[Updated] This Scrivener review includes information on the new Scrivener 3.0 for Mac.
When I was an Apple employee and working on my master's degree years ago, I received a Scrivener review copy. This wasn't unusual since many companies ask Apple employees to try their software.
However, of all the software I received while working there, Scrivener was the only one I kept and still use today as an author.
In this article, you will learn:
If you're looking to get a Scrivener coupon code, you can click my link here and use this discount code:
Also, please understand that some links in this article are affiliate links but will not cost you any extra to use them – actually you'll save money thanks to the 20% off coupon code.
What Is Scrivener?
This beloved writing program has been dubbed the tool for writers for good reason.
It's known for being:
Scrivener is software that lets you compile all your research, character notes, and anything else you need to write your book within one project, within one program. It’s often described as a virtual three-ring binder because it literally lets you have all the folders, tabs, labels, and flags that you could possibly want for your creative endeavors in a sleek and organized way.
It was created as a novel writing software for both Mac and PC users to help writers organize long-form content. This writing software is loved by writers of all kinds: fiction, nonfiction, academic work, even Jeff Goins, Joanna Penn, and Michael Hyatt.
Because it’s an advanced word processor that manages your projects all in one place, there is a learning curve. There are tons of ways you can use and customize this writing program to fit your needs as a writer. But with a small time investment up front to learn, and a scant $40-$45, this tool could change your entire world as a writer and self-published author.
I know it’s changed mine. And I’ll show you some of my favorite features in a video later on.
You can't complete a Scrivener review without answering the two most frequently asked questions I get about the program:
- What’s the difference between Scrivener and Word?
- Is it really that much better than Word?
And my answer to the latter is always, YES!
In my opinion, Word is a tolerable word processor for writing short content. Scrivener is an advanced word processor and project management tool with tons of capabilities, including formatting, which makes it the best software for writers who write longer content, like books or dissertations.
So in a nutshell, Word is a great program for those who need to write memos or quick business content. However–as you'll see in this Scrivener review–Scrivener was developed specifically with authors in mind.
But before we get into some of the key differences between Scrivener and Word, and why I truly believe every author should make the investment, let's look at them side by side:
Scrivener vs Word Chart: What's the Difference…
|Word processor – can write and format text||x||x|
|Grammar and spell check||x||x|
|No distraction writing mode||x||x|
|Export as PDF or .doc||x||x|
|Format for ebook publishing (.mobi or .ePub or .docx)||x|
|Format for selling boxsets||x|
|Project management tool – can hold research files||x|
|Automatically saves your work||x|
|Frequent crashes or needs force quit||x|
|Set project target (words and deadlines)||x|
|Templates for writers and authors||x|
|Designed for writing long content||x|
|Excessive scrolling, copying, and pasting needed to revise long texts||x|
|Easy drag and drop capabilities||x|
|Simple way to break up large project into small chunks||x|
|Can mesh multiple texts into one with one click||x|
|Split screen view horizontally or vertically to view two texts as one (e.g., research and writing)||x|
|Corkboard view with index cards||x|
|Can use beautiful backgrounds while writing||x|
|Add labels, flags, and status updates to individual texts||x|
|Easily sort all scenes with a certain character or location||x|
|Sync work on multiple devices||x $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month to get it on 5 devices||x with a license for each platform. Sync through Dropbox or iTunes|
|Cost||$69.99 Per Year for one computer||$45 for Mac or $40 for PC one-time purchase price|
If you’re happy with Word and it’s doing everything you want it to do, then, by all means, don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.
But if you’re frustrated with Word, you want to break up a huge project of writing books into smaller, easier tasks, you'd like to customize your writing experience, or see if writing can be more enjoyable, then this could become your favorite program for writing a book.Has Scrivener Changed Your #WritersLife?Click To Tweet
With so many features Scrivener has to offer, it's hard to choose between them. But here's a few of our favorites that really showcase the power of Scrivener!
