Scrivener Review: Why Writers Love This Book-Writing Software

Scrivener Review: Why Writers Love This Book-Writing Software

As a writer, you’re creative. You have notebooks full of scribblings in every room. You have sticky notes you can’t even read. Your computer? It’s a mess of bookmarks and files stored in a random collection of folders. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a freelance writer or a novelist working on the next epic masterpiece, chances are you could use a little help keeping your magic organized. 

This is a common problem; lots of writers are creative but struggle to stay organized! 

That’s why, if you spend time in the online writing community, you’ll hear writers raving about Scrivener.

In The Write Life Facebook group, for example, we saw this comment from Brooklin Devine: 

“If there were Scrivener gods, I would pay tribute to them (JK…but mostly serious). It has transformed the amount of writing I do. It is hands down the best thing I have ever purchased for my writing. I think the first day I bought it, I was sold because almost instantly, I was able to import all my work over (which I thought was going to be an incredible hassle). Amazing.”

So what exactly is this magical tool Scrivener, and how are writers using it?

What is Scrivener?

Scrivener is a book-writing software program developed by a British teacher and aspiring writer, Keith Blount, who was frustrated by trying to keep all of his notes together. 

In fact, he was so frustrated that he learned how to code and create a software dedicated to helping writers get and stay organized. That was Scrivener 1.0 in 2007. Now, 12 years later, Scrivener is a major player in the writing software market published by Blount’s company, Literature and Latte. 

Scrivener is a software program that you pay for once and download. Then, you simply have it on your computer forever. No annual subscription needed. 

Scrivener is available for Windows, Scrivener for Mac, and iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch. 

Who uses Scrivener?

There isn’t a genre that Scrivener can’t handle, so don’t worry about that. 

If you write novels, short fiction, essays, memoir, or even obituaries, you could make great use of Scrivener. However, if you like things simple, just a screen on a page, it may not be for you. 

When you put your money down for Scrivener, you’re paying for all of the organizational bells and whistles. You’ll either love them or you won’t. If you’re not sure where you stand, try the Scrivener free trial first.

Scrivener review: What I like about this book-writing software

On first impression, you’ll notice that Scrivener is a program stacked with options. You can do a lot with it to help your writing. 

This is a word processor, file cabinet and editor all rolled into one. About the only thing it doesn’t do is make coffee. 

Here are some of the most popular Scrivener features.

Write offline

Once you’ve downloaded Scrivener, you don’t need to be online to write with it. I find this keeps my distractions to a minimum.

Never lose your writing

Scrivener autosaves constantly. Not every ten minutes or even five. When you stop writing, you can stop worrying. It’ll be there the next time you open up.

Oh yeah, when you open your document up, you’ll start out exactly where you left off. Nice.

Organize your notes

The corkboard is where you can compile your notes on digital note cards and put them in order. Chapters, subheads, whatever they may be. Move them around. Do whatever you need to, it’s easy. 

This feature makes Scrivener amazing as novel writing software. You can see your whole plan laid out in front of you.

Here’s what that looks like:

Writers rave about this feature for making progress on big projects, as you can see in this tweet:

Templates for every kind of writing

Scrivener templates galore. If there is a type of project you want to write, there is a template for it. In Scrivener itself, when you start a new project, you can choose from a variety of options, including:


  • Novel
  • Novel (with parts)
  • Short Story


  • Non-fiction with subheads
  • Research proposal
  • Undergraduate humanities essay


  • BBC radio scene style
  • BBC taped drama
  • Comic script
  • Screenplay
  • Stage play (UK)
  • Stage play (US)


  • Persuasive lecture
  • Recipe collection

Don’t see what you need? Just Google it and someone has made a Scrivener template for it. 

Writer and host of the “Helping Writers Become Authors” website and podcast, K.M. Weiland created her own fiction template. “There are many reasons I love Scrivener, but ultimately the reason I use it is that it puts all my documents for a single story in one place,” she says.

Export to nearly any file type

You can export from Scrivener to PDF, DOCX, RTF, TXT, directly to your printer, and other formats. You can even export to Amazon’s EPUB or MOBI for quick publishing.

With one click your piece of work with all of its various parts is compiled into one file. 

The downsides of using Scrivener

I mentioned that Scrivener comes with a lot of really cool bells and whistles, right? 

The downside to getting all of those features is that it can be a little difficult to sift through everything to find what you need. This tool can be overwhelming when you open it up for the first time! 

To help yourself nail this steep learning curve, make good use of Scrivener’s tutorials. Or cut right to the chase and invest in a course like Learn Scrivener Fast, which will teach you everything you need to know to become a master of the tool. 

Don’t try to wing it. You’ll waste a lot of time that could be better served by writing.

How much does Scrivener cost?

Scrivener isn’t free, but honestly, it’s not expensive either. 

Here’s the company’s pricing:

Standard License for Windows: $45.00

Educational License for Windows: $38.25

Standard License for Mac: $49.00

Educational License for Mac: $41.65

IOS Products: $19.95 (A Dropbox account is required for sync features.)

Don’t use the same computer all of the time? No problem. When you buy your Scrivener subscription, you can download it to any computer in your household that runs on the same platform. If you need it for a Mac and for Windows, you’ll have to buy those programs separately. 

If you want to try this book-writing software before you buy, Scrivener offers a 30-day free trial

The bottom line on this book-writing software

Scrivener has become one of the most used — and most copied! — writing programs on the market for good reason. It has a plethora of tools for helping you stay organized and improving your writing efficiency. 

