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Scrivener v: Storyist v: OneNote v: Notebooks.

Currently the prices and links are correct as of the 30th March 2015.

This is what I want to do:-

Edit my files, from any electronic platform I currently have to hand.
I have a PC at home, as well as a Mac for heavyweight work.
… On the road, and for the light stuff I use my iPhone and iPad.

[ Please note that all hyper-links on my pages will open a new window. ]

Begin Outline: My demands are simple: – (really?) – I want to work on my files: wherever and whenever I want, and I want to do it on whatever device I have to hand at the time.

Condition: The programs have to work using the Microsoft and Apple platforms, and to make it easier: I’m going to use [ Drop-box ] to test them all.
… But [ Google drive ] could be used as well.

(Side issue:) I am not sure about [ One-Drive ]  from Microsoft. From my preliminary investigations, it seems to be tied into the Windows live accounts, which makers file sharing a royal pain: not good.

Below is a list of the outlining programs I’ve tested so far, and testing them got sooooo’ damned complex: real fast.

Reviewers Note: I will start with scrivener, as I’ve been using that program for years.
(BTW: that doesn’t mean I’m an expert on it.)
It just means: I know how to use the bits I want in the program.

If it was a straight comparison between all of them, then scrivener would win hands down for features and stability.

(Even the windows version that’s a bit buggy.)

As an outliner: it is still better than the competition, but it’s not a straight forward comparison I’m conducting here. Because the files the programs create: must be editable on other platforms.

(And scrivener loses very badly on this one aspect.)

It has no true iOS app, that can successfully open the scrivener directory and file structure, and if you are waiting on the one from Literature and Latte – Then you might have a very long wait indeed.


1.) [ Scrivener. ]

Cost = $45:00 Mac version, and $40:00 for a PC license.
(You need to buy both if you you have different platforms.)

Outlining is a breeze, you can move throughout your document with ease, it simply does what it says on the tin: (On your primary machine.)

First screw up. The mac structure is not compatible with the PC version, meaning, you can’t share it in a collaborative scheme with yourself.

The second screw up comes when you try to edit your stuff on the move, then it gets really difficult.

[ Index Cards ] costing £3.99 attempts it, but it’s a cork board fudge, and hasn’t been updated for several years.

OK – so lets break the above statement down.

Scrivener: keeps all its files in your project directory, (not bloody folder), and that Project directory contains other directories: called [chapter one], [two] etc: or what ever you called the chapters in your book. Inside these directories, are numbered RTF (rich text format) files that link together to make up your book.

Point your Scrivener Project at your Drop-box (folder) yuk! – And we can see them laid out clearly. To edit your scrivener based book on the road, we have to physically go in, and then re-edit the individual files.
– What a mess!
Scrivener as it stands, is not suitable for working outside an office, or even the bedroom environment.

I’ve just implied a rude thing above. I said: [‘laid out’], [‘physically go in’], and [‘bedroom’]: and combined them all in one paragraph.
– How’s your writing skills shaping up?
(Another rude thing.)

In use: 8/10.
Road Work: 1/10.

–==( Next )==–

2.) [ Storyist. ]

Cost = $59:00 – That’s for the Mac and PC versions. One purchase price: will give you the same license for both platforms.

You also get to run the iPad and iPhone version for free as well.
– It’s all included.

(Looks good don’t it, but it’s got a major structural problem.)

Unlike Scrivener, that uses directories and small files scattered all over the place: Storyist keeps them in one huge file. Meaning, when you open your story, you aren’t actually breaking it down into smaller and smaller chunks. The internal editor is: which means that the program opens up more and more on screen windows, giving the illusion of breaking the story down.

So you ask, what has that to do with me?
– I’ll tell you.
Every editor, no matter whether its build into Windows, (or the Mac) defaults to the top line of your document. In Scrivener, when you jump from one chapter to another, and back again.
– Your cursor is also back where you left it.

(In Storyist: this isn’t the case.)

Every time you leave a chapter, and travel around your outline – The cursor defaults to the top line of every open window. It make editing with this program almost impossible, and you soon lose you mental flow; as you again try and find your way back to the last point you were working on.

Do this a dozen or so times, and you’ll soon come to realise why this program is so flawed, but it’s fine if all you do: is type your story out cleanly.
– I don’t work like that.
And I suspect, neither do you.

In use: 2/10.
Road Work 9/10.

–==( Next )==–

3.) Microsoft [ OneNote. ]

Cost = Free – (Yup’ – Nothing!) – That’s for the PC and Mac versions, and there are apps out there to manipulate the OneNote files for the iPhone and iPad as well.
– All Free!

