Scrivener Too Expensive? Try the Free Writing Software yWriter (Video Tutorial)

Over the years, I’ve dabbled with various writing software and have always found them wanting. I’d pretty much given up on the hope of finding a program that would meet my needs as a writer… and then someone at the ChristianWriters forums introduced me to yWriter.

yWriter was designed by author and programmer Simon Haynes, who saw the same needs I saw in my own writing life and was able to use his programming expertise to put together one humdinger of a program.

Outlining Your Novel Workbook by K.M. WeilandyWriter in the quintessential organizer for writers. It allows you to see your scenes, chapters, characters, settings—and just about anything else you can think of—all at a glance. As an extensive outliner, I’ve found it particularly helpful in organizing my mountains of eventually undecipherable scrawl into neat, easily accessible notes.

Update: Since writing this post, I’ve moved on to using Scrivener instead (cost: $40), which is basically yWriter on steroids. It does everything yWriter does and more, but it does have a steeper learning curve.

And the best part about yWriter? It’s free for the downloading!

yWriter is very user friendly and self-explanatory for the most part. However, several people who have fallen prey to my gushing about its attributes and who have downloaded it for themselves, have asked that I provide a quick yWriter tutorial. Below, I’ve provided both a video and a transcript, which will walk you through the basic features.

yWriter Tutorial

1. Start out by clicking Project in the main taskbar, then New Project Wizard. This will take you through the steps of naming and saving your document.

New Project Wizard in yWriter Writing Software

2. Then click Chapter and Create New Chapter. The new chapter will appear in the field on the left. You can start out by typing in the chapter’s name and a brief description.

New Chapter in yWriter Writing Software Tutorial

3. Click the name of the chapter you just created. Then go up to the main taskbar, click Scene and Create New Scene. This will bring up a pop-up window, in which you can type all your scene info. By clicking through the tabs, you can keep track of POV details, characters, the time during which your scenes take place, the goals of your characters, and your scene status (outline, 1st draft, 2nd draft, etc.), among other things.

Scene Box in yWriter Writing Software Tutorial

4. You can add characters, locations, and items by clicking on the appropriate buttons in the main taskbar.

Characters in yWriter Writing Software Tutorial

And there you have it. That’s the program in a nutshell. Now you will be able to see all your chapters and scenes at a glance and easily click through your outline to find any particular scene. The program also features other neat gizmos, such as a storyboard feature (found under the Tools heading), which allows you to see how much “screen time” your various POV characters are getting.

Storyboard Feature in yWriter Writing Software Tutorial

yWriter puts all your information right at your fingertips. It’s so much better than flipping through piles of notebook—and it’s a lot more fun too!

You can download the software free of charge here.

Tell me your opinion: What writing software do you prefer?

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in iTunes).

Scrivener Too Expensive? Try the Free Writing Software yWriter (Video Tutorial)

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.


  1. Although I’d like to use Scrivener, aside from being expensive, it’s also not compatible with Chromebook. yWriter sounds like it’ll be great for me but would the software work on a Chromebook?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Ah, that’s stinky. I didn’t realize the Chromebook didn’t run a standard OS. I have to say I doubt that yWriter will run on Chromebook if Scrivener doesn’t. yWriter is Windows only.

    • Scriptito is a pretty decent writing application in Chromebook , but I sure wish we could also access Ywriter or Scrivener there.


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