I'm the creator of this site (Grammar Gang). I'm also the founder of Codeless, a long-form content creation company that's been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, The Next Web, and hundreds more.
We produce around ~100 long, in-depth articles each month. So we're relying on these tools on a daily basis. Here, I break down the good, bad, and uuuuuuggggllllyyyy.
Latest posts by Brad Smith (see all)
- “F-You, Pay Me.” How to Get Paid to Write - May 16, 2019
- The 7 Best Writing Tools to Write More, Faster, in Less Time - April 17, 2019
- Why Most Freelance Writers Shouldn’t Waste their Time with Pinterest - February 9, 2019
Scrivener is one of the best and most versatile writing apps I’ve tested to date.
Why versatile? Because even though it was made primarily for screenwriters and novelists (read all the flashy reviews they’ve on their site), it doesn’t ignore the other group of writers that mainly consist of bloggers, short story writers, essay writers, etc.
But it doesn’t mean it has no shortcomings.
The non-existent of any collaboration feature and an Android app makes you think twice before putting your money in this tool.
Moreover, the poor customer service and not having a Focus Mode is another flaw I noticed in this software.
So without wasting any time, let’s take a look at the five writing apps that can easily replace Scrivener and even provide more than the later does.
1. Final Draft
Final Draft is the aptest substitute for Scrivener and in many areas performs much better than its counterpart.
The only difference is while Scrivener is still valuable to bloggers and essay writers, Final Draft is entirely geared towards play and scriptwriters.
Let’s find what else it has in its armor.
Final Draft Pros
#1. To fasten the research and note-taking process, Final Draft has an in-built corkboard (they call it Beatboard) where users can make quick notes or do some character research in the form of beats.
#2. Final Draft makes group projects fun. You can invite your colleagues or writing partners to work together on a script. And both of you can edit the document at the same time.
#3. Scrivener is nowhere near Final Draft in terms of quantity and variety of writing templates. It boasts over 300 templates covering various projects like Screenplays, novels, movie scripts, etc.
#4. Final Draft knows its users love going back and forth between their current and older copies. That’s why it gives you the power to revert your older versions using the revision mode.
#5. You can export your manuscript as .fdx, RTF, PDF, HTML, and .sex files. However, it’s not as good as Scrivener because there’s no support for common file formats like Word, ePub, and plain text.
#6. Final Draft is at par (if not better) with Scrivener in terms of device compatibility. It works great on Mac, Windows, and iOS devices.
However, like Scrivener, there’s no Android support available at the moment.
Final Draft Cons
#1. I’ve tested the live chat support of Final Draft, and it is remarkably fast. But I can’t say the same for its email support.
It never replied to my request that I sent using their contact form.
#2. Surprisingly, Final Draft does nothing to provide a distraction-free writing environment to its users. Full-Screen mode and Final Mode is nowhere to be found within the software.
Final Draft Pricing Plans
Since Final Draft specifically targets showbiz industry, it’s one of the costliest writing software out there.
The Windows and Mac variant cost $299 and paired up with a 30-day free trial.
Whereas the iOS app costs $9.99 without a free trial.
Do I recommend Final Draft
Yes, I do recommend Final Draft.
Because it’s a tailor-made app for screenwriters and novelists that do a better job than Scrivener, but if you’re a blogger like me, you may want to prefer a free tool (like Zoho Writer or Google Doc) instead of paying ~300 bucks.
2. Zoho Writer
If Scrivener is the most versatile writing app, Zoho Writer is the best word-processor in the market. It’s a complete writing package with zero flaws – yes ZERO.
And the best part? It’s completely free.
The list of advantages is going to be long, so let’s dig in without wasting any time.
Zoho Writer Pros
#1. Zoho Writer offers a wide range of writing templates to give you a headstart in writing. Its repository boasts a variety of templates from resumes, to business letters to meeting notes and many more.
#2. While there are people making money by teaching others how to use Scrivener, Zoho Writer is a piece of cake even for the newest of writers.
Log in to your account, choose a new document, and start writing. That’s all it needs.
#3. You can save your content as different variations using the “create a version” options under “Files”.
#4. Since Zoho Writer is a small part of the large Zoho family, it supports a boatload of integrations. And one such tool is ‘Notebook’.
It allows users to jot down notes or rough ideas in a snap. And you can come back to it later and turn them into full-length projects within the tool.
#5. If not 10/10, Zoho Writer does a commendable job in the exporting section. It can export files as Word, PDF, ODT, RTF, Text, HTML, and ePub. Enough options for an average user.
#6. What makes Zoho a more fitting choice than Scrivener for bloggers and freelancers is its ability to share files and invite other users to collaborate on a project.
You can also edit the same document with your partner together in real-time.
#7. Even though it doesn’t have its own cloud repository, you can still save all your files in the cloud by adding your cloud space provider to Zoho. It supports all the prominent players like Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, and Box.
