5 Cool, Free iPhone Apps to Help Writers
Let’s be real: Writing long amounts of text on an iPhone or an iPad is not ideal. But there is probably going to come a time or two or eighty when you’re walking down the street, or on the train, or stuck in traffic, when you get a really great idea for a story. Or maybe you come up with a concept for a paragraph, or a sentence that you just have to get down. You’re miles from a (non touch-screen) keyboard and there are no pens or paper in sight. Ah!
Luckily, there are some great alternatives to that clunky, 1970s yellow notepad app that comes installed on your phone. I’m a big fan of using the simplest Word Processors possible so that I’m not distracted while I write (hence why I use Pages on my computer and Yarny on the internet). So when I went searching for a replacement notepad app, I really liked Plaintext. It offers simple ways to create documents and organize them by folder. Everything can be easily synced to your Dropbox, you can search for certain documents if you have several, and you can view your word count. And that’s about it! The entire app is clean and black and white. Nice and simple.
2. A Novel Idea
I realize not everyone wants simplicity, like I do—some of you may want more bells and whistles than what the above Plaintext have to offer. If this sounds more like you, consider A Novel Idea, which caters more exclusively to those wishing to plan a book out on his/her iPhone or iPad.
A Novel Idea has a frame for planning novels, scenes, characters, locations, and jotting an idea. And all of these elements can be attached to one another, so that you keep your the character description for your murderous fairies attached to the scene where they kill the criminal mastermind grouped with your fantasy murder mystery, and the 17th century British countryside locations attached to your dowager countess character profile under the category of your historical fiction novel.
Not only is A Novel Idea place to record ideas, but it can also help your development several elements of your story. When you create a new novel, scene, or character, there are all sorts of variables for you to fill out in form-style. For example, when you create a new novel you can enter the title, setting, theme, tone, POV, premise, and plot. When you create a character, you can enter their name, role, age, species (lol), race, gender, several physical aspects, carious motivations, and other personality traits (ala our June 9 character outline post).
The Pro Version (only $2.99 and easily downloadable in the preferences pane of the app) offers several export and sync options.
Most writing prompt apps aren’t free, but this one is, and it seems great. People write to me all the time about having writer’s block or feeling like they don’t know where to start, and I always suggest that they try just writing anything to get the juices flowing. Flash Fiction Prompts takes a very lighthearted approach to helping with this.
Flash Fiction Prompts is basically a slot machine of character, setting, and plot ideas. You can either swipe through options for each or shake your phone to get 3 new options. If you like one, you can pin it down by tapping the screen from 3 seconds.
Here are some character/setting/plot combos I got:
- Locksmith, Underwater, A character gets their fantasy fulfilled;
- Movie Star, Jungle, A character wakes up as a different gender;
- Nymphomaniac, Bible Belt, Two characters are stuck together in an elevator.
Hahaha, the last one is my favorite.
There are more advanced/fancy versions with the same premise as this app, but none of those ones are free. Or as funny!
4. My Writing
It’s so great that writers now have so many online outlets with which to share their writing. But if you’re like me, you sometimes forget where you’ve sent certain stories! I have stories on Tumblr, Figment, submitted to literary magazines… and I forget where else. That’s where My Writing comes in—it’s a simple app so that you can record the URLs of all of the places you have your stories. This is useful not only so that you, personally, can remember, but so that you have a record should a literary magazine or publisher ever question or dispute their first publication rights.
5. Grammar Up
Whenever I make a grammatical mistake and someone says, “Really, you!? An English major?! Making A GRAMMAR ERROR?!?!?” I want to punch him/her in the face. Sorry I forgot everything I learned in all of those GRAMMAR CLASSES I HAD TO TAKE IN COLLEGE (Hint: I took none).
Whether we are former English majors or not, grammar isn’t taught in schools very extensively anymore (I remember a tediously boring grammar section of my 7th grade English class, but that’s about it). Most of what I know is from humiliating comments from my grandmother (“my brother and ME, Livia, not I!!!!”) and from learning German. We all have something to learn. Grammar Up is an app that’s designed to help people study for the TOEIC English proficiency test, but of all of the free grammar apps I found it the most promising. It’s full of little exercises and quizzes, and you can divide things by topic or mix all of them together until you become the grammar master!
Feel free to now go through the last two paragraphs and criticize all of the mistakes I made, haha.
A final mobile writing tip: I often get the best writing ideas while I’m driving, especially on longer road trips. For obvious reasons, this isn’t ideal. Or safe. Or, in many states, legal (writing them down on my phone, not having the ideas themselves). But if you have an iPhone 4S and the newest iOS (which is about to not be the newest, since iPhone5 came out yesterday), there’s that great little microphone to the left of the spacebar on your keyboard, which allows you to speak your thoughts into your phone. It works across all apps, so if you ever had an idea while on the road, you could speak it into the Plaintext app without taking your eyes off the road. Cause the only thing more important than getting a great idea written down is not dying!
© Yeah Write! 2012
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