A Brief and Glowing Review of Scrivener


Writer friends, from my new-tech-phobic heart to yours: Buy Scrivener now.

Carey has recommended it to me for the past year, Sarah Pinneo and Lev Grossman and other writers I respect swear by it.

I’ve resisted because:

  • Word’s nav pane, outlining capabilities, and comment features have traditionally been quite rich and provided all the functionality I thought I needed.
  • Learning new software is almost physically painful to me.
  • I was skeptical whether it would actually work right, provide any benefits above what I could achieve with Word, or even be a safe way to manage my work.

Then I switched to Mac and realized with dismay that the latest Office for Mac does not have the same nav pane functionality as the old Word.

I posted a scathing review of Office for Mac 2011 on Amazon, and that led to the tipping point: A total stranger responded to my review with, “If the nav pane is your true love, try Scrivener.”

Well, fine then. Fine. I downloaded and checked it out.


My only regret is that I did not start my novel in Scrivener and save myself many hours of hair-pulling manual revision work, writing up timelines and outlines and synopses, and literally cutting and rearranging portions of the printed manuscript. All of this would have been so simple in Scrivener.

Even now, as far into it as I am, the benefits of switching are enormous. Labeling, keyword tagging, and synopsis cards provide an incredibly rich and functional way to organize and review the work at a glance. The “nav pane” (called the “binder” in Scrivener) is incredibly powerful, far beyond what even the old Word provided.

Importing my manuscript was a snap, though I did have to invest half an hour in subdividing the work. Following that, I spent another couple hours typing notes into the synopsis cards, labeling and keyword tagging. And now I have an incredibly powerful tool for reorganizing and reviewing my work.

I am one happy camper. <3 Macbook, <3 Scrivener.