As a writer with an easily distracted brain, I like to keep my process as simple as possible to avoid interrupting the creative flow. However, as a proponent of the traditional pen and paper approach to writing, carrying a plethora of notebooks and keeping them organised can be a nightmare. Consequentially, I am always on the lookout for ways to streamline the process in order to make writing that little bit easier — Writing App may well be the perfect solution.
Designed specifically for authors, Writing App combines useful research tools with the ability to use the app like a text editor. By incorporating both stages of the creative process together in one app, organisation quickly becomes a non-issue as all of your work is held in one location. All writers know that in order to produce your best work, your mind must be focused and clear to allow the creative juices to flow; Writing App does not claim to boost your creativity, but it may well be a boon to your productivity. Stick around after the break to find out more!
A Hub For Your Work
Many writers have multiple ideas and works in progress at any one time, and keeping those organised can be a task in itself. With Writing App, precious ideas can be conveniently stored securely in one location, negating the need for multiple notebooks (or apps, for that matter). The functionality provided is also far from unique; there are several competitors on the App Store providing similar functionality. However, Writing App distinguishes itself by allowing users to actually write whole chapters of their stories, not just research them.
The first screen featured when opening the app is the starting point for using its many features. Depending on your sentiments towards skeuomorphism the design featured throughout may be beautiful or unbearable for you. Personally, I’m very indecisive when it comes to such a style and faux-wooden floorboards are usually a big no-no. However, the more subtle approach to the style employed here has really swayed my mind as it is genuinely easy on the eyes. On top of the floorboards is a leafed book of paper displaying all of the documents saved to the app, which, surprisingly, looks great.
To get started, simply tap + to create a new document and choose the format for your story; there is no limit to the amount of documents you can have. There are two formats to choose from — short story or a novel — with the differences between the two being fairly major. The latter option is far more specific and allows for detailed outlines of key elements of your novel to be made. The short story format, however, is minimalistic to the say the least, and is in fact the most disappointing feature of the entire app.
How It Works
Deciding which format is suitable for you depends upon the type of piece you want to create. For the more detailed piece that requires several chapters, the novel format is best; however, for a bare-bones and non-distracting writing experience, the short story may be the more useful choice for productivity purposes.
The Novel Format
With this format you are given free reign over several outlines at are perfect for conducting in-depth research into your ideas. After selecting your document you are met with a wasted page from which you must tap Contents in order to edit the document. The outlines available include: character profiling, places and items involved in the story. All outlines contain several sub-sections directing you to describe different areas of each character, place or item. Adding multiple entries to each outline can be done by tapping Edit.
Chapters are one of the main features of Writing App and they allow you to write full parts of your novel. You can add as many chapters as you need via the Contents menu, from which individual chapters can be named, too. Unfortunately, when it comes to writing a chapter, the tools you are given are pretty much non-existent. Far from being a fully-fledged text editor, there are no formatting options available, which, depending on your preferences, can be perfect or paltry. Having said that, all you really need is blank space to record your sentences, nothing more, nothing less.
Short Story Format
Unfortunately, there aren’t a great deal of options with this format, if any at all. From the Contents menu you are given two blank pages in which you can write your story or record notes. Although the ability to choose your documents format is a step in the right direction, the lack of substance is frustrating. Scrivener for Mac is my favourite tool for writing, and it too boasts several preset formats for documents. Initially, I thought a similar approach may be employed in Writing App, however, such a comparison is highly flattering for this app as it doesn’t come close to achieving such powerful features.
The ambition shown by the developer in applying a multi-format application is commendable at least. Having said that, I firmly believe that if you can’t implement a feature well then it is best leave it out altogether. After all, the short story format may be shorter than that of a novel, but that does not mean that it is any less intricate. The same research methods provided in the novel format could well be implemented here too, boosting the overall performance of the app.
Is That All?
If you read our review of the similarly named Writers App, you will have noted the lack of Dropbox functionality was cited as a major oversight. Such an omission would have been unforgivable if committed twice, but the mistake has fortunately been corrected here. Export options include email, Dropbox and printing to a compatible device. From my experience, Dropbox works smoothly and has been a great addition to the app; one that is perfect for regular users of the service. I believe all document-based apps should include iCloud or Dropbox support as a minimum requirement given the popularity and convenience of such features.
Although there is nothing major that would prevent me from recommending this to you, there are a couple of issues to be aware of. As I allured to earlier, when opening a novel formatted document, there is an almost blank page displayed that I believe could be utilised far more effectively as a menu page in itself. Rather than tapping Contents to alter a document, the menu could easily be displayed upon the title page, simplifying the convoluted interface.
As I have already touched upon, the lack of formatting options provided in the text editor can, depending on your preference, be construed as good or bad. As it stands, I think it works fairly well as it allows focus to remain upon writing rather than tedious formatting. In order to be taken seriously as a writing app, there needs to be additional features added — Markdown support would be a good start. Such an inclusion would greatly boost this app’s credibility and quality.
This app isn’t perfect. The half-baked short story format and the cumbersome navigation interface being the two biggest let downs. However, those shortcomings are made up by the brilliant novel format and Dropbox support. Researching with this tool is great fun and it allows for a greater connection to be made with your work. Though there are some issues, the app has proved to be an invaluable resource for me — give it a chance.