Dabble or Scrivener? Writing Software Made Plain.

I know that many writers out there are curious about writing software and so I used the gifts given to me by Camp NaNoWriMo to help you out. Today’s post shall be a review of two popular software programs. I want to give pros, cons and honest feedback so I downloaded these applications and tried them out. Due to the fact that I put a lot of time and effort into my Camp story, I simply copied some parts into the software so that I had a baseline to play with, just in case you were curious.

Why software? Because sometimes, Microsoft Word just doesn’t cut it. You cannot keep all your character notes and charts in the same document as the actual novel and various drafts get lost. Personally, I feel that after a certain word count, Word is a bit annoying to use if you are trying to do everything in the same document. Others have their own reasons for using other software but these are benefits I believe everyone can relate to, especially for longer works from dissertations to epic novels.

Dabble

Above you see my Dabble novel project. You can add as many projects as you please so that’s not something to worry about.  At first glance, as you can see, the interface is pretty user-friendly. I like the way that you can set goals, it is like your own personal NaNoWriMo. These goals can be set for certain projects or for multiple at the same time. You can choose your off days, as well.

Pros:

  1. Simple to understand.

  2. Can be used online and offline.

  3. Goal setting. I feel like sometimes you need that extra push to write. You all know how much I love free writing. (And if you don’t, take a look at any of my other posts about writing.)

  4. Dabble takes user suggestions very seriously, they have a place where users can vote for improvements on their website and in the app itself. How awesome is that? I’ll include another pic below.

  5. Support is always available and very helpful.

Cons:

  1. Somewhat expensive. It’s $9.99/mo which can add up. Although with my Camp discount I got half price for a year.

  2. Thus far, there is only one font and only one color for that one font. Get’s boring pretty fast when it comes to world building, character development and possible edits.

  3. Can’t import from other sources.

  4. Can’t highlight, use bullet points or change font size. You also cannot print from Dabble. (So if you are a hard copy editor like myself, you are out of luck.)

  5. The only format they have currently is for novels. So no plays, screenplays, short stories or chapbooks. However, I do believe that you can get away with short stories simply by having each story be its own chapter in a collection.

  6. No tutorial.

Scrivener

Now, full disclosure, I have downloaded Scrivener before but was not able to get much use out of it. My laptop died shortly thereafter but I do know there is a learning curve for the older version, I had to take a very long tutorial just to understand some of the features. Going into this review, I was hoping that this newer version would be more user friendly. Below is the image I screenshot right after opening the new app for the first time. You’ll see that the interface is more complex than Dabble, having everything MS Word offers and more.

Pros:

  1. 30 day free trial. This is 30 days of actual use, not 30 days from when you first download the app.

  2. Cheap. $45 period. And with my Camp discount it was only half of that. Who doesn’t love a discount?

  3. Color coding. Having things organized by color is great for me because I use highlighters and colored pens all the time.

  4. Tutorials! Both written guides and video tutorials.

  5. Multiple formats conducive to all forms of writing, including nonfiction. Scrivener even provides places for front and back matter. (Acknowledgements, indices, endnotes, etc.)

  6. Can export. Whether to E-book or to PDF, it is a great feature to have.

  7. Templates. You can see one such template below, again with info from my Camp project this year.

Cons:

  1. Even the new version has a learning curve. If you don’t go through the tutorial I doubt you’ll get the most out of this software. On the other hand, once you get it, I believe it could be your new best friend. Just tapping along on this interface will leave you confused and upset. Don’t do it!

  2. There is a lot going on. Some of it seems a bit extraneous, especially when you start looking at all the options. It is a bit overwhelming and may make you feel as though you are not adequately prepared for such a large project.

Overall, My Final Thoughts Are…

There were a lot of similarities between these two programs. Both allow for multiple drafts of the same chapter or scene in the same folder, on the same document. Both allow for world building, plotting and rearranging scenes, creating character relationships and so on. There is a search bar in each just in case you want to make changes to something specific. I don’t lean one way or the other, even  if it seems a bit skewed by this review. Dabble is newer so it makes sense they are still improving. Scrivener is a well-known product used by writers across borders and of all levels, so obviously some variety is necessary.

I feel that Dabble is more suited for those who want something a bit simpler or those who do not feel the need to use all the extra features that Scrivener and other apps have to offer. If you are a linear thinker and don’t need colors, graphs, charts, etc. Dabble is perfect for you.

On the other hand, if you are someone who uses multiple notebooks at the same time, writes scenes on post-its, have twenty versions of the same paragraph, I feel that Scrivener would suit you more. Additionally, if you are tech savvy, which I am not, Scrivener is probably the way to go.

This is not a sponsored post or anything (I wish!) and what you have just read is my honest opinion. If you use software, which program do you prefer?

Happy writing,

Chyina

#writing #writingsoftware #Scrivener #Dabble #creativewriting #learning

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