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Scrivener Alternatives 2021: Are They Any Better?

If you’re looking for a professional word processor to help you organize your work, then Scrivener is probably the best tool you can get.

It’s the most popular writing software available today, deservedly, might I add.

But, Scrivener is not the only software in the document creation category; there are a couple of other good professional word processors which can efficiently organize your writing.

Excellent alternatives offer the same features as Scrivener (some even outperform Scrivener in some areas).

For example, Write! App—the best Scrivener alternative—offers similar features, is easier to master, and costs way less than Scrivener.

To help you avoid the hassles of trying out the tools, one by one, I’ve compiled the best paid and free writing tools that are perfect substitutes for Scrivener.

Before we delve into that list, let me outline a couple of reasons why you might need to dump Scrivener for these alternatives.

scrivener alternatives

Why Should You Be Looking for A Scrivener Alternative?

scrivener overview

Scrivener is the best there is, no doubt about that.

But does it ever hit you that you’re overpaying for the tool?

You’re forking out something just short of $50 to use features you can find in relatively inexpensive or completely free tools.

The need to find an alternative doesn’t only hinge on the alternative’s features and lack thereof; Scrivener itself lacks some essential features.

Take, for example, Scrivener’s sharing capabilities. Scrivener lacks an effective way of sharing live projects. It allows you to share projects via Dropbox; however, this mechanism is very inefficient and murky for collaborating writers.

Plus, if you’ve just started Scrivener, it has a steeper learning curve because of its complexity, which is a good and (to a less extent) a bad thing—You might not have ample time to finish a full-fledged novel and learn a very complex software tool simultaneously.

Therefore, I think it is prudent to at least look at Scrivener’s Alternatives or try them out to see if they could be of any use to you.

Check them out!

1. Write! App

write! app

If you are looking for a tidy, easy-to-use, agile, and elegant workspace to create your notes, to-do lists, or any other texts, this is it.

Congratulations, you’ve found it.

Write! is a distraction-free writing tool available as an app on Mac, Windows, or Linux. And it backs up your work on the cloud, meaning that you can access it on any internet-enabled device.

With the aid of the tool’s minimalistic UI, you can configure an Autocomplete feature, access a spellchecker, manage your writing project by structuring it in tabs, Sessions and folders, and publish documents on the web.

Pricing:

The tool costs $24.95 annually.

Pros

  • It’s simple, easy to use and flexible.
  • It has incredible navigation tools.
  • It has an autocomplete feature.
  • Stylish and functional.
  • Very affordable.

Cons

  • The tool has no trial period.
  • No app for mac.

2. Novlr

novlr is a good scrivener substitute

Unlike Scrivener, learning to use Novlr is easy. This is a cloud-based novel writing software with a clean minimalist interface.

It has a feature that turns it into a distraction-free app and eliminates all the other peripheral features. The tool also checks for grammar errors, gives cheerleading one-liners when you are about to achieve a goal, and helps track your progress and performance.

Novlr also has an ambient-dependent color setting, which feels comfortable and sometimes stimulating.

The good thing is since it’s cloud-based, you can access the tool from any device via a web browser.

Pricing

Novlr costs $100 per year.

Pros:

  • Helps you track your performance and customize your goals.
  • It provides suggestions for various writing styles.
  • Has grammar checking a feature.
  • It has an Auto-save feature.
  • Offers free trial period.

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Exports fewer file formats
  • No Mobile app is available.

3. LivingWriter

livingwriter

The thing that most writers complain about Scrivener is the steep learning curve. LivingWriter users on the other hand, don’t share those sentiments about the tool. The UI is intuitive and does not demand a harder education for you to master.

The tool has an auto-save feature, so once you start writing, you’re assured that your documents will be saved without you instructing the tool.

But that’s just the tip…

Version history control makes version management very easy.

LivingWriters enables you to collaborate with co-authors and editors. You can share your work in progress (WIP)— whether it’s just chapters or the entire book.

And just like Scrivener, it has features to help to organize your concepts, plots, and characters. You can add chapter-wise notes, add subchapters, access templates, and use a virtual cardboard.

