Words tend to flow freely until you put pen to paper. Jotting down a draft is your first step, but then what? These useful websites and apps will help you put together a piece of clear and compelling writing.
1. Yak Tack (Android, iOS)
A robust vocabulary is essential for every writer. The ability to quickly recall the right word is crucial.
Yak Tack is a smartphone app that aims to boost your vocabulary using a scientifically proven technique. Using the spaced repetition technique, Yak Tack reminds you of the definition of a word frequently at first, and then less frequently as time passes.
This method aims to get you past the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, which hypothesizes that memory declines over time when no effort is made to keep it.
Yak Tack’s homepage displays a leaderboard of the words “Most Tacked This Month” (if you need a little inspiration for new words to learn). The app has a growing community where you can follow people and see what words they are Tacking.
2. Expresso (Web)
Expresso is an interactive tool that analyzes the text you input. Expresso aims to improve your writing style, and will also teach you how to make your text more readable and engaging.
To use Expresso, simply paste some text in the input box, and press Enter text to analyze. After the text has been analyzed, metrics will appear on the right side of the page.
The “Metrics for editing” appear in the first table, and “General metrics” appear in the second table. Clicking on a single metric from either table will highlight its occurrences in the corresponding text.
Expresso finds the parts of your text that would benefit the most from stylistic edits. It highlights occurrences of particular metrics, such as weak verbs and filler words.
If you have an imitative learning style, you can use Expresso’s metrics to dissect text from your favorite authors and find out what makes it so well written.
3. Lose the Very (Web)
Lose the Very has a single aim—to make your writing more concise. Simply type in an adjective, press Get/Refresh Result, and you will get a more concise adjective containing the spirit of “very” in it.
If you don’t like the first result, you can press the Get/Refresh Result button to see alternative results. Very + Cool = Nifty!
4. Wordtune (Web)
When working on creative tasks like writing, it is common to occasionally run into a mental roadblock. Wordtune, a browser add-on, uses AI to suggest ways to make your writing more clear and compelling when you encounter such roadblocks.
The free version of Wordtune suggests ways to rewrite your sentence. This feature is especially useful when you want to express your message in a different way but are unable to think of how to do so.
The premium version has features that allow you to control the length of your sentences, adjust the tone of your text, and find the words that are stuck on the tip of your tongue.
5. FranklinWrite (Web)
After dropping out of school at age 10, Benjamin Franklin devised a series of writing drills that transformed him into one of America’s most eminent writers. FranklinWrite recreates Franklin’s learning method into seven easy-to-follow drills.
From the preloaded library, you can select drills based on a variety of stylistic genres, such as novels, screenplays, poems, and speeches. Using a preloaded passage, you are guided through each recreated drill as described in Franklin’s autobiography.
Franklin’s learning method teaches you to emulate writers you admire, and examine ways to improve the way you write word by word.
Regular practice is the key to mastering any skill. FranklinWrite encourages you to maintain your streak by practicing every day.
6. Write Every Day (Web)
Write Every Day operates on the maxim of daily practice to master writing abilities.
Much like FranklinWrite, you are encouraged to develop a daily writing habit and practice writing every day. The minimalistic interface highlights the number of words you have written for each day of the month above a simple, distraction-free text editor.
Besides promoting daily practice, Write Every Day boasts the mental health benefits of daily writing, from unleashing creativity to improving thinking and written communication.
7. Voquludis (Android, iOS)
Voquludis is a smartphone app that turns vocabulary acquisition into a game. The rules are simple: choose the correct word by matching it with its definition. Get three strikes, and you’re out.
From the main menu, you can consult the Glossary to see the definitions of every word you have played, including correct and incorrect guesses. If you want to go a step further, you can even use Yak Tack to memorize the definition of words you answered incorrectly.
8. Ulysses (iOS)
Ulysses is a writing app with a focus on document management and text revision. The modern, distraction-free interface can be used on both your Mac and iOS device, and seamlessly syncs your documents so your text is always at your fingertips.
Ulysses’ most exciting feature is Revision Mode, which analyzes your text and makes improvement suggestions in spelling, style, grammar, typography, and word redundancy.
Similar to Wordtune, Ulysses suggests ways to reword phrases and provides a brief explanation of why the phrase should be changed. The instant feedback you receive on your writing is just like having a personal tutor.
Setting writing goals in the app are helpful in keeping you on track to meet deadlines. Even more impressive, Ulysses is available in over 20 languages.
Download: Ulysses for iOS (Free, subscription available)
Practice Makes Perfect
Like any skill in life that you want to master, regular and deliberate practice will help you develop masterful writing skills.
While the online tools in this article will go a long way in helping you improve your writing, there are other important skills involved in developing your prose.
Brushing up on your grammar and punctuation will ensure that the message you are trying to communicate through your writing is correct. In the same way, reading books regularly will help you develop a sense of what makes a good piece of writing.