Product Review

Can Storyist Defeat Scrivener?

I like Scrivener. It’s powerful, it gets out of my way when I want it to, and it can produce e-book output. But there are times it lets me down. Like when I want to change a Style and — whoops! — Scrivener doesn’t have styles! Then I get antsy and look around.

Yesterday, I tried Storyist. The feature-set looked close enough to warrant the effort. Wonder if I’m still using Scrivener or not?

Working with Characters

Right now, as I’m working on Divinity Descending (previously known as Divinity Falling — but that had too much of an “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up vibe,” so I switched). That means it’s character creation time! I’ve taken some hints from The Smarter Artist, and one of their ideas was to use actor’s photographs to “cast” the role. I can’t exactly show that aspect in this post, because I don’t have enough money to afford to buy the rights to the photographs. But I can compare the non-photographic pieces. Comparing the two program, I can say that:

  1. Both allowed me to create a section to hold characters
  2. Both allowed me to create folders under that section
  3. Both allowed me to create character descriptions/sheets under the folders

Here’s a sample of what the two looked like:

Scrivener is in the upper left; Storyist, in the lower right.

The good news for Storyist? First, I liked its dark-mode. It looks particularly good on my iMac’s 5K Retina display. It let me create the layout I wanted, and it gives me an overview display that lets me see the characters at a glance.

Unfortunately, there’s bad news, too. I can add pictures to the Storyist character pages, but the size is fixed. I can’t change the size of the display! To me, that’s a big problem. When I’m in create mode, I like to just slam pictures into the page. I don’t want to have to stop and think of how I have to center/modify/etc. the pictures. So, I have to give this important category to Scrivener.


There’s good news for Storyist here, too. Consider this screen shot comparing the two programs:

Again, Scrivener is in the upper left and Storyist is in the lower right.

I’m trying to learn how to implement the ideas Larry Brooks writes about in Story Engineering. Not sure if I’m doing it right, but both programs let me try to interpret those concepts. You can see the basic outlines in the screen shot above.

Storyist gives me something that Scrivener doesn’t: a really easy way to link scenes to plot points (the documents with light bulbs) to sections (the documents with gray hashtags). First, I laid out the sections (Set-Up, Response, Attack, and Resolution). Then, clicking on one of the sections, I was able to create the plot points. As I did so, those plot points were automatically linked to the section. I found that really convenient.

This category goes to Storyist!

Creating a World

This category was the make-or-break category for Storyist. How’d it do?

Take a look at this diagram:

Scrivener allows pretty much any size graphic. Storyist? Sigh…

In Scrivener, I can paste just about any size graphic into a document. Need a huge map of the US? No problem! Need a panoramic view of a valley? Sure! Paste away!


Remember the note about character graphics? It applies to graphics pasted here, too. There’s supposedly a way to get bigger graphics by using a collage, but I want a graphic of a map for my world location/setting called United States Map. I want to be able to read “Kansas Supremacy” (even if I can’t spell it in the screen shot!). That’s not happening in Storyist.

For me, this was fatal. I had to disqualify Storyist, at least in terms of my workflow, because of this.

Scrivener’s Death-Grip!

Scrivener doesn’t have styles. That offends me. Okay, that’s hyperbolic. Its lack of styles blunts my control over formatting. However, when I looked at Storyist, I liked some of its features and could live with other features that weren’t my favorite, but it’s approach to graphics was a complete mismatch for how I approach writing.

Am I saying Storyist is bad or evil or whatever? Good gravy, no! I’m just saying it didn’t work for me because of how it handles graphics.

So, Scrivener retains its position as my writing tool of choice!

Guess I don’t have the excuse of trying another writing tool to prevent me from getting back to writing!