Pricing:

LivingWriter‘s monthly subscription costs $10. If you opt for a yearly subscription, it will cost you $8/month. You can try the tool for 30 days.

Pros

  • Convenient collaboration feature.
  • Auto-save feature ensures that you don’t lose your work.
  • Integrates with Grammarly.
  • A time-saving autocomplete feature.
  • Can export the project to Word or PDF.

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a desktop app
  • Not ideal for screenwriting.

4. Dabble

dabble

Here’s another cloud-based writer, Dabble, stuffed with features pretty similar to the ones Scrivener has.

If you are worried about Scrivener doing way too much, you will find Dabble to be a quite interesting alternative.

It feels sort of like a stripped-down Scrivener—and maybe, just maybe, less might mean more productive.

The app still packs a punch with features like a word tracker, Cloud Sync, Spelling and Grammar checking tool (albeit not as efficient as regular paid grammar checkers), and it handles parts of your literary masterpiece like Prologues and epilogues.

Pricing:

Dabble subscription offers three plans: Basic, Standard, and Premium. The plans cost $5, $10, $15 respectively.

Pros

  • Intuitive dashboard and UI overall.
  • Has a grammar checker.
  • The free trial.

Cons

  • Has a single font type and color.
  • No bullet points or highlight options.
  • Isn’t ideal for writing screenplays, short stories, scripts, and other formats.

5. Ulysses

ulysses writing app

Ulysses ($4.99/month) is what inspired Scrivener’s (Keith Blount Admitted to this).

In the first days, Blount was accused by users of copying Ulysses, but he obviously didn’t think that to be the case, and 14 years later his tool is the best there is.

Ulysses comes closest to Scrivener. It has a modern, streamlined interface and is stuffed with essential features for a modern writer.

This tool has been in the game for so long, which means that the developers know what they are doing. It is my first recommended alternative to Scrivener.

Pros:

  • Marginally cheaper than Scrivener.
  • It has a distraction-free UI that keeps you focused.
  • Ulysses offers a free trial period.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t allow you to track your progress just by glancing like Scrivener.

6. Final Draft

Best Screenwriting App

final draft

Final Draft is the best substitute for Scrivener for screenwriters. It actually does outperform Scrivener in many other areas too.

But I would choose it for its efficiency as a screenplay writing tool and still use Scrivener for the other tasks.

As an organizer tool, Final Draft has a corkboard. The Beatboard—as its developers call it—is a virtual board on which you can make quick notes or pin some character backstories.

The app comes loaded with a truckload of templates-over 300 of them, for a variety of projects including Screenplays, novels, movie scripts, and many others.

When you have a group project, Final Draft lets you invite your colleagues or co-writers to work together on a script. This way, all of you can edit the script simultaneously.

Or you can export the project to .fdx, RTF, PDF, HTML, and .sex file formats and share it with your colleagues.

Pricing

Final Draft’s Windows and Mac versions cost $299, and the iOS app costs $9.99. The Desktop app offers a 30-day free trial whilst the iOS doesn’t have any free trial.

Final Draft Pros

  • The corkboard (Beatboard) accelerates the note-making process and helps a writer arrange his ideas in a tidy way.
  • Final Draft makes collaborations easy and fun.
  • Has convenient templates.
  • Has versatile exporting capability (.fdx, RTF, PDF, HTML, and .sex file formats).
  • Works on Mac, Windows, and iOS devices.

Final Draft Cons

  • Doesn’t provide a distraction-free writing environment.
  • It’s more expensive than Scrivener.

Free Scrivener Alternatives

7. Quoll Writer

quoll writer

Quoll Writer is a word processor that’s also been in the game for a while now. It has helped several authors organize their information, notes, and documents.

Being a tool in the Scrivener alternative category, Quoll writer helps you organize plot ideas, notes and store researched information for reference.

It might be an open-source tool, but it goes head to head with Scrivener. Quoll writer offers some features which some paid tools do not have.

Quoll writer has a minimalist interface on which you find features like chapter and subchapter management, annotation, a Problem Finder, and asset creation tab.

