Novlr Review – Best Scrivener Alternative?

Writing used to require a pen and a piece of paper but now it’s a different ball game altogether! Today, novel and book writers are well-equipped with tools that simplify the whole process of writing.

Undoubtedly, Microsoft Word is the most popular writing software. However, it is not suitable for projects like book writing.

Here, you need software that not only provides good writing experience but organizes your work also. Novlr is one such novel writing software that I came across recently.

In this Novlr review, I will dig deep into this book writing software to find out whether it is suitable for you. Also, I will compare it with Scrivener to provide you with an honest review.

Is Novlr better than Scrivener?

Let’s find out.

Here Is What I Will Cover in This Novlr Review

What is Novlr?

Novlr is a cloud-based writing tool for novel and book writers. Maybe, that’s why it’s named “Novlr” after all!

It has two parts, a writing area, and a dashboard. The Writing area is where all the magic happens, and the Dashboard manages everything else, including chapters, and writing goals.

The software is beautifully designed and provides all the essential tools that you may require during your long writing sessions.

Another unique feature of this writing tool is Tim Clare’s popular writing podcast course “Couch to 80k” within the software.

I will thoroughly discuss them in this Novlr review.

Key Features of Novlr

A well-planned user interface is essential for any modern software, and Novlr has successfully executed this design principle. I am pleased with the aspect that you can keep your thoughts, ideas, and notes in one single place yet totally disconnected from each other.

Writing Area

A perfect writing environment is essential to produce exemplary content. Novlr has done a splendid job to develop an ingenious interface that’s a treat to the eye yet minimalistic in nature.

1. Word Processor

The first thing that you will notice once you log into Novlr is the word processor. You can choose to pen down your thoughts in a distraction-free mode or choose from three different color settings depending on the ambiance.

This interface has three sections, a writing space in the middle, and collapsible sidebars on both sides.

Organize your novel by dividing them into chapters and subchapters. You even get to use special sections to develop your characters and plots, giving life to your story.

Such segregation helps you develop a neat sketch before introducing events and characters in the story.

The left sidebar helps you to manage all these story properties. You can organize chapters, subchapters, and characters from this toolbar.

A unique drag-and-drop facility allows you to reshuffle chapters anytime you want. Manage characters or create notes —do them all from the left sidebar.

The right sidebar controls the properties of your word processor. Change the theme color, manage paragraph indents, adjust the font size, and toggle between “curly” and “straight” quotes from this sidebar.

novlr dark theme evening theme

The ability to choose various color schemes depending on the time of the day you write woes any writer to give it a try. Choose an Evening, Day, or Night Theme in your word processor depending on the time of day that you work and realize how easy it is for your eyes.

2. Proofreading Assistance:

Proofreading is an integral part of writing, and Novlr provides an inbuilt proofreading and grammar checking tool within the writing area itself.

proofreading assistance in novlr

It’s up to you to keep it on or turn it off. If you prefer to keep it on, the tool helps you fix grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, style suggestions, and even comes up with word suggestions.

Hats off to the Novlr team for providing such useful functionalities.

I don’t want to compare this proofreader with any paid tool, but it is definitely better than MS Word spell-check. Also, I should admit that no proofreading tool can replace a trained human eye, and this tool is not an exception.

Being a browser-based software, Novlr also integrates seamlessly with Grammarly and ProWritingAid, which is an added benefit.

3. Formatting, Syncing and Exporting:

So, you’ve written a great novel, but it does require concise formatting to keep it reader-friendly. You also need help with exporting your work in an epub format as ebooks are extremely popular these days.

Novlr’s formatting options are really basic; chapter headings and serif font with limited formatting for the front cover! While writing this Novlr review, I found that Novlr’s exporting facility may not be suitable for all book publishing projects.

formatting options of Novlr

Feel free to sync your project to your Google Drive or Dropbox. However, when you sync your account with Google drive, it only creates a pdf format of your book and saves it on your Drive. I have not tested syncing with the Dropbox facility.

With Novlr, you can publish directly to epub format, but print-friendly formatting is yet to be available. Moreover, I am disappointed to find that it can’t export the project in MS Word and PDF format.

Also, Novlr doesn’t stop at exporting the chapters but exports the whole story that you have in the word processor. Therefore, you should be very careful if you are particular about production and publication beyond writing, formatting, and exporting.

4. Offline Mode:

Novlr provides a unique facility to work in the absence of an active internet connection. Usually, all your words are saved on the cloud. However, offline mode lets you keep your work in your browser.

You can continue your writing in the absence of the internet. Everything will be synced to your account once you come online.

Dashboard

Novlr’s Dashboard provides you with easy access to all functionalities. Below, I am describing them one after another.

Main dashboard

1. Goals:

If you plan to participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November, you need to pen down a 50,000-word novel in a month—this comes to 1,667 words a day.

The figure might seem simple to Jeffrey Archer, but you and I require a well-set platform to churn down a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

Novlr can help you achieve this feat as it provides a dedicated “Goals” tab for setting your goals.

Target-based writing is always productive. All of us set goals before starting to work, but our response to our goals keeps lagging as we progress.

how to set goals in Novlr?

Set a daily and monthly word count on this tab and voila! Novlr will keep track of your daily progress. It even has a ‘Streak’ section that tells the number of days in which you’ve achieved your target.

2. Analytics:

Novlr stats

Novlr provides an Analytics tab that gives a detailed report of your word count, and time spent writing. The details are visible for today, this month, and this year. Though this is not an analytics software, the inclusion of a daily progress graph would have been a better representation of daily progress.

