I have only been full time writing for a year, and being the geek that I am, I used to try many writing softwares. But softwares comes and goes… and in the end I kept coming back to these three tools (for Windows, as I only own a PC). So I thought I’d mention it:
Some people hate it, some people swear by it. Me? I don’t say it’s perfect, but I like it. You have to learn to use it properly, with the document map, headings, and style. Stick to it, and it is a powerful tool. I especially love the grammar check. it’s a good first point of checking IMHO. One possible flaw is that sometimes it couldn’t handle long documents nicely (novels and especially table/graph laden documents like thesis/dissertation). And that’s why the next tool come in handy.
Chapter by chapter (http://pagesperso-orange.fr/sebastien.berthet/cbc/index.html)
It’s a freeware tool for Microsoft Word, and it only work on Windows. It works like a document map, but instead of working in a huge file, it creates a new file for each chapter. You could see the word count of each chapter and the total word count for the novel. You could flag a finished chapter, enter some notes, and create a compiled document where all the separate chapter is merged into a single file -> THE NOVEL ;).
It’s an open source tool for Windows and Mac, originally designed for media pre-production. The first time I used it is for a scriptwriting – Script Frenzy challenge three years ago. Now I use it to keep track of my characters, plots, and outline. I still wish they would enhance it for novel writing with separate chapters, then it would be my perfect tool. One can only hope ;).
That’s all the software I need for cranking up that novel :).