The best iOS apps for budding novelists

If our previous post gave you a few ideas about how you could use your iPad to get started on your magnum opus, we’ve compiled a list of the best iOS apps that could help you out.



iA Writer 

Available for both iPad and iPhone, this app is great for writers who don’t feel like they need the complete, and often complex, features of a word processor. iA Writer provides a simple markup syntax that can easily be converted into a number of different formats once you’re ready to do so. The app lets you work in any font that you like and features include full-screen mode, typewriter mode (as the window scrolls your text will remain in the centre), focus mode (everything but the sentence you’re writing is dimmed) and night mode (a dark theme). As you’d expect from a writing app, there is the option to seamlessly sync your work into iCloud and Dropbox so you’ll never lose a sentence.




If you’ve ever used the app Evernote then you may consider Ulysses a plain text version of that. However, it’s smarter than simply a plain text app and has the ability to handle much more making it not only an app, but a writing environment. Available for both Mac and iPad/iPhone, the price tag may be a little high but definitely worth it. With Ulysses you’ll see features including the ability to write in plain text, a special version of Markdown, classic Markdown, HTML markup engine Textile or you can create your own markup language. The ability to attach notes anywhere within the text is handy, as is the way the app automatically hides the interface when you’re ready to get going. If you’re someone who likes to customise apps, you won’t be disappointed with Ulysess’ different theme options or the fact that you can export your docs into a number of different styles, such as a Filmscript PDF, which is essential for anyone looking to self-publish their work.



OmniOutliner 2

The first step when writing anything is to establish an outline. OmniOutliner 2 provides users with a minimal interface so that you can focus on the outline of your novel, script, essay, presentation without the distraction from a complicated and gimmicky user interface. Even if you’re writing on an iPad, the app allows you to zoom in to 120 percent which works well if you’re multi-tasking with a number of devices. OmniOutliner 2 makes it easy to tell which columns or rows you’re working on, by scrolling down on the screen although for longer documents it does falter a little when loading more content. In terms of backing up your work, the app takes full advantage of the Omni Sync Server or you can sync documents yourself using your own WebDAV server. This may come as a disadvantage to some users, but the app offers plenty of other features that you’d struggle to find with others of this ilk including the ‘Outlines’ folder which displays copies of every edit no matter which device you’ve worked on.



If you’re prone to procrastination then this is an app you definitely need to invest in. On opening the app you’ll see a blank page over a wooden surface, covering the rest of the interface so that you can work solely on your writing. Formatting the text can be done, but only with very limited features such as bold, italic, underline etc but for those wanting an app to simply get their thoughts onto paper additional features aren’t exactly necessary. Nevertheless, this app does have a few stand out features; the Focus Text and Daily Goals. Focus Text changes the colour of the text while you’re editing, keeping you focused on what you’ve just written. Daily Goals is pretty self-explanatory, giving you the chance to add your own goals whether you want to write a certain amount of words per day, or write for a certain amount of time.


Hanx Writer

We’ll give you three guesses about which famous celebrity came up with Hanx Writer.* If you’ve ever used a typewriter before, you’ll know that it’s a lot more satisfying than typing on a keyboard and this app recreates that feeling perfectly. As you type, the keys make a typewriter sound and you have the option to strike through deleted words with an X. If you download the free version, you’ll get one typewriter style, one text colour and one ribbon but there are a number of in-app purchases for other keyboards. This maybe a gimmicky app, but it’s element of fun is something that could get you started.



This one is primarily for screenwriters and offers an interface similar to one that you might be used to in Microsoft Word. Storyist uses the Tab/Return command structure that formats the script correctly which is a good feature for anyone who hasn’t get got to grips with the required formatting style. You do have the option to use this app for other writing styles, which means that there are a few things missing when it comes to writing scripts such as a tool that lets you lock a page for on-set revisions. You can easily export your work to formats including HTML, rich text, Final Draft, Word and ePub that will let you read it on other devices.



Creative Writer

Creative Writer is probably one of the most unique writing apps we’ve come across and this is because of its addition of adaptive word banks that let you enrich the text. With a built in dictionary and thesaurus, the app will suggested words for you while you’re writing from different types of ‘word banks’ that live up to numerous genres. This is a great opportunity for those looking to work on sentence structure and grammar expansion but may come as a distraction for writer’s who require a more direct focus while they work.





*Tom Hanks, of course.

About the Author

Helen is a Digital Copywriter at Precise English, a copywriting and marketing agency based in the UK.