Break up your big project into smaller pieces: Let’s say you’re writing a 20-chapter book. In Word, you’d either have to create 20 different files for each chapter and go back and forth between them all while trying to write your book, or you’d have to scroll for ages to find your place and try to get your text to mesh well. Whether you write fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, or anything of length, the ease at which you can break up a big task into smaller parts is probably my favorite feature.
Formatting: Yes, self-publishers, once you’re done writing your killer book, you can format it right through Scrivener! You can “compile” your finished document into a variety of formats for Kindle or ePub, as a Word .doc or PDF, or even as an academic thesis that matches academic standards. This could easily save you the money you invested to buy the software by not having to hire a formatter or buy a software solely for formatting.
Templates: This program has templates for fiction, nonfiction, scriptwriting and more. These are a game changer for those who want a software to help write their own book. I even know bloggers and podcasters who use it for writing and organizing their work. While Word has templates for resumes, flyers, and research papers, it has nothing for writing books–probably because it’s not designed for longer texts.
Drag and drop like magic: As you’re working, you might realize the flow is off, and it only takes a split second to drag and drop one part of the book to a new spot. No excessive scrolling. No losing your spot amongst the hundreds of pages of text. It just works like software for writing your own book should.
Set writing targets: This little feature lets you set targets for your project and individual writing sessions. When you start a new project, say you're looking to write a 25,000-word nonfiction book, and you want to write 1,500 words every time you sit down to write. It automatically tracks your progress toward your overall goal and resets itself each time you open it up for a new writing session. This is incredibly helpful for sticking to a daily writing goal and seeing your progress toward finishing your book.
Character and scene sketches: Another feature for those looking for a novel writing software is a place for your characters and scenes within your project binder. You can add memorable details, like which side of the neck a tattoo was on, character background details, and you can upload a sketch or image that was an inspiration to a character.
Store your research files: There's a special folder in each project for your book research, such as photographs, audio files, video, notes from Evernote, notes from your editor. You don’t have to switch between different programs or windows. It’s all right there in your project “binder.” Word has nothing like this.
Scrivener for iOS and Andriod: If you love the ability to write on your mobile device, then I've got good news for you. Check out these newer features and options on syncing with simplenote and the iOS Scrivener review.
Working view options: No Scrivener review would be complete without mentioning the different view options used to help you organize your writing. In addition to the main editor of viewing a single document (like what you see when you use Word), it has three more view options to match any author's writing preference.
1. Corkboard – all sub-documents are seen as index cards on a corkboard. Each index card can have a summary of that document. This is great for visualizing, rearranging, finding gaps, and story boarding. You can easily drag and drop, add or delete notecards.
2. Outliner – see sub-documents as rows of text, like an outline, and columns of other information, such as status or label. This is great for those who want to see the outline in a linear fashion. You can rearrange easily with drag and drop in this view too.
3. “Scrivenings” – combines separate documents so you can view them as one. This is great for when you start combining separate chapters to see how they flow, without having to open a bunch of different files and mess with copying and pasting.
Frankly, using Word to write your novel is like the Hobbits not using the Eagles to fly to Mordor. They still got there, but seriously, it would have been so much easier and a lot less death.An author without Scrivener is like Hobbits not using Eagles #Scrivener #WritingTipClick To Tweet
In the grand scheme of things, Scrivener's got some pretty fair pricing when comparing it to other writing applications. Full-fledged or lightweight mobile apps.
For instance, here's a list of competing services and their corresponding costs:
- Ulysses (Full Size): $39.99/year or $4.99/monthy
- Write Room (App): $9.99
- iA Writer (Full Size): $29.99/Mac or $19.99/Windows
- Final Draft (Full Size): $249.99
- Script Studio (Full Size): $199.95
Here's a quick analysis… When compared to Ulysses, Scrivener easily wins. If you're going to use the software for more than a year–which you probably will–you're already saving money. Write Room and iA Writer just don't have the power that Scrivener has, and for a one time cost… paying that extra 10 bucks is more than worth it.
As far as the script writing software goes, you can generate professional top-notch scripts using Scrivener at a literal fraction of the cost!
BUT…that's only if you buy Scrivener at its full price. Keep reading our Scrivener review and grab our 20% Scrivener discount code below to maximize your savings.
