Updated June 6, 2021 | Originally published December 8, 2019
When I published this post out of frustration with Scrivener, I never expected it to blow up and receive so many comments. It’s good to know I’m not alone. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this post! Please note I reserve the right to moderate comments as I see fit.
Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link. If you use the link to purchase a subscription, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting a fellow writer!
I want to preface this post with a disclaimer: I love Scrivener. In fact, I love it so much, I went out and bought the Storytelling with Scrivener course on Well-Storied (not an affiliate link).
So writing this post breaks my heart. I waited months to find an alternative to Scrivener after first noticing the program might actually be restricting my progress. In the end, I chose to do the right thing for my unique process. Let’s talk about it.
Why I said “sayonara” to Scrivener
My novel-in-progress, Escape Artist, is a huge project. Inspired by the life and legacy of my “Little Grandma”, the book covers 70 years and four generations of the Aldridge family.
Naturally, there’s a ton of primary research involved: photos, newspaper clippings, recordings of interviews with the family. That’s not to mention the writerly side of things: character sketches, chapter outlines, scene cards, and, of course, the drafts themselves.
So Scrivener seemed like the perfect solution to keep everything together. And it worked — for awhile.
I published this post in December 2019, after using Scrivener for more than a year and impatiently awaiting the Scrivener 3 for Windows release. At the time, I shared a laptop with my husband and also wrote on my tablet, which served as a decent substitute with a fold-out keyboard and decent RAM.
When I was using Scrivener 1, it was miles behind Scrivener for Mac. No free-form corkboard, no word count tracking, no mobile apps. My ideal setup required all three. I counted down the days until August 30, 2019, after the Literature & Latte team announced it as the release date. The lead Windows developer promised to “commit and be held personally responsible” for a release later than that.
Months turned into years. The L&L team changed the date to “later in 2019” and told us it would be a matter of “weeks, not months.” In December, we got a vague release date of “in 2020.”
So, like many of the writers who commented on this post, I lost faith in the L&L team. I felt the delays were unacceptable. But I did my best to give them grace. I’ve never worked as a software developer, but I have worked in retail, and I never want to be that asshole customer who heckles people for not moving fast enough.
Scrivener 3 for Windows was finally released in March 2021. I haven’t had much time to play around with it, but I’ll admit the new program looks awesome. That’s great, but I moved on years ago. As did many other Windows users.
Alternatives to Scrivener
Okay, that’s enough of my rambling. Before I dive into my preferred alternative to Scrivener, here are a few other Scrivener alternatives you might like to explore.
Plottr is a robust novel plotting tool with a ton of features. I found this alternative improves upon some of Scrivener’s best features, including the scene cards and outlines. Although there’s no built-in word processor, it’s the ultimate companion for organizing your plot, creating your characters, storing your research, and so much more.
Plottr is a paid but affordable program at $25 per year. Check out my full review for a rundown of Plottr’s features!
Shoutout to Kathlene, who recommended this program in the comments! With plotting tools, a NaNoWriMo progress tracker, and cloud storage, this is one of the most promising Scrivener alternatives I’ve seen. And the dev team is working hard on some cool features, like co-authoring and in-text images. You can sign up for a 14-day free trial before subscribing to the $5/month basic version.
SmartEdit Writer (formerly Atomic Scribbler)
A beautifully designed program for the low, low cost of free, SmartEdit Writer is like the love-child of Scrivener and Microsoft Word. The word processor, sidebar, and research fields are super sleek. (And available in dark mode. The holy grail!)
The SmartEdit toolbar (also available as an add-on for Microsoft Word) is truly next-level, helping writers edit their own work and identify cliches and overused words. SmartEdit Writer is free, but you’ll need to purchase the Word add-on.
Update: I downloaded SmartEdit Writer shortly after discovering it, and I like a lot of its features. Its minimalist interface is great for distraction-free writing. Switching over to SmartEdit Writer from Google Drive was super simple. All I had to do was download my drafts in a zip file and import it into the program.
With pre-populated writing prompts, an editor mode, detailed statistics, and customized assets, Quoll Writer packs a ton of unique features into a fully personalized program. This is one alternative to Scrivener that I’m really tempted to try! The program is free, but donations and Patreon support are appreciated.
Shoutout to The Almighty OS for recommending this program in the comments! Campfire Blaze is a stunning program with all the bells and whistles writers need, like maps, plotlines, timelines, character building, a manuscript editor, export options, and so much more. The developers are currently working on mobile apps. It’s free to try for 10 days, with a pricing model similar to Scrivener starting at $49 for lifetime access.
yWriter is one of three programs recommended by author Don DeBon in the comments of this post. Created by an author, yWriter is a no-frills program with a minimalist interface. There’s an Android app (woo!). Unfortunately, as Don noted, the creator has since retired, so the program won’t be updated anymore. Don kindly left detailed comments describing the features of this program, so search the comments for even more information!
My chosen alternatives to Scrivener
In October 2019, I decided to part ways with Scrivener, once I realized I needed universal, 24/7 access to all my work to complete NaNoWriMo. At that time, I stored all my drafts in Google Drive, which I use for work.
It worked okay for about 6 months. Problem was, because I use Drive for work, settling into a creative flow was difficult. For me, the atmosphere wasn’t conducive to creative writing.
So I switched over to SmartEdit Writer a few months later. Its interface resembles Microsoft Word, but many of its features are similar to Scrivener. The distinction between drafts and fragments is especially handy for me — I tend to free-write individual scenes and move them over to the drafts later.
I’m working from a literal corkboard now.
Pen and paper
I went back to trusty pen and paper for all my scene cards, character sketches, outlines, and research notes. I was hesitant about this at first because I like being able to move things around.
But I found an easy way around it by numbering my scene cards in pencil. This lets me keep scenes in order and move them around if I need to change things up.
It’s also a more involved process. (Even if it was called an “abysmal kludge” by some Scrivener die-hard on the L&L forums.) There’s no better feeling than waking up early, fixing a cup of coffee, spreading my scene cards out on the kitchen table, and getting to work.
When I first moved over, I began migrating my research into Google Drive. This was the part I was most unhappy about; I really liked Scrivener’s all-in-one binder, and I wasn’t keen on nesting everything in Google Drive folders. But accessibility was more important than convenience for me.
At the beginning of this process, I also created a spreadsheet to track my daily writing progress. But adding up all the words across different drafts was cumbersome. Even so, Scrivener 1 only has a word count tracker per session, so I didn’t lose anything there.
Since publishing this post, I’ve moved over to Notion for just about everything, including word count tracking. Although I haven’t yet experimented with adding my research to Notion, I can attest that the app is a great solution for storyboarding, outlining, and storing research. I’m in the process of creating Notion templates for writers who need an intuitive second brain for their work.
Will I ever return to Scrivener?
When I first published this post, I said I would “certainly give Scrivener 3 a go when it finally arrives, even though I’m a little hesitant.”
I then updated this post saying I changed my mind, that I’d refuse to upgrade to Scrivener 3. But I changed my mind again now that it’s released. I’m going to play around with it and see if the upgrade was truly worth the wait. I’m grateful I qualified for the free update, because I certainly wouldn’t have paid for the program again.
However, I cannot and will not use the program to complete my current novel. I’ve already created a setup that works for me in other programs, and I’m still frustrated with the delays in releasing the new version of the program.
So far, I’ve test-driven SmartEdit Writer and Plottr, and I’m happy with their features. I’m currently playing around with some of the other alternatives I and other commenters have mentioned here and writing reviews of them. Stay tuned and subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a review!
I needed an alternative to Scrivener to optimize my efficiency, so I created one that works for me. And for some strange reason, I feel the need to justify that. But I’m entitled to my opinions, and I stand by my belief that everyone’s writing process is unique. Writers should consistently question that process and make changes if needed.
Featured photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash
Hi. A bit confused by all this because I use Scrivener 1 for Windows. I use Dropbox to store my files. I then use Scrivener for iOS to access my files on Dropbox. I can do my work on any Windows or iOS machine and they are compatible with each other. All via Dropbox. In short, Scrivener for Windows works together with Scrivener for iOS (i.e. mobile devices). When you say ‘miles behind the iOS version’ perhaps you meant the Mac version? And when you say ‘how long will it take for mobile apps to follow’ – well they are already here and work with Windows. Perhaps you meant Android mobile? To summarise, Windows + Dropbox + Apple device OR Mac + Dropbox + Applie device all work as you need. The only piece that’s missing is if your mobile device is Android. That, I suspect is years away
Hi Ezh, thank you for pointing this out; I’ve updated this article so it’s more accurate. Yes, I was referring to Android as I don’t own any Apple devices. I’m glad you’ve found a system that works for you and allows you to access your work across multiple devices. Unfortunately, Windows and Android users don’t enjoy that same flexibility. Maybe someday… Thanks for reading and commenting!
To be fair to L&L, obviously there are problems with Scrivener on Windows, but probably not the fault of L&L, according to a previous post. I have used Scriv. on Macs since March 2014, and it is so useful and reliable that it has become my only ‘must have’ app. Scrivener provides organisation, a scratchpad, and dual writing panes, for letter, note, and essay writing, plus organisation of resource material and one or three other features. (I even used it to write a memoir, self-published on Google Books, but it bombed.) I am a pensioner, and the latest MacMini costs twice what my current one did, so when I next upgrade my hardware I would like to switch from Mac to Linux (specifically, Ubuntu Maté, already used in lieu of Windows on our ‘Windows’ laptop), but L&L advised me that Linux development of Scriv. has ended, so I am stuck with Mac despite its cost. There is no point complaining about Scriv. on Windows, the third-party conversion from the Mac version obviously is problematic, going by these posts, and I have found no genuine alternative to Scriv., so if you are a really serious writer you should use the right tools for the job, i.e. switch to Mac so that you can use Scrivener without hassles. I used to teach computer literacy (a few decades ago) and my advice to students and users has always been to start by identifying the app. you need, then choose your OS to suit your app., not vice versa. I repeat: you need to use the OS that runs the software you need, so if Windows doesn’t run Scriv. well enough for your purposes you need to change your OS to one that runs Scriv. properly. If you are just a hobby writer it might not be worth the cost, but if you are writing professionally I believe doing that will be well worthwhile.
I’m sorry to sound tart, but this isn’t really a useful answer.
Plenty of extremely professional authors write on Windows and Linux OS. Saying that if one wants to be a ‘professional’ author requires being on a Mac is reductive and silly.
I don’t like Macs and the entire Apple ecosystem. I don’t have to.
What L&L should do is provide the product they’ve promised or provide an adequate explanation of why they aren’t. There are plenty of Mac-only programs and products I can’t use and *that’s fine*. It’s my choice to not use a Mac computer.
But the insistence by Scrivener devotees that I should *just change* my entire computing life just for this one program is ridiculous.
If you’re interested in a Scrivener-style program that will work on your future Linux box, I suggest yWriter. Free, and entirely supported in all three ecosystems.
