November is National Novel Writing Month, and although the month is coming to an end, it’s never too late to work on that new novel. These smart Chrome extensions will help get your writing juices flowing year-round. Whether you’re a beginner, blogger, a novelist, or just someone who wants to avoid making spelling mistakes, you’ll find something here that will make your writing life easier and more efficient.
You might be skeptical that a Chrome extension could actually help you organize a writing project, or that it will motivate you to even start writing when all you really want to do is read online comics. But we’re serious here. We consider the art of writing to be very important. We’ve got one tool that lets you invite friends to give you feedback while you write, another to change your setup so it feels like you’re typing in outer space, and spell-checkers to make you sound even more eloquent than usual. So let’s get going.
Scriptito is a powerhouse. It lets you write, read, share your work, and export it to HTML, EPUB, and Mobipocket. Its impressive text editor and project manager combine into Project Workspace, a tool that offers storyboards to map out and organize your assignment, including your characters and settings. Draggable index cards containing cross-referencing features are also helpful. You can also store your research in folders and access it from any computer.
One of Scriptito’s most helpful offerings is its auto-save feature, which steps in every two minutes and records each change. Even a month or more later, you can look up your edits and undo them. Scriptito thus spares you the anxiety of making changes while not being sure that you want to keep them.
As if that wasn’t enough, this extension also has a customizable multi-panel display for when it’s time to read your work; comment panels to give and receive feedback; and privacy settings to share portions or the whole of your work with certain people or the entire world. It’s also great if you just want to read other people’s writing.
You can use the free version for as long as you want and upgrade when you want more storage space.
Rizzoma is ideal for people who want to create, plan, and organize their ideas together. Want to collaborate on a blog post? Assign due dates and enlist the help of a friend using automatic e-mail notifications. Need feedback on an important letter? Your friends can leave comments right inside the text with foldable in-line replies and messages, enabling a tree-structure of discussions, so you can avoid confusion and keep the structure of your content visible. Rizzoma is also image-friendly and link-friendly, so you can insert and attach any kind of media file and links to external resources.
ScribeFire is a popular, user-friendly, and full-featured blog editor you can use to publish content to multiple blogs. It works with WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, TypePad, and other platforms that support the MetaWeblog or MovableType APIs.
What can you do on ScribeFire? You can save drafts, update, schedule, delete, tag, and categorize posts. You an also edit them visually or using HTML or Markdown. It also saves your work automatically if you close the editor. No wonder it’s one of the most popular Chrome extensions.
After the Deadline
After the Deadline is a super-powered spelling, style, and grammar checker. It uses artificial intelligence to find mistakes in your e-mails, blog posts, Tweets, and other posts so you don’t have to worry about looking foolish in front of grammar Nazis. Don’t worry, it uses SSL to encrypt your content and doesn’t keep your data. Even cooler, this extension also proofreads in French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Firefox and OpenOffice extensions are also available.
Grammar and Spell Checker by Ginger
An even more popular extension is Grammar and Spell Checker by Ginger, also available on Firefox, IE, and Safari. At almost 100,000 users-strong, this software is the number one contextual grammar and spell checker in the world and is 10 times more efficient than regular proofreading tools (according to Ginger’s creators). This program goes beyond just reading your words. It instead uses context to understand what you meant to say. Pretty cool.
Grammar and Spell Checker by Ginger checks your writing within blogging, e-mail, and social media platforms, including Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, and plain-text websites. Ginger also offers a free desktop version so you can use the software in MS Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint.
Scriffon is a minimalist, elegant text publisher that serves as an alternative to blogs. This program presents all writings in the same way. There are no themes to choose from and no display or navigation options. The design is meant to prevent distraction and help your writing get all the attention while also allowing for the use of an unlimited amount of pen names (the idea is that you can write more freely while swathed in the safety of anonymity).
A fascinating feature is the extension’s collaborative translations. Publish your work – whether it’s a recipe, a how-to, or anything else – and Scriffon users from across the globe will be able to translate it into another language, each one getting its own common draft. Anyone can translate, but only you can approve the translation and publish it, thereby making it accessible to a wider audience.
Are you a fan of typewriters? Then get ready for the generically named Writer, a fast, clean, and simple Internet typewriter. You can select any foreground and background color and have an array of custom fonts and line spacing options to choose from; but, other than that, there are no bells and whistles to play with. This is a huge advantage for those who rely on formatting details to procrastinate. Eradicate all distractions by right-clicking the extension icon and choosing “Open full screen.” Writer also comes with auto-save and word count, and lets you export your content as text or PDF via e-mail or blog.
WordFlow 2.5 is another simple text editor. What’s special about WordFlow? Unlike Scriffon and Writer, this program offers more fonts, keyboard shortcuts, night mode, fluid width options for writers with bigger screens, .txt and .md formats, and markdown output (which requires the simultaneous use of markdown software).
In addition, the tool automatically saves your work, a feature you’ll appreciate if you’re not a compulsive saver. You can access your files from any computer since WordFlow works both offline and with the cloud, including services such as Google Drive, SkyDrive, DropBox, and others. It’s not free, but at $1.99, you might as well try the latest version of this minimalist text editor.