#8. There’s no device limitation. Zoho is a web-based app, so there’s no need to install an app on your computer. You can access your account through a browser on any computer whether it is Mac or Windows.
Similarly, there are dedicated apps for Android and iOS users.
#9. Do you easily get distracted by screen icons or constant notifications? Fret not.
Toggle the “Full-Screen mode” on or enter the “Focus Mode” to focus on one sentence or paragraph at a time.
#10. Finally, to make the experience plenary, Zoho has added Zia – the dedicated writing assistant. It acts as an in-house copy editor that points out grammatical and spelling errors as you type.
#1. Customer Support is the only blemish Zoho Writer has on its wall. It’s so mediocre that even after a couple of weeks I’m still waiting for their response to my request.
Zoho Writer pricing plans
In a sentence; Zoho Writer is absolutely free. Steer clear.
Do I recommend Zoho Writer?
A big YES!
Zoho Writer checks all the boxes, and except the support department, it has no deficiencies in the product itself. So, there’s no reason I’ll not recommend it.
3. Google Docs
Google Docs is the most prevalent writing tool out there that almost everyone (including myself) use for all sort of writing.
It’s easy, feature-rich, and free of cost. Above all, it stacks up well against Scrivener.
Google Docs Pros
#1. Usability is the most critical aspect that determines if the user would like the product. And Google Docs nails this section.
Open the app, choose a blank document, and start typing. Easy-peasy!
#2. Don’t want to save each version manually? No problem.
Google Docs stores all your content (along with the changes you make) in the drive automatically. And when you select “Version history”, it shows all the previous versions of your content.
#3. It’s easy to share your files with peers using the “Invite” button on the top right, and Google Docs also facilitates editing the doc simultaneously with your team.
#4. Like Zoho Writer, Google Docs is also a web-based software that doesn’t call for a desktop app. Be it Mac or Windows PC, you can log in to your account using your favorite browser. But if you want to use it on a mobile phone, you have to download the iOS or Android app from their respective app store.
But the positive side is there’s no restriction in device compatibility and the number of devices you can use the app on.
#5. The presence of “Keep” makes Google Docs a more sophisticated writing place where you can dump your unbaked ideas or research notes chop-chop.
#6. There’s an array of exporting formats available to download your files as. It includes PDF, Word (.docx), ODT, RTF, plain text, HTML, and ePub for e-readers.
#7. Though the collection of writing templates is not as broad as Zoho Writer, 41 templates are not bad either (at least, it’s way more than Scrivener).
Google Docs Cons
#1. Full-Screen mode is not so tight. It does cover the whole screen but doesn’t hide all the tabs and icons. Also, you will miss Focus Mode.
#2. Customer Support? Forget about it. It’s so shoddy that I’ll call it one of the worst out of all the 15+ writing apps I tested to date because there is no email support available at all.
You don’t expect such absurdity from a giant like Google.
Google Docs pricing plans
Google Docs is a gift from Google. So it doesn’t cost a penny to use it.
Do I recommend Google Docs?
Yes for sure. Except for Focus Mode, it gets you whatever you ask for – Versioning, check. Collaboration feature, check. Writing templates, check. Device compatibility, check.
What else do you need!
4. Script Studio
Script Studio is another writing tool in this lot that is inclined towards screenwriters.
What separates Script Studio with other screenwriting apps is the 12 scene-by-scene breakdown of the famous Hollywood movies (including Spider Man and Die Hard,) it provides to show the upcoming screenwriters where they stand against the pros.
It also helps the writers polish their scripts and see the errors they should avoid.
However, this is not the only thing that impressed me. Here’s a summary of all the benefits you get from Script Studio.
Script Studio Pros
#1. Let’s start with its USP.
If there’s one reason I would recommend users to discard the likes of Scrivener and Final Draft to choose Script Studio, it would be for its scene-by-scene tutorial.
For writers, it’s like having a cheat sheet they can turn to, every time they indulge in a new script.
#2. FeelFactor is another uncanny feature in Script Studio that enables you to analyze the pace of your story.
Basically, it shows you the level of emotion your story has using a colorful graph where different colors indicate different emotions.
#3. Script Studio throws two different solution – Story Task and Scratch Pad – at you to outline stories and take notes respectively.
Story Task is designed mainly for shaping up stories so that your story doesn’t lack any twist or punch.
On the other hand, Scratch Pad is divided into eight categories to unload research notes, script snippets, general ideas, etc.
Dividing into categories dismiss chaos, and you’ll be able to trace your notes in seconds when you need them next time.
#4. It supports an array of file formats to export content. That includes PDF, Plain Text, RTF, Final Draft, Fountain File formats, and HTML.
Surprisingly, I couldn’t find the option to export files as Work or ePub which is quite strange when you consider the format it does support.
