Why Plot Factory is Better than Scrivener (and Word!)

I thought it might be helpful to share with everyone my thoughts on why web-based software is better than desktop-based software and why I'm taking the time and energy to transition after using Scrivener for the past decade. Full disclosure: I have an affiliate account with Plot Factory. (Please use my link if you want to give Plot Factory a try: https://plotfactory.com?fpr=storyshop) Plot Factory is currently the only affiliate I promote. It's that good and that much more promising than the other half-dozen platforms I've tried over the last two years.

First off, I still love Scrivener, and to be honest, I am still using it almost daily. 95% of the time, I'm using Scrivener for its compiling/exporting functionality (which was largely and frustratingly altered in its newest release, so now I'm learning these Scrivener abilities all over again!).

And that's the downside of Scrivener. It's bloated and complex. A small example of this is that I spent two hours today trying to figure out why my PDF files are now 60+ MBs instead of less than 2 MBs. I have produced 30 books by exporting a .docx from Scrivener and then making a few adjustments for widows and orphans, etc. in Microsoft Word before exporting the final PDF. What I finally discovered (I think the issue was this) was that the .docx from scrivener is now resulting in a a very intense kerning for all fonts (which are then embedded in the PDF). I finally was able to generate a small PDF file and get my life back on track, but the delay was unplanned for and super annoying.

If you are as old as me (born in the 70's) then you grew up with this kind of complex desktop software. You expect to spend weeks learning how to use a new piece of software. On the other hand, if you're trying to be a professional author, having to spend more than a few precious hours learning how to use software gets painful (and costly).

If you use even 40% of Scrivener's functionality, then you'll want to remain with it. I probably use around 15%...if that. I know about all the rest of it. I've tried a bunch of it. For my process, I don't need it. So the extras become annoying bloat.

Things like Scrivener's unique system of creating hundreds of files for a single project become annoying. Scrivener's inability/difficulty to sync and it's lack of collaboration are drawbacks for me. It's a pain to make sure I'm logged out of a project on my desktop before I try to work on that same project from my laptop. I used to use my iPad to jump into the process as well, but it was too much of a headache. Exporting projects from Scrivener to Word and then importing/splitting back to Scrivener is tedious. (Granted Plot Factory doesn't yet have a solution for this, but a solution can be easily envisioned by using Google Docs--also a web-based solution. It's reasonable to hope PF will build this solution eventually.)

This is where Plot Factory is more streamline and nimble. This is one of the main benefits of a web-based word processor like Google Docs (and Plot Factory). I really love being able to easily access the same content from my home computer or my laptop or my iPad. Plot Factory provides for around 90% of the functionality I need with my current process, and it has zero bloat to get in my way. I've loved transitioning my creative process over to Plot Factory these last few months.

In the coming months I'll probably bite the bullet and pay for Vellum so that I can make the switch entirely away from Scrivener, create content faster, and format finished products at an even higher quality level. (Although it will still take me several more hours to transfer my millions of words over to Plot Factory until PF is able to build an importer to assist with this.)

The Bottom Line

Software is growing smarter. Web-based solutions are iterating quickly and learning to be responsive (ie. to save the user time by anticipating the user's needs and next steps). Nimble, responsive, and mobile are things that mean I can create and organize my mountains of storyworld and narrative content more quickly. And time is money.

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