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Scrivener vs yWriter - My decision (1 Viewer)

vranger

Staff member
Board Moderator
I'm going to end the suspense early: I selected Scrivener.
(This was my blog for the day, but I posted it here for discussion, at PiP's request).

So what made the difference for me?
yWriter pluses:

  • Very organized set of forms for things like Chapters, Scenes, Characters, Locations, Items ...
  • Good inter-relation between parent and child elements.
  • Can open multiple scenes at once for reference and editing.
yWriter minuses:
  • built in Editor is just too limited - deal breaker for me.
  • interaction with outside Editors is clunky.
  • cannot open child windows along with parent window. For example, if you have a scene open, and would like to open a character window just for reference, the character window is modal-- so you cannot type in the scene until you close the character window.
  • opening multiple windows is poorly implemented. They open in the same screen location (instead of offset), and the first one you open will be hidden behind the main program window when you touch it to open the second one--really bad interface oversight--ALL child windows opened from the main window should "stay on top", and should cascade.
  • I don't really like the structure of only "typing into scenes" in a scene window. I could possibly get used to it, but it's not a good match for decades of writing habits for me.
  • I found spell check support to be entirely unacceptable (see comment below).

Scrivener pluses:

  • Scrivener does not have the same type of built in forms for project elements, but you can create them yourself, and you can find templates. Given this, I literally could find no permanent advantage to using yWriter over Scrivener.
  • Scrivener has a very acceptable editor.
  • I like the ease of creating a split screen to refer to one element while working on another element.
  • It is very easy to organize your project to keep your content and your notes in separate areas, so that you will eventually build your document only from your content set of folders and elements.
  • The corkboard feature is nice, although I will only use it for notes, not content. It's extremely rare for me to swap the order of scenes. I think I've done that twice six novels.
  • Lots of options for notes and references, including user-defined structures--which would let you duplicate the yWriter forms if that's your thing.
  • I really like the Typewriter Mode, where your current line of typing stays in the middle of the screen -- deal maker for me as long as I found no booby traps, and I didn't.
  • If you have your chapters all in a row under a main folder, clicking on the chapter document will show you the word count for that chapter. Clicking on the folder will give you the aggregate word count for all the chapters. This is actually a big plus for me, as I tend to budget my chapters.
  • Really, there are a lot of other positive features, and certain subsets of the features will appeal to users individually.
Scrivener minuses:
  • Very complex software. You WILL need to take a day (or two) to work through the Tutorial, then probably struggle with a project for a while, then do the Tutorial again to lock it in.
  • Many icons are quite small, including some you'll use frequently, and not always most conveniently positioned, in my opinion.
  • There are ever present icons for some things I'll never use, and some things I'll use more often are buried in drop-down hierarchical menus--though there may be keystroke shortcuts I can learn for some or all of those features.
  • Doing global search and replace is not straightforward, and you'll NEVER find it without using the Tutorial. You have to select a folder full of documents, go into "Scrivening Mode", which places all the documents in one window, appended one after the next, and then you can do a global search and replace. This was almost a deal breaker until I finally got to the lesson about this mode.

I only got about halfway through the Scrivener Tutorial before I made the call, and purchased the software. Right now, the coupon code "REDDIT" will take 20% off the $49 price (so $39.20). It's really a trivial expense for the organizational tools included.



 
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Irwin

Senior Member
Scrivener is great! I'm using it to write songs and keep notes for all sorts of things because it makes it easy to keep organized.
 

epimetheus

Friends of WF
I like scrivener too. One negative i've found though is that it's grammar and spell check isn't as good as Word. How does it compare to yWriter?
 

vranger

Staff member
Board Moderator
I like scrivener too. One negative i've found though is that it's grammar and spell check isn't as good as Word. How does it compare to yWriter?

I just had to try this out, as I had completely ignored spell checking before your question.

In my opinion, yWriter's spell check feature is entirely unsatisfactory. First, you have to go through an unnecessarily multi-step manual process to even install their dictionary. If you don't understand how to view hidden folders, you won't make it. When you're done, the software only spell checks at certain times. It doesn't do it "live". I found I had to close the scene I had typed in and reopen it for yWriter to highlight words it couldn't find in its dictionary.

Scrivener has a more modern approach. It will autocorrect for you, or underline a word it's not sure of (your option). However, when I typed a sentence with several misspelled words, it oddly thought that "tset" is a good word, but caught the rest. That's a bit troubling.

