Five Open Source Apps For Writers and Authors

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 17, 2009

Even if you have the perfect idea for the next Great American Novel, getting it down on paper is never easy. While you could always use standard word processors like OpenOffice Write or AbiWord, they don't have the bells and whistles that make writing books, manuals, and theses as easy as possible. Fortunately, there are a few open source applications that help budding authors get stories out of their heads and into the hands of readers.

Kabikaboo - This recursive writing assistant is perfect for managing large documents, technical manuals, and long novels. It arranges data in tree-form so parent modules, their children, and their grandchildren can be easily moved around and rearranged. Though Kabikaboo won't help you with text editing, it's perfect for getting your thoughts in order before diving into a complicated writing project.

Storybook - Any author or novelist will tell you writing a book is a complicated affair. There are multiple plot lines and characters to keep track of, continuity issues to be aware of, and tons of research that goes into most every book on the market. Storybook helps you manage all that, and more. It even puts a chronological timeline of scenes at your fingertips to help keep your characters actions straight and your eye on the overall picture. This app also includes some nice touches like spell check and a task list.

Celtx - Many scriptwriters swear by Celtx, and with good reason. This app helps you pre-produce all sorts of media, including film, theater, comics, radio, and podcasts. Use it to develop scripts and screenplays, storyboard ideas, create production schedules, and more. If you need to collaborate with others, use Web-based Celtx Studios to store files and documents, and make your projects accessible to everyone on your team.

LyX - If you do a lot of academic writing, theses, or scientific papers, Lyx will make sure the structure of your documents meets formal acceptance requirements. This app helps you with those niggling formatting details, and includes several templates to get you up and running in no time. It also includes a mathematical formula editor, support for several graphic formats, and shared geometry settings for multiple figures.

Scribus - We've mentioned this desktop publishing app before as a way to create presentations and newsletters, but it's also an award-winning way to put together your next blockbuster novel. Once you've written the content, use Scribus to help you design cover pages, manage content placement, insert images, and create page layouts.

I know there are plenty of budding and published authors out there. What apps do you use when you write? Let me know in the comments.