I agree, there is no way I would EVER use or buy a Mac for one piece of software, the entire system is too restrictive for me. Many of the other software titles that I love are not on Mac, or is way behind the windows version, the reverse of Scrivener. The primary reason I don’t use Scrivener is no dark mode or other user interface customization. I use Word with Prowritingaid addon. I use the navigation pane and add my notes with chapter headings at the end of the document so I can click on them in the navigation pane and get to them fast. Everything in one file backed up daily. It works for me. You should use what works. This is a great article.
Sorry Joan, I didn’t mean to say what you read.
I have a strong personal preference for the Mac’s Desktop, i.e. its user interface, and I can’t stand MS Windows, for me it is counter-intuitive in several ways, and it doesn’t provide the convenient file access I have with the Mac’s Dock, but if you prefer the Windows way of working, and the software you want to use is available for it, then obviously you should use it.
I am a Mac user, but I do NOT promote Mac’s to other people, when asked for advice by a newbie (not often these days) I ask what they want to use the computer for, identify the appropriate software, and recommend the OS that runs it, or discuss the pros and cons of the OS options if more than one OS runs it, beginning by asking if compatibility with other computers is desirable (e.g. family or workplace).
If you are a writer who is satisfied with Scrivener or with some other writing app on Windows, then you should stay with that, but if Scrivener is your must-have app, as it is mine (and I’m not even a professional writer!), and you are not satisfied with how it works (or doesn’t work?) on Windows, there is no point griping about L&L and putting up with app problems while waiting for a better version that may never come, you should consider changing your OS to get a version of Scrivener that works properly for you.
If you change your OS you wouldn’t necessarily have to change your whole computing life, if Windows is essential for other work you could use an emulator to make your Mac dual OS. I had Parallels for a while but I never actually used it, so for me it wasn’t worth the cost of keeping it up to date, but I recently installed VirtualBox, to run Linux on my Mac, though the Mac desktop is sufficiently superior to Maté that I’m sticking with the Mac while I’ve still got it. VirtualBox is free, but you would still have to pay for a Windows licence.
For the record, I have developed some serious gripes about Apple Computer over the years, including their removal of features I used to use regularly, lack of convenient access to archived data from discontinued apps (I haven’t used Apple’s productivity apps for years, because Apple obviously can’t be trusted to maintain access to my data, instead I use OpenOffice and Scrivener), and annoying glitches introduced with recent upgrades, and because of that and other reasons I would like to switch to Linux, now that Ubuntu Maté offers a near equivalent to the Mac’s desktop, but Scrivener is my one must-have app, and it is not available for Linux, so I have no option but to stick with the Mac for now. But thanks for the tip about yWriter, I shall check that out and see if it works well enough for me to ditch the Mac and change to Linux when I next have to upgrade my hardware.
That’s a good point.
I can honestly say if you were a computer literacy teacher at any point it is a miracle anyone learned anything. I have been in IT as a programmer and instructor since 1992 and even that far back I can tell you that is not how you teach someone literacy for computers.
In order for someone to become literate with an OS they first need to learn the OS then find what they need for their workflow. As someone who mostly uses Linux but also has Mac and Windows machines I can say that many people who honestly need a Mac just want to pay for the name because many laptops in a lower price range not made by Apple have better specs and cost hundreds less and can do anything a Mac can do either with the same or alternative software.
Don’t tell someone to just buy a Mac because you think it is the only thing that will fix their problem.
You can run Scrivener 3 in Linux using WINE, I am doing it right now. I don’t know how Linux-savvy you are, but a distro that has WINE preconfigured should be as easy as just installing the downloaded .exe from L&L website – I use Scrivener 3 in Zorin OS but something like Linux Lite or Elementary should also be fine. Ubuntu would also be fine but you may need to set up WINE first, can’t remember if WINE is preinstalled.
I use scrivener + a cloud sync service like dropbox. The problem arises with syncing times—if I want to hop quickly from one computer to another with a project I can, but I end up with conflict-copies. Scrivener has no way to handle these (for example, it would be a dream if it could make .diff files from a common backup). No bueno.
I recently found Dabble — a cloud-based, simplified app that works like Scrivener with a great plotting interface! It doesn’t do everything I need it to, but it does a lot and got me through NaNo. Might be helpful to you!
Thanks for the tip, Kathlene! My current Google Drive setup is working fine for the moment, but word count tracking is cumbersome. I’ll definitely check out Dabble!
At this point is almost the end of 2020, and no scrivener 3 for windows in the horizon
You did good by saying good bye. I’m sure a lot people did the same, after you too. And btw tanks for the tip, your setup works for me fantastic. Thank you
The Scrivener 3 for Windows beta is pretty far along. I wish they would release an Android app, though.
I’ve been using Scrivener 3 for Windows since about March 2020. My opinions about Scrivener, in general, are mixed, but the software has been working fine. Since that time, there have been one or two glitches in the BETA software, but nothing that has even come remotely close to losing work. There are things I like about Scrivener, and things I don’t, (and some things I really don’t) but all-in-all, until something better comes along, it works pretty well.
Thank you for pointing out what has been plaguing Scrivener for Windows 1.0 purchasing customers for two years. A LOT of Windows users feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.
Lucy is played by Literature & Latte. …seriously
Thanks for your comment, Rob! So many writers are loyal to L&L, and as much as I do like Scrivenver, I can’t look past its many flaws and failures to meet deadline after deadline after deadline. You gotta do what you gotta do to keep your writing momentum going. As for Lucy, I very much feel I’m working against the clock on this project, and I need my software to work with me, not against me.
Almost 2 1/2 years and counting since I was told Scrivener 3.0 for Windows would be released. It’s still not out and there is no sign of it being released anytime soon. Scrivener for Windows is a scam as far as I’m concerned. Stay away from Literature and Latte.
Hi Steven, thanks for your comment. Yes, it really is starting to feel that way. I haven’t used Scrivener for Windows for as long as some users, but it’s still frustrating. I have given up hope…
You can use their beta version. Just be prepared to have to reinstall it every 2 to 3 weeks.
Yikes, that sounds like a pain!
Literature & Latte make no guarantee that there will be a next beta version (or that Scrivener 3 for Windows will ever be released). So there’s a possibility that they abandon this after 3+ years and leave users of the beta version of Scrivener 3 stranded.
It actually isn’t. It pops up a notice saying a new version is ready. I click the button, it asks me where I want to install it, I hit return again and sit back for a minute or two, and I’m back in business with the next release.
I’m not a die-hard Scrivener fan, there are things I like about it and things I don’t, but as far as using the Scrivener 3 for Windows Beta, it’s worked pretty well for me (and generally an improvement over the previous version) and what few “glitches” I have experienced, none of them have been show-stoppers or come anywhere near a concern over losing work– all minor stuff.
I tried to go this route. When I did an update, it screwed up my manuscript. I sent a message to tech support and got told “Well don’t use it for anything important! Check in the forums for answers.” So basically told they were having users do their job as tech support and not to use at all, because what kind of writing would I do that wasn’t important?
Overall, the way I was treated further disenfranchised me as well as learning that they do a rolling authentication on even purchased, stable Scrivener 1. What that means is if the servers have issues and can’t authenticate your license (even when it’s one you’ve purchased) it can lock you out. Makes me worried what might happen if ever they stop servicing those servers.
I’m currently exporting all my many projects even from Scrivener 1 and trying to find an alternative. I hope many windows users do the same. Saw someone describe it as windows users being 3rd rate citizens. I totally agree with that.
Hmm. Not doubting you, but I’ve never experienced any loss or “outage”– though I’ve read some comments here and there (including on their forums) about people who have. I’ve been using it actively and heavily since about March 2020, when I switched over from the previous release. Losing work was definitely a concern, I posted on their forums about it and got back several opinions and finally decided to give it a go. Apart from minor glitches now and then– absolutely nothing major– it’s worked pretty well. I’m not a die-hard Scrivener fan, but as far as reliability, it’s been pretty good for me. Obviously, other people may have different experiences.
BTW– if you DO find a good alternative, please let us know. Scrivener runs well enough and gets the job done, but there are definitely some things that I’d like to see improved and specific features added.
Have a look at miro.com. (Not a writing tool like Scrivener, but it will give you a way to digitize your new workflow.)
I foolishly bought Scrivener for Windows without reading into the fact that I was getting an old and outdated piece of software, years behind the iOS version. While I certainly accept fault for not reading the fine print more closely, I also fault the developers for misleading their customers.
My biggest problem with the software might sound trifling and stupid, and perhaps it is, but I need to be able to visualize my manuscript as pages while I’m writing it. This feature known as “page view” in 3.0, cuts all the white space off the sides of the pages and helps visualize how a final manuscript may look. This is the default way that Word is setup. Without this feature, I cannot write. I know it sounds dramatic, but without this feature, I’m literally lost. When I try to write in Scrivener for Windows, the task is simply too daunting. I don’t feel like I’m making progress because the margins are so wide and the page is amorphous and white. Once I realized that my writing had slowed by a massive order of magnitude, I decided to ditch the software and go back to Word.
Scrivener might be good for organizing, but if I can’t write then there is no point in using it. I have my fingers crossed that 3.0 will come out for Windows soon, but I’m not going to hold my breath. While I recognize that the Literature and Latte might be overworked, or have technical issues that we don’t know about, they ought to be honest about this. If they aren’t, then it just makes them look bad.
Thanks so much for your comment! Yes, I agree with you 100% on all points, particularly the white space. The absence of margins always irked me. I think you can customize it in the view window, but the default view is just weird. I don’t think it sounds dramatic at all, nor do I think you need to defend the process that works best for you. I also agree that more transparency is needed. As I mentioned, the head of the development team said he would be held “personally responsible” for a release later than August 30, 2019. And here we are, on June 13, 2020. Still no Scrivener either. If you like Scrivener’s level of organization, you might like Smart Edit Writer. That’s what I’m using now. It combines the best features of Scrivener and Word in a minimalist layout. (With page margins!) The one thing I can’t figure out how to do is highlight text, but other than that, I’m super happy with it. And it’s free. Happy writing!
OMG, you’re the first person I’ve seen who has this problem besides me. I’ve tried for years to explain why I found writing in Scrivener so hard (with screenshots of both Word and Scrivener) and no one else understood. It’s so great to find another person who wants *margins* at the side of the writing page.
+1 for margins. I tried so hard to customize the editor settings but it never wanted to work with me. Every chapter draft had different spacing too. It’s aggravating!
Thank you all so much for this article and comments! I bought Scrivener for Windows, too, but am having a hard time getting set up on it and using it and my info is too scattered, not progressing. Keeping my index cards for sanity and using Microsoft Word as at least I know how to move forward that way. Will check out Smart Edit Writer for easier organization for book materials. You are all “my people,” finally found you. Thanks! I keep watching Abbie Emmons videos and getting re-psyched about Scrivener… until I realize I can’t do this/that on my version. Sad. As someone who used to work in software, I don’t understand why their Android version is years behind. Either drop it or sync it up already. Time is too precious, going to cut bait even though I just bought it a few months ago. Lesson learnt.
Yes, planning and “data” support are my two biggest gripes. (I have some others). Scrivener does the job overall– IMO, probably better than the contenders, but it’s far from being perfect. I have looked at just about every writing software (that I can find) and authoring website out there, and while there are definitely some that have specific better features, I can’t find any that tick enough of the right boxes for me– so I reluctantly continue to use Scrivener as my daily driver.
