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Scrivener 3: A Review - Treasure Chest of Memories

Scrivener 3 a Review graphic with laptop wScrivener 3 on it

As a beta user of Scrivener 3 by Literature and Latte for the last two years, I was excited to see Literature and Latte announce its release.

Before we go into the improvements Scrivener 3 brings to Windows users (the Mac version has been out for a while), let’s step back.

What’s Scrivener?

In my 2019 post: Review: Using Scrivener for Family History and Memoir Writing, I introduced Scrivener and described its version 1 thusly:

Scrivener is a writing software that helps writers organize research, notes, and drafts, or, as Scrivener puts it, “See the forest or the trees.” It can even help with storyboarding.

Literature and Latte, the architects of Scrivener 3, claim “It’s for writing. And writing. And writing.”

I’d suggest a friendly amendment: “It’s for writing. And organizing your thoughts. And keeping your research handy.”

In their review of Scrivener 3, PC Magazine writes (rightly, in my opinion), “Scrivener is the best writing app for long-form writers because they built it with their needs in mind.”

Make no mistake. Scrivener 3 is no small writing app. Literature and Latte, the company “founded by writers for writers,” has produced a robust software. Anything that powerful is complex. I have used it for years, but it took a while before I was aware of all its features. That said, even using only 40% of its capabilities, I loved it.

What’s New in Scrivener 3

For a full explanation of Scrivener 3’s features and improvements over version 1, read Literature and Latte’s blog post, Introducing Scrivener 3 for Windows.  They highlight Scrivener 3’s improvements in the following graphic:

Scrivener 3 improvements

I’ll spotlight the changes that have stood out to me.

Redesign of Compile Feature

The more flexible and friendlier compile feature is a big deal. Writers can select which parts of their manuscripts they want to export and can choose the format. This includes epub3, an open standard digital book format.

I haven’t used the export to Kindle, but reviewers seem to agree that it’s improved. Judging from my Detroit Working Writers buddies, if there is one thing that writers and authors all seem to struggle with, it’s exporting their work into Kindle’s format.

Scrivener 3’s Writing Tools

There’s no doubt that the enhanced outlining is a big benefit. Along with it comes more color coding and labeling. This is fabulous not only for planning, but for revising.

Writers who use dialogue will appreciate Scrivener 3’s linguistic focus function. (Edit – Writing Tools). It fades out the non-dialogue text, so you can focus on your characters’ conversations.

Scrivener 3 dialogue focus

It also offers a “Tidying Up” function to convert all the double-spaces at the ends of sentences to a single space. That’s helpful to those of us who have double tapped the space bar for decades.

Writing Statistics

Scrivener 3’s writing stats is like having a year-round NaNoWriMo. You can set goals and measure your progress towards them.

Nathan Dylan Goodwin, the most productive author I know, does exactly that as he writes his best-selling genealogical crime mysteries. Nathan explains:

I set a project target, which helps me determine an approximate number of words to write per day. I do like to try to beat the target but that isn’t always possible obviously! It’s fun to share the milestones with readers. This itself is motivating—I can look back and see how long the last ten thousand words took me to write.[1]

There are also options for those of us that aren’t great at goal setting, as Scrivener’s blog article, Let Me Count The Ways, describes. You can do anything from looking at your daily writing stats to auditing the word frequency in a chapter or manuscript. You can also tell Scrivener to ignore common words like and, the, said, asked as it calculates word frequency.

What Else I love about Scrivener 3

Custom Icons

It seems like a little thing, but I love the ability to set custom icons in my binders. For example, in my novel drafts, I use icons for scenes that need work, random ideas I have about the plot, and my to dos.  I also draft and track with my speaking proposals in Scrivener. The ones that were successful get a lectern icon. The rejects get a thumbs down. The custom icons help me figure out where to place my energies with new calls.Scrivener 3 custom Icons

It’s a software, not a subscription.

I love that they have kept with the software download model instead of a cloud-based subscription.

Scrivener’s beta program

Literature and Latte made it easy to join the beta program. I only had to write and explain how much I loved Scrivener’s version 1 and how impatient I was for the update. That meant I was able to get on board two years early.

The beta forum was very responsive to bugs and issues. Though it took a long time to release Scrivener 3, they didn’t do it until they had it bug free.

What I don’t love

I still find Scrivener formatting clunky. Maybe I’m just stuck in my ways, but my preferred workflow is to compose individual scenes in MS Word and copy and paste them into the Scrivener binder. This way I can use my MS-Office add-ins such as ProWritingAid to proofread and edit.

In particular, ProWritingAid’s checks on echoes and close repeats far outshines Scrivener’s word frequency app. (If you’re not familiar with ProWritingAid, see Editing Software Comparison: Grammarly vs ProWritingAid vs Ginger vs Hemmingway.)

Should you Purchase Scrivener 3?

Yes, even if there were no free trial or 49% reduced price for Scrivener 1 users, $49 is a very reasonable price for such a useful program.

But, if you’re new to the software, certainly take advantage of the trial first. If you’re like me, a Scrivener 1 user with no idea what my license number was, they have a handy lost license recovery link:

 Your Turn

Scrivener 3 a Review graphic with laptop with Scrivener on it pinnableHave you used Scrivener 3 or version 1? How do you like it? Would you recommend it to other?


1] Via Facebook Private Message, April 15, 2021

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