This is my review on iTunes:-

Well what can I say!
Available on the Mac, and a PC; and an iPad, and it even installed itself on my iPhone automatically.
The tab option means you can switch from idea to idea, without opening and closing documents.
– The insert a table option is rather cool as well.
The feature (on the PC), of cutting straight to your notes database is well thought out and very clever. If like me, you do research on the fly; then it’s invaluable.

For fun: I write stories, therefore: I am a writer, but I am not an author, and I love doing it alone in the quiet of the night. Any writer will know: that you can never leave your characters alone for a second, because they get up to mischief behind your back.

When the inspiration comes: I finally have a better means of scribbling them down instead of using my physical note book, and then transferring my ideas into a word processor later.

Takes time, and a lot of my stuff still hasn’t been copied over from my pocket book.
– Sometimes I can’t even read my own writing, and I wrote it!

Now all my notes and ditties are are available everywhere. If you write, or if you need your notes everywhere, then this is the best of the best so far.

Evernote: (I’ve got that installed as well) and it does not even come close to the well balanced [‘Editor’] build into this program.

Can be slow on the iPad, and even slower on the iPhone.
Formatting and saving is really only done on the PC as more menu options are available.
Wishy washy colour scheme – aka windows 8; and its yuk, but you can ignore it.

The other major downside: is that Microsoft has now provided this program for free, where as before it was expensive.
In the future, (if it becomes a success); and it will.
– They may try to impose a cost again.
Long review, the bottom line: well worth installing, and works flawlessly.

– As I say that is what I put on iTunes.

In reviewing that program: Note the comments about formatting. The program on the PC is much more complex, with many more export and editing menu options.

The iPad, and iPhone versions really are bare.

Also we must keep in mind that Microsoft’s program is not book writing software. It is simply a Tabbed Editor: that enables you to write and take notes on the fly, and the TABS are rather cool.

In use on a Phone or Tablet -(It’s wobbly!)- I can’t really quantify that statement: other than say its got lag when you use it.

Transferring your ditties, (into a word processor at a later date): is easy, you have to [Copy] and [Paste] from OneNote on your main PC: to your program of choice.

– (That’s easy?)-

Yes: because exporting is a royal pain, and is not worth it.

One a note of concern, (just once): one of my TABS got deleted as I logged into my live account on another machine. It was a massive Note, and it was wiped out across all my linked devices. Once that happened I knew it was flawed. (From that annoying experience): I then found myself backing important TABS: constantly.

– All is not really well with that platform.

In use: 7/10.
Road Work: 10/10.

–==( Next )==–

4.) [ Notebooks. ]

Cost = £14:99 (Mac or Windows license only): If you have both platforms, you need two separate licenses.
– And the iPhone / iPad app costs £7.99.

Sync notebooks with a Dropbox account, and they all technically read the same directory structures.

(Its format is just like scrivener – but you are in control of it.)

What you’re actually editing in the program, is the directory structure of your book itself: and in all the versions of the cross platform apps. Meaning: if you delete a chapter, then its gone from your structure, and once its gone.


Notebooks is a very competent outliner, and the header and chapters is laid out cleanly from the start.
– But that fact isn’t made clear.

[ Independent Review from Jan 2014. ] – [ And another. ]

Video link on its use by an independent reviewer is on uTube and is [ Here ].

Bottom Line: There is a lot of confusion over its use. Most of the professional people and reviewers talk about using it for vertical applications, and are completely over to top.

Meaning I: (and you), are never going to use them.

Notebooks is worth the time in learning how to use, and getting it to work the way (you do), but I have to say – it ain’t easy.

In use: 8/10.
Road Work: 10/10.


Conclusion: Over all Notebooks is the better option for the book writer who travels, but it is quite an an expensive package to put together: especially when you consider that OneNote is technically free, and basically does the same thing, but it isn’t as expensive as Storyist. (That’s just silly.)

Scrivener, embedded inside its desktop; can’t be considered.

That alien format of OneNote and Storyist bothers me greatly, because I personally like to be in charge, and as any professional writer will tell you, backup, backup, backup.

– Mine are spread out across my cloud accounts.

That is where Notebooks excels over the others, because you actually edit your real chapters.
– Both in the office.
– And on the road.
It’s the same format, same view: and same structure you’re working on.

– And you can get into its guts any time.

Notebooks – Recommended for Neurotic Book Writers and Authors.

CIA Rules
CIA Rules

End of Review:-

[weaver_sc id=”thanks”]

One Comment

  1. A tested reply.

    Hi Jessica – read that article you said that you was going to write it, and I glad you’ve finally got it off your chest.

    You seem to be spending money on apps, that in my opinion should be a lot cheaper, and I would never consider storyist to be anything other that a honey trap.

    The author must know what he was doing when he (or she) wrote it.

    I’ll stick to scrivener for the time being, and wait for the iOs app: I know they promised it last year, but I have time..

    Rgds – Terry from the other side.

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