We understand that the writing process is different for everyone. We love Scrivener because we built it to work the way we do, but if you’ve tried Scrivener and found that it isn’t the best fit for you, then we hope you’ll find something useful from this list.
macOS | Windows | iOS
Oh wait, that’s our software! You probably already know about Scrivener if you’re reading this, but if you came to this page from an internet search or another site and haven’t tried Scrivener yet, be sure to take the free trial for a spin. Scrivener contains everything you need to craft your first draft and is used by writers of all stripes—novelists, screenwriters, biographers, journalists, students and more. Be sure to check out Scapple, too, which lets you write notes anywhere and make connections between them.
SmartEdit Writer is a free program for editing and organising your writings in a tabbed interface. Providing integrated word processing and outlining, it is perhaps the app closest to Scrivener on this list. The “Snapshots” feature of its predecessor, PageFour, was one of the inspirations for Scrivener’s own Snapshots feature (and yes, we shamelessly borrowed the feature name). Definitely worth checking out.
macOS | Windows | Web
Dabble is a new (at the time of writing) and attractive novel-writing app that, like Scrivener, allows you to work on your manuscript in smaller sections or as a whole. It’s simple to use and has some nifty and innovative planning features. Dabble is available on a subscription basis.
The developers of Liquid Story Binder had a similar idea to the one that inspired Scrivener: allow writers to store and view their research in the same application as they do their writing. It lets you view pictures and multiple files, and features a decent labelling system along with various other tools aimed at the creative writer. Sadly it has not been updated for several years, but since it represents a unique approach to writing software, we figure it is still worthy of a link.
Unlike most of the other apps listed here, NewNovelist is based on following a rigid story structure—Chris Vogler’s twelve-step interpretion of Joseph Campbell’s work on the “hero’s journey”. We list it here mainly because it was one of the initial sparks of inspiration for Scrivener—upon trying it, Keith, Scrivener’s creator, realised that he wanted something with a similar structured sidebar, but which made no assumptions about the structure itself.
macOS | iOS
Ulysses was one of the first programs on the Mac aimed specifically at creative writers, and was also among the first to offer full-screen writing. It’s a beautiful piece of software based on a strong design philosophy of simplicity and plain text editing using markup. Ulysses is available on a monthly subscription basis.
Windows | macOS
WriteItNow was one of the earliest apps aimed specifically at novel writers, being built around a chapter-and-scene structure. It provides hierarchical organisation of your work and some powerful research tools.
WriteWay Pro is a designed to be a professional writer's tool, and was among the first apps dedicated to novel writing. It restricts you to using Acts, Chapters and Scenes, but other than that it is fairly freeform, with a "scratch pad" for storing ideas or scenes you don't know what to do with. It has decent word processing capabilities, although it is fairly rigid in its approach to structure. WriteWay Pro is available for free these days, and is no longer being actively developed. We wish the developer a happy retirement.
yWriter is a free application which helps writers organise their work into chapters and scenes. A freeform tool that doesn’t impose plot ideas, yWriter focuses on helping the author keep track of characters, locations, point-of-view, notes—and more—all in one application.