To do away with distractions, the software offers a customizable full-screen mode.

Do you do a lot of collaboration and frequently communicate with your editor?  With this tool, you can share your work, chat and comment with your co-authors and editor.

A major drawback (for mac users) is that it is only available on the Windows platform. So, if you’re a Mac user, this free software isn’t replacing your beloved Scrivener anytime soon.

Pricing:

Quoll Writer is a completely free tool.

Pros

  • Efficient and convenient “Editors’ Service” and “Problem Finder.”
  • Spell checker and synonym lookup.
  • Distraction-free full-screen mode.
  • Strong encryption

Cons

  • It’s a bit hard to master all of the app’s features.
  • Available on the Windows platform only.

8. Manuskript

manuskript writing app

This is the second free option on this list and just like Quoll writer, it is a tool that ably competes with its paid competition. 

This open-source software can be used by writers, including novelists, journos, and academicians.

Manuskript features include an Outliner which is used for hierarchically organizing your work, a goal-setting feature, and the “Novel Assistant,” which is useful when developing a simple idea into a larger and clearer plot using a process called the “snowflake method.”

Although this freebie comes packed with many essential features, it lacks cloud collaboration and other indispensable elements that we find in paid tools.

Pros:

  • It’s an open-source tool.
  • The “Novel assistant” adds something extra to your writing.
  • Has essential features, i.e., spell checker and language translation.
  • Exports a variety of formats including .epub, .odt, .docx, .pdf.

Cons:

  • The app is a bit difficult to install for some users.

What to Look for in A Scrivener Alternative?

You need an alternative that does a similar job to Scrivener or that at least has features that can match Scrivener.

Take a look at some of the considerations to be made before deciding on a Scrivener alternative.

Cloud or desktop-based (Windows/Mac)

If there’s one thing that makes writing or document-creating software attractive is its versatility.

Whether Scrivener is better or not, a writing software tool needs to be flexible and accessible on a wide range of platforms.

Being a cloud-based tool without a desktop app (for either Windows or Mac) actually decreases the utility of any Scrivener alternative.

Scrivener is a very convenient tool, partly because it is available as a desktop app (for both Mac and Windows) that works offline.

Having an app lessens the burden of trying to load a web page, then copy and pasting large amounts of text onto a dialog box. It’s also easy moving your writing projects between your writing software (if it isn’t MS Word) and MS Word.

Choosing Free or Paid alternative software

Who doesn’t love freebies?

 With Writing tools, free things are of two types:

First, you have the free versions offered by the paid tools, trial periods, and promotions (some even slash the price to 99 cents per month).

Then we have completely free tools, like Quoll writer and Manuskript.

The former is usually designed for you to get hooked up on the tool’s premium plans, and usually people fall for that trick. But such free versions lack many features to make them viable alternatives to paid tools like Scrivener.

On the other hand, the completely free tools are packed with loads of features that Scrivener and co, sell. They’re even better than some of their paid competition.

But, free is free, and there is always one or two weapons missing in their arsenal.

Final Verdict…

Scrivener is undoubtedly the go-to app for contemporary writers. But it has its own shortcomings and is very far from being a writing tool all-rounder.

Luckily for you and myself, it isn’t the only tool available on the market. The writing software sphere is littered with so many alternatives.

And… Some of these alternatives offer something that is just a little bit better than Scrivener.

Moreover, some of them don’t cost a thing.

Zippo. Zilch. Nada.

So after looking at all the closest competitors of Scrivener, I came to the conclusion that Write! App is the best Scrivener alternative there is—it’s simple, easy to use and flexible with a minimalistic interface.

Plus, at $24.95 per year, this tool costs way less than Scrivener.

It’s like a cheaper, lighter-weight version of Scrivener, something you need when you don’t want to spend all that time trying to learn a demanding and rugged Scrivener.

But if you’re a screenwriter, I would recommend that you try out Final Draft. In that category, nothing outperforms it.

And if you have no money or are a cheapskate like myself, Quoll writer and Manuskript will do the job, quite excellently.

About Jessica Majewski

Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories.

She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.