Review: Is Campfire Writing Worth Using for Your Novel?

As I am composing a list of the best writing apps, I came across Campfire Writing. It’s an extensive writing app that comes with quite a bit of functionality. But is Campfire something that is worthwhile for writing your book?

While it does have a lot of neat features, there are a few things that I find a bit lacking. They’re not necessarily deal-breakers for my next novel but are a bit of an annoyance.

Still, it’s not an overly bad platform and has a free version to try out yourself.

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What is Campfire Writing?

Campfire Write is an online web app that helps authors structure their world. It’s more than just a basic word processor as it comes with a variety of tools to manage the continuity of your tale.

You can then export your book or story in several formats to use on most eBook and publishing platforms.

What sets Campfire apart, though, is the sheer amount of background information you can save. You can set up everything from characters to magic systems, depending on your story.

In this regard, it is great for fantasy authors, RPG module creators, and fan fiction.

What Can You Expect from Campfire Write?

Pros

  • Can start immediately for free.
  • Customizable desktop view.
  • Quick access to story elements for continuity.
  • Pay-for-what-you-need pricing scheme.
  • Sharable profile page.
  • Mobile apps for Android and iOS.
  • Desktop app is also available.

Cons

  • Mostly tailored for world-building and fantasy RPG mechanics.
  • Free version only allows 25,000 words.
  • Takes a bit of digging to find certain things.

Overall, Campfire isn’t all that bad of a platform. It does have a few quirks that give me pause for using it to write a novel. However, the features make up for it if I plan to use the app to write fantasy books or modules.

I’d say it would be a great addition to any Dungeon or Game Master looking to create his or her own campaigns.

So, what kinds of things are available in the Campfire writing app?

Lots of Elements to Track

Tracking Background Story Info

One of the highlights of Campfire is its ability to keep track of story nuances in the background. This includes things like character names, places, items, maps, and research notes.

The list is quite extensive, allowing you to jot down every little detail for the story and world you’re building. Seriously, you can even dive into creating religions and cultures.

For me, this is a bit overkill. However, it is nice to have a spot where I can leave notes for spells certain characters can use or plot items within the story.

Inviting Others to Edit or Read

If you want help from people writing the story or want to share it with others to get their opinion, Campfire has you covered. It’s easy enough to click the “Share” icon on the bottom left and invite others privately or generate a public URL to share with everyone.

Though, I would like to point out that editing from Campfire’s mobile app is a bit wonky. My editor is unable to highlight and make notes on the story from her phone so I can check and make changes.

In this regard, Google Docs is much easier. However, editing from the desktop browser version seems to work perfectly. Just highlight the text and make a note.

Fully Working Word Processor

When you’re using web-based writing apps, sometimes features don’t work as they should. For instance, hitting the Tab button will often result in moving the cursor off of the editing screen.

However, the Tab button in Campfire Write works as it does with most other word processor programs…meaning it indents the paragraph.

The editor also has all of the basic functions you’d need to write a story, complete with creating headers, changing fonts, colors, justification, and more.

Front and Back Matter Only Accessible from “Compile Manuscript”

When setting up a book for publishing, front and back matter or important. These are things like the table of contents, prologue, epilogue, acknowledgments, about pages, and more.

The available front and back matter for Campfire is a bit limited when compared to other writing apps. Not to mention that I had to dig for a moment to find them.

You can only access the front and back matter pages when clicking the “Compile Manuscript” button.

Writing Stats Counter

Campfire Writing Word Stats

One of the first things I look for in a writing and publishing app is some kind of stats counter. I just like seeing progress and creating goals based on what I’ve done thus far.

By clicking the word counter near the bottom of the screen, Campfire will show the number of words, characters, paragraphs, total manuscript word count, and what days you have written the most.

It’s not a bad layout, but it doesn’t have the ability to set writing goals like some of the other apps out there. Still, you can keep track of your progress with a click of the mouse.

Connecting to NaNoWriMo?

One thing I read recently was how Campfire will be able to connect to your NaNoWriMo profile page. This way, you can update your word count goals directly from Campfire.

