A few suggestions for writing tools

I wasn’t sure where to put this. I use the Windows version but this applies to Scrivener as a whole and wasn’t sure where general (i.e. applying to both versions) Scriv’ requests should go. But as the aim is (as I understand it) for the Windows version to include all the Mac version features eventually, this seemed the logical place. Also, just to complicate it further, it refers to a piece of software by other folk, so where is it meant to go? Anyway, obviously, in the end I plumped for this forum so apologies if it isn’t the right place.

For normal day to day word processing, I use Atlantis Word Processor. I originally started using it as MS Word was getting way too slow to load and run on my aging laptop and Atlantis flies in comparison. Despite its rather old fashioned looking interface, once I started using it, I started to love many of its quirky and unique features (I even suggested a few that got implemented).

Since the Beta of Scrivener for Windows came out I have also been using it and liking it very much (it helped me breeze through my first NaNoWriMo). I don’t see the two pieces of software as competitors as they are both good for different things and I’ll certainly be continuing to use both in the future.

Anyway, Atlantis has some quirky features that I would like to see in Scrivener (the reverse is also true and I’ve made suggestions on the Atlantis forums). Some of my favourites actually help to make my writing better which must be a good addition to any word processing type software. Here they are:

Overlong sentences
I have a habit of writing long, tortuous sentences (you may have noticed) and this feature helps me see and fix them by highlighting the next sentence with a length of over ‘X’ words (25 by default but user definable).

Overused words
Another bad habit of mine is using the same word or similar sounding words (homophones and inflected forms e.g. there, their they’re) too close together. This tool highlights the next pair of identical or similar sounding words making it easier for me to fix them and improve my writing.

Word frequencies
This provides a list of how many times different words are used in my document (I’ve used ‘to’ 23 times in this doc. Actually, make that 24).

Total writing time
This keeps a running total of time spent writing each document. Note, it’s not the time the document is open it’s the actual time spent typing and editing that’s used. An addition to this feature that I’d like (that’s not in Atlantis) is to use that information to estimate how long it would take (given your current writing rate) to write ‘X’ number of words so if it’s taken an hour to write 500 words, it estimates it’ll take another hour (2Hrs in all) to write a total of 1000.

Obviously I could copy/paste the text back and forward between the apps to use most of these tools but that would be a pain and non Atlantis users of Scrivener wouldn’t benefit.

What do you think?

Scrivener does have a word frequency list, actually. I’d be interested in the total writing time thing, but I recognize that that’s gotta be one of the lowest priority things possible :wink:

You can also use the search tool (in combination with the word frequency list, if you like) to do the search for “overused words” yourself, since you can keep the highlight on while you edit. So you could search for “they’re their there” and then skim through to see if you want to change it and either make the change then or make a note for later. (This is in the Mac version; I don’t know what the Windows beta’s capabilities are in this regard.)

Over the years, we’ve had much, much discussion about adding corrective tools, but Keith’s consistent vision is that Scrivener should avoid tool-bloat and focus on assembling and arranging words, not on finishing and polishing them.

So I would recommend that you follow that practice, starting a draft in Scrivener and exporting to Atlantis for clean-up. And yes, you may pass an RTF version back to Scrivener if it has features that are useful to you before you reach the final compiling of a draft. It’s highly unlikely that Scrivener will ever include the features that you like in Atlantis, so why not use them as complements?

Good to hear it’s already got a word frequency feature – I’ll look out for it in the Windows version.

I would think my Writing Time tool might be a higher priority for freelance writers who need to juggle their assignments and prioritise their writing. Anyway, Writing’s just a hobby for me and I find the feature invaluable in Atlantis even as it stands.

Nice idea (I always like lateral thinking) but using it in that way just wouldn’t be practical. For a start, I’d have to know all the words that I may have problems with in order to search for them. Again, based on using the tool in Atlantis, I can say how useful it is in the form I described.

Admittedly, I’m new ‘round these parts so I’m not quite as up on Keiths Scrivener philosophy as you veterans. I think you can expect a number of old discussions being reborn as the new Windows users start using Scrivener and wanting this or that new tool. I’d suggest that if certain requests keep appearing, it may well be worth a re-think but I appreciate Keith has a strong vision for his baby and will like some things and not others.


There was mention on the Windows forum (by the Windows developer if I recall) of plans to include a scripting API type thing in Scrivener so other developers could write their own plugins that would add new features and extend its functionality. If my ideas are rejected by Keith, perhaps there’s still a chance for them if/when this scripting API comes about?

Hi Andy,

These sorts of tools are definitely out of scope of my current vision for Scrivener, sorry. I prefer to keep Scrivener dedicated to a specific set of tools - writing, drafting and structuring - and I don’t personally like tools that try to tell you that your sentences are too long or suchlike. Although I’m sure you’re right that with the influx of new Windows users, old discussions will inevitably, and quite rightly, be opened up again, Scrivener isn’t developed on a vote system, as I don’t believe that results in good software.

However, as you say, if Lee does eventually manage to open up an API, that may well make it possible for others to add these tools. On the Mac version I will eventually be adding support for AppleScript, which will enable users to link Scrivener in with other applications and so forth to get access to this sort of thing if they want it, too.

Thanks and all the best,

Hi Keith,

Thanks for your reply.

Sorry to hear these tools don’t fall within your vision for Scrivener but having worked in the software industry for years, I certainly understand how it’s best to have a single vision and not design by committee.

Having said that, i’m surprised the Writing Time idea doesn’t fit in. I would have thought it would be the perfect accompaniment to the project and session targets feature, but you’re the boss.

Keep up the good work.

Wonderful! Thank you for pointing this out. Invaluable.

After checking in the manual for the Mac version I just discovered that the Windows version already has the Word frequency function. It’s in ‘Project/Text Statistics’ Yay! :slight_smile:

Papyrus Autor includes writing tools of the kind you’re looking for. But unfortunately, this German application is still without an English localisation.

Thanks but I already have software with exactly those tools – Atlantis. I was suggesting they be included in Scrivener.

Always interested to hear about alternative software though.