Scrivener for Windows is not a creation of Literature and Latte, which exclusively produces software for Apple devices (Mac OS and iOS). A Windows developer approached Literature and Latte several years ago and offered to develop a version for Windows, essentially licensing the product but making it entirely by himself. Even when it first came out, it was behind the version for Apple devices, and though he has progressed it still lags behind. But it wasn’t technically left behind on updates – it has been scrambling to match the original it emulates from the start.
That explains a lot (and forgives a lot, IMO) — thanks.
Very interesting. But it does beg the question, why doesn’t Literature & Latte mention this when there has been so many issues and complaints? It seems to me you would mention “you need to take this up with the actual developer, we don’t really know…” or something to that effect.
I always knew they were Mac people and why there wasn’t a Windows version at all for a long time. But I thought they decided to pick up the gauntlet and make a Windows version when so many people wanted one. But it sounds like they still didn’t, someone else came to them offering to do it because they wouldn’t.
L&L markets and sells Scrivener for Windows as a Literature & Latte program.
It doesn’t really matter how they got into this situation. It’s their product, sold on their website. They own whatever is good or bad about it, and they have an obligation to fulfill the commitment to their customers to release Scrivener 3 for Windows.
Lots of companies outsource some or all of their product development and support, which is fine. But you own the problems of the products you sell, and on which you put your name.
a really serious company doesn’t take such a thing.
As a software developer who writes in his free time, I can say for a fact that the the devs of Scrivener are idiots. You miss one deadline. Fine. You miss several? You should look for some classes or maybe another job that is more your speed. You miss an ENTIRE GOD DAMN VERSION AND HAVE TO START FROM SCRATCH ON THE NEXT then you should shut down your IDE for good. Ya done, son. Ya can’t even blame this on a bad PM or DM. A bad manager can only bork a project so much. At the end of the day, if you can’t hit a single release date in over three years then just stop and give to project to someone else.
I bought this software in 2017. I will not be buying S3 for windows because by the time it comes out S4 for mac will be available and we will have to go through this all over again. No thanks.
Currently watching Blaze/Campfire development with some interest. Campfire Pro is a great organizational tool and works tons better than scrivener when it comes to plot planning and character development. My hope is that they will add a full fledged editor in Blaze when it comes available.
This is a refreshingly honest take! Yes, that’s exactly a big part of my frustration. If you’ve had the iOS version out for how long now, and you can’t devote that same time and energy into the Windows version? You’re screwing over half your user base. Thousands of paying customers, mind you. This software ain’t cheap. I’m with you, I don’t think I’ll be investing in the new version. While I believe I qualify for the free upgrade, I also think it’s ludicrous they’re making people pay for an *update* that’s at least 2 years overdue anyway. I’ll have to check out Blaze/Campfire. I’m currently using Smart Edit Writer and I’m really happy with it so far. To be a free program, it’s pretty powerful and preserves all the best organizational capabilities of Scrivener with a Word-like aesthetic.
I might give one of those programs I try. Unfortunately, I can’t be as gracious to Literature and Latte as you. Not only do they fail to meet their deadlines, but if you look at the forums they get very defensive if someone is even slightly critical of them for it and keep going “Well, just use the free beta!” (if it were good enough to use, it wouldn’t… be… a free… beta!). I wouldn’t mind half as much if they were groveling for forgiveness constantly and making more empty promises, but this making the users the bad guys for wanting to get the program they were promised just pisses me off.
I just don’t like them now, and want to do business elsewhere (yeah, not much of a protest since they’ve already got my money, but oh well). Hopefully, I can find something with a comparable feature set.
I noticed that too. I occasionally browse the forums for updates and the crew really comes out baring their teeth anytime a dissatisfied customer raises a complaint. Which they’re well within their rights to do at this point, all things considered. And yes, you’re right, not once have they sincerely apologized or even addressed complaints tactfully. Not a good look…
Still, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, precisely for the reason that Scrivener fans are so die-hard about this outdated software. I expected more comments in their defense, but I’m surprised and glad to see so many others feel the same way. I mean, fair play to the iOS users who have a functional program, but their blatant disregard for Windows users tanks their credibility as a company. And yes, the beta aggravates me. I tried the free beta, but that big warning that said “don’t use this for important work because you might lose it!” put me off big time. What’s even more annoying is the fact that they refuse to release the software because it’s not perfect. Well, yeah, that’s expected. And you could always, you know… implement future updates.
That’s fair enough. I’ve been using Smart Edit Writer and I’m happy with it so far. It preserves the best functionalities of Scrivener in a minimalist, clean interface. And it’s free. So there’s that. Definitely recommend playing around with it. Hope you find something that works for you!
I also had my issues with the Scrivener forum when I voiced my disappointment over the non-release. But to be fair, it’s not really the developers who act unsympathetic; it’s other forum users who try to defend “their” software at all costs. But the staff at L&L has been nothing but helpful to me and helped me rescue my projects that wouldn’t open in Scrivener 1.9 due to incompability with the v3-beta so I could move on and leave Scrivener behind.
Some community members are toxic and plain disrespectful. That’s why I was so apprehensive about publishing this post. I just knew I’d get hated on. But I was pleasantly surprised. Scrivener die-hards will jump down your throat if you dare criticize their precious program. I don’t have any experience with staff members, but I’m sure they’re very kind. I’m sorry to hear you had trouble opening your project in Scrivener. That was my worst nightmare with using the beta.
I’m not a Scrivener apologist by any stretch of the imagination, but I was just reading your comment and this part seems a little incongruous, IMO…
“And yes, the beta aggravates me. I tried the free beta, but that big warning that said “don’t use this for important work because you might lose it!” put me off big time. What’s even more annoying is the fact that they refuse to release the software because it’s not perfect. Well, yeah, that’s expected. And you could always, you know… implement future updates.”
On the one hand you castigate them because they’re upfront in telling you that it’s beta and you could lose important work, but then two sentences down, you’re beating them up for releasing “less than perfect” software.
I can say from my perspective, that I’ve been using Scrivener 3 for Windows Beta since about March 2020, and have yet to lose a single thing. Yes, there have been a couple of occasional glitches, but nothing (so far) even remotely rising to the level of “serious” (perhaps, “slightly annoying”?) I use it every day and I’ve got plenty of gripes about Scrivener in general, but I can say from my own personal experience, that the beta version has been working pretty good for quite a while now– IMO.
Yes, you do have to reinstall it now and then, but that’s easy– hit the button to download it when it prompts you that a new release is ready, tell it where you want it installed (I just hit return), sit back for a minute or two while it installs, and then re-start the program. It doesn’t even rise to the level of “minor annoyance” for me 🙂 And (again, IMO) it’s much better than the previous version.
I appreciate you taking the time to read the post, reply to other commenters here, and share your experience. I’m glad Scrivener works for you and that you haven’t experienced any major issues. However, I don’t want my original comment to be misinterpreted. I’m not “beating up” Scrivener or L&L for anything. For the most part, I’m not unhappy with the features of Scrivener 1. As I mentioned several times in my post, I like a lot of Scrivener’s features. The program just didn’t work for my needs overall.
What I’m unhappy with is all the delays from L&L, particularly the lead dev who said he would “be held personally responsible” for a release date later than August 30, 2019. Then again around September/October when he said it would be a matter of “weeks, not days”. Read some of the other comments here from developers who said these delays aren’t standard procedure.
What I meant about the program being imperfect is that every initial release of a program will have some bugs. That’s to be expected, and they can be patched in future updates. Every time another delay is announced, it’s due to “bugs”. L&L was supposed to release 3.0 in 2017. Are those bugs so major and program-breaking to justify a delay of 3+ years now? Admittedly, I have no idea. I’m not a dev. Again, I defer to the developers who have commented on this post.
When I first used the beta in summer 2019, I did receive a warning saying not to use the beta for important projects just in case something went awry. My project is personal to me (as I’m sure is the case for every writer) – it’s a retelling of stories my elderly family members passed down to me. So I didn’t want to entrust that manuscript to a beta and lose it if a glitch were to occur. (Of course backups are a thing, but still.) They may have created a more stable version of the beta since then, but that was the case when I used it.
I’m also waiting for a Windows version of Scrivener 3. I use both Windows and Mac, but currently Scrivener projects are not compatible. I can’t open a project saved on a Mac using current Scrivener Windows version.
But in the mean time why don’t you get a used macbook air (2012-2015 models) on ebay for like $300 and use mac version of Scrivener? I think typing and general experience working on a macbook air will be much better than working on any tablet, Android or iOS. Not to mention the fact that you have to share a laptop. It’s like if you were an UBER driver but couldn’t have your work car because you were sharing it with someone. As creators, I believe, we have to invest in our creative tools, as a number 1 priority.
I’ve also tried all the above mentioned alternatives (in the article and in the commenst) but for my workflow, Scrivener is still miles ahead.
I have since bought a new laptop so we’re no longer sharing. I prefer Windows as I don’t get on with iOS. But I also shouldn’t have to buy a new device with a completely different operating system just to use one program. It’s ludicrous. Particularly when the developers of said program have been promising this update for nearly 3 years now and have continuously failed to deliver. Not to mention they’ve been a bit shady about it. They promised us Scrivener 3 for Windows by August 30, 2019. That date passed, then they said it would be a matter of weeks. It’s almost been another year. Then they went back and changed the release date to “later in 2020” without changing the “last updated” date of the article. And besides, not everyone can afford to buy a Mac until Scrivener 3 for Windows is released. Yes, investing in our tools is important, but it’s not feasible for everyone. If Scrivener works best for you and you’re in a position to use it on both devices, that’s great. As I said, I loved using Scrivener and was reluctant to part ways with it. But in my case, going back to Scrivener after about 8 months of developing my draft in another program would take more time and effort than it’s worth. I’m using SmartEdit Writer and I’m really happy with it. I might give Scrivener 3 a go whenever it finally drops, but all things considered, especially after reading some other people’s experiences here, I’ve lost all faith in L&L.
What a great article and I am right there with you. I’ve frustratingly waited for v.3 to come out for years. One of the biggest issues I find with using v.1 on Windows is that it’s not entirely compatible with a newer laptop. Due to the way Windows 10 works when displaying software my version of Scrivener when I’m using it is just slightly blurry. This makes it nearly impossible to use for an extended period of time. As for alternatives, like you, I’ve gone the way of using Google Drive. As for the storyboard side of things and keeping note cards on all of the background information, I know just how annoying it is to try and keep things in folders in Drive. It’s just kind of clunky.
I’ve been using a free program called Notion for other productivity and life-related things and have been toying with the idea of using it for the background information for my writing. The block format they use is really nice when it comes to rearranging things. You can create links between various pages. And all in all, it’s just really pleasant to use once you get used to it (there is a slight learning curve). The best part is that it is accessible from any type of device. I use it on my computer and they have an android app as well. I would recommend checking it out. It works well for a lot of things, and I’ve kind of moved to using Drive like a filing cabinet and Notion like my desktop.
Hi Joshua, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read and comment. I’m glad you enjoyed it, but not so glad you and so many others share my frustration. It’s nice to see a fellow Drive user on here, though! I don’t know that I ever experienced any blurriness with the program, but it certainly isn’t optimized for the updated versions of Windows.
Funnily enough, I actually started using Notion a couple of months ago for work and completely fell in love. I’ve ditched about 5 task management, notetaking, and feed reader apps and moved everything into Notion. I haven’t used it to keep research, but I may toy around with it in the near future. I have been using it to track my word counts, and it’s working wonders. I’m planning to write a series of posts about Notion in the near future, so stay tuned! I would love to hear more about how you use Notion for your writing life as well if you’re open to sharing.
When I first used Scrivener and completed a NaNoWriMo with it, I loved it. But, jumping on a different computer or on my phone and not being able to pick up where I left off is kind of a deal-breaker. That’s originally why I shifted everything over to Drive. It isn’t perfect but it’s better than a lot of what’s out there, and Google Docs is actually fairly decent.
I’m the same, I jumped from one thing to the next and then eventually found Notion and loved it. Everything from Trello, to Evernote, to OneNote, to Airtable and beyond. The functionality of Notion is amazing and it does things a lot better than most other software options. Most of my stuff is currently stored in my Drive, but I am thinking about migrating all of it into Notion. I’ve done a lot of worldbuilding in my fantasy world (which was all done on paper and then had to be typed up… which sucked), and my thought is that Notion is great to be able to link like ideas or settings together. I would most likely continue to use Docs for the actual WIP, but I think having everything else in Notion makes a lot of sense. To me, having everything easily accessible and easily navigable is the biggest benefit of Notion. With Drive, everything is in a separate file and it can be really hard to navigate from one thing to another, especially when I have to figure out what folder I put it in… There is nothing worse than knowing you did a writeup on something and you have to spend 10 minutes trying to find it, or hunt through every option provided in a search. The other thing is that a lot of the notes could be put into a table and then viewed in different ways. Whether as a list or in more of a gallery format, which is nice.
I may need to do some experimenting now.
Absolutely agree that cross-device functionality is a deal-breaker. That’s why I like Drive. I already use it regularly, and it’s free. So hey, it’s a two-for-one.
And yes, Drive can be a bit of a pain to navigate. I ran into that problem with storing my own research there. Notion’s sidebar and Quick Find features are so handy. I’m pretty sure you can embed Docs into Notion, so that’s an option if you’d like to see your draft in context to your research. At the very least, I know you can embed URLs, and I’m pretty sure they’re interactive, so who’s to say you can’t write your novel in Notion and Docs at the same time?
In terms of your handwritten worldbuilding materials, could you upload those as photos into Notion? Maybe alongside the typed-up version? I feel you because I have a handwritten scene card setup and a typed version, so keeping them both updated is PITA. I may have to do some experimenting too…
I love Notion’s tables. They’re my jam, haha. Because I work as an editor, I have to keep track of pages I’m publishing and the tables are a godsend for organizing my workflow.
It’s so nice to meet another Notion nerd! Let me know how you get on if you do decide to experiment. I may pick your brain when it comes time for my Notion for Writers series, haha
You gotta love anything that works well and is also free. Yes, you can embed a Google Doc into Notion. It doesn’t show all that much but it does provide a handy link to the WIP. It also makes accessing your WIP really easy on your phone.
As for writing in a Doc from within Notion, I’d have to test things out and see if that’s a possibility. More than likely they would need to remain in their respective locations… notes in Notion and WIP in Drive. Nevertheless, having both certainly makes things easier to use as a whole.
I’ve uploaded photos before but that’s usually because I want to keep an original copy. For worldbuilding notes, I knew that I was going to be making changes as things evolved so I decided to just retype them all so that I have a malleable digital version. If my handwriting wasn’t so bad I could potentially take a picture of it and open it as a Google Doc to have it converted into text. It doesn’t work great, but it can save a lot of time having the Doc convert an image into usable text.
I do like tables, though I am not much of a pro with them. I end up keeping things mostly on different pages so that I can modify them as needed. That, and tables don’t tend to like to play well on the phone. Granted, I should probably spend some more time using tables in general. I’ve seen some pretty cool ones that are set up to have a master database that then has different independent tables as needed.
I’ll certainly keep experimenting with Notion. The plan right now is to dump all of my notes into their respective pages under my main “Worldbuilding” page then build from there.
Would it be nice to have everything easily accessible and all in one location (a sort of cloud-based Scrivener)? Sure! But having things accessible from anywhere and cloud saved on the regular is the most important thing for me. I think Notion is a fantastic platform for any type of worldbuilding notes, done in any way that fits someone’s taste (like using tables); and Docs works just as well as most everything out there for writing.
For Docs, I’ve started going down the route of creating headings for each segment of the story be it a scene, change in POV in my outline, chapter division, etc. That way I can easily jump to the various sections by using the ‘Document Outline’ feature in Docs. I just copy and paste my outline into my WIP and then start writing after that section. Once I’ve written everything up for the scene I can delete the notes but keep the scene heading for reference.
Another really nice feature of Notion is the ‘Table of Contents’. I’ve been using a bit in order to organize some of my notes. I’ve been thinking about using it to organize the timeline of my world, that way I can keep all of my notes on the various ages in order and easily accessible.
I’ll be experimenting and seeing how well I can get Notion and Docs to work for the whole writing process. Feel free to reach out to me if you’re looking to work on a Notion article. I’d be happy to assist.
I agree. I’m hesitant to buy from a company that breaks promise after promise. Granted, the software is inexpensive, but I’d rather pay a bit more and have regular updates.
I fiddled around with Dabble, but don’t like their subscription model.
Recently bought Plottr, which is just for plotting, character bio’s et cetera, but I really like it.
My thoughts exactly. It’s not massively expensive (especially considering it’s a one-time purchase unlike a lot of subscription models out there). But it’s still a significant sum. Nice! I’ve never heard of Plottr. I’ll have to take a look. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post!
Plottr is interesting. I own a copy of it, and upgraded it to the current version (as of somewhere earlier in the year (uh.. last year 🙂 ], not sure if there’s anything newer). It definitely is an interesting program, there were some bugs in the older version that turned me away– but the biggest problem with it (and this isn’t really an indictment of Plottr as much as it is my frustration of the lack of third-party access in Scrivener) is that you can’t really do a good round-trip from one to the other. I have the same complaint about ProWriters Aid– they claim to have a “plug-in” for Scrivener which, unless it’s changed in the past few months, is really a separate standalone program that offers some assistance in getting things in and out– but isn’t what I would really call a “plug-in” using the traditional definition).
Anyway, Plottr is really helpful to someone who likes “grid” planning, or developing a “timeline” view of their project. I think it’s a fabulous concept, but I ultimately put it aside because it doesn’t really integrate as well or as deeply as I’d like with Scrivener. Again, it’s L&L’s policies (AFAIK) which is the real limiting factor here, insofar as they don’t make it easy for external coordination.
IMO, it’d be great if Scrivener could release a “Scrivener Engine” concept, where their application ran as a local server to supply access to the various features, but would then allow other developers (including L&L themselves) to write Front-End UI’s and whatnot for manipulating the features of the engine. Would be the best of both worlds, IMO.
I *suspect* (though this is only my guess) that L&L’s biggest concern is the potential hassles / ill-will / bad PR they might get if somebody’s WIP got WIPED during some third-party operation. I can definitely understand how that could be problematic for everybody. And the support nightmares it might cause as people might turn to L&L for third-party support.
I’ve got Plottr and I absolutely love it.
It’s great for timeline based story plotting, but it also has room for flexible and creative character creation as well as places for location development/tracking and both tagging and notes.
You can view your timeline in horizontal or vertical direction and also in an ‘outline’ form, which is textual instead of visual. The visual ‘timeline’ view lets you look at your chapters as if they are note-cards on a string. You can nest cards inside a ‘chapter’ and have multiple timelines showing for any one project.
It comes with several built-in structure templates and character templates, as well as allowing writers to design, save, and share their own.
The developers are active, deeply connected to their community, updating constantly, responsive to the requests of their users, and seem very committed to putting out a good product.
I am NOT being paid by them – I just honestly love the program.
It’s got a yearly subscription, but the cost is $25/year, which seems extremely cheap.
I figure that Scrivener 3 for Windows will be released just in time for President Kamilla Harris’ inauguration after she winds election after Biden doesn’t run for a second term, but that may be optimistic. I’m 67 and I doubt that I’ll see the official release in my lifetime
One can only hope, George, one can only hope! (For both of those events…) Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post. Happy writing! 🙂
There last update on the schedule was November 2019:
“Overdue update regarding the timeframe for release of Scrivener 3 on Windows.
“Having skimmed our previous blog posts related to the launch of Scrivener 3 on Windows, there’s little to add apart from informing those users waiting on release that we’re going to be into 2020 before we launch. We’re trying to be balanced, and not overly particular as we want to get the application out as swiftly as possible, but it’s difficult for us to unveil our long-awaited release on Windows without it being as good as we can make it. For those occasional cries we hear stating that we do not care about our Windows users, reality couldn’t be further from the truth. We want to be proud of every application we release on any platform, which is why we’re taking so much time. We care equally no matter whether your device is macOS, iOS or Windows. Current users obviously have a version of Scrivener they can utilise on Windows, and anyone that purchased licensing on or after 20th November 2017 will still be receiving a free upgrade to Scrivener 3 for Windows on launch. ”
I’d say an update regarding the timeframe for release of Scrivener 3 on Windows is again overdue.
“Not overly particular” makes me want to snort. All I’ve seen is how they want the program to be “perfect” or “the best it can be”. If something doesn’t work, there’s always future updates. I realize COVID has only delayed them further, but it was getting out of hand long before that. I never imagined a year would pass since publishing this and we still wouldn’t have Scrivener 3. Although I can’t say I’m particularly surprised… Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!
I love Scrivener and I’m 107K words into a WIP that I wrote on my iPhone. I like the iOS version so much I bought an iPad Air 10.5 to do my serious writing and editing on, but like everyone here says, it would make my life a hell of a lot easier if I could just use my laptop. I wrote an older novel on Scrivener 1.0 on my old PC, but after seeing what the iOS version can do there’s no going back. They said they won’t announce a specific release date and that Version 3.0 is coming out “sometime in 2020.” Get with it, already. 🙂
Wow, congrats on your word count! That’s amazing! I couldn’t imagine writing on an iPhone. But the fact that even the mobile app is miles ahead of the Scrivener 1 for Windows desktop version says a LOT… And yes, I agree. Get with it already. Of course, COVID caused additional delays I’m sure, but this has been a problem long before that. Here’s hoping we’ll receive some news soon… But I’m not holding my breath. Thanks for reading and commenting, and happy writing!
I am late to the party here but I use yWriter for most of my writing. It is free, works on windows, the developer uses it himself, and keeps it up to date. Also, it has an Android app, however, some aspects of it have been broken with recent changes Google has made and Simon (the developer) is trying to find a way to fix it. yWriter is very similar to Scrivener in core usage, but is easier to use (in my opinion) and more robust. About the only feature I wish it had is the corkboard.
While I do have Scrivener for windows, I don’t use it for a lot of my writing. Originally I got it for the character name generator. And until I read here, I had no idea of the update mess it is going through (or lack of updates I should say). Scrivener does have advantages, such as configurations and exporting/compiling directly to, say, epub. yWriter needs another program such as Calibre to create the ebook itself. While both are free, it is a extra step. But on the other hand, I didn’t think the ebooks Scrivener makes were that good compared to what I produce using yWriter, Calibre, and Sigil. Of course it takes more time. It is all a matter of what you prefer.
I still can’t believe the huge mess that is Scrivener for Windows. I had heard about v2 and until now, thought it had come out. But since it was a pay upgrade, I never paid attention. It works fine for what I use it for (which isn’t much lately), so not worth upgrading. But for a developer to promise it will be out so many times and fail to deliver, well, I wouldn’t trust them either. I doubt it will ever be out at this point. Very sad as it is a good program.
A couple of other free programs I have played around with is OStorybook and WriteWay. OStorybook is open source and has great potential, but its lack of import features (except for cutting and pasting everything) blocked my using it for much. WriteWay has good import and export, but there are a couple of quirks in exporting to RTF, so I stuck with yWriter. Both are wroth a look though if you want something that is on Windows.
WriteWay is well done, reliable, and has a lot of nice features. And is close to Scrivener’s general design. As I said if it wasn’t for the sometimes export quirks, I would be using it on a regular basis. I could have worked around them, but with yWriter I didn’t have to. The larger downside of WriterWay is the developer retired and no more updates will occur, but it runs well on Win 7, 8, and 10.
In the end I agree with everyone here, use what works well for YOU. Everyone has a different process which are as varied as the stories we write.
Ooh, I’ve never heard of yWriter, WriteWay, or OStoryBook. I’ll have to look into those. It’s always promising when a developer uses their own program – they’re able to see what needs updating and make changes promptly. As for exporting to ebook format, I’m nowhere near close to that step yet, but I can imagine it’s not the most intuitive feature. I hated the formatting of the text editor, and no matter how much tinkering I did, I couldn’t get the margins to stay put. It’s important to remember Scrivener is a paid program. If the exports don’t look good, why not use free tools that get the job done right, even if they do add an extra step?
I completely agree about the mess. I’m tired of waiting on an update to a program I paid for that’s been promised for several years. I realize COVID has delayed things further, but it’s been a problem for a LONG time.
When I first published this post, I was terrified that Scrivener die-hards would descend upon it and rip me to shreds. Turns out I’m not alone by a long shot. The only nasty comments I’ve gotten about this post have come from the L&L forum itself. Not surprising, but just goes to show the community is toxic. Someone there called my process “an abysmal kludge” – meanwhile, everyone here, yourself included, has been so kind! Different strokes for different folks, absolutely.
Reading these comments from so many dedicated writers suggesting alternatives and describing their experience with them is refreshing and reassuring. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond so thoroughly to this post. I appreciate it more than you know! This post is due an update soon, so I’ll be sure to check out the programs you suggested and add them to this list. 🙂
Don’t feel bad, I’ve been told that “Scrivener may not be the right product for me” 🙂
Unfortunately, I generally agree, though it’s frustrating since I can’t find anything that really ticks all the boxes that’s better. I’ve researched a ton of authoring software and websites– some have a feature here and there that’s nice. But you’re making an investment in your writing (career) and so the who overall thing needs to work in a way you’re comfortable with. And while there are definitely some that come pretty close to Scrivener in terms of overall mix of features (including some of the ones just mentioned)– For me personally, as much as I wish it wasn’t so– Scrivener seems to be as close as I can get to something useful.
Sorry about the big block of text. The preview looks like it it ate my paragraphs. 🙁
Nope, your paragraphs are showing up perfectly fine on my end – no worries!
Whew, good. I don’t know why the preview showed a huge mess of text.
As for yWriter here is a link: http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter.html with the different versions. Though even yWriter5beta is really yWriter8 under the hood. But it runs on Windows XP (and everything forward I believe). I have to admire him allowing so much backwards compatibly for those that need it. Not many developers will. If you get the zip package, you don’t even have to install anything (unless you don’t have windows .net installed then you will need that). Just unzip and run the .exe
Writeway is here: http://www.writewaypro.com/ and he started it for his wife who is a professional author and thought “there has to be a better way”. Like I said, it is a nice app and I really like it. But have stuck with yWriter due to the slight issues I had with the RTF export. Easy to work around them, but I just stayed with yWriter instead.
Both have several youtube videos for them from various authors demonstrating how they use the apps. Some of the videos are a bit older, but most of the information is still relevant.
Thanks so much for taking the time to provide those links! I’ll definitely check those out and add them to this post when I update it. yWriter seems like a good choice, especially given the backwards compatibility. Does anyone even use XP anymore?
I am a subscriber to Microsoft 365. It is a super great program suite. I am finding that OneNote can almost completely replace Scrivener (at least in the way I use it). Within each Notebook (think Scrivener Project) you can create sections where you can nest pages within other pages (think Scrivener’s organization pane where folders and pages are the same thing). You can customize a list of tags and search for them throughout the Notebook, Section, or Page. That way you can keep track of drafts, places that need editing, etc. You can dock a window while you research to take notes, or open two windows side by side to see research while writing. There is a dark mode, and a full screen mode similar to Scrivener’s focus writing mode (except it doesn’t keep the line you are working on in the middle).
Admittedly, it still is not Scrivener. I used Scrivener for the organization. If you use it for the metrics, it probably isn’t for you. The three main features I want to see from Scrivener in OneNote are Snapshots (so I can manually save page drafts, right now page versions take automatic snapshots in OneNote), Metadata for Pages (so I can hover my mouse over pages to see descriptions), and Scrivenings (so I can view my text running together).
Please upvote my ideas in Microsoft Uservoice if you think these are good ideas:
Hi Dan, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this post. I appreciate you sharing insights on your process and suggestions for improvements — I actually used OneNote for organizing practically everything for about 5 years before moving over to Notion. I agree that it’s a good alternative to Scrivener, and there are still some features I wish Notion had (like the freedom to move text/page elements around freely). Metadata would be a great feature for OneNote. I do think that Microsoft could invest more time into improving the program. I don’t recall any major updates to it in all my years of using it. Happy writing, and here’s hoping your feature suggestions get approved!
Recommend Zotero as an alternative to OneNote with many more capabilities. Free, academic respectable, flexible and powerful. A beautiful program with auto-online sync, groups, and more. Amount of online storage is only limit for free version. We use the paid unlimited storage and attach all work there for local and online storage. Information organization as Scrivener tries to do.
Struggled for 5 years with Scrivener, its unpredictable file structure, glitches and gave up when the disappearing cursor bug in the latest Windows Scrivener 3 Beta turned out to be from 2010 in Scrivener 1 (there is no Scrivener 2 for Windows).
Google Docs/Drive was great for a while until an entire Drive contents vanished, no help from Google. Google also mixed a Photo collection with another user with a similar email address. The history of great software they have purchased and abandoned (like Picasa, Sketchup, Groups, etc.) keeps growing so we don’t trust them.
We reverted to Zotero, LibreOffice Writer, InDesign, and Acrobat. Real world typesetting is always InDesign. And all things must be PDF. From there we can output anywhere.
I have been using Scrivener for a long time but the fact that the new version just won’t be released annoyed me so much that I changed. Plus, the old version didn’t scale very well on my new laptop, it’s simply an outdated piece of software. It was blurry, even after tweaking the Windows settings and disable scaling. I have been looking at other software, especially Bibisco, Papyrus and PatchWork but then took a similar approach as you did: I also went partially “old-school”. While I don’t use a real corkboard for outlining, I started doing some sort of a bullet journal. While it’s certainly not as pretty as all those bullet journals that get posted on Instagram (I neither have the leisure nor the drawing skills to do this) it does the job just fine. I do most of the outlining and brainstorming on paper now and my additional notes are done with a simple text editor (Geany and Code Writer). I do all the writing itself in a normal word processor (I use Softmaker Office because I use Linux and Windows) and I save everything in different folders and sub-folder (which are backed up in the cloud). It’s actually easier and faster to navigate through it than it has ever been on Scrivener.
Completely agree with all these points. Another commenter noted the blurriness — maybe I didn’t notice that or it wasn’t a problem for me. Good to have a +1 for old-school writing processes! Even though Scrivener has scene cards, I forgot about them often. I didn’t find them useful or helpful. It’s much easier to just grab a pen and paper than waste time resizing and tinkering around with the corkboard. That’s a super outdated feature, especially compared to Mac’s fancy freeform corkboard.
Minimalist bullet journaling and pen and paper in general is underrated. Doesn’t have to be pretty, just has to get the job done! I love planning and bullet journaling for general task management. I tend to use my morning pages (really just a journal) to talk myself through plot points or brainstorm.
Glad to hear you’ve created a process that works for your needs. Happy writing and scribbling! 🙂
Every time I went to the forums to get help with the blurriness of the original version I got told nothing to do about it. It’s frustrating, because now I also can’t use the old version as all their licensing issues? Locked me out and never allowed me back in. So I can’t even USE the product I bought. I bought the old version of scrivener 3 DAYS before they announced buy the old get the new, and they would not retroactively apply it. L&L mods did nothing to help when a member called me the c-word and just shrugged it off. This mod though seems to egg on people who agree with her that people who complain are nasty. V3 lost a whole 50k worth of novel on me…and so on and so forth. I don’t know if I’ll ever buy v3 at this point after being mistreated SO BADLY by both forum mods and other users as well as the fact the owners/whoever don’t really seem to care…at all.
I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. Absolutely shameful customer “service”. It’s appalling that they allowed people to abuse you in the forums! The community is toxic. Everyone from the mods to the devs included. I won’t go near those forums anymore because I was treated similarly, but not nearly as badly as you. Someone linked to this post in a thread on V3. Someone else replied calling my scene card setup “an abysmal kludge”. When I defended my process, I was told I have a fragile ego. I just shrugged it off and bounced. Ain’t got time for that nonsense. I was afraid I’d get comments like that here because Scrivener die-hards are just like that.
Are you not able to locate your original license key? I had a problem with that too. I installed the beta and because I didn’t use the original version for so long, the license expired and it reverted back to the trial version. (Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a program with a lifetime license?) I spent a long time combing through emails to find it. And if I’d accidentally deleted that email, I have no idea how I would’ve got it back.
Sounds like you don’t need it at this point though. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t buy V3 because I’ve made up my mind: I won’t. Rest assured you’re in good company. And company that won’t abuse you or judge you for how you like to write at that! 🙂 You’ll find tons of free alternatives in the comments if you’re still searching for an alternative. That’s another thing that irks me: this is a PAID program. And an expensive one. They have a lot of nerve treating paying customers like this.
I’m another disappointed Scrivener user. All the features I bought the Windows version for only work on mac. I’ve given up on that app. I was a big fan of OneNote but I realized I need something else. I also want to get rid of my Office 365 subscription. I dropped by to share how I manage my hundreds of documents now. Maybe it helps.
Notion: All the background information for my books: Worldbuilding, character bios, scene descriptions, plot, etc. I can arrange everything the way I need it. I’m a visual person. I like my lists, kanban boards and galleries.
Joplin: Currently only for archiving blog articles about writing – I have hundreds. Joplin has an amazing clipping tool. I barely need to edit texts which saves a lot of time.
YWriter: Only for the actual writing process as I have Notion for everything else. I didn’t use it much but I liked what saw so far and I think I’ll keep using it. I also liked how it didn’t force me to do things a certain way like other apps often do.
Cherrytree: This is an app I’ll probably never uninstall. I transferred all of my research – yes, I have even more – to cherrytree. Sadly it couldn’t handle my 300+ writing articles/snippets + PDFs/images, but I use it for my other smaller topics. The tree structure could be useful for structuring a novel or organizing your texts.
I’m not sure which word processor I’ll use in the future. I like to ‘proof listen’ to my texts via text to speech. Maybe I’ll just use Google docs.
Hey Karen, thanks for taking the time to read the post and comment, I really appreciate it! Looks like we’ve got another +1 for Notion and YWriter. I love Notion. I don’t know how I went so long without it. I’m actually working on a Notion for Writers series that I’ll be releasing in October along with video tutorials and templates.
I’ve still yet to test out YWriter, but since you and another commenter suggest it, I’ll have to give it a go. CherryTree sounds interesting too. I have a ton of research that’s basically just sitting in Google Drive folders right now. Definitely not the most visual process.
As for proof-listening, Microsoft Word has a read aloud feature. Not sure about Google Docs but it’s definitely worth a go. I’m currently using Smart Edit Writer as my word processor. It combines some of the best Scrivener features with the functionality of Word.
They got a beta version found now when looking around
Thanks for the suggestion. I should’ve mentioned in this post that I actually did try the beta. But there was a huge warning window during the install saying not to save any important projects since it was still a work in progress. That really scared me off. Since my novel is a retelling of my family’s stories, I can’t risk losing it.
Super late to this article but I’ve had much the same relationship with Scrivener for years now. I want to love it so, so much yet get frustrated by the way it’s perpetually lagging behind on Windows. Not to mention the great white elephant that the Android version seems to be.
I now use a combination of GDrive, GDocs and a fantastic world building programme called Kanka (https://kanka.io/en-US). It’s designed for people building RPG worlds, but I’ve found the tools for nesting and linking entries incredibly useful. It’s free to use, although they do provide a “boosted” package for those that financially contribute to the project.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Bee! I’m right there with you. Sounds like we use a similar process, although I’ve never heard of Kanka. I’ll have to check it out and add it to the list! Good world-building software is hard to find.
I recently was planning to move one of my WIP’s into Scrivener. I have chapters that are different character point of views and thought it would be easier to work on in Scrivener. I have been using Google Docs/Google Drive to keep everything in (i.e. notes, pictures, histories, etc.). I came across this blog post when I was doing some research on Scrivener and boy am I glad I did! After reading this post I learned a great deal more and how Google docs has been working great for me thus far. I can work on my WIP anywhere! Thank you for sharing you insights! Much appreciated!
Thanks for the kind comment, Sue! I’m so glad you found this post helpful. I certainly don’t want to scare anyone off trying out Scrivener if they’re interested, but it is a paid program, so if you don’t get along with it, it’s money down the drain.
And hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Many writers prefer Docs, I think, since we’re so accustomed to using word processors.
If you’re looking for an alternative, check out some of the other comments here. Dozens of brilliant writers have recommended some amazing programs. I’ve yet to try them all out but I’m planning to give them a go and update this post with my favorites. Happy writing!
Thanks for this article. I arrived here via a defeated “Scrivener alternative” search, lol. I’ve been trying to force myself to love Scrivener because everyone says it’s the best and “real” writers use it, but I just don’t find it easy to use. Plus, I have trouble with Scrivener backups to Google Drive not working when I download them again, which terrifies me. I see that I’m in good company though, and these comments are a goldmine. I have 9 tabs up to investigate, lol. Please update if you try out any of the other programs. 😉
You’re very welcome! I feel this struggle. I never could get the Scrivener backups to work either, which is not only frustrating but super important for writers. We’ve all read those horror stories about writers losing their work. Glad you’ve found a lot of alternatives to look into! I’m so grateful for the commenters here. They’ve given me quite a few options to check out too! I’m planning to update this post this month with some of the alternatives listed here. I’ll let you know when the updated version is live!
Hi Tara, we’re actively looking into alternatives so keep checking back! For the time being, we suggest SmartEdit Writer which is free and has everything we need. Keep writing, Tara!
very glad i found this post, as i was considering buying scrivener for my windows 10 laptop with nanowrimo steadily approaching!
i’d only ever seen screenshots/videos of the mac/iOS version, and was totally unaware of how behind the windows version is. not worth spending $50 for a product whose developers don’t entirely seem to care about their product 🙁 disheartening, but my search for a writing program continues! hoping i find one i like this week so i can finish strong in preptober!!
Glad to hear you found this post useful! Yeah, Scrivener ain’t cheap. I was on the fence about buying it, but I made some extra cash from a gig and decided to go for it. Still, you’re totally right. It’s a lot of money to invest in a half-baked program.
If you’re still searching for an alternative, I highly recommend yWriter, SmartEdit Writer, and Quoll Writer! They’re all free. There’s tons of comments here with more suggestions. I’m planning to update this post this month with some of the alternatives listed in the comments. Just in time for NaNo! Best of luck in your search, and happy Preptobering and NaNoing!
If you think Scrivener isn’t cheap, take a look at Final Draft. $250 (retail though you can usually get it for around $170) and they don’t ANY support less than version 9 (released in 2014). Normally this means you can still get older versions going if you need to reinstall, move to a new machine, etc. But not get any help if you run into problems. But not so for Final Draft. They won’t even let you install/activate the older versions.
I had looked at it, but that price tag and the fact they won’t let you install older versions as a way of forcing you to upgrade said ‘no way’ to me.
Phew! That is NOT cheap. Look, I get it; we need to invest in our writing tools. But come on. That’s just extortion. Especially considering they don’t provide support. Problem is, folks will pay that, and they know it. Yeesh.
Indeed, especially when they are considered a “standard” in screenwriting with companies such as Disney using them.
Hi Mila, thank you for taking the time to read Mel’s piece. We love SmartEdit Writer, which is ~free~ and includes everything you need to get started. We are looking into some other alternatives, so keep checking back for updates!
I wanted to update a little regarding yWriter and the Android version. I mentioned before Simon, the developer is having a problem with it directly accessing cloud files. But it does have a local/offline option as well. I recently saw a post by a guy in the yWriter group that did get that to work, the only ‘trick’ was to make sure you used the internal storage in say the ‘sdcard’ folder (which is usually the default for saving documents etc). External storage didn’t work.
With this in mind I grabbed the app (http://www.spacejock.com/yWriterAndroid.html) and gave it a spin. While not free it was worth the $4 (and more) for certain. It’s actual text editing is basic but it does the job and you can have everything in your project handy (characters, locations, items, project notes, chapter and scenes). It is set up just like Scrivener in that regard (and yWriter as well). The only thing I didn’t like about the text editing was you couldn’t scroll down on the screen if you were working in the middle of a scene until you closed the on screen keyboard. Then you could. Minor nitpick though.
I also see he has a iOS version as well, if you prefer to use a iPad or iPhone. A Mac version is also available now. While very much a alpha version the code behind it is all the same. Bugs should be in the interface such as moving items around, if there are any. But he does suggest not using it for ‘serious’ work. I don’t have the hardware so I haven’t tried those versions.
You do need to use yWriter 6 or 7 and save to that format (6 or 7) as the Android app (or iOS) can’t work with the yWriter 5 project format. But the desktop version (6 or 7) can convert it back to v5 if one needs. In my case I used v6 as it is little more mature than 7. While I think most of the bugs are out of 7, I errored on the side of caution.
What I did was download the file from the cloud directly, stuck it in a folder I made for yWriter projects then opened yWriter and selected the local option. After that kept hitting the up arrow in the directory until I got to the root then back down to the SDCard folder and sure enough there was my folder for yWriter I made and the project. After I finished my work on it for the day I just uploaded the new file back to drop box then downloaded that to my desktop to work there. It is an extra step but I think it is worth it, especially if one already uses/likes yWriter.
I noticed one guy even said he wrote 3/4ths of his book in yWriter for Android in coffee shops lol. He used a full keyboard of course, but that is a lot of writing in the app. I have used it quite a bit now as well and seems reliable even if it is listed under “beta”. And I am sure if I did have a problem Simon would offer to help as he often has with people on the group. But I would always keep backups, although one feature I like about yWriter is all the automatic backups it makes. However, I am not sure if the Android version does the same, therefore, I am keeping a backup or two just to be safe.
One thing I don’t think I mentioned before, yWriter isn’t designed to replace the editing abilities of say word or libreoffice. It does have a export for proofing option to import into those type of programs (usually as .rtf as the format), edit, then reimport back into yWriter to export to ebooks, or LaTex for print books. If you have a editor, you can then save it in the format they prefer (usually .doc or .docx) and send it to them. When they return it you can go through all the changes, save back to .rtf and reimport to yWriter using import proofed chapter option. One thing though, make sure you tell your editor to leave the [tags] alone, or it will mess up the import. Although if you have tracking changes on, it should be easy to restore them if need be.
You can also export to RTF which can be reimported anywhere. Your work is never “stuck” somewhere in a proprietary format. Which is also the case of Scrivener, but I have used a few programs in the past that held your work ‘hostage’ in such a fashion.
Thanks so much for returning to this post and providing a detailed update! I really appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into helping me and the other writers here on our search for a suitable program.
Glad there’s a workaround for the cloud files. Simon sounds like he’s working hard to continue to improve both the desktop and mobile versions. It certainly helps to know there’s a real person who cares behind the program. I’m not sure I can say the same in Scrivener’s case.
I think a lot of the “nitpicky” things you mention are indeed small issues that likely won’t bother most writers. Of course, no software is perfect. And most writing programs don’t format work out of the box for publication. So that’s to be expected. What matters is that the interface is easy to use and the features suit your writing process.
Where is the yWriter group? Facebook, Discord, etc.? I’d love to see some of the conversation happening. Sounds like there’s a dedicated, supportive community of yWriter users.
Admittedly, I haven’t tested out yWriter for myself yet, but I’m planning to test it out first thing before I update this post later this month. You’ve given me a lot of content to include in the updated version of the post, so thank you! If you’d like me to update you when the updated version is live, just let me know. 🙂
You’re welcome. While I haven’t mentioned it, I use Libreoffice for the actual editing after I have written the book. I don’t mind spending for good software ONCE but the way everyone is going to the subscription model (or killing activation after a few years) is the wrong direction in my humble opinion. I had word at one point years ago, and older version even, and it seemed far too bloated (or forces me to change my entire system just to install a word processor). LibreOffice does everything and I don’t have those issues.
