yWriter 5 is an unusual but interesting bit of freeware that takes a coder's approach to writing a novel. Simon Haynes, a bestselling novelist and programmer, developed it to help the aspiring author by automating many of the tasks common to fiction writing. It's basically a specialized word processor that breaks down the elements of a writing project into discrete pieces that can be refined individually and then strung together, much the way a coder approaches a large programming job. Chapters, scenes, characters, and plot elements can be defined, developed, edited, and automatically integrated into the project. You can even drag and drop elements such as new or altered characters or locations into the narrative. It won't suggest plot twists or offer creative suggestions, but it does help the writer focus on the creative process by looking after the housekeeping.
The program downloads and installs easily and free of adware and other malicious software (as is all software on Download.com). It also uses local config files, not the Windows Registry, so it's completely portable. The clean, businesslike interface resembles a spreadsheet more than a word processor, but you don't have to write in it--you can create content in your favorite program and use yWriter 5 to keep track of it. A PDF Quickstart Guide illustrated with many screen shots makes it easy to set up your first project. A sample project shows what yWriter 5 can do in the hands of an experienced writer.
Not only does yWriter5 do something no other software does that we're aware of, but it also does it well. It's completely free to download and use.