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Scrivener is Released for Windows

8 November 2011

Scrivener is a document processor that has been popular with some Mac authors for several years.

Yesterday, Scrivener released its first Windows version. A free trial download is available and the Windows release sells for for $40.

From Scrivener’s website:

Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.

Writing a novel, research paper, script or any long-form text involves more than hammering away at the keys until you’re done. Collecting research, ordering fragmented ideas, shuffling index cards in search of that elusive structure—most writing software is fired up only after much of the hard work is over. Enter Scrivener: a word processor and project management tool that stays with you from that first, unformed idea all the way through to the final draft. Outline and structure your ideas, take notes, view research alongside your writing and compose the constituent pieces of your text in isolation or in context. Scrivener won’t tell you how to write—it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application.

. . . .

Scrivener provides all the tools you need to prepare your manuscript for submission or self-publishing. Once you’re ready to go, control everything from how footnotes, headers and footers appear to fine-tuning the formatting of each level of your draft—or keep it simple by choosing from one of Scrivener’s convenient presets. Print a novel using standard manuscript formatting. Export your finished document to a wide variety of file formats, including Microsoft Word, RTF, PDF and HTMLmaking it easy to share your work with others. Or self-publish by exporting to ePub or Kindle* formats to share your work via iBooks or Amazon, or for reading on any e-reader.

* Requires KindleGen.

Link to the rest at Scrivener with lots of videos demonstrating the software.

One claim Scrivener makes is that generating epub and Kindle files for ebook publishing is dead simple. That might make authors who are frustrated with the process of getting their books from MS Word to ebook formats take notice.

Passive Guy has never used Scrivener, so he doesn’t have hands-on experience. He does know some Scrivener users visit The Passive Voice regularly and invites them to share their experiences in the Comments.


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43 Comments to “Scrivener is Released for Windows”

  1. I’d been hoping that this would get ported over to Windows; I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Much as I prefer WordPerfect (or just about anything) over MS Word, I’m definitely going to give this a test drive.

  2. Scrivener is hands down the best writing program ever. I write by scene and Scrivener makes it incredibly simple for me to shift scenes around as I’m writing and revising. It’s also great for capturing your research as you work. Wonderful program at a reasonable price. Highly recommend it.

  3. Oh, no. I’ve been wanting Scrivener since a Mac-toting buddy of mine amazed me with its features a few years back. Wonderful stuff. Been envious ever since. No doubt I’ll be getting Scrivener soonest. However, being of an age that I consider electric typewriters new technology, I tend to find even the most intuitive and crystalline of software instructions/tutorials opaque. My learning curve is long. (I’m still adjusting to Word 2003.) Leading me to predict I’ll be losing time I can’t afford right now learning how to use my new writing toy. Tool, writing tool.

  4. Well, I downloaded the Scrivener trial program and messed around with it a bit…

    I think I’m in love.

    Export directly to EPUB and Kindle MOBI without all those other rinky-dink conversion steps? If this thing stays updated with the new Amazon KF8 format, it’ll be the bomb.

    A lot of the organizational features remind me of Final Draft, which has always been my favorite screenwriting program. That’s a good thing.

    • I would imagine they’re already looking at the KF8 format, though I doubt it’ll be necessary for most of us. Unless you’re writing non-fiction with a lot of tables or graphs or planning some awesome, interactive HTML5 book, nearly every bit of fiction fits quite neatly into the old MOBI format. All of the Kindles going forward will support MOBI (or AZW) for a long time to come.

      I’m sure they’ll add KF8 in a future release though. They’re pretty quick for such a small shop. 0-]

  5. Scrivener is a great piece of software and a perfect example of doing one job really well. It is built, from the ground up, for writing. Screenplays, novels, short stories, whatever you write. The learning curve can be as steep or as shallow as you make it. If you just want to open it up and start writing, you can do that. If you want to dig in and learn more of its features, you can do that too.

    The export to EPUB and MOBI is flawless, at least for simple fiction. I regularly export to MOBI and just drop onto my Kindle, and it’s been a perfectly-formatted copy every time. It will also export plain text or a Word Doc, pretty much whatever you could need. It auto-saves everything, stores backups as you choose and can even zip those up and drop them into your Dropbox as an offsite backup.

    The only issue I’ve seen for some people is when going to copyedits. Editors are entrenched in the world of MS Word. Though it’s easy to export your Scrivener project to a Word Doc, you can’t import it back in once your editor is done and you’ve accepted their changes.

    I’ve read several authors who simply leave everything in Word once they reach the editing process. Since I absolutely despise Word and refuse to use it, I just wrote my own bit of code to rip things back out of a Word doc and import them back into Scrivener. 0-]

    If you’re still writing in Word, you owe it to yourself to try Scrivener. At $45 (and a free trial of 30 days of actual use), it’s less than half the price of Word and an amazing piece of software that is still getting regular updates and features.

    They’re offering a 50% discount to NaNoWriMo winners and even a 20% discount to anyone else during NaNoWriMo. Just use the promo code “NANOWRIMO” when checking out from their site.

