Writer's Café

This is very close in philosophy and function to Scrivener.


Lots of good stuff and lots of useful ideas to blend into Scrivener. It is really a writing and research application integrated with a powerful story structuring application.

Writer’s Café is a software toolkit for all fiction writers, whether experienced or just starting out. The heart of Writer’s Café is StoryLines, a powerful but simple to use story development tool that dramatically accelerates the creation and structuring of your novel or screenplay.

Designed by published novelist Harriet Smart, it also includes a notebook, journal, research organiser, inspirational quotations, writing exercises, and a 60-page e-book, “Fiction: The Facts”, distilling 20 years of writing experience.

You can download a demo for Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X.

Registered owners have access to the e-book Fiction: The Facts, Harriet Smart’s friendly introduction to the essential techniques of storytelling.

I jumped and downloaded the WritersCafe app as soon as I read about it here because I’d hoped for a Mac and Win application. Right now I use Scrivener, export to Word, write on Windows Word at work and then have to copy files into Scrivener.

So…that being said - didn’t like WritersCafe at all compared to Scrivener. yes, it’s in the spirit but so is Jer’s Novel Writer which I prefer a tad more.

I still have great hope for the first beta of Scrivener ---- which I HOPE is soon.

Yes, silverlakewriter, that’s why I am also a regular visitor to this site. The reason for the postings here is that while Scrivener is in development and KB is so honestly open to ideas (remember, he set up this part of the board) it is useful to feed ideas that might be worth considering in future builds of Scrivener.

It is important not to see these apps as alternatives to Scrivener (unless they happen to be just right for you), but as ideas that might be reshaped into useful Scrivener tools - provided those who have tried these other apps like one or other of these tools enough.

For example, I like the structuring tool in Writers Cafe a lot. I’d love to see that in Scrivener.

I like the menu buttons in the early version of WriteItNow. So easy to call a function from these buttons.

I just reckon if people see and use the functions on the demo downloads of these apps they might feel confident enough to suggest them to KB for some future build of Scrivener.

That’s the motivations for these contributions. it’s not to subvert Scrivener. I feel the same way about it that you do. It’ll do me fine!

I just downloaded the Writer’s Cafe demo, just to see what it is like. Apart from the obvious ported from Windows interface, to me it seems more of a scrapbooking application than a serious writing one. For example where would you put your individual chapters, characters, etc? Maybe I’m just missing the point of that app, but from my initial (not very long experience) it looks like it would distract me from my writing rather than encourage it.

Hi dagaz,

I recognise that this not a forum for extolling the virtues of other apps - other than those we can learn from to use in helping KB to develop Scrivener. However, I guess if they need explaining to use them then that deserves a response. Writer’s cafe is TWO applications in one. The chunking application is Writers Cafe, and you can write in it in Scraps, Journal and Notebook. When you click on StoryLines it actually opens another application, called ‘Storylines’. That has a story structuring system and all you do is enter a template name or rename an existing one. For example, I use a whole bunch of chapter outlines to keep me on track (I always use a single file for each chapter) I call it the ‘Chapter Template’. In that template I have 20 individual chapter outlines that drop down from the drop down menu under Card.
That has buttons for Description, Content, Setting, Annotation, Image, Players. Content is a word processor.

It is actually easy to learn if you click on the ‘Show Storylines Manual’ link.

If this is too difficult try looking at the Writers Cafe Tour at:

Sorry, but all these applications need a small investment in time and effort to learn them enough to get the best out of them. It takes about an hour. The effort with Writer’s Cafe, especially Storylines, is well rewarded.

As for the ‘ported from Windows interface’, are you sure you are not referring to WriteItNow? Yes, there is a Windows version, but Writer’s Cafe is pure OSX. I believe it evolved from an earlier OS9 application. That may account for the ‘look’ on some pages, such as the ‘HELP’ page that pops up when you press the little question mark in the chrome bubble at the bottom left of most windows. The help function for each window is succinct and specific for that function. It is not big on Chrome with lots of plastic, but then I thought the developer’s philosophy of a real working writer’s application was very worthy and the functions most writers need are all there in a single package.

Hope this helps a bit. Please understand I am NOT promoting these other applications. I am just trying to present them as having functions that seem to work really well IN RELATION to their potential for adapting to SCRIVENER. For example, I can give every scene a card and then by magic that card appears on a story structure immediately below where I am entering my text. As yet these functions are not available in Scrivener, but would be extremely useful.

The Writing Show link is really worth bookmarking.

Harriet Smart was interviewed for The Writing Show, March 10th, 2006

Visit thewritingshow.com to hear Harriet Smart (co-designer of Writer’s Café) in conversation with Paula Berinstein.

Actually Writers Cafe is not a Mac native application. It’s written using a cross-platform framework called wxWidgets. I think the same fella developed both.

It isn’t really designed for writing your story; it’s more of a planning tool. You plot out your story, flesh out your characters and scenes, before writing anything. It’s very useful if you’re writing a book with multiple plot lines; lets you see them all in parallel.

A really nice app which I use a lot; but it definitely has a Windows feel to it.

Interesting to hear people’s views on this.

I really wanted Writers Cafe to work for me (mostly due to the storyboard concept) and tried hard for several weeks but it just didn’t ‘feel’ right. I still can’t put my finger on it but essentially it felt clunky to use - especially having to jump between the separate apps.

Also (and I’m sure it has great functionality and I shouldn’t be swayed by such things) I find the look and feel a tad old fashioned. It just doesn’t feel slick. Even the logo with the annoying woman puts me off!

By comparison, Scrivener is a pleasure to work with, followed closely (in my humble opinion) by PageFour (http://www.imbt.co.uk/).

Just my ten pence worth :slight_smile: