There's a lot to like about Scrivener. It's a great writing tool, especially if you outline and take lots of notes. It can also format your books, which is helpful.
But there are some definite downsides to the writing tool. It comes with quite the learning curve and is really overpowered for those who don't create in-depth plots. Plus, its formatting capabilities leave something to be desired. Luckily, there are some excellent Scrivener alternatives on the market. And I'll tell you all about them in this article! Read on so you can write on with confidence.
Want the short version? Here it is:
Atticus is by far the best alternative to Scrivener. It is a combination of Scrivener, Google Docs, and Vellum. And while the current outlining features don't yet rival those of Scrivener, they will soon. Plus, there's no subscription. A single purchase gets you the software and all future updates!
If you're really strapped for cash, I recommend the free Scrivener alternative Bibisco. It does many of the same things that Scrivener does, allowing you to dive deep into plotting your story and fleshing out your characters. Plus, it has a simple text editor for writing.
(Not sure what the heck Scrivener even is? Check out our Scrivener Review.)
- 1. The eight best Scrivener Alternatives
- 2. Some honorable mentions that didn’t make the main list
- 3. My votes for the best paid and the best free Scrivener alternative
Table of contents
- 1. The Best Scrivener Alternative: Atticus
- 2. Quoll Writer
- 3. iA Writer
- 4. Squibler
- 5. Ulysses
- 6. Living Writer
- 7. Bibisco
- 8. FocusWriter
- Honorable Mentions
- Best Paid Scrivener Alternative
- Best Free Scrivener Alternative
1. The Best Scrivener Alternative: Atticus
I like to start with the best. And that's Atticus.
Made by the team here at Kindlepreneur, Atticus is an all-in-one writing and formatting app. In fact, we set out to make a tool that rivals Scrivener, Google Docs, and Vellum all put together. And I'm happy to say that the verdict is in: we've done it! We're still adding some features, but those authors who have used it love it.
Unlike Scrivener, Atticus isn't hard to use. It has a simple interface that's ideal for those who have never used a novel writing software before. But in making it easy to use, we haven't sacrificed power or features. You have drag-and-drop chapters and all kinds of front and back matter you could want. The cloud-based storage ensures that you'll never lose your work, and ProWritingAid integration allows you to edit your work without exporting it out of Atticus.
When you're done writing, you have all kinds of options for formatting both EPUB and print-ready PDF files. You can use one of more than a dozen templates or create your own, uploading pictures and section breaks, among other customization options. And you can use the preview option to see how your book will look in print and on different devices. Plus, this app is available on PC, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, and through your browser!
- Easy to use
- Features to rival Scrivener
- Formatting options to rival Vellum
- In-app writing goal tracking and gamification
- Drag-and-drop sections
- ProWritingAid integration
- Cloud-based storage and auto-save
- Word count for sections, chapters, or the entire book
- Offline use available
- Device previewer
- Full bleed options for print
- Large print options
- No monthly subscription
- Available on all major operating systems
- Collaboration and editing (coming soon)
- Plotting and outlining tools (coming soon)
- Some features are still in the works (at the time of this writing)
- Since it's new, we're still working out some bugs
Atticus Price: A single payment of $147 for lifetime access, all future updates, and unlimited eBook and print book formatting.
(And check out our in-depth Atticus review for more info!)
2. Quoll Writer
Quoll Writer is an open-source software that's a viable alternative to Scrivener. It works both as a plotting tool and a word processor, much like Scrivener does. Plus, it has a full-screen mode for those who don't want to be distracted when they're writing. But perhaps the best thing about it is that it's free!
This writing tool is available on Mac, PC, and Linux. You can import your DOCX files from Microsoft Word, which is certainly nice. You can also share your work with an editor through Quoll Writer, as well as analyze your work through statistical analysis. The two major complaints with this software are that it doesn't look all that great, and it doesn't provide any formatting options — you'll have to use another tool for that.
