Scrivener vs Evernote: What Every Author Ought to Know
Since they were both developed, writers have flocked to these two writing software applications for different reasons. But Scrivener vs Evernote for writers—which one’s the better tool for writing a book? That's not the right question.
What you'll learn about Scrivener vs Evernote
- What Scrivener and Evernote are
- Which one's the best book writing software
- Scrivener Evernote integration
- How to use Scrivener vs Evernote to write a novel
What are Scrivener and Evernote?
Scrivener's slightly younger counterpart, Evernote, was created in 2008 by Stephan Pachikov (trying saying that fast 10 times!). It has earned a large and loyal fan following.
With Evernote, you can make a note, access it from anywhere, find it again quickly, and then share it with just about anyone. It installs on virtually every platform. iPhone, Android and Blackberry mobile devices all have apps.
You can use Evernote like a virtual bucket to throw any and all, websites, images… Even leave yourself little reminders. You can organize projects or, more importantly for us authors, book research into individual notebooks. These notebooks can then be shared with other Evernote users.
Scrivener software was created in 2007 by Keith Blount (Literature & Latte) and has been kicking ass and taking names ever since.
In one place, authors can brainstorm, outline, edit, format, compile and self publish anything from a blog post to a book. The number of formats that you can output files to is staggering: Kindle .mobi, epub, PDF, print, .doc... We call it a self publishing house in a box.
So, saying "Evernote vs Scrivener" or "Scrivener vs Evernote" might be a little misleading. Both of these programs provide best-of-breed functionality in their niche. Scrivener as the best book writing software and Evernote as a web clipping, tagging, and "note" sharing tool.
Which one's the best at capturing ideas? Writing a book?
You can write a book in Scrivener or Evernote. You can create multiple files in both programs, called documents in Scrivener and notes in Evernote. And inside those singular files, you can write text to your heart's content. But with Evernote, publishing all that information to an ebook is going to be rough because that isn't what the software was designed to do.
Evernote says "your workspace for life's work" and that pretty much describes the software. It does let you capture just about anything that you come across in your online life. It’s a digital notebook where you can store all your ideas, inspirations, thoughts and feelings.
Evernote's power lies in its ability to tag notes that you create, so that you can search for them later. It's quick and convenient. And you can add all types of media and text to Evernote.
Out with friends and see an inspirational image for a story you're thinking of writing? Snap a pic and save it to an Evernote notebook, tagging it "story inspiration" and probably the name of your book.
Scrivener, on the other hand, is the best place to grow all those saved ideas into a complete story or book. It comes loaded with novel-ready templates and an in-depth array of options and settings to help you manage the book writing process.
So, can you write a book in Evernote? Absolutely. Will it look good when you publish it? Uh, not until after you do some heavy formatting, most likely in a program outside of Evernote.
On the other hand, Scrivener's sole design purpose was to be the best long-form writing and publishing software available. And it still nails that goal better than any other writing app.
Can I get a version for MAC, Windows, IOS?
An IOS, Scrivener iPad/iPhone version has been the topic dejure in writing forums and blogs across the Internet since as early as 2011. The Literature and Latte folks have been back and forth with committing to an arrival date of an IOS version.
If we would've been holding our breath, we would've passed out years ago. Here's the breakdown of the platforms you can get Scrivener and Evernote on.
Evernote has a little more cross-platform support. However, you can sync Scrivener with apps like Simplenote and Index Card, as well as apps that use Dropbox such as Daedalus, Nebulous Notes, Notebooks and PlainText.
UPDATE: Scrivener has since released its IOS version.
SCRIVENER TIPS: Until seamless in-app integration with an IOS version comes, we use Dropbox to "sync" our Scrivener project files across MAC and Windows platforms, as well as collaborate on the same project in the same .scriv file. We share the Dropbox file or folder with each other and our editors while they edit. But we're careful not to access the same file at the same time as that's when things get messy.
How do I outline my book with Scrivener? Evernote?
Outlining with Scrivener.
If you're using our, 4-part story structure template, outlining your novel inside Scrivener is a breeze. The template splits the plot points into 17 parts, chapters, and scenes, which just happen to map to the monomyth—hero's journey—3-act 4-part story structure. The project template has plenty of prompts to get you started inside each document.
Don't worry, Scrivener has plenty of built-in templates to get you started. The "Novel (with parts)" template is a good place to start.
In the Binder, the manuscript is split into a structure that makes sense for writing a fiction story.
Mind-mapping in the Scrivener corkboard.
Prefer to visually see how your novel is coming together? The Corkboard is a powerful way to see how it all flows. You can lay out your scenes and add notes to virtual notecards to help get you started.
Don't like where something is in the hierarchy? Click on the notecard, drag it to where it should be and you're done. So simple.
In fact, drag and drop in the Binder and Corkboard is one of the most powerful features of Scrivener.
Outlining in the Scrivener Binder.
I prefer to do my research with an open Scrivener project file right next to my browser. I cut and paste text, images, and research into individual documents without ordering them. When I'm done, I simply drag and drop scenes into logical order or, for a non fiction book, move main subject chapters to where they most logically fit and flow.