And yes Simon (the yWriter developer) cares. I have written 7 novels in yWriter and really like how I can take it or leave the extra features. Although Scrivener does that as well, it does not have the backup system yWriter does. yWriter backs up any changed scene every 10 minutes (usually the default but is adjustable) and keeps those versions. Zap a paragraph and realize 3 days later it had the only instance of the name of the character you can’t remember? It’s safe in the yWriter backups. One simply looks up the scene, the date, and copy/paste the old scene or paragraph you need. Scrivener does let you do multiple copies and clones, but only if you do it yourself. yWriter does it automatically in the background. I do not know of any other writing software with this kind of automatic versioning.
As for where the forums/groups are. The main one is the google group https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/ywriter He also has a facebook page for it https://www.facebook.com/spacejocksoftware/ And Dropbox option does still work with the Android version (I haven’t tested it but others said it does). I centered on the local aspect as you never know when the cloud storage systems are going to change something that breaks all the apps except their own (I’ve had that happen a few times). A local method will always work no matter what the ‘cloud’ does. 🙂
One other thing about the Android version, I guess it can freeze when you try to load a project file locally. It hasn’t for me, but one guy says if the project file doesn’t open for several minutes, open the task list, kill it there, then reopen the app and project file. The file will open instantly the second time.
And sure, send me a note when you do a updated post. 🙂 Or if you have problems/questions with yWriter, I’ll lend a hand. 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing those links and this info! I’ll be sure to include them in my updated version of this post, which I’m hoping to publish at some point this week. I might be in touch if I have other questions while exploring the yWriter software. Is it okay to contact you via email?
Sure, feel free to e-mail me. I’m happy to help if I can. 🙂
I think you might not have missed much.
I gave up on Scrivener for world-building and character data and am now only using it to write the actual manuscript and I have Scrivener 3 on a Mac and an iPad. The problem was that my project took 5 minutes to sync on the iPad and it seems the only advice from L&L was to have a smaller project, or fewer files, or buy a Mac laptop perhaps… (I guess 550 000 words in 2800+ documents did that to Scrivener on iPad, the sad thing: desktop has no problem dealing with that, but just like you, I needed iPad access as well…)
Anyway. I moved (am moving) world-building and character-building material to DokuWiki (my research has always been on my Dropbox).
The big advantage to DokuWiki (part from it being a wiki and thus being able to handle unstructured data and interconnect it) is that it stores all its pages as plain text files with markdown-like syntax. I back them up and if worst comes to worst, I can still read them and understand them, and likely transform them into something else.
The biggest issue is that you have to set it up somehow (although, I’ve heard of USB-stick solutions). I already had an ISP-account I could use (and then I had to set up the backup).
For my project, a Wiki seems to be the only way to go, and having one where the pages are in a readable, easy to back up format is one of the cornerstones.
Hi Erik, I’ve never heard of DoWiki, but we’ll definitely check it out! We currently use Smart Edit Writer but are always up for trying new things. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!
I wish I had read this blog before purchasing the windows version. I had watched all the utube videos, not realizing that the windows version would be different. Foolishly I paid full price as I wanted what I’d seen in the videos., and thought it would be what I was getting. Now I will have to pay all over again if the new version ever appears. At 78, I can’t change to Mac now. I hope some smart developer will look at what is possible and create it for windows. Just saying I guess integrity is one more lost character value, just like common sense.
Just like Adobe, too many companies, forget the ones who hung with them from the beginning and helped them become a success no longer matter.
I do hope you will end all the dog ate my homework excuses and false promises and deliver the goods.
It looks like your problem is the OS you are using, not Scrivener. I have used Scrivener on the Mac for several years (not sure how many) without any problems. I don’t use all of its features, but I totally rely on those I do use, not only for organising major projects but also for little stuff, like having an integrated scratch pad alongside a letter I’m writing.
As a pensioner I am NOT happy with the price I will have to pay to replace my 2014 Mac Mini when I can no longer delay replacing it, and as a 25 year Mac user (and Apple II before that) I am thoroughly sick of Apple dropping apps or features that I use regularly and forcing me to do without them, and sometimes even denying me convenient access to archived documents, and causing me problems on upgrades (like reformatting my HD a couple of years ago to make it run like a geriatric snail, requiring the purchase of an SSD – NOT from Apple! – to fix it), so I have been looking at Linux on and off since 2010, when I first tried Ubuntu on a generic laptop. That suited my wife, and she is now using Ubuntu Maté, and I like Maté, and I have no love for the Apple Computer Company, but Scrivener is my one must-have app, and it isn’t available for Linux, so I am stuck with the Mac for the foreseeable future.
As for Windows, occasionally I have to use it, but I never choose to, it is so inconvenient to use c.f. the Mac and Maté (the Maté panels are a bit tedious to configure, but once that’s done it is easy to use). I don’t even use MS office on my Mac (it has my daughter’s school subscription on it, she has little choice but to use it), because it is so slow and inconvenient to use c.f. OpenOffice / LibreOffice. So a Windows user will get more benefits by switching to a Mac than just getting a better version of Scrivener. I don’t like the way Apple Computer treats its long-time users, but the Mac OS still has the best user interface and data access of the three main personal Operating Systems.
So if you are dead set on getting your book done well and done quickly I suggest that you get yourself a Mac, even if only a (relatively) cheap second-hand one, at least until Scrivener releases a Linux version, and I have no idea when that will be.
I appreciate you taking the time to read and write a detailed comment on this post. However, the point is not the device itself. The point is the inconsistent updates and the total silence from L&L. I don’t think it’s fair to tell anyone to “just get a Mac” if they want to get their book done “well and quickly.” Consider that not everyone can afford even a cheap, used Mac, especially now during the pandemic. I shouldn’t have to buy a new device (when I already have two perfectly good ones) with a totally different OS to use a single program. There are tons of writing programs out there for a fraction of the cost. But different strokes for different folks, I guess.
Maybe you can help me. Among the tons of writing programs you say are available, do you know of a Linux equivalent of Scrivener, i.e. a writing app with an organiser, side by side editing panels, and a notes panel (i.e. a scribble pad / scratch pad), all in the app window? I would like to switch to Linux (specifically, Ubuntu Maté, which my wife and daughter use, it is not quite as user friendly as the Mac, but it’s not too far short of it, and Macs do cost a lot, and I am a pensioner), but Scrivener is my one “must have” app so I need to find a Linux equivalent of it before I can abandon the Mac.
Re your problem, Scrivener obviously is having a lot of trouble updating the Windows version, so maybe the device, i.e. the OS, is the problem. From my perspective as a user it certainly is, my daughter has to use Windows and MS Office for school and she dislikes them (she has Maté on her laptop for personal use), and the Windows user interface is so anti-intuitive that I hate trying to do anything on Windows, and I never use the school copy of MS Office that is on my Mac, Open Office is much better (I haven’t used Apple’s productivity apps since they killed off AppleWorks). Despite the relative popularity of Windows, the Mac actually is worth the extra up-front cost because of how much easier it is to use and to set up, and in the longer term MS app subscription fees and other costs make a Windows computer not much cheaper than an equivalent Mac, so if Win and Mac are your only alternatives and you haven’t found a Windows alternative to Scrivener that suits you, perhaps you should consider switching to a Mac, despite their higher up-front cost. But if you know of a Scrivener equivalent that runs on Linux, maybe you should go dual OS on the computers you currently have, like my daughter has done on her laptop, and technically my wife also, except that she never boots into Windows, she only ever uses Linux.
Check out Manuskript.
Its almost the end of 2020, and no Scrivener 3 for windows in the horizon. We live at an age of enormous digital resources and individuals fully dedicated to the development of new writing tools. So it boggles my mind why they can not update an existing version, I mean is beyond, we are talking over two years of feeding customers with betas, and manure. And that bring me to the subject. If the ever managed to bring this now mythical; software alive, how long will it take to send the regular updates and to fix little bugs that comes every now and then with new releases. Two three years? or even more. I’m glad I went for a different venue
On December 17, 2020, Literature and Latte posted an update on Scrivener 3 for Windows. Some excerpts:
Scrivener 3 for Windows: Final Update Before Launch News
… we were really hopeful we’d be offering a shot in the arm for our Windows users before 2020 was out with the release of Scrivener 3 … our Windows development team requires a bit more time … a few outstanding bugs remain, so they’ll be coding through the Christmas period so we do not drift too far into 2021 without releasing Scrivener 3.0 for Windows … we trust we’ll be in a position to provide a specific date for release early in 2021.
And then? And the next version? And the debug version? The corrections?
How can you take them seriously after they’ve been fooling you for four long years?
How can you trust this scrap?
And what if the 3.0 is worse than the 1.9? Come on man, stop this shit and dedicate your works only for Mac: There are hundreds of software for windows only, hundreds for Mac only, and nobody dies for this, nobody cares. We can always go on.
if you think it so, I imagine when you discover that Scrivener 3 for Windows is WORSE than 1.9
yes, it’s only a two-bit imitation of mac version with the beautiful but unprofessional “barbie toy theme” and A LOT of errors and flaws.
I tried start a new scriptwriting in RC13 (current).
I can’t, it’s impossible
I see a lot of people commenting about L&L being “over worked”. As a developer I can personally say, if this in fact the case… then they are being irresponsible. It cost a trivial amount of money to hire another developer from the sheer amount of sales I see they get. I have also offered my services FOR FREE. But they refuse to take on the extra help. I understand the need for “industry secrets” but honestly I can choose to code what they have from scratch and just use every feature they have as well as add more. More in my opinion is that they have “stalled out” due to irl issues and aren’t as dedicated as they make themselves sound. My wife pointed out our that this is something I used to do in the past while working on a project I no longer really wanted to do…
I’ve been very happy with the MacOS and IOS versions which have been stable and reliable, and it offers far more than more expensive subscription-based alternatives like Ulysses.
However, like you, I would have given up on the Windows version if I experienced what you have. That’s it acceptable.
I think one of your other commenters said they outsourced it to a Windows developer, and that team is different to the Mac OS and IOS versions.
This experience of broken promises and delays over years is not new though; they released the IOS version years after the initial promised released date.
In that case they outsourced and after a few years were not happy with the product so brought the project in-house and started from scratch. But I remember many posts and articles understandably complaining about the repeated delays, and eventually many just moved on to alternatives.
There’s been many apologies from the developers but they really have to improve their development cycle.
I’m glad you’ve found much better alternatives though and this is a good resource for many.
Sorry- I mean: it’s unacceptable!
(Writing on a commute and sent before changing trains)
I agree with your basic complaint, but this is how I deal with it– not perfect, but it works for me. I have found a great (IMO) e-reader app called ‘Freda’ (or ‘Freda+’ for the paid version) which does a pretty good job of giving me a “book feel” to review my writing with. It also has a nice “read aloud” feature (though, in those disgusting monotone Microsoft voices…) that I often use to listen to my words– I catch a ton of misspellings / awkwardness that way (though, the computer also pronounces some stuff “creatively” on occasion too…).
You can get Freda through the Microsoft store, or at it’s web site http://www.turnipsoft.co.uk/freda/. The programmer is very friendly and seems to give pretty good support. He’s always answered my questions promptly.
My workflow is: Do whatever in Scrivener, then when I’m ready, (Exit Freda, if it’s open), Compile to Epub, and Pull up the result in Freda to examine. Scrivener compile even has a nice feature to automatically execute an external program after compiling, so I let it start Freda with the latest epub version.