3. Learning:

Tim Clare’s “The Couch to 80k Writing” is a popular free writing podcast course for novel writers. The self-learning course trains and motivates the writers with new writing skills, and all it takes is only 10 minutes every day.

This is a highly recommended course if you really want to hone your skills. Novlr includes this course for your benefit.

Novlr Alternatives: Novlr Vs Scrivener

For any novel writer, Scrivener is probably the first tool that comes to mind when starting their writing endeavor. If you are confused about choosing between Novlr and Scrivener, maybe a brief but information-rich comparison could help you.

Aesthetics: Aesthetically speaking, Novlr is better than Scrivener in terms of the interface and design. Though Scrivener might be equipped with plenty of planning features that make it acceptable for some to compromise on the interface, Novlr is no lesser. In fact, Novlr’s interface is better streamlined.

Templates: Prebuilt templates are a great starting point. Scrivener provides a wide range of templates to kickstart your writing. Novlr cannot beat Scrivener in this section.

Formatting & Exporting: As already mentioned, Novlr’s formatting and exporting features aren’t commendable. In any case, Scrivener offers a better package with more advanced options.

I also recommend that you look for other options if you are looking to format your book for publication.

Editing & Tracking: Editing, in my opinion, is best done by humans. Neither Novlr nor Scrivener are great in this department. A proofreader by Novlr is indeed a welcoming feature. Moreover, support for Grammarly gives Novlr an edge over Scrivener.

Collaborative Writing: Writing requires help from peers and feedback from editors. Scrivener does not have any facility to get involved in collaborative writing. In contrast, Novlr provides limited access to read-only versions and commenting, which is better than having nothing.

Accessibility: Novlr is a cloud-based software, and your work is saved on Novlr’s server. It lets you access your work from anywhere as long as you are connected to the internet. Moreover, there is no chance of a hard disk crash and data loss. Scrivener stores your data on your computer. So, Novlr is a clean winner if accessibility and data security is your primary concern.

Pricing: Both Novlr and Scrivener offer a free trial period. Still, Scrivener is much better here as it’s options are flexible, and the trial period is longer too.

Also, Scrivener charges only a one-time license fee of $45 compared to Novlr, which costs $10/month.

Considering all these features, Scrivener offers better value for money and extra features compared to Novlr. But, if aesthetics is your priority and you love cloud-based working, Novlr could be your choice.

Novlr Alternatives: Novlr Vs Dabble

Dabble writer is another cloud-based novel writing software with similar features. Let’s have a comparative study.

Aesthetics: Both the software are designed beautifully. However, Novlr’s design is more polished compared to Dabble. Moreover, Novlr’s Dashboard places all features in one place, which is missing in Dabble.

Templates: Neither Novlr nor Dabble offers a pre-built template.

Formatting & Exporting: Both these software provide very basic formatting support, but Dabble writer provides basic of the basics formatting option.

With Dabble, you can export your individual chapters as word documents only, and with Novlr, you can export your project as an epub format. No other export option is available.

Editing & Tracking: Both these software provide a proofreading facility. Dabble’s proofreading service is powered by ProWritingAid and is probably better than Novlr.

Collaborative Writing: Dabble does not have any collaboration facility, and with Novlr, you can share a read-only version of your manuscript with your co-authors or editor.

Compatibility: Web apps of both these software let you access your work not only on your computer, laptop, or mobile phone but on any gadget anywhere. Dabble also has a dedicated desktop app for Mac as well as Windows.

Goal Tracking: Novlr keeps track of your progress and sets goals (daily/monthly). Dabble, too, offers these and even auto-calculates your daily word count goal based on the number of writing days left before your goal. You could take days off or adjust your goal using the Dabble tool.

Planning & Plotting: Novlr helps you plan your story by breaking them into chapters and sections that help develop your characters/plot. Dabble’s unique drag and drop feature helps in organizing chapters, parts, and scenes. The Plot Grid is another unique feature of Dabble that allows you to develop your plots extremely well.

Pricing: Both the tools offer a two week trial period for free. Dabble is priced differently depending on the plans starting from as low as $5/month to $15/month. However, a full plan is costlier than Novlr.

For those who are concerned about simplicity and organization, Novlr must be your default writing tool of choice. Also, Novlr offers additional features compared to Dabble. Moreover, Novlr has a better interface and aesthetics compared to Dabble. 

The ball is in your court to choose the best writing tool that would simplify your writing process.

Novlr Pros & Cons:

Novlr review – Pros

  • A superb interface that’s aesthetically designed
  • No learning curve required. Suitable for not so tech-savvy writers.
  • Sync across devices and cloud drives
  • Cloud-based technology, work from anywhere
  • Offline mode lets you work in the absence of the internet.
  • Decent inbuilt proofreading tool
  • Focus mode for distraction-free writing
  • Works with Grammarly and ProWritingAid

Novlr review – Cons

  • No native desktop app
  • Limited formatting and exporting options
  • No real-time collaboration

Novlr Price

Don’t hesitate to sign up for this writing tool as Novlr is absolutely free for the first two weeks. After that, you could opt for a yearly or monthly subscription, depending on your comfort.

The annual plan is charged at $100/year. However, with our Novlr discount coupon, it will cost only $85/year.

The monthly subscription costs $10/month.

Conclusion

If writing and only writing is your priority, then don’t second-guess Novlr’s functionality. It suits those who are looking for a neat space and helps build a precise story, characters, and plot.

If simplicity, straightforwardness, clean interface, and goal tracking are your primary requirements, go ahead with Novlr. But, if your focus is on editing, formatting, and exporting the book for publication, it’s better to try other writing tools.

My suggestion would be to try out all features and functionalities of any writing tool during its free trial period and then make an informed choice.

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