12 Best Scrivener Alternatives for Writers

Scrivener is a writing tool with a passionate and dedicated following. However, there are a number of Scrivener alternatives for those who find that Scrivener does satisfy their needs.

You hear about it the first day you visit a writing advice site: you have to try Scrivener! It will change your life. While this editor, designed for writing and organizing novels, has a cult following, it is not the only option around. If you are looking for new tools for writing, consider one of these options I found on my quest for the best Scrivener alternatives.

Before you try these apps, be sure to check out our Scrivener review.

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Best Scrivener alternatives for writers

1. Google Docs

Pricing: Free

You can use it to collaborate with your editor

Use for: Any type of writing with simple formatting requirements.

Google Docs is a good choice for most writers on a budget. You can use it to collaborate with your editor. It’ll also automatically break up long drafts using a clickable table of contents. That said, it’s a bit cumbersome for documents that are over 50,000 words long.

  • It’s freely available to everyone who has a Gmail account.
  • It’s easy and intuitive to use for basic formating.
  • Because it uses cloud-based Google Drive for storage, your documents are available on any connected device, whether you are on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, or Linux.
  • Supports voice to text.
  • Research while you write with an in-editor Google search widget.
  • You can lose access to your work if you are somewhere without internet access.
  • While it will open Word docs, features like commenting can be buggy.
  • A browser-based environment can be distracting if you are tempted to visit other tabs.

2. IA Writer

Pricing: $29.99

IA writer graphical user interface
IA Writer has tools to highlight word repetition, weak verbs, and superfluous adjectives

Use for: First drafts, or anywhere else you want to produce words without the temptation of going back to self-edit as you write.

IA Writer is a great distraction-free writing app. It supports Markdown, so it’s easier to handle formatting than Scrivener. It also enables publishing to the web. That said, it’s weaker at managing long-form writing projects than Scrivener.

Read our IA Writer review

  • Exceptional user interface
  • Specifically designed for distraction-free writing.
  • Has tools to highlight word repetition, weak verbs, and superfluous adjectives.
  • This writing software does not include templates, which is a limitation.
  • Few tools for organizing files, which can be inconvenient.
  • No formatting choices when it comes to fonts, line spacing, and other areas.

3. Microsoft Word

Pricing: $69.99/yr

Word icon
Smoothly integrates with other items within the MS Office suite

Use for: Microsoft Word is the writing app that most people grew up with and is the one used in-house by the majority of outlets today.

Most authors have used Microsoft Word to write a draft of a book at some point. It’s improved a lot over the years and automatically breaks up documents much like Google Docs. 

  • Stable and easy to use.
  • Wide adoption means a high likelihood of compatibility with publications and collaborators.
  • Smoothly integrates with other items within the MS Office suite.
  • A recurring subscription means paying every year.
  • Some features can be less intuitive.
  • Word is a complex program; most users will never use more than the basic functions.

4. Ulysses

Pricing: $5.99/mo or $49.99/yr

Lots of authors use it to write book drafts

Use for: A distraction-free working environment.

Ulysses is a fantastic distraction-free app. Like IA Writer, it supports Markdown. It also has a document management library. Lots of authors use it to write book drafts as it can combine multiple book chapters as sheets.

Read our Ulysses review 

  • Its unified library makes navigating between files easy.
  • It offers in-app ebook formatting.
  • Dropbox integration allows for easy collaboration with others. 
  • Its unified library makes navigating between files easy.
  • It offers in-app ebook formatting.
  • Dropbox integration allows for easy collaboration with others. 

5. Grammarly

Pricing: Free for basic; $144/yr for Premium

Grammarly desktop app
The Grammarly desktop app is powerful and fast

Use for: This grammar checker offers hints for better spelling and flow; can be integrated into most browser-based editors, including Google docs.

You won’t write a book in Grammarly, but it’s a good companion to Scrivener. Basically, write in Scrivener or another writing app as normal. Then, copy and paste your work into Grammarly, find and fix grammar errors and paste the results back into your writing app. Or you can use the dedicated web app and write and edit directly in Google docs.

Read our Grammarly review

  • Grammarly is highly customizable and allows you to save new words to its dictionary.
  • It corrects typos on the fly.
  • It offers easy to understand recommendations.
  • Grammarly is prone to false positives on errors. Double-check your work.
  • The icons and notations can be annoying when you are working fast.
  • It can be laggy when dealing with large chunks of text.
Best Grammar Checker

Grammarly is a top spelling, grammar and plagiarism checker. It'll help you find and fix errors fast, and it works everywhere. It's trusted by millions of writers for a reason.

Become a Writer Today is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

6. ProWritingAid

Pricing: $20/mo, $79/year, or $399/lifetime

Grammar checking with ProWritingAid
You can open up a Scrivener project file with ProWritingAid

Use for: This simple grammar checker works with Google docs to help you polish your writing.

What if you want to write in Scrivener and avoid copying and pasting your work into a grammar checker? Enter ProWritingAid. It works directly with Scrivener. Essentially, you can open up a Scrivener project file with ProWritingAid, fix grammar errors and save the changes back to Scrivener. It works like a charm.

Read our ProWritingAid review

  • Available as an add-on in Chrome and Safari, and as a desktop app in Windows and Mac.
  • Offers detailed writing reports and scores for gradually improving your writing.
  • Can be integrated with Scrivener, Word, Google Docs, and other software.
  • The program sometimes lags as it scans documents and prepares reports.
  • The free version has a 500-word review limit.
  • Plagiarism checking must be purchased separately.
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7. Dynalist

Pricing: Basic is free; $7.99/mo for Pro

Dynalist - writing app
Surprisingly fun to use, for outlining the key points in a long article

Use for: Dynalist is an outlining tool that can help with novel writing or other long-form content.