Eventually a hierarchy like your computer's file folders and documents takes shape.
You can make notes in the document notes section as you go, so that you can return to your file later and pick up where you left off.
Mind-mapping and outlining with Evernote.
With Evernote, you'd have to do all of that a little differently.
We'd suggest creating a notebook for all of your ideas and inspiration for your book. Then whenever you come across a great piece of research or an inspirational image, create a note for it and throw it inside the notebook. Tag those notes with the title of your book and when you're ready to pull all of that information into Scrivener, Gwen Hernandez has an awesome post about how to integrate Evernote with Scrivener.
To be honest with you, I was a bit dizzy after reading it, but if you want to get your Evernotes into Scrivener, Gwen provides a detailed step-by-step process for you. It requires some creative import-export legwork, but it can be done.
How do I write my novel with Scrivener and Evernote?
And that leads us to that conundrum I was speaking about earlier.
Rather than have these two powerhouse pieces of writing software compete, why not create a personal workflow to take advantage of their individual strengths?
So, when you hear your writing muse knock, you know the one, the little whisper that tells you an idea for a story is coming your way, that's when you need to fire up Evernote and start capturing those thoughts.
When inspiration strikes, start building the backstory and world for your novel with Evernote. Set up a Notebook with a working draft title for your book and then create notes inside that notebook. Save website pages, HTML links to websites, and even images inside this notebook.
Once you've got your story’s background research done and you have more time to dedicate to fleshing out your characters and plot, transfer all of those Ever-notes into your research folder within the Scrivener Binder. Then you can work on plotting and storytelling.
SCRIVENER TIPS: One of my favorite methods to get inspiration is to find representative images to use as avatars for all of my main novel characters. I import those images directly to my Characters folder in the Scrivener Binder. Then, as I'm writing and need to get inspiration or refresh my recollection about an individual character, I refer to their avatar. With so many characters to keep track of, it's a tremendous help.
Can I write a non fiction book with Scrivener and Evernote?
You're in research mode. You're surfing the internet for ideas and consuming a ton of information. Where are you going to store all that stuff so you can get at it easily?
This is where Evernote shines. Use Evernote to capture websites, screenshot book cover ideas, save research PDFs... Anything related to supporting your book's main idea, save it inside Evernote.
If you're smart, you'll set up a new Notebook to capture everything related to your book. Then create notes and tags that help you pull your book together; giving it some flow.
Once you've finished with the research stage, grab all that content and add it to your research folder in Scrivener.
You can do that by sharing your Evernote Notebook via the public link function and adding that straight into Scrivener. Scrivener loves saving webpages too, so enter in URLs and watch them pop up live inside Scrivener.
Scrivener is where you should write your book, but Evernote shines at on-the-fly research.
Who's got a Discount?
Sadly, Evernote does not have a discount, but Scrivener does. You can check out our list of free scrivener discounts here and select the best one. In many cases, this can range from 20-30% in savings, which is nice. So check them out.
Also, Evernote doesn't include templates for us to quickly improve our layout. However, Scrivener does. You can easily use someone else's layout to form your scrivener project with a couple of clicks of a button.
To access some professionally made scrivener templates, just click this link, find the type of writing you want, download and upload to your scrivener. It's that simple.
Scrivener vs Evernote, which one's really the best?
So, which one is the best book writing software? By now, I think you can see that comparing Scrivener to Evernote isn't the right way to go about determining which one you should use for a given purpose.
As fond as we are of Scrivener, Evernote is better as an on-the-fly research and information gathering, sorting, tagging, and sharing tool. But Scrivener wins when it comes to full novel and non fiction book writing, editing and self publishing capabilities. Though, to be fair, Evernote wasn’t designed with that purpose in mind.
So, though Scrivener is the clear winner from a book writing perspective, Evernote is more convenient and flexible when it comes to brainstorming, research, and collaboration.
Scrivener has a number of formatting options, and allows you to set up your own custom format presets. Evernote has very basic formatting capabilities.
Both offer distraction free writing environments, which is a huge plus when you've got your writing muse mojo working. But outside of that, and because we like to keep things as centralized as possible, Scrivener is hand's down the best software to write a book from start to finish. That is, if you want to streamline and skip the import and export information from Evernote into Scrivener steps.
Scrivener is still, hands down, the best all-encompassing book writing software out there.
How do I get Scrivener for MAC? Windows?
How do I get Evernote for MAC? Windows?
The FREE Download
What's the best resource to learn Scrivener? Evernote?
There are lots of resources to help you take advantage of all the power and features of Scrivener and Evernote. These are two of our favorites.
Get smart with author Gwen Hernandez's Scrivener for Dummies.
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Master Evernote with authority self-publisher Steve Scott.
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How do you use Evernote ... Scrivener?
Now it's your turn.
We're always interested in how our readers use Scrivener. In the comments below, let us know if and how you use Scrivener vs Evernote to help you research and write your next best seller.