I’m the type of writer that loves to try new things, so when I first got an iPad for my birthday a couple years ago, I immediately started hunting for writing apps.
There are some that are pretty standard, like Pages, but being the
cheapskate thrifty type of woman I am, I was more interested in the free apps. How would they stack up against writing behemoths like Microsoft Word, which we all use daily on our desktop computers?
Here’s a list of the best apps I’ve personally found for the various types of writing I do on my iPad.
Best All-Around Writing App
My favorite writing app, by far, is Daedalus. It’s not free (breaking my original criteria), but at $4.99 it’s well worth the price.
Having tested a bunch of free apps that purport to do what Daedalus actually does, I’m happy with the way this program is both straightforward to use and pleasing to look at. It doesn’t offer too many distracting features, like thousands of fonts and text sizes, to keeep you from the important goal of actually writing.
With a focused setup where you can write in plain text or HMTL mark-up, you can just get straight to work and worry about formatting later.
The best part of Daedalus is that it easily exports to your email at the tap of a button, or can be saved as a TXT, PDF, RTF or ePub file straight to Dropbox for easy integration with your desktop computer. You can even print out your work right from the app with a wifi enabled printer. Classy.
In short, it’s perfect for starting stories, writing blog posts, generating lists of ideas, or just jotting down a To Do list for the day. It’s my go-to writing app, and I love it.
Best Brainstorming App
So far, the best brainstorming app I’ve found is The Brainstormer. Designed to look like an old-timey barnstormer plane, you get three wheels to spin to find out your story’s motivation, setting and characters in the Classic Brainstormer Word List. You can spin each wheel separately, or hit the dice button to spin them all at once, Vegas jackpot-style. When I used the dice setting, for instance, I got “Letting Go, intergalactic, pirate.” When spun individually, I came up with “Fidelity, Islamic, mechanic.”
You also get an Imagined Animals list for free, which when spun gave me “Majestic, scarab, piranha.”
In addition to spinning ’round and ’round, you can also post your brainstormed lists straight to Twitter or Facebook, or email them to yourself so you won’t forget.
Need more? For just 99¢ a piece, you can also download the Character Creator or the World Builder to help round out your fiction.
A great little app for kickstarting your creative process, available for just $1.99.
Best Name Generator
Can’t think of a good name for your main character? You need a name generator!
The best free name generator I’ve found is Name Dice. It’s the simplest app around: tap to roll the dice and you’ll get a first and last name. It doesn’t let you set male/female, so you’ll just have to keep rolling until you find the gender you’re looking for, but that’s a minor drawback for a totally free app.
The maker of this app, Thinkamingo, also offers several other writing apps that might catch your interest — especially if you’ve got younger writers in the house — including Story Spark, Lists for Writers, Story Dice, and Spooky Story Dice.
Fantasy Name Generator
- Soap Opera
- Wild West
- Drag Queen and
Then your best bet is a.k.a. — Your Favorite Name Generator.
It may not be the best for naming characters in your fiction (depending on how realistic your writing is), but it’s definitely a fun free app to get your creative wheels turning.
Best Name-Research App
If you’re the type who is likely to fall down a K-hole when researching names online, you definitely need to save yourself from this fate with Nametrix.
As the Nametrix website notes, “Babies Need Names. But Maybe Not Stripper Names.” This app provides a great start for all your name-related research (unless, of course, you need a stripper name — in which case, may I recommend Neveah?).
This simple app gives you rankings for your chosen name, including the year of the name’s peak popularity, its current popularity ranking, “P-star Quotient” (how many adult film actors share your name), and related names, based on compiled demographics.
Laura, for instance, had its peak popularity in 1968, is currently ranked #322 in girls’ names, has a low P-star Quotient (110 out of 5,508 actresses share my name), and has such related names as Amy, Elizabeth, Erica, Jennifer, Emily, Angela, Robyn, Alyson and Alyssa. Informative!
For $1.99 you can upgrade to the full version, which tells you what career your baby will likely grow up to have, given the name you’ve chosen, as well as the likely political leanings of your kid.
This is definitely a useful tool, whether you’re expecting kids, naming characters, or just interested in finding out how people tend to act based on the monikers their mamas gave ‘em.
I’m still looking for a good word tracking program. The freebie I found from WordTracker only allows you to track one project at a time unless you upgrade to unlimited projects for $2.99. This seems a bit high to me, given that it’s just a simple word tracker that’s being manually updated with your daily word count, so I’m still on the hunt for something better. (I’m currently eyeing Word Count Dashboard at $1.99, which has a pinboard style setup that’s brightly colored and motivational, along with some unique progress reports and summaries.)
What are YOUR favorite writing-related apps?