Fall in love with writing all over again. $69.99 | LITERATUREANDLATTE.COM
Scrivener is an app for writers who need to write big things — say, dissertations or novels. It’s not just a manuscript editor, although it’s a good one. It’s not just a publishing tool, although it’s good at that, too. And it’s not just a place to store your research, although it’s damn good at that, as well. It’s a writing companion that’s with you from the first spark of an idea to the final edit.
We’d used Scrivener 2 to publish a novel, so decided to give Scrivener 3 something even more meaty: 107,422 words of non-fiction across 50 chapters, hundreds of footnotes and gigabytes of background, and a brand-new project that meant collating research and testing different structures.
The revamped, simplified interface is superb, and superbly customisable. There are many stats and targets and custom metadata you can mess around with when you’re supposed to be working, too. For example, you can see how much you write each day, or create checkboxes to indicate whether you’ve sent a piece to the publisher.
The templates are really great, and they are customisable, as well. The Compile dialog for exporting and publishing, previously rather awful, is now streamlined, sensible and speedy. The improved Kindle support and ePub 3 compatibility are great for self-publishers.
The new Bookmarks feature makes it easy to access frequently used documents, and a Dialogue Focus mode can highlight all the direct speech in a block of text. Scrivener can also do Markdown, loves Dropbox, and syncs with its separate, equally great iOS app. Like to organise ideas using a virtual corkboard or an outliner? Both are available.
Managing annoying things such as footnotes and citations is near effortless, as is removing unnecessary spaces and tabs, and other important but usually tedious tasks. There’s also great Touch Bar support if you’re that rare breed — a writer who can afford a new MacBook Pro. Scrivener 3 is also incredibly quick and stores your text as text, meaning you’re not stuck with a proprietary format.
We wouldn’t use Scrivener for quick-and‑dirty writing gigs, such as blog posts or opinion pieces — our go-to remains Ulysses for that — but for anything more ambitious, especially involving managing characters or background research, all kinds of documents, and the kind of 3am ideas that have you reaching for a notepad in the small hours, Scrivener is an absolute joy. Writers: if you buy this app, your life will be better.