Using Scrivener 3

Review: Is Scrivener 3 a Worthwhile Writing App for Authors?

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

There are plenty of writing apps you can use for your book. Is Scrivener 3 something you’d be interested in using for the long term? Today, I’ll show you some of the pros and cons I’ve come across while using Scrivener.

Generally speaking, though, it’s not all that bad of an app. In fact, I find that it far outweighs things like Microsoft Word or LibreOffice.

Then again, I only look for writing apps that are specifically tailored for authors. And Scrivener 3 has most of the features I look for in a decent program.

Grammarly Grammar Checker

What is the Scrivener 3 Writing App?

Scrivener 3 is a writing app that was built to assist authors and writers of all kinds. Loaded with elements for books, screenplays, and more, it has an almost unmatched flexibility for writing.

This particular platform is not an online-only tool. Unlike a lot of other writing apps, Scrivener is an actual program that runs on your computer or on iOS devices.

That means you have access to your manuscripts even if you’ve lost your Internet connection.

With an affordable price, a unique 30-day free trial period, and an abundance of functions, Scrivener 3 is easily a favorite among all kinds of writers and authors.

What Can You Expect from Scrivener

Scrivener is available for Windows, macOS, and iOS. In this review, I’m using the Windows version. However, I am sure the features and abilities I highlight here are also available on the other platforms.

Let’s take a look at some of the features that stand out most to me.

30-Day Free Trial is 30 Days of Use

Perhaps the first thing I want to point out is how the free trial works for Scrivener. You have a 30-day free trial to explore all of what the software can do. However, it’s not like other 30-day trials.

Scrivener’s 30-day free trial only counts the days you actually use the software. It’s not a time-based countdown according to date.

Case in point, I had Scrivener 3 installed for over a year and I still have 23 days left in my trial period.

This means, theoretically, you could open the app for one day per year and have 30 years before the trial ended. Not that you would want to do that, but it’s nice to know that you’re not rushed to test out the software.

Decently Priced, Overall

Aside from having a brilliant free-trial period, Scrivener 3 is priced at a one-time fee of $59.99. There are no subscription plans to worry about and you’re able to get software updates with no hidden costs.

And if you bought Scrivener 1 after November 20th, 2017, you can upgrade to this version for free. Otherwise, you can get a 45% discount on the newer version.

This is one of few writing apps that don’t try to bleed authors dry with monthly payments.

Since the trial period works the way that it does, you can get a full feel of how to use Scrivener before you decide to buy the license.

Changing Themes While You Write

Scrivener comes with the ability to change its overall theme. You can do this for aesthetic purposes or to enable a kind of dark mode if you prefer.

I’m using the Grey Matter Dark theme because it is easier on my eyes as I often write in a darker room.

Change Themes in Scrivener

You also have the option to import themes into the software or load them from a separate file.

Now, I’m curious to see if I can find a dark purple layout.

Lots of Templates for Different Projects

Scrivener comes with a lot of different templates you can use. It’ll also give you a screen of how to use the template and the different elements that you can add.

This instructional page covers everything from adding characters to exporting the manuscript in various page sizes.

If you’re interested in using Scrivener for the long haul, definitely read the tutorials for each template type. It can save you a lot of headaches later on.

Part of that is because the writing app leans more toward the advanced side. It’s not nearly as simple as some of the others I’ve tried in the past.

Nonetheless, the features available make spending time learning the software worthwhile.

Researching Words or Phrases Online

A handy addition to Scrivener is the ability to research words and phrases online. By highlighting the text, right-clicking, and selecting “Writing Tools,” you can look up definitions and more.

Research Words in Scrivener

The program will even use your term to dig through Wikipedia and Google.

For those of us who often look up definitions and synonyms, this is quite useful. However, it’ll open a new browser tab with each search. And for someone like me, this means opening a lot of browser tabs.

Creating Characters, Places, and Notes

One feature I tend to look for in the best writing apps is being able to track characters, places, and things. I love a good integrated notebook to keep all of my thoughts together.

Let’s face it, I’m getting old and forget a lot of what’s going on in the story. Especially writing stories that take more than a year to finish.

Scrivener 3 saves all of this information for you so it’s easy to access at any time. Plus, if you run the editor in a split view, you can have your characters, places, and notes open on one side of the screen and your manuscript on the other.

The program makes it very easy to go back and forth as you write.

Doesn’t Copy from Docs Easily

Trying to copy and paste from something like Google Docs to Scrivener is a bit of an adventure. The formatting you have saved in that other app doesn’t copy over very well.

