlds and bring it to their gaming groups.
Nowadays, World Anvil boasts the most comprehensive suite of worldbuilding tools of any software, and they’ve expanded their platform to include authors and their stories.
I’m not going to list every worldbuilding feature World Anvil has, because that would take up too much space, but it includes: timelines and world history, biographies on important people, interactive maps, worldbuilding templates, family trees, and more.
Honestly, if you can think of something you want when creating your imaginary world, World Anvil probably has the tool.
From an author’s perspective, this worldbuilding is fully integrated into their novel writing platform. As far as the power of this online writing tool goes, it’s no better or worse than most out there, but it connects you to every word you’ve written about the world with built-in search functions.
World Anvil also offers a digital publishing platform and a community of more than 2,000,000 users. I can’t speak to the strengths of publishing with them, especially when compared to self-publishing on Amazon or another massive market distributor.
What World Anvil does bring to the table is a unique way to engage your readers. You can have an entire wiki available for your audience to peruse through, including interactive maps with notable events, places, and features to occupy them between books.
If you want to get absolutely lost in your worldbuilding, click here to learn more about World Anvil.
Specialty: Outlining and planning
Price: Starting at $39/year for ongoing updates
"I really like the simplicity of Plottr. It brings structure and clarity to outlining in an easy way... I couldn't recommend it enough if you are a fan of outlining or if you are looking for a tool to help you get there." - Oliver B., Plottr user
Where World Anvil is the grand champion of worldbuilding, Plottr takes that title for, as the single-voweled name implies, plotting.
Plottr brings a lot of planning and outlining options to the table. Its biggest differentiating feature is its intuitive timeline that can be used with the software’s 30+ plot and scene templates.
On top of that, Plottr helps you build a story bible of characters and locations, organizing both, allowing you to link characters to specific scenes and places, and creating custom attributes to make it easy to track specific details.
When you’ve input all the juicy details, Plottr will even pull it all together and generate an automatic outline for you. That’s especially helpful for pantsers who hiss like a vampire in sunlight at the idea of outlining.
The only downside? You can’t actually write your book in Plottr. The writing software makes it easy to export your outline to Microsoft Word or Scrivener, but it doesn’t support other platforms and means you’ll need at least two tools to finish your manuscript.
Plottr starts at $39/year, but any tier will get you the actual software for life. Annual or lifetime payment options add on yearly or permanent access to any future updates. Using it online (as opposed to offline, locally saved files on a device) requires the highest tier subscription, though.
If you want to give Plottr a shot and see if this outlining tool is for you, click here to try it for free for fourteen days.
Specialty: Worldbuilding and character development
Price: Free for limited access to all features, price is modular
“Campfire is many things: intuitive, beautiful, customizable, irreplaceable, and robust. Above all, though, it’s fun! It’s a software that reminded me why I love writing and provided the tools to create uninhibitedly. I can’t recommend it enough!” - Amani, Campfire user
Campfire is one of the most unique and interesting entries on this list of Chapterly alternatives. In a lot of ways, Campfire is like World Anvil; it is used by both writers and tabletop gamers, but they have developed advanced features for us author folks.
What sets Campfire apart is its insane levels of customization and adaptability. Rather than being a single static tool, Campfire is divided up into (at the time of writing) eighteen modules, including:
Each of these modules serves a different purpose for your worldbuilding, character development, or manuscript writing.
And Campfire is all about customization. You can change the layout and functionality of the modules to best suit your needs, and all of your notes are available when you’re writing your manuscript.
Obviously, Campfire is best suited for fantasy and sci-fi authors, and folks writing Victorian-era romance don’t need things like magic systems. But Campfire’s modularity means you pay for what you need and none of what you don’t, and only encounter a learning curve relevant to what you want to know.
At its basic, free tier, you get a certain amount of each module (i.e., up to 25,000 words in your manuscript, creating and editing ten characters, twenty free events in the timeline. You can then choose which modules you’d like to pay for on a monthly, annual, or lifetime basis to gain unlimited access. These range from $0.25-$1.50/month, with discounts for annual and lifetime membership.
Unlimited access to all modules will run you $14/month.
If you want to learn more about Campfire and try its free tier, click here.
Specialty: Writing tool
“Scrivener gives you the freedom to make a mess, the confidence to know you'll clean it up, and the semantic relationships to tie it all together in whatever way makes the most sense to you.” - Merlin Mann, Scrivener user
You can’t write an article about novel writing software without including Scrivener. This tool has been one of the biggest players in the author game for years and is the book writing software of choice for many authors.
