Is Scrivener a worthy alternative to Microsoft Word? Or is it more than that?
Scrivener for Mac is at version 2. Scrivener for Windows is at 1.9.7. What exactly is Scrivener and why should you use this program?
When we compare it to MS Word it all becomes a whole lot clearer… You feel the itch to write a book? Or you need a thesis ready for school? Maybe your boss asked you to write a manual?
Like everyone else, you will start up a word processor. It seems logic but in fact, it isn’t. Trying to complete these tasks with a word processor is like digging a well with a spoon. It is feasible, but it’s nowhere near the best solution. For that amount of work, it is definitely the wrong tool. Like most of you, I’ve grown up with Microsoft Word, even though I passed some time with Wordperfect. When you have to write an article, a letter or a memo you fire up MS Word. It is a decent program, although you need to be careful not to drown in all its menus en functions. Once you know your way around MS Word, it is ideal for those simple projects. But once you have to take on bigger projects like a full-scale novel or a thesis, you hit the limitations of MS Word pretty soon. What you want to do is still ‘possible’, but before you know it you spend your time with researching ‘how’ to do it, instead of smoothly creating your next masterpiece. To add insult to injury Microsoft Word tends to slow down to a crawl whenever you try to manage a plus 20 pages text. With autosave on, – and it needs to be on or one of these days you lose all your precious work -, you risk spending most of your time staring at a stuttering screen. Exasperation isn’t your best friend when you want to surf the waves of creativity.
The three main parts of the Scrivener desktop:
To the left the binder with all maps, texts, and research of your project. In the middle, you see the text editor. Finally to the right is the Inspector.
THE BIG DIFFERENCES
SHORT VS. LONG
Microsoft Word is cut out for shorter texts. In all probability you already used it, so you know most of the basic stuff. Scrivener is much better for longer pieces. It’s a breeze to add footnotes or tables of contents.
CONTINUOUS TEXT VS. SCRAPS OF TEXT
Let’s say you are working on a longer document in Word. Maybe you try it in one big piece of writing. But again, the longer the document, the slower Word gets. You could make a single document per chapter. But that’s not very practical. Soon you need to put a lot of effort in the organization of your workflow if you don’t want to spend most of your time searching for a missing chapter. With Scrivener, the whole ballgame changes. You produce scraps of text that you quickly can rearrange by dragging the pieces in your binder in the program itself. You can write split screen if you want to control the continuity of your story. Even if you want to put all your stuff in one giant chunk of text, Scrivener won’t even blink. I still have to read the first complaint in the support forums about the lack of power of Scrivener, even with the constant use of autosave. There will be no annoying delays at all.
TYPING VS. ORGANIZING
Word is a text processor. You type in it. You can manage some layout in this program, but that can be said about Scrivener too. Furthermore, you will get intimidated easily by the extensive menus of Microsoft Word. Sometimes I get the feeling that the programmers tried to fit everything in Word to stay ahead of the competition. Scrivener works completely different. It’s a text processor and more. You create a project. In the project, you put your text and at your research. These can be other documents, pdf’s, websites or pictures. Even video’s or sound bites can be stuffed there and be consulted while you’re writing in split screen. You can add a folder with all your characters, scenes or locations. One click is all you need to consult anything you want within Scrivener. And if you require producing a stream of words, you can write completely distraction free. Heaven!
WORD DOCUMENT VS ANY OUTPUT
When you’re done typing and finished the layout of your document, you have a finished Word document. You can save it in another format, but the design will stay the same if everything goes according to plan. You will need to change your layout to accommodate the medium you want to address. Do you want to print it at home? Is it made for professional print? Maybe you want to launch an e-book? Or maybe you want it all? Each version of your document will need a lot of tinkering depending on what you want to produce with Word. Most probably you will use external programs to create the desired output. Not so with Scrivener. You end with a collection of texts that you arrange in outline mode. When you achieved the result you want, you can start compiling. Whichever sort of output you want, it stays essentially the same collection of text. But you can compile the same stuff to almost anything you want. You want an e-book. Compile as an e-book. You want to create a physical book; you can compile that and send it off to the printer from your desktop. In a jiffy, your work can be sold on Amazon.com as e-book and traditional book via print on demand. And I have to emphasize: nothing changes within your document. The output is completely separated. That alone is a huge time saver!
VERY EXPENSIVE VS. REALLY CHEAP
Microsoft Word is the market leader, and you know that by your wallet. You need to buy the Office suite. The personal home edition for one PC for one year cost you 55.37 $ per year to be used on one computer only! (amazon.com 13-06-2017). The Microsoft Office Home & Student 2016 version (without updates) for one PC puts you back 124,79 $. Versions for commercial use or companies cost even a whole lot more. Scrivener for Windows costs 40 $. You have no restrictions to put it on every PC in your home. There are no yearly charges at all. Scrivener for Mac, which is slightly more advanced, costs 44,04 $. For company use, I’m sure you will have to buy a bigger volume of Scriveners. But then you get a discount. And yes, I know MS Word is the standard. But that’s no problem at all. You can drag word documents in Scrivener, read it or change it. You can compile your work into a Word document without conversion problems, which you can’t say about a lot other alternative text processors.
If you want a cheap and easy alternative to Microsoft Word and you intend to write long documents or want to publish a book, look no further. Scrivener is perfect! It doesn’t look like your ordinary word processor, but it’s easy to learn. And you get a lot more than a simple word processor. You can produce your book from start to finish with total control. It’s a dream come true for writers, bloggers or students. Check it out!
HERE YOU CAN BUY SCRIVENER