Because the free version of Campfire is capped at 25,000 words, they’re waiving this limitation for those who have signed up for NaNoWriMo. That’s because the point of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

This means you can write your entire book throughout the month of November for free.

If I wasn’t already committed to using a different app for NaNoWriMo, I would more than likely use Campfire this time around.

Exports in Several File Types

Campfire lets you export your story in several of the most common file types. These include:

  • DOCX
  • PDF
  • HTML
  • RTF

You can also choose what part of the manuscript Campfire exports as well as whether to include the Details tab or Manuscript Notes. The file type you choose is completely up to what you’re doing with the story.

Keep in mind that most self-publishing platforms accept PDF file types.

Compatible with the Grammarly Extension

I don’t know if this is a bonus for Campfire or Grammarly, but the Grammarly Chrome extension works perfectly with the Campfire editor. So far, I haven’t found a web-based app that didn’t work with the extension.

I bring this up because Grammarly can help you fix all kinds of errors in your manuscript before you have someone edit the piece. It can shave time off of the entire publishing process.

Even double-clicking the words brings up Grammarly’s synonym suggestion tool. Of course, this also brings up Campfire’s text toolbar.

Scalable Pricing Structure

Campfire Pricing Scheme

Another unique aspect of Campfire writing is the pricing structure. You can pick and choose which modules you want and only pay that much either monthly, annually, or for a lifetime.

For example, you can select just the Manuscript module for unlimited words instead of the free 25,000-word cap. This will cost you $1.50 per month, $15 per year, or a lifetime license for $45.

So, you can customize your account with the specific modules you plan on using.

Working Offline with the App!

Although I do a lot of writing on web-based apps, Campfire has a desktop version you can download for both Windows and MAC operating systems!

Personally, I prefer using desktop writing programs as opposed to browser-based apps, so, this feature just makes it that much more appealing to me.

The only thing you don’t get with the desktop version is the Campfire tutorials or the Explore section. Otherwise, it works virtually identical to the browser version.

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Would I Use Campfire to Write My Next Book?

There is no doubt that Campfire has a lot of features that I would surely love to use. Just off the top of my head, the “Notepad” addition to the writing screen Is something I would utilize extensively.

However, I’ve used other writing apps that were a tad easier to use, overall. For instance, the way you add chapters is a bit vague as opposed to other systems.

I had to hunt around for a moment to figure it out, actually.

This isn’t to say that it’s difficult to use Campfire to write your novel. On the contrary, it’s still a somewhat easy app you can start using right away. But there are a few elements that are simply easier to manage in other free writing programs.

In any case, I think Campfire would be one I might use to write a few of my fantasy projects. So much so that I might just upgrade my account to at least be able to write more than 25,000 words.

Given that Campfire has a downloadable writing app that I can use offline, it definitely piques my interest.

Campfire Write

You can start using Campfire today without spending a single dime. It has a lot of flexibility, especially for fantasy writers and TTRPG creators.

Perfect for RPG Writing Enthusiasts

While I could see Campfire Writing being a decent system for any author writing for any genre, it seems like it’s more tailored for RPG game mechanics and books. In fact, I can see writing RPG campaigns relatively easily with Campfire, especially since you can add your own maps and such.

It’s a great world-building tool that you can start using right away for free. One thing I wanted to try is to see how difficult it is to set up a map in Dungeon Alchemist and then upload it to Campfire.

Depending on how detailed you make your campaigns, you could probably just use the free version to create what you need. However, it’s not overly expensive to add premium modules if you want to flesh out your stories a bit more.

Since I do write a lot of fantasy and often write RPG campaigns, Campfire might be something that I would add to my collection. And since it has a variable pay schematic, I wouldn’t have to worry about paying for features I’d never use.

What’s Your Favorite Writing App?

The Internet has no shortage of writing apps available. Whether you’re keen on direct software or have a penchant for browser-based apps, you have a lot of options from which to choose.

Personally, I prefer platforms that are specifically tailored for authors. That’s one of the highlights of Campfire Writing, actually. It has a lot of things to help you keep track of plots, characters, locations, and more.

So, what is your favorite app for writing your stories and books? Are you happy with Word or do you like something with more meat for authors?

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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