Scrivener vs The Novel Factory - novel writing software

The best novel writing software to help you write your novel. A review of Scrivener and The Novel Factory.

Guy typing on laptop

What is novel writing software? 

Novel writing software is special writing software designed for writers who are writing a novel. It’s designed to help you organize your story, keep track of characters and locations, and enable you to write quickly without having to worry about organizing your work. 

If you’re serious about writing a novel, then you should consider buying some novel writing software. There are a few different novel writing software programs available on the market. 

Here I’m going to review two different programs for authors, one that I think is for advanced novelists and one that I think is good for beginner writers who want help with writing a story. 

After over 15 years of writing novels, I’ve found that Microsoft Word no longer makes the cut and that it is far easier to manage my manuscript by using novel writing software. 

Let me introduce you to Scrivener and The Novel Factory and what I consider to be the best novel writing software.

Novel writing software review

Scrivener 

Scrivener is one of the earlier novel writing software programs available. It is incredibly effective at helping you to keep your manuscript organised. 

I first heard about Scrivener in a podcast So You Want to Be A Writer by the Australian Writers Centre. They were talking to E. Lockhart about how she wrote the structurally complex novel 'We Were Liars.' I absolutely loved that novel, and was in awe of how it switched between time seamlessly. Lockhart said that she likes using Scrivener because it allows a writer to rearrange whole chunks of their story easily. 

I went to Scrivener website and downloaded it straight away. At a one-off fee of $77, which includes any upgrades, it's far more cost effective than other subscriber model novel writing software on the market. It is one of the best novel writing software for Mac or Windows.

So what does Scrivener do?


Scrivener allows an author to plan out their novel by writing notes for each chapter. Writers can then flesh out each chapter as they go along. 

It also has the ability to zoom out and see a corkboard for each chapter as an overview - so an author can easily see a snapshot of all parts of their novel.

Layout of Scrivener corkboard


Users can easily drag and drop their chapters to rearrange sections easily. Realise that a chapter needs to be moved to later in the story? Easy. Just drag and drop the chapter there!

Scrivener encourages you to break your novel into smaller segments, which makes it easier to focus on one section at a time. 

There are pre-built character sketches that you can fill out to assist with your character development. You can even pop in an image of what you think your character will look like! 

Ways that Scrivener can help you write your novel:


- Outline tool: The corkboard feature creates a visual outline of your novel. This can help you to see how your story is progressing and make sure all the elements are in place.

- Writing tool: You can use the editor to write your novel. The split screen feature allows you to see your manuscript alongside your notes and research, so you can easily reference them while you write.

Split screen Scrivener with research notes and synopsis



- Create character profiles and track their arcs throughout the story. Do you struggle with how to develop a character in your novel? Use the question prompts to better imagine your character. Pop a photo in there to keep you on track with character descriptions.

Character profile questions Scrivener and image of chracter


- Keep track of scene ideas, quotes, and other notes related to your novel

- Store research materials related to your novel in one place. See them easily as you are writing your novel

- Publishing tool in Scrivener. Export your finished novel as a PDF or Word document. You can even choose to export it as a paperback or proof copy. This is one of the easiest ways available to create an ebook cheaply.


The more I use Scrivener the more impressed I am. This is the best writing software on the market right now, and it's only going to get better. And you always get the upgraded features, without having to pay more!

Scrivener is great for experienced writers who want more control over the structure of their novels 


The Novel Factory 


The Novel Factory has researched all the necessary elements of a great novel and developed inexpensive software that gives writers a clear step-by-step guide to help them write their novel. 

Subscribers get a clear roadmap to start and complete their novel in 15 steps. From the initial idea (the premise), through to outlining the plot, character development, scene blocking, first draft, locations, subplots, through to the final draft - Novel Factory will guide you through each stage.

Novel Factory roadmap prompts


The Plot Manager is one of the best features in The Novel Factory - giving writers actual plot templates to work with! This is genius - as it guides them through the most important elements needed in classic types of stories such as the Hero's Journey, Romance, Mystery or Detective. 

Choose a template Novel Factory


Once a template is chosen, The Novel Factory offers typical elements that happen in each part of the novel, breaking scenes into Act I, II and III and then pre-fills index cards to help guide the writer further. 

Novel Factory scene template for the Hero's Journey


The Novel Factory acts like a writing tutor as you go along.

The Novel Factory features that help you write a novel include:


- Character profiles: create detailed profiles for each of your characters, including their biography, physical description, and personality traits.

- Plotting: get help plotting your story using the built-in templates

- Fill out character profiles, including physical description, biography, and personality traits

- How to write a novel, step-by-step guide. The Novel Factory takes you through each of the novel writing stages, so you won't feel lost or overwhelmed.

You can find out more about The Novel Factory here

Is Scrivener or The Novel Factory better for helping a writer write a novel?


Well, it depends really. 

I think that Scrivener is great for writers who already understand the basic elements of storytelling. It’s no-fuss software that focuses on allowing authors to plan out each chapter easily, zoom out and see their story as a whole and drag and drop sections at a time. It has an easy ‘compile’ function that pieces the whole story together at the end. 

I consider Scrivener to be the best novel writing software. I literally plotted out a whole novel in one day, using the notes and corkboard features in Scrivener. While the novel took a year to write, that one day of planning in Scrivener guided the whole process and allowed me to write a novel knowing clearly where the story was heading. 

I think that The Novel Factory is good for new writers, or writers who are struggling with plot. It helps writers who are learning how to construct a story and need to be guided along. The videos are very helpful at explaining the necessary elements of a good story and can be like a writing course on steroids! 

However, at $77 for a one off fee, plus all the upgrades, Scrivener is also more cost effective software than The Novel Factory that is about $198 a year if you have more than one novel. Getting Scrivener means you are not locked in to monthly or yearly payments. It's your software for your novel. Always.

Good luck! See how novel writing software can change your writing life!


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