The new Avenir: StoryMill

H i there


Yep. It will be released at Macworld.

It incorporates Timelines and uses very useful data bases you can build on yourself and looks for all the world like a home spun version of Scrivener. It is written by Todd Ransom who did Avenir - this is just an iteration of Avenir for Mariner. Todd also did Montage.

You will find that the splash Screen credits Keith with code contribution. So you can see where the Scrivener influences come from.

It’s a nice app - and usable.

Has a way to go to catch Scrivener for professional writers.


Eek! Although, for the record, Avenir came before Scrivener. :slight_smile: (You’ll find Todd’s name in my credits, too!)
All the best,

which I’d love to see in Scriv…


Will let them (and you) know how that works


Have I done something to offend you? Every time I turn around you are bashing my hard work in some public place. I understand that you are a fan of Scrivener, but to accuse me of copying it is just ridiculous. Our apps have very different philosophies on the best way to manage the writing process.

Todd Ransom
Return Self Software

What I really don’t like in programs like CopyWrite, Avenir and now the new StoryMill, is the outlining above the editor. Same thing for Ulysses with it’s tabs.

Every single one got it’s own special feature, but this alignment will hold me back from using them.

If I understand you correctly, I agree. I like the binder for outlining or else to have the option for letterbox or widescreen layout (having columns instead of having outlining above the editor). I even hacked Mail to get this view, I dislike the other so much.


Don’t take such comments to heart Todd.

I’ve given StoryMill a fair shake, and although it isn’t for me, it’s easy to see that it’s a well-crafted and innovative program in its own right.
Everyone should give it a try and make their own decision.

‘A home spun version of Scrivener’? … :unamused:

Don’t let such nonsense grind you down; keep up the good work.

One of the things that I love of creative writing software for Mac, is that speaking of ‘competition’ is a true nonsense, even considered the fair price they ask. We can speak of ‘different views of the creative process’, that I think is a better thing than darwinist competition.


StoryMill is definitively a well crafted piece of software, but there is something–perhaps the fact that I’m unfamiliar with it–that makes me reluctant to use it. Nevertheless, I’m glad to see that they have implemented the concept of “Views” which I did request as a feature for Scrivener (see thread).

Views would be a great way to check the consistency of several plot lines, as well as those novels in which the story is not told linearly–which happens to be the case more often than not. I hope Keith will reconsider the implementation of this feature in one of the upcoming releases. Meanwhile, I’m using Mori and Timeline to have an overall view of the structure of my novel.

Please post feature requests to the wish list forum. I am aware of this request but there is little chance it will make it into a 1.x release as it would require big changes in the way the binder works internally.

Keith, This is not a feature request, but a comment relevant to StoryMill when compared it to Scrivener. I apologize if this comment was not appropriate in this thread–although I don’t see how could that be–and, as I said in my post, I just wished “views” would be considered for future releases. But then again, if “views” is never implemented, there are other tools to complement Scrivener.

What about a bundle of Scrivener + Timeline/Temporis? With discounts for owners of one of the two?

Todd said:

Yikes! Did I say that?

I thought I inferred it had a lot to like.

When I said it looked like a home spun version of Scrivener I was referring to Scrivener’s Binder - or StoryMill’s Chapters. They look very similar. It’s just a fact, not a slur. I wish I could produce a home-spun version of Scrivener. I know Avenir came before Scivener and I liked it a lot. To me, ‘homespun’ connotes ‘warm, friendly, gathered around a roaring fire, in good company’.

Does StoryMill open text files from OPEN? As at b8 it didn’t appear to. I am sure others found this. I just have a problem, if it is a problem, with apps such as StoryMill and Montage not talking to Scrivener or Screenwriter Pro. Is it wrong for me to use Scrivener and like Montage - but require Story Mill just so I can use the data there in Montage? I also agree wiht the comment on this thread that the panel on top is a real bummer. As it grows the text panel shrinks.

As alexwein observed:

I can swap out files in Scrivener with Screenwriter Pro and Final Draft very easily and keep my producer happy because the work I generate in Scrivener is given immediately to the Producer in SCW or FD.

