And the winner is…

Scrivener (software)

I just couldn’t do it, folks. I wanted to, oh I wanted to, but I just couldn’t break up with Scrivener. Before I get to that, let me tell you some things…

The good

Storyist on the iPad? Phenomenal. It was everything we dream Scrivener’s foray onto iOS will be. All of the elements of the desktop version are present, synchronizing via dropbox is mindnumbingly easy, and frankly, it just works. Editor, cork board, outliner, it’s all present, functional, and intuitively easy to work with.

The bad

The desktop of Storyist is awkward. In a lot of ways, it looks very similar to Scrivener, but it lacks polish. One thing I really liked was how index cards are grouped by the chapter, but still visible en masse. That was nice.

Unfortunately, the meat of why you’re using a program like Storyist was needlessly difficult. Maybe I’m a little spoiled with Scrivener, but when you offer a binder like sidebar that displays chapters and scenes, don’t make it so confusing to actually work with them. In Scrivener, each scene is a solitary file. In Storyist, everything is really one large file, which makes planning ahead, even for a pantser like myself, well, confusing.  You see, if you’ve sketched out a dozen scenes or so, maybe in the outliner, and then switch back to manuscript mode, you can’t tell which scene you’re working in. What you see is a column of nicely centered hash marks. Where do you put the text? Not sure. I couldn’t easily  tell where I was in a document to know what scene I was adding text to. That makes it hard to work.

Talk about spoiled? I’ve grown so accustomed to the presentation layer and the compile layer being able to be different, I felt stifled when Storyist only appears to have the same static view for everything.

The (sadly) obvious choice

I liked being able to switch to the iPad in situ, working with the same tools in the same document as on my desktop. I really, really did. I’ve grown weary of L&L yearly promise that sometime in the  year they might have the iOS version. I like them, they’ve always been really friendly (ok, at least DJ is, and DJ puts up with me on twitter, so that speaks volumes).

But beside all of that, Scrivener really is the tool I find easier to work with on the desktop. Sure, there were some features in Storyist that had appeal, but the meat of it was just too clunky. Add to that that Storyist costs twice as much as the initial purchase of Scrivener, and you can see where this is going.

L&L folks, if you stumble on this – give us something for the tablet! Meanwhile, I have a write off in the works with a friend in Arizona. Must get busy.

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