    • Ka-chow! With that coupon code, it was only $32 to buy the Scrivener license. No way I was going to pass that up. Thanks!

    • Damon, I would love it if you shared your code (either inside Word VBA or outside) to port from Word to Scrivener.

      I printed out the manual, and am working my way through that, so may not have reached the area where I can import Word docs to a project inside Scrivener.

      At this stage, (I worked on the beta) I love the program and it fits with how I write novels: create index cards for each scene in Excel, write scene in Word, think of more scenes to slip between other scenes in Excel, move scenes around in Excel, find the same spot in Word and move scene, etc. Now I can do all that and more in Scrivener. Excellent program! Worth every penny to purchase.

      • I actually wrote a separate little piece of software to do the job. I’m not much for VBA or any of the built-in language bits Microsoft uses. The program is pretty specific to the way I do things, so I’d have to make it a little more generalized for posting to others, but I’ll see what I can do.

        It basically uses Scrivener’s ability to sync with an external directory. In a Scrivener project, you can tell it to sync with an external directory, and Scrivener will dump each chapter / section of your project into a separate text file. My program takes a Word doc, splits it up at the chapter and scene markers and then shoves everything into those text files. The next time you load the project in Scrivener, it imports all those changes back in.

        I haven’t actually used it in practice yet, only in testing. I’m still waiting on the copyedit from my editor to give it a full run. I’ll let you know how the results go though and maybe put it up somewhere for others to play with. 0-]

        • Thanks for the explanation. I will try copy and paste for each scene until I understand it, then try to write my own conversion code inside Word. Also, thanks for the tip on sync with external directories. Makes sense to create a doc file for each scene before importing into Scrivener.

      • So if I had something I’d started (or completed) in Word, I couldn’t just do one big Copy-Paste from Word to Scrivener?

        • You could, I suppose, but Scrivener keeps things a bit more structured than that (if you so choose). In Scrivener you layout your chapters and scenes as a structure that you can then rearrange as index cards or however you like. While you can totally write everything in a single document, it doesn’t really play much to Scrivener’s strengths.

          A wholesale copy-and-paste from Word into Scrivener would give you one long document instead of separate chapter and scene breaks. But I imagine it’s entirely possible to do if you just want to start working in Scrivener and want to get your work in progress into the software.

          When I had to do it by hand, I created my structure in Scrivener with each chapter and scene and then just copied and pasted each scene into the right place in Scrivener. It was a bit of a chore, which is why I went off to write a better way to do it. What can I say? Programmer first, writer second. 0-]

          • Hmm — I guess I won’t have much of a problem then, moving my current projects over from WordPerfect, since I always write my chapters as separate files, which I then combine as subdocuments using the master document function. Isn’t that available in MS Word? Can’t see where writing a novel as one long document plays into any word processor’s strengths.

          • I’m currently in a writing mode where all the “move things around” bells-and-whistles would be even more ignored by me than the various bells-and-whistles Word tries to offer. (Till I get out my whip and force it to kneel and call me Queen…) So I’d be more interested in making clean Mobi and epub, easily.

            Sounds like I should stick with Word->RTF->Calibre for now.


            • Hey guys,

              One tip for the Word/Scrivener editing round trip is that you can import Word files into Scrivener and it will split them automatically into scenes at any marker you choose, such as the word Chapter or at *** or at a hash mark (which I cannot find on my current keyboard for some reason). It’s not perfect but it’s a workaround I have used. It only takes a couple of seconds.

  6. I’ve been using the Beta version for a few months. I didn’t actually commit to Scrivener until last week because of my own learning glitches with the program. Now? I love it. I’ve begun editing directly in Scrivener and barely use Word, which is a huge change for me. I no longer have to use both Word for my text and OneNote or Evernote for my research notes and that’s huge, too.

    Color me impressed.

    Oh, and I’ve used just about every writing program out there, too, but I’ve never been as sold as I am on Scrivener.

  7. Bestest software ever! And yes, it makes generating kindle books a piece of cake. You’ll probably run through a few trials to get it exactly how you want, (make sure that override formatting thing is deselected), but it’s merely a matter of checking some boxes and clicking “compile”. Copying the file on to the kindle itself is more of a hassle than generating the file. Haven’t tried epub yet, but assume it’s similarly easy. Now if only smashwords didn’t insist on you submitting stinking word docs.

    Those of us who’ve been around to go through the whole, if only I had X, then I could write my novel, get this and you’ll be out of excuses. It’s really pretty easy to learn to use also, there are a lot of video and text tutorials, and whenever I can’t figure out something I want it to do it’s pretty easy to find the answer online.

  8. Does it include a way to attach a cover to a Kindle book so it shows up on the device? I’ve never been able to get that to work, despite having had detailed directions that I swear I followed.

    • Yes indeed. It has a simple “Cover” tab in the compile settings where you can drag-and-drop or select an image to use, and it will add it when it compiles the document. The tab for “Meta-Data” lets you set your book meta-data like title, author, publisher, etc…

      • You should get a commission because you just sold me a copy of this program. Thanks!