The only hitch is you need to commit a little time to learn what the tool has to offer before jumping in head-first. If you are serious about writing, taking the time to learn how to use Scrivener should pay off.

If you’re a Scrivener lover (or hater!), we’re keen to hear from you in the comments! What’s your experience with the tool?

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

Photo via Peshkova / Shutterstock 

Filed Under: Craft


  • I write mostly fictional podcasts and I love Scrivener • It is the best writing tool ever • I can’t say enough great things about it • oliver •

  • patrick says:

    Had trouble replying. Anyway, word is much friendlier about sections and chapters. It’s all one whole document. And you can use the navigation pane and headers to bounce around. You can also use click and drag to move around sections. I gave up on Scrivener for Windows (ancient version and buggy beta) and use Word for writing, Excel for planning, and OneNote for my notes and research. They can all reside on one screen on your computer and use them independently.

  • A. M. Rose says:

    A question. I work with a partner and we alternate writing chapters. Does this software allow seeing/sharing the same project and adding to it or would we have to send what we did to the other person back and forth constantly.

  • Colon A. McBride says:

    Hello All: I have wanted to write for MANY years…Started when a son was hospitalized and had nothing to read to him. Others in hospital started allowing their kids to come to his room for a period of reading. Daily periods became a regular aspect of my life…Ran out of material and started writing my own stories.
    Want to write for the public market but just can’t seem to get started….HELP please if you can….

  • Ingrid Trausch says:

    I am leery of sites like this one that do not publish even mildly negative reviews. Like my previous review, when I was still on the fence about Scrivener for Windows. This comment won’t get published because I have decided that Scrivener is not for me. Why? Because every Word 2010 file I imported into Scrivener had errors in it, mainly frequent added characters like #,? and & in the middle of words, and a lot of unwanted extra tabs and spaces. Also, there is no spell check and no grammar check. What Scrivener does have is a lot of extra bells and whistles that I have never used when writing, such as virtual index cards, corkboards, separate forms for character files, etc. I find these distracting and a waste of time, because I am used to organizing things in my head and never had a problem doing so. If Scrivener works for you, great. For me, I see no advantage to switching from Word, only a whole lot of new problems.

  • Ingrid Trausch says:

    I am currently assessing a trial on Windows and I am not sure I like it enough to continue. I have used Word for years to do a lot of lengthy technical writing and I am familiar with even the most obscure Word features. Switching to a new system is complicated, especially as the tutorials aren’t always user friendly. The tutorials also use British English (colour, organise, etc.) which I find strangely irritating. I have never used index cards or corkboard setups in my writing and think they’re a waste of time, so these and other features in Scrivener are lost on me. I do like some of the organiZation features though. Guess I’ll keep playing with it before deciding.

  • Ingrid says:

    I am still in the initial stages of a Scrivener trial, and have mixed feelings. I find the tutorials are not that user friendly, constantly mentioning buttons and toolbars that need to be located, and then they don’t always work. Also the tutorials are in British English (organise, colour, etc.), which really bothers me for some strange reason.
    At this point I question the advantage of purchasing Scrivener over the Word program I have always used. Scrivener’s organizational features are so far lost on me. I was never one to put stuff on index cards or corkboards, and have always done just fine with Word links to other documents such as summaries or character descriptions. Scrivener isn’t expensive, but it takes some time to learn to use efficiently, and I wonder if it’s worth the effort.

  • Cindy Brunnemer says:

    I would like to know the difference in Standard lic. or Educational lic.

  • Mary says:

    Sometimes I like to write chapters out of order, and it makes this easy when you want to write the intervening material. I used to work in Word, and there was a lot of scrolling and locating different areas, or else I used to write in a separate file. One caution, do load Scrivener on more than one pc. The reason I’m here commenting is that my laptop died earlier this week. The computer clinic is confident they can retrieve my files, but I can’t work. I will also back my work up to a removable drive.

  • Alex Ivanov says:

    Yeah I love it and my books are about career soft skills. Compile alone is worth it’s weight in gold. Can’t say I am thrilled about the overhaul on this function but I will deal and get even better with it.

  • Rosalyn Page says:

    I love Scrivener. I’ve used it for long-form articles, essays and creative writing. I even wrote a blog post about Scrivener. You can read it here:

  • Casara says:

    Oh, here’s another feature I love! I do love writing in notebooks … it does something to the experience. So, I don’t do this every time, but I’ve done it a few times. You can upload anything as research into the Scrivener file. Including photocopied pdfs of the pages in your notebook. And I did have a time once where it was difficult for me to rewrite a scene and keep checking what I had written in my notebook … so I made a pdf of my notebook pages, installed into scrivener and USED THE DUAL SCREEN to put what I was writing SIDE BY SIDE with my notebook pages. LOVE THIS PROGRAM SO MUCH!

  • Casara says:

    I really love the scrivener update that lets you access projects on your phone. So now, if I’m struck by inspiration somewhere and nowhere near my computer … no longer do I have to email myself all the notes and then sort through them all later …. I can open the project file on my phone, add a new card in the appropriate section and BAM. And if I feel inspired for a different section too, I get to do the organization WHILE I write down the inspiration by going to that section and adding a card there. I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!! It’s the best. I could talk forever about the features I love.

  • JK Stenger says:

    One other feature not mentioned here but a real blessing is the back-up function. Scrivener backs up your work, I believe, to the last 5 copies of your work. In other words if you lose something or you messed up you can simply go back to an earlier version. This has helped me when I misplaced a file and found out I was working in the wring file and my new work was saved over the old one. No sweat. I opened my back up via the right tab and I found my old work.

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