Scrivener is a customizable, organization powerhouse that adds a few twists to the features many other writing platforms have. You can add documents, webpages, images, and files to the Binder, then organize different windows so you can see character sketches, research info, or anything else you want while you’re writing.
You can compare multiple chapters at a glance, dive deep into character development, and even enter Linguistic Mode which can highlight different parts of writing like adverbs, direct speech, etc. This is a really cool, innovative feature that can help weed out weak writing or highlight misused dialogue tags.
Scrivener isn’t for everyone, though. First of all, it’s not software as a service like most products these days. That means you pay once for the product but it doesn’t get as frequent of updates and you need to pay for those updates when they do come.
Scrivener is also one of the most complex tools out there with a steep learning curve. To get the most out of this tool, you’re going to be investing many hours into their forums, tutorials, and third-party guides. But, when you do master this program, you’ll be well-equipped to write your novel.
If you want to try Scrivener before buying it, they offer a thirty-day free trial, and that’s thirty days of use, not just a month from when you download. Click here to see if Scrivener is your Chapterly alternative.
“Atticus is easy to use and gives me so much time back by simplifying the formatting process for each new project. The team is super responsive for suggestions and troubleshooting and I’m really impressed with the end product.” - Bee Murray, Atticus user
Atticus is one of the newer tools available for authors. It was developed, initially, as a competitor or alternative for Vellum, which is an iOS-only software used to format books.
As a browser-based program, Atticus is accessible from any device and lets you easily format your novel into a professional looking book. This is a real game changer for self-published authors who don’t use Apple devices, and Atticus can really make your book look stunning.
As a tool for writing your novel, Atticus doesn’t stand out very much from other options. It allows you to write in chapters, tracks your word count, and can set goals. There isn’t any sort of plotting, worldbuilding, or character development functionality at the moment.
While many self-published authors use MS Word or Google Docs to format their novel, only InDesign and Vellum really compare with Atticus’s formatting capabilities, and they cost more than this option.
Atticus doesn’t have a trial option, but does offer a 30-day money back guarantee. Click here to learn more about Atticus.
Specialty: Goal setting, insights, and value-add content
Price: $15/month or $120/year
"NovelPad brings rhythm and order to the chaos of writing. It's got robust features, but is simple enough to just pick up and start writing." - Chris Michaud, NovelPad user
I invite all nerds to geek out with me a little bit when it comes to NovelPad. As a writing tool, NovelPad doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table that Chapterly, Dabble, or Scrivener doesn’t already offer.
It’s a sleek, minimalist’s dream of a user interface that really lets you focus on your novel.
NovelPad lets you create character and location “cards” that are essentially profiles with names, nicknames, and notes. What sets this software apart, however, is its ability to cross-reference these cards with your novel.
For example, if I made a card using the story we used while reviewing Chapterly, I might take Claire, give her the nickname “Nightshade” and add in the details I want. I can then get NovelPad to pull up every scene this character appears in, with nicknames making sure I’m catching them all.
You can do this for any character or location you make a card for. This gives you a lot of information at a glance and can help you find the right balance in your larger plot.
NovelPad also has a few extra goal setting features than other platforms. When establishing your goals, you can choose days where you know you’ll write more or less, and NovelPad will adapt your daily word count to that information. You can also tweak your goal to be in total, daily, or weekly.
Finally, NovelPad sets itself apart with an active Discord community of like-minded writers and regular articles to help develop your writing skills.
You can try NovelPad for two weeks, no credit card required, by clicking here.
#8. The Reedsy Book Editor
Specialty: Writing tool and value-add content
“Overall, Reedsy has a lot of useful features in just the free book formatting tool. It, alone, is worth using for future books. Especially if you want something more than what a word processor … can provide.” - Michael Brockbank, writer at WriterSanctuary
These next few options are all free writing software.
Some folks reading this article might already be familiar with Reedsy, an online marketplace for professional author services, including editors, cover designers, marketers, and more. It now offers a free writing app for authors looking for a bit more than just a word processor like Microsoft Word.
The Reedsy Book Editor doesn’t have features for outlining, character development, or worldbuilding. It gives you the ability to write your manuscripts in chapters and parts, and is a web-based editor that can be accessed from any device with an internet connection.
It’s a modern interface, so it looks nice while you’re working, but doesn’t have any bells and whistles that paid options come with.
That said, the Reedsy Book Editor comes with two benefits. The first is its integration with Reedsy’s marketplace of services. If you hire an editor through Reedsy, it’s super easy to give them access to your work and collaborate with them.