Quoll Writer Pros
- Similar interface to Scrivener
- Auto chapter save
- Spell checking
- Statistical analysis
- Notes and character tags
- Distraction-free mode
- Great for writing and plotting
- Totally free
Quoll Writer Cons
- Utilitarian-looking interface
- No book formatting options
- All the features can be intimidating
Quoll Writer Price: Free
3. iA Writer
iA Writer is a word processor designed for distraction-free writing. Its simple interface is great for those who are easily distracted or tempted by features. The focus mode feature highlights only one sentence at a time, so even your other words don't distract you! iA Writer is all about getting those words down! It's available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
If you've tried Scrivener and were overwhelmed by all the features and the hours of learning you'd have to put in, then this tool may be right for you. It has some features, but the name of the game is simplicity. Personally, I like the syntax highlight and the style check features, both of which help improve my writing. However, it's designed more for short-form writing than long-form. Novel-length pieces get a little harder to navigate in this word-processing app.
iA Writer Pros
- Great for focusing on writing
- Available on a wide range of platforms
- Isn't weighed down by features
- Supports markdown
- Includes syntax highlight and style check to strengthen your writing
- Good for writing sprints
- Includes some templates
iA Writer Cons
- Not ideal for long-form writing
- Lack of features may turn some authors off
- Made mostly for blog writing
iA Writer Pricing: one payment of $29.99
If you're a plotter, Squibler might be right for you. This writing app is all about organizing and outlining your ideas, notes, and plot points. Rather than being a word processor, it's a dedicated outlining app. That's not to say you can't write in it. You certainly can. In fact, it integrates with Dropbox and Google Docs so you can easily access work you've done with other writing software.
If you're co-writing a book or working with someone to outline your novel, Squibler can help with its project management feature. Those writing complex nonfiction books can use handy features like cork board organization and collaboration. It also features outline templates for short stories, novels, children's books, and even screenplay writing. So while it's not necessarily the best app for writing your book, it is great for organizing your ideas, characters, and plot points.
- Plot outline formats to get you started
- Collaboration and project management features
- Dark mode
- Distraction-free capabilities
- Access your Google Doc or files via Dropbox
- Corkboard organization
- Goal tracking
- Auto-suggest for grammar and passive voice correction
- Not ideal for discovery writers
- More for plotting and outlining than writing prose
- Only available with monthly subscription
Squibler Price: $9.99 per month (14-day free trial)
Ulysses is a lot like Scrivener. The big difference is Ulysses is only for Mac and iOS operating systems. Windows, Linux, or Chromebook users are out of luck! Plus, they don't offer one price for lifetime ownership. Instead, it's a subscription payment system.
You'll find a sleek interface with lots of features for writing everything from blog posts and college essays to novels and nonfiction books. Like Scrivener, there's a lot to take in with this software, but it's not quite as complicated. There are tutorials so you can learn how to use the robust plotting features and things like progress tracking, character tagging, and split-view. It also has limited formatting options for eBooks and PDFs.
- Great for distraction-free writing
- Very similar setup to Scrivener
- Integration with Dropbox
- Offers some book formatting options
- In-app tutorials
- Only for Mac and iOS
- Subscription only
- Only slightly easier to navigate than Scrivener
Ulysses Price: $5.99 per month or $49.99 per year
6. Living Writer
Living Writer is a newer, simpler alternative to Scrivener. It's designed with the fiction writer in mind, whereas many other tools on this list are designed for all kinds of writing. This niche audience allows Living Writer to offer features other apps don't, such as storytelling templates like the Hero's Journey and Dan Harmon's Story Circle.
This subscription-based app offers an organizational toolbar on the left, allowing you to look at your story on that macro or micro-level — and everywhere in between. With the board feature, you can drag and drop sections to rearrange your book. It also features built-in auto-suggest and error correction. And it auto-saves to cloud-based storage every step of the way.
Living Writer Pros
- Designed for fiction authors
- Easily view your entire writing project
- Dark mode
- Word goal tools included
- In-app auto-suggest and error correction
- Encrypted cloud storage
- 14-day free trial
Living Writer Cons
- Monthly (or yearly) payments only
- Not ideal for discovery writers
- No book formatting capabilities
Living Writer Price: $96 per year or $9.99 per month
One of the more robust free options on this list, Bibisco, is tailored for fiction writing projects. It's similar to Scrivener in that it takes a bit of learning to get comfortable with the software. So if you're looking for a simple, easy-to-use text editor, this will probably be a bit much for you. Still, it has some outstanding features going for it!