#5. The full-screen mode is effective; as the white page spreads across the whole screen and block all the on-screen interruptions. But Focus mode is non-existent.
#6. Script Studio provides 24/7 customer support and their support team is always on their toes even on weekends. I was damn impressed by their speed and service because it hardly took them three hours to resolve my issue on a lazy Sunday.
Script Studio Cons
#1 The biggest red flag is the inability to save the content as different versions in the same file. You have to store each version as a separate project which is painfully annoying.
#2. What makes the matter worse is you can’t share your script with others unless the other party also have a Script Studio license.
And even then you’re only allowed to share files via email. You can’t invite your friends to work together on the same script.
#3. Script Studio works only with Mac and Windows machines. And that too, you can’t install the app in more than two computers at a time. Also, it has nothing to offer to phone users.
Script Studio Pricing plans
Script Studio comes with a one-off price tag that is $199.95 for both Mac and Windows variants. You also get to test the app for 30 days for free before making the purchase decision.
And for some reasons, if you think you didn’t get what you expected, you can still return the product within 30 days, and get all your money back.
Do I recommend Script Studio?
It’s a difficult call, but I would say, yes and no.
Yes, because it has some excellent facilities to groom new scriptwriters and also easy to use.
No, because it disappoints when you demand some advanced features like version control or sharing work with others. Also, the absence of mobile apps is something you can’t ignore.
Finally, last but certainly not the least we have Storyist. Storyist can show the kind of versatility that Scrivener has because even though it calls itself a word-processor, it also contains all the qualities of a screenwriting app.
But again, it’s far from perfect. There are many hits and misses which are mentioned in the following section.
#1. Storyist beats even Scrivener in terms of total number of export options. It supports almost all the formats you’ve ever heard of like PDF, Word, RTF, Plain Text, ODT, HTML, ePub, Final Draft, Fountain files, and also as Scrivener file.
#2. It has an inbred corkboard where you can use color-coded index cards to take notes, store your research, cast your plays, etc.
Similarly, for outlining stories, characters, or plots, use Storysheets.
#3. It is not a significant strength of Storyist, but still noteworthy that there are some pre-designed writing templates for your disposal (though the quantity is low). And if you’re not happy with the pre-existing ones, you can create your own manually.
#4. Using Apple’s version technology, Storyist automatically saves the previous version of your content so that you can get back to them for future reference.
#5. Storyist has an extremely agile support team that is lightning fast in serving the users. I got a reply within three hours sending my query.
And the answer was quite in-depth.
#1. Not having Focus Mode is understandable (as it is absent in many other prominent tools). But it’s a big bummer for Storyist for omitting Full-Screen mode, too. That’s the basic thing you can expect from a writing tool!
#2. Once again, it’s not so surprising that you can’t collaborate with another user on Storyist because it has kinda become a norm for most of the premium writing softwares not to allow the users work together.
But the irony is, free tools like Google Docs and Zoho Writers are excellent in this department.
#3. Storyist works only on Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, or Mac). It doesn’t issue a license for Windows or Android devices.
Storyist pricing plans
If you’re planning to use Storyist on your iPhone or iPad, it won’t cost you anything. But it also sets you back because many features have been restricted only to the Mac version.
So to unlock those features, get ready to pay a one-off fee of $59 to get your hands on this Mac version.
Do I recommend Storyist?
Once again my answer would be yes and no.
Go for it if you’re an Apple user and want a budget software to fulfill your scriptwriting goals. Because as you see in this post, the other alternatives like Final Draft and Script Studio can make a big hole in your pocket.
There are so many reasons to not buy this app: (a) If you’re a Windows or Android user. (b) If you’re looking for a more sophisticated screenwriting software and have the budget to spend. (c) If you often work with a team of writers.
Scrivener is undoubtedly an excellent place to tackle your writing projects. But it’s far from being a complete package.
Fortunately, it’s not the only player to put your bet on. There are so many alternatives out there. And the best thing is most of these substitutes can offer far more than even Scrivener can.
The icing on the cake is, few of them are completely gratis.
So after testing the five alternatives, I have three clear winners depending on what kind of writer you are:
If you’re a screenwriter or novelist, look no further than Final Draft. It is the BEST, period.
For those who are new in the screenwriting game can opt for Script Studio because of the movie script breakdown it offers.
And finally, if you’re short on budget and also have a Mac computer, Storyist is the best thing for you. Otherwise, I won’t recommend it over Final Draft and Script Studio.
Bloggers, freelancers, short story writers, and all the other fellows who don’t belong to the screenwriting club should go with Zoho Writer and Google Docs.
Because they’re free and equipped with all the attributes that even Scrivener and Final Draft can’t afford at the moment.
So to conclude this post, my top three picks (in random order) as alternatives to Scrivener are Final Draft, Zoho Writer, and Google Docs.