One of Scrivener’s best features is its ability to outline and plan a book or a longer piece of writing using index cards and an outlining tool. If you’d rather do this elsewhere, consider Dynalist. It’s free to use. Basically, you can create and bullet point ideas quickly and easily. Then, you can nest these under each other or move them around. It’s surprisingly fun to use, for outlining the key points in a long article or book chapter.

Read our Dynalist review

  • Allows you to connect thoughts into a cohesive format.
  • Great offline functionality for working in places without internet.
  • Syncs across multiple platforms.
  • The mindmap view is not editable and can be hard to navigate.
  • The mobile app lacks many features available in the desktop versions.
  • There is no option to change date formatting.

8. Final Draft

Pricing: $249.99

Final Draft is for serious screenwriters only.
It’s an industry-standard writing app for those in the film industry

Use for: Final Draft is the filmmaking industry’s go-to app for screenwriting.

Scrivener enables screenwriters to work on scripts directly. However, many professional screenwriters default to Final Draft. It’s an industry standard writing app for those in the film industry.

Read our Final Draft review

  • Offers great collaboration features.
  • Tailormade for screenwriting.
  • Offers industry-standard templates so everything looks the way it should.
  • The high price take makes it cost-prohibitive for those who are just getting started.
  • It only autosaves every three minutes.
  • Novelists and other long-form writers may find its features insufficient for their needs.

9. LivingWriter

Pricing: $9.99/mo or $96/yr

LivingWriter auto suggest
Bank-level encryption secures your privacy

Use for: Writing novels

LivingWriter is a newer alternative to Scrivener. It contains a number of templates for telling stories, including the Three Act Structure and the Heroe’s Journey. It also enables arranging chapters and longer drafts much like Scrivener, without a lot of the distraction customization options.

Read our Living Writer review

  • Offers built-in cloud syncing.
  • Bank-level encryption secures your privacy.
  • Frequently updated with new features.
  • Automatically saves at least every 10 minutes.
  • The laser focus on novel-writing means that it may be inadequate for other types of writing.
  • Cloud-based construction means that you need to be online to use it.
  • While files can be exported to different file types, you may experience formatting errors.

10. OpenOffice

Pricing: Free

Scrivener Alternative: OpenOffice
Many free templates available for scriptwriting and outlining

Use for: OpenOffice is an open-source word processor used by all kinds of writers.

OpenOffice is a good choice if you want to use a basic word processor but dislike Word and Google Docs. It’s rock solid and can accomplish almost everything that MS Office achieves. That said, it lacks some organizational features present in Scrivener. 

  • This software is free and open-source.
  • Many free templates available for purposes that include scriptwriting and outlining.
  • Easy and intuitive interface.
  • Many advanced features available.
  • Formatting can be lost when importing from other text editors.
  • The native file type, .odf, is not supported by other word processing programs; however, you can export to docx.
  • The open-source nature means that malicious users could introduce bugs or security concerns into plug-ins and add-ons.
  • Many features, such as grammar-checking, are only available through add-ons.

11. Zoho Writer

Pricing: Free

Zoho Notes - Note-Taking App for Writers
Exports to WordPress, which is handy for bloggers

Use for: good for bloggers, fiction writers, and others. 

Zoho Writer is another decent choice if you want to write a longer work outside of Word, Google Docs or Scrivener. However, it lacks some organizational features present in Scrivener. 

  • Provides real-time collaboration for working with writing partners.
  • Exports to WordPress, which is handy for bloggers.
  • Offers both Dark Mode and Focus Mode to make looking at the screen easier on the eyes.
  • Cloud-based, so your work comes with you.
  • Some users have noticed lagging or crashing when moving from one page to another in a document.
  • Sot fully compatible with MS Word.
  • Slim interface has the drawback of a lack of robust features.
  • Small storage capacity.

12. Bibisco

Pricing: Community Edition is free; Pay what you want for Supporters Edition

Contains some organizational features similar to Scrivener

Use for: Novel writing and plotting.

Bibisico bills itself as user-friendly novel writing software. It contains some organizational features similar to Scrivener. You can structure the architecture of your novel for example. However, it has a learning curve compared to some choices here

  • Even the free version is rich with features.
  • Keep track of ideas with virtual index cards.
  • Features like word count goals are available in the Supporters Edition.
  • This software has a steep learning curve for new users.
  • No menu for navigation.
  • Fewer formatting options in exported documents.

Selection Criteria

I wanted to create a list that would offer options at a range of price points and ability levels. This way, people who wanted simpler, entry-level apps would be able to find what they want, while providing more robust options for seasoned users. 

Additionally, the application had to be currently available and supported, which put idle options like Writer or Die out of the running.

Why You Can Trust Me

I’m a freelance writer who sold her first article back when you wrote on a typewriter and submitted by postal mail. I’ve tried every tool and kept only the ones that work. While every writer is different, this is what I discovered works for me, as well as what doesn’t.

The Final Word on Scrivener Alternatives

If you are finding that Scrivener is not a good fit for you, you are not stuck using it. There are many alternatives available at a wide range of price points. Some have features similar to Scrivener’s, others have a completely different set of features and functions.

Many of the premium Scrivener alternatives explored here have free trial options. Check out several different text editors to see which one is the right fit for you.

FAQ About Scrivener Alternatives

Is there a free alternative to Scrivener?

There are many free Scrivener alternatives online. Google Docs is a good choice as its widely available and contains some basic organizational features for longer documents. 

What is the best alternative to Scrivener?

The best alternative depends on your needs and what you want to do with the software. Someone writing a screenplay may be happier with Final Cut, while a novelist might prefer a tool like Dynalist, which has visual organization features similar to Scrivener’s corkboard.

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