While I’ve reviewed web and desktop apps for drafting your novel and for organizing your novel, there are also mobile apps designed to make your manuscript happen. I’m pretty sure I remember reading that Neil Gaiman sometimes writes on a mobile device. I’m even more sure that trying to do so myself would drive me swiftly and inexorably insane. So I’m not going to review any apps intended for writing an entire book on your phone. (Although yes, they do exist).
Instead, I’m going to focus on apps that do things mobile devices do well – like provide writing prompts, keep your story notes organized, remind you to write daily, and track your progress. So here we go:
The Brainstormer (Android | iTunes)- I love this app. If you’re trying to come up with a new story concept, spin the wheel. The inner wheel gives you a conflict, the middle wheel provides a style or setting, and the outer wheel gives you a subject.
An example: Daring Enterprise + Klondike + volcano. You’re free to interpret the results however you want. You could go for the obvious mining or mountain climbing on a literal Klondike volcanic mountain (which would certainly be dramatic). Or you could tell a story about office cube rats planning the daring theft of their middle manager’s daily snack – a Klondike ice cream bar – and risking the wrath of his volcanic temper.
Lists for Writers (Android | iTunes) – This app is a lifesaver if your trips to the internet for research invariably lead to never getting back to your draft. Need a name for a character? There’s a randomizable list for that. Need some character details? There are a couple dozen lists for that. Setting ideas? Random phobias? Rhyming words? Grammar help? IT’S. ALL. THERE.
Writeometer (Android)- A great tool for NaNoWriMo, or just to help build a daily (or regularly-scheduled) writing habit. Set daily and total word count goals and deadlines for all your writing projects. Get reminders when it’s time to write, on the days and times you select. Keep a log of your writing sessions, and set up rewards for yourself.
Story Planner (Android | iTunes) – This is basically the outliner/organizer part of Scrivener or yWriter, without the drafting part. Keep track of your summary, characters, locations, plots/subplots, acts/scenes all in one place. Want a hard copy? You can export individual sections or your project as a Final Draft, rich text, plain text, or a duplicate project.
You don’t need fancy schmancy technology to write a novel or short story. As Linus Van Pelt reminds us, Tolstoy wrote War and Peace with a dip pen. But we are fortunate enough to live in an age of amazing technology. Most of it just helps us procrastinate. (How many hours of your writing time has been lost to the deep black hole of Facebook?) But hopefully you will find one or two of these apps are actually helpful.