Writing in the 21st century: 7 awesome apps authors need

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Written By Vivian Chandra

Using apps and devices might seem counter-intuitive to the life of a busy author. Often slated as the ultimate distraction; with the right apps, your device could be the most indispensable tool in your arsenal. Here are some of our top picks to help you get over that writer’s block and onto the next Neustadt Prize.


Available on all devices and all major browsers

I used the free version of Grammarly for about two weeks before I put my hard-earned cash down. It is one of the most indispensable pieces of software I have ever used. You can install it as a plugin on your word processing software, as well as using it as a keyboard on your mobile phone. The premium version only sets you back just over $100USD annually. It includes game-changing functionality like genre-specific writing style checks as well as a plagiarism detector.


Lists for Writers by Thinkamingo

Available on iOS and Android

Sometimes inspiration is a bit hard to come by, so Thinkamingo have carefully curated list after list of prompts and ideas. From names and character traits through to plot lines, occupations, obsessions and much more. Priced at under $5, you can banish writer’s block for less than the price of a cup of takeaway coffee.


Available via most modern browser

Keeping track of your characters can get a bit tricky. PersonaApp keeps all your characters in one place. It lets you create their backstory in a clean and straightforward interface. The best part is that it is free!


Available on most operating systems

Mindmaps are a fantastic way to visualise all your ideas and link them together in a logical manner. Sometimes you see links that didn’t occur to you before or new perspectives just because they are all laid out in front of you. Freemind is an open source project, which sometimes means that bugs do not get fixed, and there’s no formal support structure if you need help. However, it is lightweight, and the fact that it is free helps too.

Hemingway App

Available on most modern browsers, or buy the app on Mac and PC

Not only is this an app to tighten up your prose, but the new editor is also a great way to write in a distraction-free environment. The app works to make your wordy sentences more succinct and highlights adverbs and passive voice. It automatically grades your writing based on readability and gives you a word-count on the go. Purchasing the app gives you offline access after all, every great writer has a writing cave and internet access can be patchy in the wild.

Gunning Fog Index

Available on most modern browsers

If you are a math whiz, you can calculate your Gunning Fog Index yourself. For the rest of us, this handy app will test your writing and give you a readability score. Developed by Robert Gunning in 1952, the index calculation remains relevant today. The scores range from six (reading level of an 11-year-old) to 17 (college graduate cognition). This can be a handy tool if you are writing for a wider audience.

Oxford Dictionaries
Available on most modern browsers

Synonymous with the word dictionary, Oxford University Press has been in the dictionary gig for over 150 years. First published between 1884 and 1928, Oxford Dictionary remains one of the world’s premier dictionaries. More recently, it has branched into anything to do with language. They have lexicographers, technologists and linguists on staff. The team analyses living languages and document how they are changing. As an author, you can use the dictionary and the thesaurus straight from your browser. Each entry gives you the origin and an example phrase. With a click of the mouse, you can switch to Thesaurus mode to find an alternative way to phrase it.

Have you tried any of these? Be sure to connect with us on Twitter or Facebook and tell us what you think.