Software Death Match: YWriter vs Scrivener

The first writing software I ever used was Simon Haynes’ Ywriter. By then, I’d finished a novel in Microsoft Word–one huge, unending  scroll of a document–and I was mired in revising. I knew I needed something different. YWriter is what I found. It’s free, and the guy who programmed it is a writer, himself, so he’s not just guessing about what features a writer needs. It’s easy to use, and streamlined, and I’ve used it ever since. It also happens to be free (with a tip-jar type option.)

I’ve always been happy with the software, and I should make that clear up front. I’m a huge fan of YWriter. It would probably take a force of nature to make me switch permanently.

However, I’m going to give Scrivener a shot.

Well, half a shot. I’m going to copy everything I do there into YWriter. So, I can quit any time I want.

The Scrivener program is something I’ve heard a lot about, and a lot of people are fanatical about it. There’s also a NaNoWriMo free-trial, so now’s a good time.

The big reason why I didn’t choose Scrivener in the first place is that back in the day, when I was making that decision, it only ran on Macs. So, there you go. Decision made for me. I played around with the Linux beta for a while. It was pretty bare-bones at the time, and I never got as far as finishing a project in it.

There’s a learning curve. And in my opinion, that just isn’t there with YWriter. YWriter is probably a little less flexible… just a limited number of folders you can nest things in… but if you’re familiar with novels and computers, you’re pretty much good to go as soon as it’s installed.

I’m giving Scrivener another shot this November. I won’t actually be writing my novel into it directly, but I will type it in and see how the organization structure works for me. (Since I already have software I know and like, I’ll also be copying the novel into the brand-new version of YWriter (Version 6! Where does the time go?)

And since I think a lot of the rave reviews come from people who are comparing it to Microsoft Word, or other office software, I’ll post my thoughts so you can have an apples to apples comparison from someone who’s actually used other dedicated novel-writing software.

Shout if there’s anything in particular you would like to know.


  1. Reply

    I love Scrivener. I tried yWriter I like it but it does not do as much as Scrivener but does a lot so a good alternative.

    I bought Ninja Learn Scrivener Fast and that made an amazing difference in my use as I learn lot of things I would never have explored with it.

    If you need help or have a question if I don’t know I can go look it up.

    I still use Word some which was my main so I use both the ways I am used to using. Having everything in one place is a huge deal, instead of dozens of Word docs that I tend to lose and have to use Find feature to locate.

    Scrivener has a backup file of all auto. If you go Tools and then Options in Windows version you can check your setting with that. That is a nice feature it autosaves up to a certain amount to a certain # then starts saving over top of them.

    Joseph Michael the Learn Scrivener Fast coach said in a webinar that they are coming out with NEW version that will make all bells and whistles the SAME in MAC & Windows soon. I am excited about that because MAC has some cool things we cannot do in Windows version but both have tons of cool features. I have not found anything more out about this so don’t know when.

    I love Scrivener now I am used to it and rave about it like everyone else but that was not always the case as I preferred Word which I still use.

    • Reply

      Be sure you let me know what your favorite bells and whistles are so I can give them a test drive while I still have the program.

      • Reply

        Insert image. Drag-drop image into synopsis or into the notes-notes can be disengaged so image floats within the document.

        No distraction mode with my pic of the background picture.

        background picture in the corkboard area instead of corkboard

        import scapple board and Aeon timeline into the project

        import whole webpages into my research area and never have to leave Scrivener when working to check research stuff found on web can also drop images the same way

        the fact I can move my outline in the tree and rearrange them in the binder

        Those are some off the top of my head there is more you can also import into Evernote export to Evernote and use two programs together

        I may think of more.

        • Reply

          The color code system as mention is fun. Create profiles. You can auto import your Word docs Oh Oh just learned this. Import Word but tell it to separate portions with titles like by chapter to chapter with one action.

          • OH almost forgot my favorite thing. Dual windows inside Scrivener two chapter side by side. Or image and writing side by side or profile and doc writing side by side. Horizontal or vertical choices.

            You can take snapshots of our work before changed, and then change and compare the old to the new. Scrivener makes auto backups if you have that checked in options up to a certain number.

  2. Reply

    I use Scrivener for plotting, and I love it. By far, my favorite bell/whistle is the corkboard/index card feature. I create scene cards, each with a quick “hit point” I want to cover. I color code cards by POV, so I can see whether someone’s getting too much “screen time.” They can also display photos, and I love creating a character folder so I can see them all side by side.

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