      • Okay, so now I’m playing around, because I found I can click on your name too. 🙂 Your website is so cool! So attractive and what a great way to make finding new books easy.

        Aha! I am new to all this, but just now I see that there is the option to put in a URI under my name and email address. I am guessing *that* is where I would put a link in?

        The only thing I would suggest is – if I’m right and this has to do with the way Passive Guy set up his blog website – Passive Guy, it would be neat if when you click on someone’s name it takes you to a new window or tab in Firefox instead of leaving the Passive Guy blog.

        • The regular blog posts work that way, but the comment links don’t, and that’s bugged me in the past, too. I’m sure PG will get right on it. 😉

          • Right click mouse over link and select new window or new tab when leaving the blog you are viewing.

            I try to remember to select “open in new window” on my own blog for external links.

  9. I’ve been waiting for this for a couple of years and I even got my email notification. But since I wanted to focus on getting my book out, I was keeping myself from buying a new toy, I mean tool. – Re: Kevin 🙂

    Then with all Damon’s info I couldn’t resist.

    So I shared my savings with the Passive Guy donate button.

    Now, off to play. I mean work.

  10. I’m delighted that the commercial version is finally available. 😀 I’ve been fiddling with the beta version of Scrivener for close to a year now, but I didn’t really embrace it (over Word 2003) until just recently. In terms of breaking a novel into scenes that can easily be switched around and creating an at-a-glance outline, it’s absolutely fabulous.

    I’m not yet convinced its notetaking capabilities will replace my use of OneNote, but it’s definitely making life easier as far as writing goes.

    One of my primary goals for winning NaNoWriMo this year is to get the 50% off coupon. 😀

  11. The beta version for Scrivener for Linux was released today, too. It’s scheduled to be out of beta by next May. I’ve linked the info on my blog.

    • I love how you made clicking on your name a link to your blog! Can you tell me how you did that or point me to directions?

      But I can’t find the info on Scrivener in Linux, saw the tweet, but not the blog entry.

  12. So I can export to Kindle format and sell my work either through Amazon or my own site?

  13. I think that Scrivener should give you a percentage, PG. I just bought a copy as well. I had been listening to very smug Apple users as to how wonderful this program was, I just didn’t have the will or the funds to convert to another OS.

    So far so good, and it’s really inspiring to have nearly all of the tools available. Now if I could only figure out how to get it and KindleGen working together. Time for more exploration! 🙂

  14. Happy to chime in on the “I <3 Scrivener" comments. I've been a fan from the beginning and used it to write all my 5 novels. I love the flexibility! Looking forward to learning/using the convert-to-ebook functionality now that my series was dropped and I'm turning to self-epublishing. 🙂

    I also love the fact that this is a small indy company, and whenever I've had questions, I was able to email the owners/programmers directly & got an answer quickly.

  15. I downloaded it. Color me in the very least unimpressed and more on the mildly annoyed side. When I attempted to import a project into Scrivener, it destroyed it. Totally wiped it out. Like 0 kb left to it. (Don’t worry, there was a backup, if there wasn’t, that could have been awful for someone.) I followed the directions so have no idea what went wrong but I’ll stick with Word.

  16. The formatting templates for digital, standard manuscript, and paperback novel are great features. You can see how your novel will look and easily get it formatted for your intended audience.

    Scrivener offers a lot for writers–templates for screenwriting, novels, research papers. I haven’t had any trouble with transferring my Word docs.

    It takes a little getting used to because of all the features. But once I started using it–to rearrange chapters, to gather notes and research pieces into one place, for comparing editing phases–I found I really liked it.

  17. Thanks so much for blogging about this. I downloaded Scrivener this morning and I’m already loving it! I can’t believe I wrote six books without it. No more juggling Word, Excel, image files, etc., to get a book written. I’m converting my half-finished mystery book right now. And I’m really looking forward to what appears to be excellent conversion capabilities for all the ebook formats I need.

    I’m a big fan of your blog, by the way!

  18. Scrivener seems to have gained a lot of new converts.

    Let me know how you feel about it in six months. I’d love to write a follow-up post.

  19. An update – I bought Scrivener and something went wrong with the validation process. I got an email from them about the problem.

    There are 1 or 2 little bugs in the software – I can’t find where I set the default font – and it doesn’t appear to import spreadsheets.

    Both are minor complaints when I can organize my advertising in 1 file, and all my research, including photos in another.

    I think I can use the table function to create some really NICE character sheets. (Think RPG style.)

    I took my WIP and divided it into chapters – to give me some flexiblity changing scenes around. So far I’m not happy with that. It could be I need more organisation.

    I will try labeling scenes by date and location to see if that helps.

    I created a project that is entirely made up of fragments of stories and ideas. It has allowed me to delete a lot of duplicate junk off my hard drive.

    Scrivener excells at that task! It was worth the money just to get those fragments in some kind of order!

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