When I started writing in a serious fashion, even before getting laid off and spending a year writing full time, I had downloaded and installed Scrivener as a writing tool. At that time most of my paid writing opportunities were still technical articles, all of which were requested to be delivered in Word format, so while I fiddled around a bit with Scrivener, I had not really explored or understood why so many writers seemed to be in love with it. After writing my second novel in Scrivener, I now see why.
I recently got a pretty nice technical writing opportunity, which has cut into my Warlord writing for the past three or four days, so that has meant that I’ve been mostly using Word instead of Scrivener, after months of using Scrivener almost entirely.
Which is “better?”
Word has a lot more features. Scrivener’s smaller feature set is more specifically designed for fiction writing. Both have things that I love, and both have things that irritate me.
What I tend to find though, is that what irritates me in Word isn’t really the same thing as what irritates me in Scrivener. Mostly what bothers me in Scrivener is a missing feature or a poorly implemented one. For example, it can be something of a pain in Scrivener to get word counts of multiple document sections.
But with Word what tends to get on my nerves is when the programmers seem to think they know better than I do, what a feature should do. Selecting text, for example. Sometimes I want to select a few words, and NOT include a trailing space. To do that I have to DEselect that final space because the programmers have decided that when you’re selecting multiple words, you REALLY want that final space included. Well, maybe other authors do, but I find that I almost never do. There’s probably a dozen similar things I encounter where I have to tell Word, “No! I DON’T want to do it that way! Why do you think I would?”
Since I tend to be more irritated by functions that COULD work the way I want, but don’t because the design team thinks they know what I need more than I do, than by functions that are limited or missing, right now I find it much more comfortable to work in Scrivener than in Word. But I still have to use Word for small technical articles that it just doesn’t make sense to write in Scrivener, and then convert to Word for acceptance.
For a new writer, or anyone who is trying to choose between the two, I would suggest Scrivener unless you need Word’s specific features, or write short articles that have to be delivered in Word format.