Scrivener: A Comprehensive Writing Tool
Scrivener is probably the most popular all-around writing software you can find right now. Whereas Final Draft is specifically for scriptwriting, Scrivener is widely used by novelists, academics, and nonfiction writers. Let’s look at some of the most useful ways you can use Scrivener.
Start With a Template
Scrivener lets you choose from a variety of templates that are suitable for any project. The templates go far beyond simple categories such as fiction and nonfiction. If you’re writing a novel, for example, you can choose among many templates such as:
- 30 Chapter Novel
- 4 Part Novel
- World Building Leviathan
- Save the Cat
- Romance Template
- Murder Mystery Template
These are only a few examples. There are also templates for short stories, comics, blogs, white papers, case studies, and much more. You even have the capability to create your own template and edit existing ones.
Organize Your Writing With the Corkboard
The Corkboard is the online version of traditional storyboards, letting you create and edit virtual index cards to keep your material organized. You can do this for novel chapters, scenes, characters, or any other content you want to keep track of. The Corkboard makes it easy to rearrange elements, such as changing the order of chapters.
The Outliner, like the Corkboard, is a way to simplify organizing your work. You can get an overview of chapters, sections, or your entire manuscript. Rearrange your draft by creating folders and subfolders. Make changes easily with drag and drop edits.
Import From Multiple Applications
You can import files from many programs and formats, including MS Word, PDF, web pages, audio files, and more. This is convenient if you have projects in other formats that you want to finish in Scrivener.
The Full-Screen feature blocks out everything except your document. For example, If you have windows for email or social media sites open, you won’t see them in this mode. Many writers find this to be highly powerful in overcoming distractions.
Easy to Print, Export, and Publish Documents
Format your document for any type of publishing guidelines or self-publishing. Print or export in multiple formats, including Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, PDF, and Epub.
There are several versions of Scrivener for different operating systems.
Windows: $49. Requires Windows 8+.
Mac OS: $49. Requires Mac OS 10.12+.
iOS: $19.99. Requires iOS 9.0+.
Bundle: Windows + MacOS: $80.
These plans are perpetual licenses for the current version of Scrivener and updates to that version. When a major new update is released (typically once in 5-10 years), you’ll need to upgrade (for a discounted fee) to get the latest version. See all the current Scrivener discount codes.
Final Draft: The Leading Software For Scriptwriting
While Scrivener has templates for scripts, it’s used mainly by fiction and nonfiction writers. On the other hand, Final Draft is made specifically for scripts, screenplays in particular. Since Final Draft is, by far, the most widely used screenwriting software, it’s a good choice if you want to easily create scripts that are perfectly formatted for the film industry.
Final Draft is specifically for scriptwriting but not exclusively for screenplays. While Scrivener has lots of templates for all kinds of writing, Final Draft has many script-related templates, including:
- Stage plays
- Graphic novels
The formatting is different for each of these, so it’s convenient to be able to set up your template and write your script without worrying about the format.
The Beat Board is Final Draft’s answer to Scrivener’s Corkboard. “Beats” can be any information about your scripts, such as characters, scenes, plot points, or locations. Having a visual representation of your work that you can easily edit helps you stay on course.
Outlining is very useful for maintaining the structure of your story. Screenplays (and other scripts) are usually more compact than novels. The average screenplay is 90-120 pages, compared to 200-400 pages for most novels, making it essential that every page and scene is in the perfect place. The Outline Editor works seamlessly with the Beat Board to help you organize your script at every stage. Transfer elements (“beats) from the Beat Board to the Outline Editor. Outline Elements can then be transferred to your Script.
As you’re writing your script, you may get ideas you want to jot down. For example, you might want to consider alternative dialogue or setting the scene in a different location. Or add a new scene that’s a follow-up of the current one. Scriptnotes lets you add notes that are flagged on the page to reference later easily.
Most scripts require some revisions, and it helps to have tools to simplify this phase. Final Draft Revision Mode lets you add, remove or edit scene numbers, lock pages to preserve page numbering during revisions, export your revised script to PDF, and set distinct colors for revisions for clarity. You can also add watermarks to protect your script.
Pricing for Final Draft
Final Draft for Windows or Mac is $249.99, a one-time fee. As of this writing, they are offering a 20% discount at $199.99. Upgrades from earlier versions are $79.99. See all the current Final Draft discounts.
Scrivener vs. Final Draft: Pros and Cons
Here’s a summary of the main pros and cons for Scrivener and Final Draft.
- Lets you keep all of your information in one place that’s easily accessible.
- Corkboard and Outliner simplify editing and restructuring.
- Reasonable one-time pricing.
- Good for writing in any genre or format.
- Steep learning curve with many features to learn. (Learn Scrivener fast with this course).
- Not as portable as some apps. The Windows and Mac apps are separate (if you use both, you’ll need to buy two licenses). There’s an iOS app, but, as of this writing, not one for Android.
Final Draft Pros
- Most widely used screenwriting tool, making it ideal for sending your scripts to industry professionals.
- The voice-to-text feature is very convenient for people who prefer speaking to writing.
- Easy to learn and use.
Final Draft Cons
- More expensive than many other programs, including Scrivener.
- Not designed for writing projects other than scripts.
Scrivener or Final Draft: Which is Best?
Scrivener and Final Draft are two of the most popular and robust writing tools you can find. Which program is a better tool for writers? It all depends on your needs. If you’re mainly a scriptwriter, Final Draft provides the greatest number of options for scripts. Novelists and nonfiction writers will have more use for Scrivener.
You May Want Both
Some writers who work in multiple formats use both Scrivener and Final Draft. If you use Scrivener, you can import files from Final Draft (as well as other apps such as MS Word). You might want to do this if you want to create a story as both a novel and a screenplay. If you write in a variety of formats and want access to as many features as possible, it may be worth investing in these two premium writing programs. The good part is that they both offer perpetual licenses for a one-time payment.