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“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”

Best Novel Writing Software

This car was parked at the side of the road a few miles from my house. Every time I drove past, it made me smile. :)

Both front tires received the same treatment. Duct tape can fix a lot of things, but I'm pretty certain it wouldn't fix those tires.

That sight started me thinking about how important it is to use the right tool for the job. Over the years, I've done my share of home repair and remodeling. I learned how much easier the proper tools can make that work.

I have much more expertise with computers than remodeling. I use computers in a variety of ways, and I'm always on the search for software that will make my work easier and more productive.

What I've concluded is that there is no one best program for writers. Each phase of the writing process seems to require a different type of software. I use three types in my writing workflow. I write fiction and non-fiction, and use the same programs for both.


1. First Draft Through Final Text Revisions - SmartEdit Writer or Scrivener

SmartEdit Writer


I used to use SmartEdit Writer a lot. It's free, Windows only, and very similar to Scrivener. Although the program author hasn't updated it in several years, it still has many great features and is impressive for free software.

These days, most of my time is spent with Scrivener. Both SEW and Scrivener use a scene-based approach and provide the ability to store notes and research. I begin by jotting down ideas and accumulating research. Both SmartEdit Writer and Scrivener make it easy to store that information in a readily accessible form.

With most of my projects, I'm an outliner. I like to have a rough idea, at least, of where I'm going with a book, course, article, etc. SmartEdit Writer/Scrivener works well whatever your structural approach. They have a document tree at the left side of the window, which you may set up however you'd like - with sections, chapters, scenes, notes, etc. You can add, delete, and rearrange to your heart's content. Seeing the overview of my projects while I'm working on the text, keeps me focused and organized. The text editor is in the middle pane, with various other features optionally displayed to the right.

SmartEdit Writer integrates an editing component, SmartEdit. As a self-published author, it's been challenging to find skillful human editors at a reasonable price. Searching for editing and grammar-checking software is how I came across SmartEdit Writer. SmartEdit allows me to catch many flaws in my writing before it's sent to an editor.

My FREE course on SmartEdit Writer.


2. Sharing/Critiquing - LibreOffice Writer

SEW and Scrivener don't include the ability for others to view your work, suggest changes, and provide feedback in the form of notes.

I'm part of an online critique group, in which we swap chapters to critique each other's work. If you use SEW or Scrivener, you'll need to export to Word's doc or docx formats in order to share with others. The export process is easy and that's how I submit chapters for critiquing.


To critique others work and to look at the feedback I've received, I use the Writer component of LibreOffice. Writer has the Track Changes and Commenting features that work with the corresponding functions in Microsoft Word.

I've worked as a programmer and over the years have purchased more than my share of computer software. What I don't like is the new trend toward subscription-based programs. I prefer to buy software, own it outright, and use it as long as I please - upgrading when I feel it's necessary. That's why I've chosen to use the free LibreOffice suite rather than Microsoft Word. It's a perfectly capable word processor for basic tasks and more than adequate for most people.

Any of the Wordpress work-alikes in this article should work equally well.

My FREE course on LibreOffice Writer.


3. Page Layout/Final Print-ready Product - Affinity Publisher

Affinity Publisher

* I used to use QuarkXPress for the layout phase, but my last few books I've created in Affinity Publisher, which in my opinion is easier to use. It's definitely cheaper than QuarkXpress.

I continue revising the text in Scrivener until I have it in a final, polished, and hopefully error-free form. Then I export the entire document and import it into Publisher. For my earliest books, I created the final print-ready pdf in Microsoft Word. Oh, my, what a headache—and the finished products were less than spectacular.

Other page layout programs include QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign. Those programs were created specifically for page layout and design, rather than word processing. Because of the complexity of these programs, some people choose to hire someone else to create the print version of their books. However, I enjoy this phase—creating the final product. 

With Affinity Publisher, I apply the final font styling and formatting, and insert illustrations. When complete, I export the text in pdf format to send to the printer.


Those are the programs and the process I have, and continue, to use to create my Sonrise Stable series and video courses.

Each of the programs I use is very good at what I use it for, but not so good at other things. If a program existed that performed each of those tasks well, it might be so complicated, that no one would want to use it.

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