What do I really like about StoryMill. Incorporating Timelines and a database function you can develop yourself is both amazing and wonderful. Enough for many writers to try and buy StoryMill.

So Todd, if you thought I was bagging you, I was not. PAX. Mea Culpa. Sorry I was misunderstood and I apologise unreservedly.


FWIW I interpreted LL’s original comments (“nice app,” “usable”) as qualified praise for StoryMill and in fact based on them I decided to check it out when I get a chance. I didn’t sense any intent to bash. Maybe the problem is the ambiguous term “homespun,” which can mean approximately anything from “created independently” to “simple” to “unsophisticated”; I took it to mean something positive.
Sharing and building upon others’ ideas seems to be the norm in the software biz, and plenty of developers including Keith have been upfront about where they got some of their concepts. It’s also possible for similar ideas to germinate independently. In any case, it’s great to see so many cool writing apps emerging in the past few years, making plenty of options available for our varied needs.

StoryMill and Scrivener are catering to the same general audience, but have very different strengths and weaknesses. Here’s some details to help Scrivener users figure out if they should try StoryMill (or people who don’t own either evaluate which one might be most worth the download). So you know my bias, I’m a long-time Avenir/StoryMill user who finds StoryMill a better choice for me personally, but I’ve also used Scrivener on a couple projects.

The biggest difference between the two programs is the structure they provide for the user. Scrivener is very unstructured. It gives you a basic metaphor (index cards on a corkboard) and lets you run with it where you will.

StoryMill is much more structured. It specifically encourages you to track your scenes, chapters, actors, locations, etc. Although you can customize it to some extent (“scenes” and “chapters” in particular are terms that don’t have to apply to your project) if you’re using the program you will be working within a structure that is mainly geared toward creative writing such as fiction or creative non-fiction (in which you have characters, a plot, etc.).

The benefit of Scrivener is that it is more flexible. The benefit of StoryMill is that it is easier to hit the ground running in some cases while still tracking a large amount of information (adding notes on backstory about a character in StoryMill takes very little brain work, whereas in Scrivener you have to decide how to organize your characters and roll your own solution). If StoryMill’s structure makes sense to your project and the way you work/think, then it will likely be a strong contender. Otherwise, Scrivener’s more general approach may be more to your taste.

The other differences are mainly features and implementation details:

  • Scrivener’s annotations are inline and always visible. StoryMill’s are links and can contain rich text (including images, etc.).

  • Scrivener provides a text view (scrivenings) and an outlining view (corkboard). StoryMill provides a text view (chapters), outlining view (scenes), and a chronological timeline so that you can view the events in your project in both narrative and chronological order.

  • Tags and smart views are the primary way to organize data in StoryMill, whereas Scrivener uses a more traditional folder hierarchy.

  • Scrivener has several features that StoryMill does not; the flip side being that StoryMill is less complicated (particularly in the menu department, in my experience).

  • Scrivener has versioning; StoryMill does not (planned feature, but who knows when it will be implemented).

If you’ve tried Avenir in the past, StoryMill will of course look very familiar. The primary differences are:

  • The new timeline feature
  • A vastly improved exporting system; you can export anything using customizable formatted export templates
  • Scenes now not only contain notes, but also the actual chapter text (similar to the way scrivenings are both text and notes on an index card)
  • All new documentation (sorry, had to throw that one in there; I wrote it :wink: )

@LordLightning: I think Todd is mainly reacting to the phrase “home spun version of Scrivener”; I know you didn’t intend it like this, but the way it read to me (and likely Todd) is that Avenir is a knock-off of Scrivener and less refined and professional.

Just wanting to express my gratitude to George the Flea for his well reasoned and clear comparison of the key functions that make it so hard to decide between Scrivener and StoryMill.

(now if Scrivener only had a timeline…)

Oh dear, straight back in the ‘nure’. Sorry Keith, but it is very appealing.



That’s the way I read it too.

A nice description of the differences by the way; nicely done.

Yes Rayz, I can see that now. As I said in my apology:

Hope that clears that up once and for all. I had not counted on an international interpretation of a word I had used in a completely different way.



I do agree that a timeline in Scrivener would be jolly useful, though I have no idea how it would work.