In my case, most of the story turned into a hyperlink. This is easy to fix as you just right-click the text and click, “Remove Link.”

Still, it was a bit odd considering there are no links in the original Google Docs.

Copying and pasting from Scriver 3 back to Google Docs doesn’t work perfectly, either. Google will often add an extra indent to every paragraph and conversation throughout the story, which you then have to go back and remove.

Creating Goals and Monitoring Progress

I’m a fan of being able to track writing goals every day. It’s another one of the things I look for in various writing apps. And Scrivener provides a basic breakdown of your goals and progress.

Writing Goals in Scrivener

In the Project tab, you have three metrics you can use: Project Targets, Statistics, and Writing History. And while these can be helpful if you set writing goals, it’s not something that shows in the editor on its own.

Meaning, you need to open one of the windows and leave it open as you write. It would have been better if Scrivener had the option to make it part of the editor’s view panel.

In any case, there is the option in Scrivener to view the manuscript and session targets for daily writing.

Research Section for Your Book

Another feature that I find useful in Scrivener is the “Research” section for the manuscript. Mostly because I like being able to isolate specific elements without having to create a ton of bookmarks in Chrome.

It’s easy to add pages, links, images, and more and store them within the Scrivener file for the manuscript without creating additional clutter in your browser.

Not to mention saving desktop space on your computer from having to create new folders and files for your research.

You can add text, folders, webpages, and more for virtually any purpose you need throughout Scrivener. You can keep all of the research elements located in one place specifically for that particular storyline.

Opens Multiple Windows

Scrivener will open the last file you were working on when you closed the program. When you launch it and open a new file, Scrivener will create an additional window.

This is probably not a big deal for most. But if you work on a lot of different stories throughout the day, it can quickly clutter up the desktop.

It’s nothing to just shut down the old windows as you don’t use them. I just thought I’d point it out.

Export and Compile Various File Types

Scrivener supports a wide range of file types when exporting as well as the most popular when compiling. This means you can easily save the doc for editing, sharing, or publishing depending on your needs.

For example, it’s only a few clicks of the mouse to save the manuscript from Scrivener as an RTF that your editor can use for changes. Once you’re done, you can compile the story as a .mobi or .ePub for online distribution.

I’d have to say that Scrivener has more file-type options available than a lot of other writing apps. This makes the program very flexible regardless of your publishing needs.


  • 30-Day free trial means 30 days
  • Loaded with functions and features
  • Brilliant note, research, and development scheme
  • Large support structure of users and fans
  • Templates galore for a variety of purposes
  • Single lifetime purchase, and not a subscription
  • Supports a vast array of file types when sharing


  • No built-in ability to collaborate
  • A bit difficult to manage in the beginning
  • Back matter not a default template but easy to add
  • Not available on Android

Would I Suggest Buying Scrivener?

There are quite a few reasons why I would add Scrivener to my list of apps to buy. Not only is it one of the most affordable, but it is rich with everything an author could want or need.

Anything else that might be missing can be easily created. For example, it would take very little effort to add an Epilogue back matter property to your manuscript.

As I am a big fan of setting goals and keeping track of my progress, I do appreciate the “Project” section. Though, it would be nice if these elements could be something added to the layout of Scrivener itself.

Still, it doesn’t take much to open the project windows and leave them open off to the side as you write.

The software itself does take a bit to get used to using. It’s not like the others out there that have glaringly obvious controls. On the other hand, it does have a lot more to it than many of the other writing apps available.

The only other aspect that may give me cause to pause is the inability to collaborate online. This means I’ll either have to save the file as an RTF or copy and paste the text into Google Docs if I want my personal editor to go through the story.

For most of you, though, this probably isn’t all that big of a deal breaker.

Overall, I’d say that Scrivener 3 is a well-built, powerful platform if you’re interested in taking a writing career as far as you can. Thanks to its templates and tutorial pages, you can get writing nearly anything you want today.

Scrivener 3

Scrivener has a lot of potential for helping all kinds of authors and creators. From non-fiction novels to screenwriting plays, it has all the tools you’ll need.

What Writing Apps Are Your Favorites?

There are a lot of different writing apps out there. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure which one is my favorite, especially after spending so much time working with Scrivener.

In the end, it all comes down to what app or software works best for you and your needs. At least you can try most of them for free to see which one is better suited for your abilities.

Never be afraid to try something new. You never know what you’ll come across that is better for your style of writing.

Michael Brockbank
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