If for some reason that doesn't work, then you can access more coupon codes here.
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A key to being a successful author, like the authors who reveal their secrets in MasterClass courses, is having the right tools. Another key is knowing how to use them.
A writer’s tools have transformed from pen and paper to typewriter, to computer word processor, to customizable book writing software.
You can save yourself quite a bit of time and pain of figuring out all the features by learning from those who know the program inside and out.
The software itself has a comprehensive manual and links to YouTube video tutorials, but I also found it super helpful to take the popular course by Joseph Michael.
I’m a fan of Joseph Michael’s Learn Scrivener Fast course because:
- The short 1-3 minute videos are easy to consume
- You can watch step-by-step or jump to the lessons you need most
- It has separate videos for Mac and PC when the software differs
- The extra tips and tricks for authors are valuable
- Upgraded course levels have ninja tips & tricks and work smarter sections, which include videos like how to make it mesh with Evernote
- Bonus content: templates, working with an editor, writing backgrounds, how Jeff Goins and Joanna Penn use it, planning a novel and more!
Amazon shows at least 10 books on the topic, but I find it most helpful to see the tool in action in quick videos so I can apply it. That’s why my go-to resource is Learn Scrivener Fast.
Scrivener 3 vs Scrivener 2 Review Info
Literature and Latte released version 3 on November 20th, 2017.
For a quick look at the major changes, consult our handy table below. A more in-depth exploration of the new features can in this Scrivener 3 vs 2 comparison.
Scrivener 3 vs Scrivener 2
|Scrivener 3||Scrivener 2|
|Available for Mac||Yes||Yes|
|Available for Windows||In 2019||Yes|
|Compatible with Scrivener iOS||Yes||Yes|
|64 Bit Coded||Yes||No|
|True Text Styles||Yes||No|
|Up To Date Export Options||Yes||No|
|Quick Search Mode||Yes||No|
|Linguistic Focus Mode||Yes||No|
|Check It Out!|
Look, let's face it. No program is perfect.
And while we love Scrivener, there are a couple of changes that I'd love to change about the program.
Lack of Collaboration Abilities. If you're a co-author–or collaborator–you might find using Scrivener to be a hassle. It doesn't have a clear cut feature for collaborators to work together yet. You may find that sticking with a Google Docs or hot-potato Word file to be a better option.
Recalling Scrivener files on the go. Scrivener's cloud backup can seriously be a lifesaver. And it's super convenient when pulling up your manuscript on your primary writing device. But what if you're on the go and you're looking to make revisions? Let's say you're taking a scenic train ride cross country. That's a perfect time to catch up on your writing. However, you're not going to be able to access your Scrivener files unless you have a full copy installed on your mobile device. You can always download their app, but that's gonna cost more. I wish it would come included with the initial cost.
How to Learn More
This program can be tricky for some to learn, but once you do, it can be a real game-changer for your book writing process. Here are some videos and articles to help you get the most out of it:
- How to Format a Book – After the introduction, this video shows a demo of formatting with Scrivener and Word.
- How to Export a Book – Here's a step-by-step article with pictures to show you how you to export with Scrivener.
- How to get Templates – This is an awesome list of free templates you can use for writing fiction, nonfiction, academic papers, blogs and more.
Final Scrivener Review Thoughts: Why I Use It To Write My Books
If you’re the type of writer who can sit down and write an entire book from beginning to end, or if you’re happy with Word, then you may not need Scrivener.
- You are frustrated with Word
- You are looking for something better
- You jump around in your timeline or chapters while you write
- You research and compile notes
- You like to write one section or chapter at a time
- You rearrange the scenes or flow of your work
- You want easy-to-use templates designed for writers
- You want the ability to export your work into ready-to-publish formats
Then…you will love it.
This writing software allows you to write books in your own customized, organized, yet beautifully-chaotic way. When properly used, Scrivener can take the jumble of thoughts that you have and let you create magic.
I will never use Word again to write my books and hopefully, thanks to this Scrivener review, you won't either.