On top of that, Reedsy brings a lot of value-add content. Their website hosts countless articles, mini courses, webinars, and more resources that authors can use to write their best book.
You can give the Reedsy Book Editor a shot here.
#9. Google Docs
Specialty: Writing tool (kind of)
“Do you really need a testimonial for Google Docs?” - Douglas Landsborough, author of this article
I’m really only including this option because Google Docs is a free tool and most people already have a Google account.
As far as tools for writing a book or other large writing project, Docs doesn’t offer much more aside from real-time collaboration that’s pretty darn smooth. Whether you’re working with a co-author, an editor, or a beta reader, Google Docs makes it a pretty seamless experience.
That is, unless your book is, you know, book-length.
The issue with Google Docs is it has unbearable latency issues once your book hits the 25,000-40,000-word mark. The longer your document, the more time it takes Docs to load anything new. That means typing a sentence can take upwards of a minute or two to actually appear, and scrolling through a document that long is literary torture.
Despite that, Docs is an intuitive online word processor, comes with some decent and customizable formatting options, and does the job for shorter works. That means short stories, some novellas, and character and worldbuilding notes.
Plus, you’ll find no shortage of free and paid Google Doc templates out in the wild.
Specialty: Writing tool
“LibreOffice is an impressive achievement that keeps improving with each incremental release.” - Edward Mendelson, writer at PCMag
I was going to include Microsoft Word on this list, but ever since Microsoft Office moved to an annual subscription-based pricing plan, it doesn’t make sense to pay for it from a novel writing perspective when it’s cheaper to pay for better tools.
So, instead, I’ve included LibreOffice, which is designed to basically mimic Microsoft Word but for a lovely price of zero dollars. That’s right, all the things you love about Word in a piece of free writing software.
While LibreOffice doesn’t have the same multi-billion dollar company behind it, the software will do basically anything Microsoft Word can, which means it’s a competent word processor you can use to create story bibles, worldbuilding notes, and write your book.
Does it bring a bunch of advanced features to help write your book? No. But you might be a-okay with that.
If you want to see if LibreOffice is the one for you, click here.
Which Chapterly Alternative Will You Use?
If you’ve made it this far with me, gold star for you. We covered a lot of information in this article, from a deep dive into Chapterly to ten different Chapterly alternatives and why you should consider them.
Heck, I was inspired just writing all this.
So which writing tool are you going to use to write your novel? Are you someone who looks for plotting, character development, and worldbuilding tools? Or are you more of a barebones kinda writer?
I’m not going to spend paragraphs plugging Dabble again (though I will say you can try it for free, no credit card required, here), but I will direct your creative attention to Dabble’s newsletter.
This is a non-spammy newsletter that delivers writing goodness right to your inbox with the sole intention of making you a better writer. I know we already get way too many emails in a day, but this occasional email is genuinely meant to help improve your craft and get that dang book written.
So do yourself a favor and subscribe to Dabble’s newsletter here so, when you choose your writing platform, you write your best novel possible.
Book marketing. Those two innocuous words instill fear and loathing into the hearts of so many writers. You just want to write your books and have them sell themselves. Why do you have to tell people about it? Well, Susan, because you do. I know you want to write, but if your goal is to write, publish, and make money from your books, then you’re going to have to find a way to make them visible. Thousands of new titles are uploaded to Amazon every single day. Millions of books are being published every year, and no matter how good your story is, without marketing, there’s not much chance very many people will find it.
What kind of writer are you? Are you the sort who writes a meticulous outline that tips into the five digits or the type who sits down in front of a blank sheet of paper and lets the words pour out of you like a runaway train? Did you know there are specific terms for this kind of writing? Writers will come up with words for anything, I swear. Plotters are the first type of writer. They like to have detailed outlines that tell them exactly where their story is going. Pantsers are the other type of writer, which is kind of a weird name, but the term was coined by Stephen King (a famous pantser) to describe writing by the seat of your pants. Cute, eh? There is no right or wrong way to write your book, and I’m going to repeat this so many times. The right way is the way that works for you.
Dystopian fiction is one of the darker subgenres of science fiction and fantasy. It takes us into dark, foreboding worlds, where oppression and bleak landscapes are the norm. Books like 1984 by George Orwell, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley have become classics that shine a light on political corruption, environmental disaster, and societal collapse.Why do we love these stories? Maybe it's because dystopian fiction allows us to explore worst-case scenarios, to grapple with the idea that the world we know and love could be lost forever. It's a way for us to confront our fears and anxieties about the future, to see what could happen if we continue down a certain path.