I have no affiliation with Freda apart from just liking it. I’ve just tried a lot of epub readers and like it best because it looks (to me) the most like an actual published book on the screen, and (apart from the stupid monotone voice thing) I like the read-aloud feature. I can’t comment on any other aspect or feature of it, since that’s all I ever use it for.
I’m in a similar boat as you, although I gave up on Scrivener before you even purchased your version. It’s simply a dated piece of software. And even the mac version without a cloud-based solution to editing and device usage is looking pretty dated. I’ve tried several of the options that people mentioned and find them all lacking for one reason or another. I am going to give LivingWriter a shot but their cost model is pretty rediculous, I think $5 a month is probably more reasonable but if it knocks my socks off who knows…thanks for your post.
But seriously, who would ever put his career in the hands of a software house that has been promising the release of a software for 4 years?
With what confidence could one start a long, serious job, made up of hours and hours of work?
For example, the export of Scrivener 1 for Windows is a cry. Who tells me that a fast and error free debug will be done?
What if the success of my work depended on the speed of L & L’s response?
I loved Scrivener and I have not regretted buying version 1, but I’ll cut my hands off that day when I’ll try to write even just two lines in version 3. Without considering that all the beta versions are full of bugs and more than once it has happened that it has deleted everything (luckily I constantly backup).
You know what it’s like nights and nights of work, crying and despairing, because you SUDDENLY realize that your two million character job cannot be completed because the program is full of bugs? Come on man, it can’t be serious. It can’t be still around: “will come out”, “promise”, “my word”. What the hell you promise me?
And there is no excuse that holds, there is no justification or whatsoever: it’s simply something bad, irresponsible, not scrupulous, unreliable.
Really, I’m very sorry, but for me Scrivener is dead: with this now I only have an archive of poems, nothing more. I just have to find a good alternative.
You said it right and I’m with you: I don’t want a Mac, nothing similar to it, and maybe Scrivener is one of the biggest failure in the software history.
Sorry for my bad english.
Hi Mel, I’ve just discovered your site and I wonder if you have your Notion Writers templates available yet. I’ve found the youtube videos. Is that all that’s available so far?
Thanks for great information,
Hi Renee, Thanks for your interest in the Notion for Writing templates! They’re not quite available yet. I’m planning to release them in April. If you’d like a custom setup before then, I can certainly accommodate! Send me an email at email@example.com and we can work something out. Thanks again!
Yes – I just finished downloading, paying for, and then migrating my massive novel into scrivener. I bought a new chrome book that would be only for writing…. only to discover it Scrivener doesn’t work on it.
I am sort of horrified by this story of yours, because I work for a tech company. Writers are basically at the mercy of the engineers in this case, and from what you’re saying it doesn’t seem like they even care to ensure they cover functionality for anyone but Mac. Disappointing, but L&L will be in for a rude awakening later. The majority of mobile apps are now developed for Android. Linux, Windows, and Chromebooks now have majority market share. So… eventually they will wake up and realize they are too late, and a competitor will have already built a superior product.
Thanks for this list, I’ll check them all out.
I’m using the v3 beta on windows and it has taken me right back into my v3 on Mac experience from when I was a Mac user. It’s rock solid steady, regularly updated and approaching final release candidate. I agree, it’s been a very long time coming, but they opened up the beta well over a year ago and I’ve been loving it. I am intrigued by Docx manager though, and may have a look at that out of interest when times are slower
Thank you so much for this article. It was the first result when I googled ‘alternative to scrivener’ which I was searching for because I’m so tired of waiting on version 3.
And keep ignoring the cult of mac fandom. Maybe one of these days they’ll mature enough to judge things on their actual quality rather than their brand name.
I got some valuable points through this blog.
I used Scrivener 3 on my MacBook Air but soon I got tired of all the bells and whistles it provides. I’ve now made a process to how I’m keeping things organized in Google Drive.
Honestly, I’m never going back to Scrivener. Though it was a neat program… it isn’t for me.
You can use Scrivener 3 beta for free here : https://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=40621.
There’s freeform corkboard and even a sort of timeline corkboarding.
I use it since some days, I’m discovering this software a bit.
I’ve heard people using the beta for free since years 😉
It’s cool but can be overwhelming though. There’s an adaptation period.
YES!! Thank you! I literally reached this very same conclusion and I even have an iPad that I use Scrivener on. I wrote the first draft of my novel in it and I loved it. I don’t regret my purchase, but will be using another app.
thank you very much for this post. I don’t usually comment on blog posts but I felt like this deserved a Kudos after all the flak you caught (and “just buy a Mac”?! SRSLY, folks?).
For me, it was the right post at the right time and I am grateful for having found it when I did (equalling being grateful to you for writing it), as I am staring down the barrel of what might become a first book wanting to get written (after years (another career ago) of 1- and 2-pagers for money) and was circling Scrivener as a tool candidate.
Your piece reads fair and you obviously put in a lot of effort into doing L&L justice. I was already sceptical whether a standalone would be doable for me, but was utterly ignorant about the crass discprepancies between the Windows worseion compared to its Mac sibling. Now I’m not so much, anymore.
So, thank you for this. For at least one person, this piece made a difference.
And I know that sometimes this already counts for something.
Best wishes for your further endeavours
I think Literature & Latte trying to code a Windows version was a mistake on their part and utterly inexcusable that it’s so far behind its Mac counterpart. I’m lucky. I now own the new MacBook Air M1 after trading in my 2019 MacBook Pro and Scrivener is perhaps the best writing tool I have considering how scatterbrained I am (I don’t imagine my fiction linearly, so it’s nice to be able to organize out-of-order scenes in the proper logical order by simply dragging and dropping smaller documents).
I’m no fan of Windows. I have a gaming rig but that’s pretty much all I use it for. Too many crashes, blue screens, Windows Updates breaking software that was previously stable. But people have their preferences. Literature and Latte need to realize that by not providing full parity between versions, they’re abandoning part of their customer base and are therefore tarnishing whatever reputation they seek to uphold.
They need to come clean and either offer refunds and abandon the Windows version, or get to work. And if the latter isn’t possible due to the nature of the Windows platform, then they need to cut bait and say they’re not going to develop the Windows version anymore and offer full refunds then as well.
I’m sorry for your frustration. But I’m glad there are adequate alternatives out there that suit your needs. Wavemaker is another one you could look into that is entirely browser-based. AutoCrit as well.
No way, there’s ton of Windows users out there who would like to have that kind of software (me included). Don’t be pessimistic, the windows beta could be out tomorrow, it runs smoothly, it’s just that they don’t want to disappoint people but it’s there and working good.
Version 3 is out in full. Released yesterday.
Thank you for the update! Appreciate it.
Thanks for letting people know. I downloaded my free upgrade from Scrivener 1 today.
So far, so good.
Free update? I thought they were going to charge for this one?
I think it depends on when you bought Scrivener.
I got a coupon and had to pay ~27€.
I think the free update depends on when you paid for Scrivener 1 for Windows. When I bought Scrivener 1 (~ November 2019), L&L promised a free update to version 3 when it was available. In any case, they didn’t charge me for the the update.
Hi Mel, and Others who have commented here.
Mel, many thanks for writing your article, and for providing this forum for comments.
I recently started looking around for some writing software to centralize all of the constituents involved in writing, in order to avoid me having to initially open documents in various programmes, and also to avoid me having to skip between those documents.
I was surprised that so few pieces of software of this type exist, and after an intensive couple of weeks of research (which involved downloading the Scrivener 1 version for Windows, and then switching to the Windows Beta for Scrivener 3) I bought Scrivener.
Ironically, I am using Scrivener basically as a Project Manager for writing one of my projects, while I write for that project in the ‘Novel’ template of Movie Magic Screenwriter (because I enjoy writing in that programme for reasons which I cannot really fathom at the moment).
After a writing session, I add the new text to the end of the current (previous) version in Scrivener, and transfer the MMS and Scrivener versions, and their back ups, plus an .RTF version, to the Cloud.
I have two problems with Scrivener and Literature&Latte.
First – and the main, frustrating reason I hesitated to buy Scrivener initially – is that its Screenplay template is not standard screenplay format. There is no good reason for this.
The second problem I have, is, as others have mentioned, the tone and content of the responses by most (not all, though, thankfully) people on the forums. And, unlike others here, I have experienced rudeness and condescension from at least one L&L staff member (on the forum) as well as several long-time Scrivener users.
This lack of professionalism is also unethical, and I am surprised that any company which is involved in marketing its products would have employees who act like this.
Perhaps part of the reason for this kind of thing among many forum members is that people from the upper echelons of management set the tone for the responses, and others ape their behaviour.
Elsewhere here JC talked (in part) about, “the cult of mac fandom”, and continued, “Maybe one of these days they’ll mature enough to judge things on their actual quality rather than their brand name”.
I think JC is right about the cult of mac fandom (although I bought a Mac some years ago for a specialized purpose), but unfortunately, I am not holding my breath on the maturation front.
Having said the above, I am liking (with reservations) Scrivener, and I hope that the Screenplay template is updated, although the defensive and critical response I got when I talked about that on the forum suggests that this is not a priority for Literature&Latte.
Thanks again for your article, Mel.
I love SmartEdit Writer, but unfortunately there is something wrong with it. Intermittently, it refuses to save changes and acts as if something has been set to read-only. I have no idea what’s wrong and I don’t think they do either, as there are forum threads about it. Great program with a huge problem. 🙁
Hey Sally, that’s really odd! I’m sorry to hear you’ve encountered that issue. I haven’t had this problem, but I hope you can get it figured out! I’ll update my review to add this. What software are you planning to use in the meantime?
Thanks for the warning, Mel. Very useful thread.
Please be aware, however, that iOS is not Mac – it’s iPhone. Mac runs Mac OS.
I’m going to try one last time and see if I can whitelist it in my antivirus and Malware Bytes, just in case those are doing something that interferes, but if that doesn’t work I’ll probably go back to Quoll Writer, which is what I used to write most of my current book before finding SmartEdit Writer.
Here’s the forum thread about it. https://forum.atomicscribbler.com/t/unable-to-save-my-work/795/12
Thank you for sharing these alternatives! I waited patiently for Scriv3 because I had no huge issues with Scriv1 in my workflow. I’m about to jump ship since Scriv3 finally released, though. I used to be able to at least LOOK at my Dropbox text files on my Android phone with Scriv1, but the file system is a complete jumble now so I can’t even do that. I also can’t scroll the editor on my Surface touchscreen—something that used to work fine in Scriv1. I have no idea why that regressed. Bottom line: I’m ready for something more portable than Scrivener and your list has given me a good place to start looking. Thanks!
First of all, many thanks for your article!
After a hiatus from writing for what seemed like forever, and for BS reasons I shall not bore you with now, I am in the process of returning to the scene of the crime?
Now I shall review 3 choices – Scrivener 3, Quail, and SmartEdit Writer.
I do so enjoy the Open Source software! Not many of ‘us’ writers are as flush with the Dollars as the Dan Brown’s of the world?