Evidently (at least in the Windows version) there is no good solution for a grammar checker. There is some mention that "Pro Writing Aid" will take on Scrivener files, but it's an $80 a year subscription, or $300 to buy it.

One solution for grammar checking would be to simply wait until you have a manuscript in a "final" form, then leave Scrivener entirely with it and take it to Word (or an alternate) to do your grammar checking. I haven't used a grammar checker in years, myself. Word's tended to highlight things I wasn't concerned about, and not catch things I would have liked to see highlighted. However, since I started putting a late revision through my proofreading app--where I looked at the document one random sentence at a time--I tend to catch grammar errors as part of that process.
 

vranger

Staff member
Board Moderator
Looking at Pro Writing Aid's site, I found this interesting invitation:

"Want to add plagiarism? Try Premium Plus"

Um ... no ... I try to never add plagiarism to my work. ;-)
 

Twisted Head

Senior Member
I absolutely love Scrivener and am always finding things that help with my writing process. Yes, it takes a bit to get used to, but that's just like any other software. Heck, it took me a few days to figure out Microsoft Word when I first started it and I'm an IT kinda guy.
Some of the things I like most about Scrivener are:
  • Index Cards. As a prose and nonfiction writer, I use the card feature a lot when throwing my ideas for outlining.
  • The notes in the sidebar. The sidebar has a ton of features that I find useful. I can markup the page I'm working on with notes, without cluttering up the editor window.
  • Adding images to my character profiles. When I visualize a character, I go out on the interwebs and try to find a movie or TV character that resembles that character. It really motivates me to figure out exactly who my character is and flesh them out, so having the picture staring at me the whole time gives me the ability to keep myself in that character's head when I'm in their POV.
  • Name generator. Using this feature, I've come up with some pretty cool names that I wouldn't have thought about otherwise. Yes, there are plenty of character name generators out there online, however, I feel Scrivener is quite suitable for me.
  • Get rid of the distractions. When I'm in the groove and writing well, I can expand the editor to get rid of all the folders, notes, and menu items and just have the text with nothing else. This really helps me focus on the words my fingers are typing.

I know there are ton of other things not mentioned here, but I've really become accustomed to using Scrivener since moving away from Word. I only wish the Windows version was as good as the Mac version so I could easily switch between to the two when working on the same story.

~TH
 

Irwin

Senior Member
I know there are ton of other things not mentioned here, but I've really become accustomed to using Scrivener since moving away from Word. I only wish the Windows version was as good as the Mac version so I could easily switch between to the two when working on the same story.

~TH

What does the Mac version have that the Windows version doesn't?
 

Twisted Head

Senior Member
What does the Mac version have that the Windows version doesn't?

I have both and the Windows environment just doesn't seem to have the look and feel as the Mac.
It's been a while since I've used the Windows, so I can't pinpoint exactly what it was that I didn't like.
Also, I've had problems getting the Windows to read the Mac Scrivener file.

~T.H.
 

noisebloom

Senior Member
So for someone not "in the know" (it didn't occur to me that there was popular software out there for "proper" writers), how worth is it to try out Scrivener for someone that is perfectly happy with Word-like editors? I've been working out of Google Docs for the better part of a decade, but would something like Scrivener increase my productivity or actually help me achieve my writing goals?
 

epimetheus

Friends of WF
So for someone not "in the know" (it didn't occur to me that there was popular software out there for "proper" writers), how worth is it to try out Scrivener for someone that is perfectly happy with Word-like editors? I've been working out of Google Docs for the better part of a decade, but would something like Scrivener increase my productivity or actually help me achieve my writing goals?

If you're perfectly happy with word don't worry about it. There is a free trial version of scrivener if you really want to try it out.
 

vranger

Staff member
Board Moderator
So for someone not "in the know" (it didn't occur to me that there was popular software out there for "proper" writers), how worth is it to try out Scrivener for someone that is perfectly happy with Word-like editors? I've been working out of Google Docs for the better part of a decade, but would something like Scrivener increase my productivity or actually help me achieve my writing goals?

I apologize this is so long after your question, but I haven't been on the site in a while.

I like being able to have a separate sub-document for each chapter. A couple of times I've had goofs in Word that lost major pieces of a work in progress, and had to go to a backup to recover and fix the manuscript. That would be much harder to screw up in Scrivener.

