Scrivener vs Dabble: Product Review

Hello everyone, and happy Saturday! I hope this week has treated y’all well. Tell me about your week in the comments! But today, I will be reviewing, comparing, and contrasting two very popular organizational word processors, Scrivener and Dabble! Please note, I am not sponsored by either platform in any way, shape, or form; I am just doing this to give people an unbiased view of both platforms.

On Sunday, I signed up for free trials on both Scrivener and Dabble. I wanted to do this because my novel is planned out on flashcards and I’ve been writing the chapters with just a pencil and my notebook. But I wanted to move to electronic so I wouldn’t have to worry about losing papers or flashcards. To keep things simple and controlled, I will be using both programs to work on my novel, Her Sword and Shield.

First, let’s talk about Scrivener. Scrivener is an app you can download on your computer (in my case, a MacBoook Air) and work from sans Internet. I double-checked the Internet thing because sometimes I take my laptop to places without public wifi. At first, I had some difficulties opening up the program, but that was completely user error and not from their end.

This is what it looks like when you open up a new book. This is the novel format, and Scrienver has different formats for you to work with. Off the bat, I love the different formats and variations. I even saw one for MLA papers which will also come in handy for me!

So then I got into planning. Planning a novel is very important to me, so I wanted to see if I could get something that resembled my index cards.

I am pleased to say it looks exactly like my index cards! (Just with less scribbles over letters). I found this section of the application to be very easy to work with, and user-friendly. After I plotted my fifteen chapters, I went to work on characters.

I love this. Just…I love it. I stumbled upon a pre-formatted character sheet by accident while I was making a plain character sheet by hand. It has All the important assets of a good character such as backstory and internal and external conflicts! Even I wouldn’t have added that to my handwritten sheet.

Scrivener also has a section for places, and a place sheet but I chose not to use those for now.

And now, the most important part of this! The writing for my novel.

A blank screen of the Scrivener app, showing the first chapter section

This is a blank screenshot of where you write (since I don’t want to spoil the first chapter yet!) but after writing out this chapter, I am very happy with this platform.

At first, I was very overwhelmed by the tutorial provided in the app, but after I worked through it it became very easy to use. It also can format your finished novel into a manuscript! Personally, I don’t know how to format a manuscript yet so this was extremely helpful. But I will save my final judgements for after I finish the Dabble review.

Dabble is also an application for your computer to help you write and organize your novel. Again, I use a MacBook Air. it may look different on Windows, but I have no clue. 

This is what it looks like when you open up the program. Mine already has my book title, so if you’re a new user it will be completely blank. 

After you create a new project, this is how the title will show up. If you don’t have a title, just leave it blank! 

To start writing, just click on “Chapter one” and get to typing. I found this section to be perfectly fine and simple. But then I ran into some troubles. 

So, Dabble uses a thing called a “plot grid” in their application where you have plot lines on the x-axis and book scenes on the y-axis, in between are where small scenes go. I personally am not a fan of this format. I enjoy having index cards which each chapters’ details written in bullet points. This was a difficult section for me to work with, so I decided to skip it. 

Next, I went to the “characters” section of story notes. Again, I ran into some trouble. Now, I would like to state that this problem could be completely my fault and this has nothing to do with the application. I could not, for some unknown reason, add any notes to this section. 

There is a plus sign in the upper left hand section of the screen, but I could only add scenes and chapters, not notes. So, with this problem, I moved on to the next section.

Next, we have world-building. Again, ran into some issues. The same issue I had with the character section, I had with world building. Once again, this could totally be my fault for being simpleminded. So once again, I left this section blank. 

While some may find this program to be useful and amazing, I personally found it frustrating. Upon further investigation, I found out that I (while on a free trial) cannot make notes, as it is part of the standard payment package. 

Scrivener has much more to their program, what with all their different formats and premade sheets, and extremely easier user-interface for someone like me. Dabble, on the other hand, was difficult for me to use. I personally prefer Scrivener over Dabble. You can make your own choices, but if you’re like me, I highly recommend Scrivener. Both of these programs require payment. The personal use license for Scrivener costs $49USD (on Mac) and Dabble has subscription tiers. The basic package is $5/monthly, and this includes cloud saving and goals. The standard package is $10/monthly, which includes all of the basics alongside focus mode, notes and more. And premium is $15/monthly, and it includes all of the standard package alongside grammar/style and priority chat support. Scrivener also has an iOS license for i-devices which costs $19. 

So make of this what you will. I may purchase the personal license for Scrivener to continue writing my novel, but I’m just a broke college student. But, that concludes this compare and contrast of Scrivener vs Dabble. Do any of you use either program? Do you have any free alternatives? Feel free to comment or shoot me an email! 

Follow me on Twitter (camilleghwrites), Instagram (camillewriteslife), and check out my podcast on Spotify, Anchor and Apple Podcasts! If you like my work and would like to support me and future endeavors, donate on my Ko-fi!

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