Top 30 Writing Programs Like Scrivener
Scrivener is one of the most popular writing apps available, but it’s far from being your only option. If you’re looking for a program that will help you organize your writing projects, increase your output, and improve your skills, then read on, as this article will suggest 35 alternatives to Scrivener.
What is Scrivener?
Scrivener is a word processor and project management application used by writers of novels, non-fiction books, screenplays, and other long-form projects. It’s designed for distraction-free and organized productivity. As well as your main manuscript, it enables you to write outlines, research notes, and index cards, and keep all of these elements combined in one app.
Why look for alternatives to Scrivener
There are some disadvantages to Scrivener. It’s not entirely intuitive, so there’s a steep learning curve when you start using it. There’s no easy way to track changes made to a document. And, there is a one-off cost—$49 for Mac or Windows, and $19.99 on iOS, after a 30-day free trial—which may put off some potential users.
Book writing software cost
The price of writing software varies a lot between applications. Some developers charge a one-off fee on a similar level to Scrivener’s $49 cost.
Many others use subscription models, which are increasingly popular. These costs can add up over time, and you should be cautious before subscribing to anything that will cost over $10 a month—after just five months, that will be more expensive than Scrivener.
On the other hand, many writing programs are open-source software and so free to download. However, if you make use of free software and can afford to donate to the developer, it’s often worth doing so in order to support their work and any future updates.
30 alternatives to Scrivener
Dabble’s developers describe it as “like Scrivener, without the learning curve.” It prioritizes simplicity and organization and has a number of useful plotting and goal-tracking tools. It can be accessed wherever you are via browser, desktop app, or mobile app, and all versions are automatically synced to the cloud.
After a 14-day free trial, there’s a monthly fee, which begins at $4.
2. Quoll Writer
Quoll Writer has a number of neat features designed to spur creativity, such as prompts for warm-up writing exercises and the option to create profiles for characters and locations. It also offers detailed statistics about your work’s readability and how well you’re hitting targets.
Quoll Writer is free to download for Windows, Mac, and Linux, though donations are appreciated.
3. Plot Factory
Plot Factory is well suited to fantasy novelists who are creating complex worlds, as it has lots of tools to help with worldbuilding, such as an in-depth universe notebook, which can link to multiple projects. The actual word processing interface is impressive, too, with useful real-time collaboration. It’s browser-based and syncs well between desktop and mobile.
The basic version is free, and there are three paid plans, at $9, $14, or $19 per month or $90, $140, or $190 per year.
It’s easy to lose focus while writing, so lots of programs try to cut out distractions. Ommwriter goes one step further by creating a pleasant, meditative space. This includes natural environment-themed backgrounds, calming audio tracks, and typewriter-esque sounds when typing, subconsciously rewarding you for each letter typed.
Ommwriter is available for Mac or PC, for a one-off pay-what-you-want fee, with a minimum of $8.62.
Created specifically for novelists, Manuskript has tools designed to encourage the “snowflake method” of starting with a simple outline and gradually making your story more intricate. These include the storyline, which helps you work out how different plots develop across the chapters.
Manuskript is open-source and free to download for Windows and Linux.
yWriter’s modular approach divides your project into scenes, helping you to keep track of your work and give it a firm structure. It also offers useful analysis, such as word counts for all scenes a character appears in.
yWriter is free for Windows, and mobile apps enable you to edit your Windows-based files on the go via Dropbox. A Mac version is in beta.
Though other themes are available, WriteRoom’s default interface looks like a computer from 40 years ago: full screen, green text on black, a cursor, and nothing else. And that’s the point; it’s not the program for you if you want in-depth organizational tools, but by completely removing clutter, it enables distraction-free writing.
WriteRoom is available for Mac only, for a one-time cost of $9.99.
Designed to encourage the natural flow of ideas, Gingko collates all parts of a complex project into one easily navigable interface. Rather than starting with a list, an outline, or a set of index cards, you can set up all three, and the app helps you organize your thoughts as you write.
The free version limits you to ten documents, and the unlimited version requires a subscription; the monthly cost is pay-what-you-want, with a minimum of $2 and a recommendation of $12.
Bear is a flexible writing app, designed for note-taking but also suitable for longer-form writing, and is available for Mac, iPad, and iPhone. Its attractive interface has various themes, including dark mode, which encourage focused writing.
Bear is free to download, but there’s a premium version, available for $1.49/month or $14.99/year, which includes syncing between devices and secure encryption.
10. SmartEdit Writer
In SmartEdit Writer, you write your novel scene by scene, and are able to move scenes around and add notes to each scene. There’s also a handy research section.
SmartEdit Writer is Windows-only and free to download; an advanced version that functions as an add-on for Microsoft Word is available for $77. An older incarnation of the same software called PageFour is still available for older versions of Windows.
Though it is also free to download, the name FreeWriter refers to the method the developers want to encourage—spontaneously flowing writing, concentrating on ideas rather than format and grammar, which can be cleaned up later. One of its main features is a graphical “thought canvas” that helps formulate ideas.
FreeWriter is available for PC, though hasn’t been updated in a few years.
Similar to Scrivener, Storyist aims to be a writing environment for novelists and screenwriters as well. It has templates for you to start from, and index cards, character sheets, and more for you to plan your work. However, the actual word processing environment is somewhat basic, and it’s quite expensive: a one-time fee of $59 on Mac or $19.99 on iOS. A two-week free trial is available.