It has some great plotting tools and allows you to see your story as a timeline. You can also add images of objects that are important to your story (sometimes known as MacGuffins). You can also use the tool to analyze the length of your chapters and where your various characters appear. The basic edition is free, but you can “pay what you want” to get access to the Supports Edition, which has additional features like word-count goal tracking and dark mode.
- Basic version is free
- Great for those who want to get granular with their novel writing
- Lots of tools for plotting and tracking story elements
- Track characters and objects
- View novel in a timeline
- Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux
- A little too complicated for some
- Most of the powerful features in the paid version
Bibisco Price: Free or choose your price (starting at around $20)
FocusWriter is a minimalist writing app for Windows, Mac, and Linux. In fact, we mentioned this app in our best focus apps for writers article. If you work best with only a few basic options and a full-screen mode that eliminates other on-screen distractions, then FocusWriter could be your new best friend.
You have some basic features to help you get your writing done. These include timers and word count goals you can set for writing sprints. You also have customization options to make the app most conducive to your style of book writing. All in all, it's a pretty good free writing tool.
- Customization options
- Word count goals
- Timers for writing sprints
- Distraction-free interface
- In-app spell check
- Limited options
- No book formatting
Focus Writer Price: Free.
We've covered our eight main Scrivener alternatives, but there are some other tools out there that are worth a mention. Here's a quick overview of three more alternatives!
Reedsy Book Editor
Reedsy offers a free book editor that also has some basic formatting options. It's a basic word processor that has some features writers have come to expect. These include things like find-and-replace, drag-and-drop sections, and a spell checker. You can also choose between three basic formatting templates. When you export, Reedsy will send you an email with your book file. At the time of this writing, the tool formats for EPUB, MOBI, and PDF.
Reedsy Book Editor Price: Free
I don't want to take it as a given that everyone has or uses MS Word. While it's incredibly common, it's worth mentioning here as it is the standard for working with an editor these days. Many creative writers use Word at some point in their writing process, and there's a reason for that. It's a powerful word processor that you can use for basic plotting and organizing as well. You can get it as part of the Microsoft Office suite or as a standalone tool.
Microsoft Word Price: $159.99 standalone or $6.99 a month with Microsoft 365. You can also use Microsoft Office Online for free.
Formerly Atomic Scribbler, SmartEdit Writer is a free tool designed to help you organize and edit your manuscript. You can store links and images in the research section, which is easy to access as you write. You can also write scene-by-scene, dragging and dropping them wherever you please. Plus, this writing software helps you locate overused words and phrases, along with adverbs and cliches! If you work in MS Word, you'll feel right at home in this app.
SmartEdit Writer Price: Free
Best Paid Scrivener Alternative
The best paid Scrivener alternative on the market right now is Atticus. Not only is Atticus easier to use, but it also has more formatting and customization options. The interface allows for less distraction, and the tool has a bunch of features in the works. While the plotting and outlining capabilities of Atticus aren't yet on par with Scrivener, the plethora of other options both currently available and coming soon make this an attractive alternative.
Best Free Scrivener Alternative
Bibisco is the best free Scrivener alternative available. It has similar features, a similar feel, and you can get granular in your plotting and outlining. While the paid version is more powerful, you can still do things like character interviews, narrative strands, location tracking, analysis, and export to DOCX, PDF, or TXT.
However, if you want a free option with some basic formatting options, I recommend checking out the Reedsy Book Editor.
There are plenty of Scrivener alternatives out there. While most of them don't do the exact same things as Scrivener, they offer viable ways to do things that could suit your writing style better. If you're not sure where to start or are feeling overwhelmed, try one of the free writing tools on this list and work your way up to the more sophisticated (or complicated) ones.
There's no one way to write a book. What works for someone else may not work for you. So keep trying! Becoming a true novelist only means you've written a book — it doesn't matter what software you use!Do a lot of writing on the go? Check out my article on the best mobile writing apps!