Where to Write Your Manuscript: 5 Online and Offline Writing Tools

Here's the first in a series of a definitive guide to cozy mystery writing. If you're a reader instead, read How to Read a Cozy Mystery like a Sleuth.

Computer on desk with book and pen in front of it and a coffee cup and flowers on the side

#WritingCommunity: Where do you write your cozy mystery?

Take a short poll to see what tools everyone is using to write their manuscripts:


I have written my stories in many different places. I'd like to help you choose the right tool for writing your cozy mysteries. Here are some tools I've used to write my #cozymystery stories:


Word Documents

Word has many great features and is easy to use, which makes it one of the most favorite choices for authors. The real beauty about Word is that it comes with our computers and is so versatile we can make both print and regular books (as epubs and pdfs) and have complete control over our fonts and the style of our books. The downside is that you have to understand Word in order to accurately formate your book without glitches. You also have to know which fonts are royalty free for commercial use and which ones require purchasing a font license. (No, not every font built into your computer is free for you to use on your self-published books!)



Google Docs:

Google gives you all the benefits of a word document, with the benefit of it being online. You can share with a writing group or critique partner, and you know your work is safe if your computer crashes. For me, knowing I won't lose my work helps me relax. I personally use my own word document on Drop Box, but I've worked with critique partners on Google Docs and love it, too!


Vellum:

You can write your story in a word document and then transfer into Vellum for formatting. Better yet, write directly in Vellum. What I like about this is that I don't have to worry or think at all about formatting or glitches. The drawback is that there are only a few fonts/styles to choose from. But I know that all my books will be high quality. If you only want to publish ebooks, you can purchase that feature alone. If you want to publish print books, too, it costs extra, but it's a one-time cost and then you can create unlimited books after that. They do update their software once in a while, and if you want the updates, you'll have to spend a fee to update your program. If you hate the thought of formatting your own books, this is a great option for you.


Grammarly:

I've actually written books directly into Grammarly online before. Grammarly is a great tool that you can add to your computer, so that it edits your document as you write in Word. But you can also go to Grammarly.com and, if you have an account, create a new document and write on the website. What I do is write each chapter in it's own document and then cut and paste into Vellum. The reason I like to do this is that the program catches my mistakes as I'm writing, so I'm likely to make less mistakes. Let's be clear, you still need an editor after your book is written, but making less grammatical errors as you write makes the editing easier afterward.

I also like writing online in case my computer crashes and I lose my manuscript. This has actually happened to me before, which is why I'm paranoid now and actually save my work in multiple places and multiple formats.


Scrivener

I recommend a program like this if you're writing a series or a longer work. A lot of people write their stories in striver, I don't. I actually use this only for compiling my book bibles. For those who might not know, a book bible is a list of character descriptions, settings, back story notes, and other information you might need to reference when writing a story. When writing a mystery in particular, it might be hard to keep the clues and red herrings straight, so writing them on virtual notecards in one place makes it easier to remember the details.


What do you use for writing your manuscripts? Comment below or join the conversation on social media.



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