When you wish, you can put the entire document in one window, but it's still really the separate sub-documents. I'm big on knowing what my word count is per chapter. In Word, that causes me to frequently scroll up and highlight the current chapter to see the word count in the selected text. (Come to think of it, that's probably how I wind up accidently deleting major areas of text without realizing it). In Scrivener, you have the word count for your current chapter sitting right there, and you simply click on the main nodule for the entire document to see the overall word count.

Scrivener also has a rich facility for creating and organizing notes, nice ways to put two parts of your document "heads up" against each other, and can export your document straight to an epub or mobi (though in my experience it took some trial and error to make that go smoothly). Before I got Scrivener, was was creating mobi files through a calibre conversion.

There are some minor glitches in the Windows version, and I discussed those in some detail with a developer last spring. He assured me that the things I listed are in their current work for the next release. I have no idea when they plan that release.
 

FrancisD

Senior Member
Look forward to hearing how you get on with the compile function. Personally I don’t. I could not manage to export a manuscript In Word that was formatted properly for submission to and agent, for example.
 

Mark Twain't

Senior Member
Word is the work of Beelzebub from when he was in his most foulest of moods. Scrivener is a breath of fresh air by comparison

Never used yWriter (or even heard of it until now).
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I've just got this. How do you make it look like Word? At the moment, the text is taking up just under 50% of the screen on the left. How do I get the margin setting stuff above the text, automatic indenting and the such? And is there a way to have it central with larger text?

edit: It doesn't look like this on my screen. How has he got those markings across the top and how has he got it in the centre?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdwnHo23Ub8&ab_channel=LiteratureandLatte

edit 2: I've watched an official video from April 2021 and the menus he brings up do not have the options he shows. You're supposed to be able to hit CTRL+R and get the ruler, but it doesn't bring up the ruler, it formats the text. In the menu where he shows the ruler setting, it doesn't exist. I have the up to date version.
 
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vranger

Staff member
Board Moderator
I've just got this. How do you make it look like Word? At the moment, the text is taking up just under 50% of the screen on the left. How do I get the margin setting stuff above the text, automatic indenting and the such? And is there a way to have it central with larger text?

edit: It doesn't look like this on my screen. How has he got those markings across the top and how has he got it in the centre?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdwnHo23Ub8&ab_channel=LiteratureandLatte

edit 2: I've watched an official video from April 2021 and the menus he brings up do not have the options he shows. You're supposed to be able to hit CTRL+R and get the ruler, but it doesn't bring up the ruler, it formats the text. In the menu where he shows the ruler setting, it doesn't exist. I have the up to date version.

It takes a while, but you need to go through their tutorial. I can't really answer those questions off the top of my head. I set it all up last summer and that's the last time I had to adjust settings.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
It takes a while, but you need to go through their tutorial. I can't really answer those questions off the top of my head. I set it all up last summer and that's the last time I had to adjust settings.

I think I'm going back to Word. I honestly don't see any advantages with Scrivener. It just seems far too complex for its own good and feels messy to use. Maybe I'll use it at some point to format stories for E-Books but that's about all. What is it people think makes Scrivener so good?
 

vranger

Staff member
Board Moderator
I think I'm going back to Word. I honestly don't see any advantages with Scrivener. It just seems far too complex for its own good and feels messy to use. Maybe I'll use it at some point to format stories for E-Books but that's about all. What is it people think makes Scrivener so good?


Mostly templates and organization features. I keep one Scrivener project just for my creative material used on this site. I don't have to keep up with operating system folders and a bunch of files.

In novel writing, I like having a chapter template and an easily accessible word count for each chapter, and then one click to get the total (to date) word count for the whole thing. The typing feature that keeps your cursor in the middle of the page scrolling is also nice. I get tired of manually scrolling up from the bottom of Word's window.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
Mostly templates and organization features. I keep one Scrivener project just for my creative material used on this site. I don't have to keep up with operating system folders and a bunch of files.

In novel writing, I like having a chapter template and an easily accessible word count for each chapter, and then one click to get the total (to date) word count for the whole thing. The typing feature that keeps your cursor in the middle of the page scrolling is also nice. I get tired of manually scrolling up from the bottom of Word's window.

Yeah, maybe when I move onto bigger projects, then I'll see the benefits more. Right now, I feel as if everything is too small, unless you can also change the size of the option buttons and the text on them? It's just so confusing because each video I watch, I try to replicate what I'm seeing and often I can't find that same option. I might play around with it a bit later.
 

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