Squibler is a browser-based platform which aims to streamline the writing process. It has a simple, modern interface with a graphic “corkboard” on which you can move around your story elements. You can invite collaborators to comment on your work, and there’s also a writing prompts feature, which enables fun warm-up writing.
After a 14-day free trial, Squibler costs $9.99 per month.
14. Calmly Writer
Calmly Writer is designed to cut clutter and allow you to focus on your words. Its distraction-free mode removes parts of the interface you’re not using and displays only the section of text you’re working on. Formatting is simplified and there are different themes to use.
There’s a free browser-based version of Calmly Writer, while the desktop app, for Windows, Mac, and Linux, costs a one-time fee of $9.99.
15. Now Novel
This browser-based tool for writers is aimed specifically at first-time novelists. More than just writing software, it guides you through a structured process of brainstorming, worldbuilding, and plotting, with prompts and exercises along the way, and over 400 writing advice articles included.
Now Novel costs $15/month or $149/year. Or, for $79/month or $799/year, you can upgrade the service to include personal coaching.
Bibisco encourages novelists to plan their novel in detail, and then get writing. Its in-depth tools encourage you to plot out narrative strands and chapter structure and to develop character and location profiles. It also offers useful writing tips, and detailed analysis of your writing, including character distribution.
Bibisco is free to download for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
Novlr has a clean, modern interface, with a useful division of your novel into chapters. It’s browser-based, but works offline, and it’s easy to sync between your desktop and mobile devices. Its developers regularly add features, so while, for example, character profiles and notes on individual chapters are missing now, they’re planned for the future.
After a two-week trial, Novlr costs $100/year or $10/month.
18. Google Docs
Google Docs is a powerful word processor, with features including grammar checkers, real-time collaboration, and the ability to make suggested changes for your collaborators to approve. Files are stored in your Google Drive folders and can be accessed via browser or mobile app.
Docs comes as one of many benefits of a free Google account, which includes 15GB of free storage.
Ulysses is a writing app for Mac and iOS which aims to improve productivity by minimizing clutter. It looks attractively simple, but has some useful features, including revision mode and style checks.
Ulysses costs $5.99 a month or $49.99 a year, and a free trial is offered.
Apple’s word processor is exclusively available for Mac and iOS and comes installed free with compatible devices. It’s simple to use and has useful features such as change tracking. It works best with other Apple products, such as iCloud storage, though you can also use it to edit Microsoft Word files.
Though it’s primarily aimed at screenwriters, the cloud-based WriterDuet also enables theater script and novel formats. It’s got a simple and customizable interface, and is easy to learn to use.
You can write your first three projects using WriterDuet for free, and then you must pay either a monthly or an annual subscription fee.
A text editor for writers with some technical knowledge, Vim looks basic at first, but it is highly customizable. It’s a free, open-source program with its own built-in scripting language, allowing you to write plug-ins, or download those created by others, to personalize your writing environment. It’s available for a number of desktop operating systems, including Windows and macOS.
23. Final Draft
This screenplay-writing program is the most popular choice among professional screenwriters. Its templates make it easy to format film and TV scripts to Hollywood standards, and other useful tools include a beat board for story planning, real-time collaboration, and automated analysis of your script.
Final Draft is very expensive, at $249.99, but discounts are often available.
24. iA Writer
This minimalist text editor is designed to cut out noise. Despite the apparent simplicity, it has some powerful features, such as the style check, which detects cliches and redundancies in your writing. However, its file organization features are lacking.
iA Writer costs $29.99 and is available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.
25. Dropbox Paper
Dropbox Paper is a cloud-based word processor. Its range of features is very basic—it doesn’t have spell-checking, for example—so it’s perhaps better for note-keeping than large projects. However, it’s easy to use and completely free, and it doesn’t even take up your Dropbox storage space. Plus, collaborative editing and tracking changes are both possible.
This is a Windows-only application with a stripped-down interface designed for focused, distraction-free writing. It lacks more modern features like collaboration or change tracking. But it does have a few useful tricks, such as the ability to quickly jump between your writing and your repository of notes or custom-set web resources. It’s available to download for free.
27. Adobe InCopy
This word processor is worth considering if you’re self-publishing, as it integrates with Adobe’s publishing software InDesign. You can write your text using InCopy, then send it to InDesign for the page layout work, or a writer and designer can use the two programs to collaborate simultaneously.
InCopy is available for a subscription fee of $4.99 per month.
One for screenwriters, Celtx makes it easy to write professionally formatted TV and movie scripts, as well as storyboards, index cards, and more. It also has a useful revision-tracking mode, and is cloud-based and designed for online collaboration.
Celtx costs $7.50 per month for the first year, then $15 per month.
TextEdit is a word processing program that comes pre-installed on Macs. It has both rich text and plain text modes, but otherwise it’s rather basic, lacking any advanced features like collaboration or change tracking. However, it’s a worthwhile option for Mac users who want an accessible, focused space to write and prefer not to download any new software.
30. Arc Studio Pro
The developers of Arc Studio Pro know that it’s tricky to get the formatting right when writing film and TV scripts, so they designed their app with as much automation as possible, allowing you to focus on the story. You can also write out beats and sort them into acts and collaborate in real time with coauthors.
There’s a browser-based free version of Arc Studio Pro, and also a premium version, which includes apps for Mac, Windows, and iOS, for $59/year.