I currently use Google Drive/Docs to pen all of my novels and short stories, but really feel that I could do with a management suite of sorts, such as Scrivener.

However, as Scrivener costs actual money, I was wondering if there is a free alternative available, but with the caveat that it operates online via a cloud server.

Does such a thing exist that anybody has experience with?

  • This is exactly what I am looking for as well. I've played a little with Quip, and its not bad. But it really intended for collaborative work and is not as strong in organization & management. You might give it a try.
    – kmote
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 21:55
  • 1
    Scrivener costs actual money, but not a whole lot of it. It's by far the most efficient tool I have used for writing stories. Be sure and value your own time appropriately when selecting a tool.
    – Eric J.
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 1:57
  • I was just about to ask the very same question... after hearing about Scrivener from others on this site. I also use Google Drive to store all my writing.
    – Abs
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 1:44
  • Why do you think that 'free' will be any good vs scrivener + dropbox" Its like $70 one off. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 13:12
  • I organize my stories with windows folders. Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 21:24

9 Answers 9


There is a great free novel writing tool available, it's called yWriter and it can be downloaded from spacejock.com. It's not an online tool but it if you need it on the go it can be run from a usb pen drive.

The only free and online tools I can think of are litlift which is at litlift.com and Hiveword from hiveword.com and Inklewriter which is at inklestudios.com/inklewriter but I've not used any of them so you have a fun time of discovery to come!

  • thanks for the links. I gave each one a try (except yWriter, as I only want online/cloud tools, like the OP). The first two are (in my opinion) very clunky and distracting. I prefer a more "minimalist" approach (where the text is the main part of the page and the buttons and features are hidden or unobtrusive). The other one (Inklewriter) is for "interactive" stories which, IMO, is quite gimmicky and not useful for a serious writer. So, bottom line, none of these seem appropriate for dedicated authors.
    – kmote
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 0:33
  • I have just tried Hiveword and it appears to be just fine for me - not ideal, but if you are looking for something where you have a range of organisational tools at your disposal, then I would recommend Hiveword. Although, if you are looking for something a little more minimalist, then I would suggest something like Novlr (although it will not always be free - it is only free because it is currently in BETA). It is not the most functional piece of software but is very smooth and streamlined and distraction-free.
    – M.Y. David
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 8:57

I just tried Novlr and it seems to work pretty well. It is very minimalistic and has a basic chapter feature.

  • During nanowrimo, I have tried several different software platforms, nolvr and scrivener included. I don't understand the hype of scrivener after using the demo. I was almost instantly frustrated and it was not intuitive. The tutorial basically gave you a fake template but still didn't explain to you how to use or do anything. In the end, if I were to spend on software for writing it would be novlr. Currently, I am content to stick with pages.
    – ggiaquin16
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 20:37

I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to jump on and contribute this response for anyone else who may wander by in the future. I found WaveMaker at https://wavemaker.co.uk/. For writing anytime or anywhere, this software cannot be beat! Here's what it can do:

  1. Synch your work to any computer, anywhere, at any time.

  2. Works in your browser or can be downloaded locally.

  3. Works on ANY device with an internet browser.

  4. Works offline.


As if those things weren't enough, it has a METRIC CRAPTON of other features. I won't get into them here because frankly, I haven't used them all. But, if you go to the website, they're all laid out there. I'm telling you, for anybody looking for a flexible writing app, LOOK. NO. FURTHER. WaveMaker's got you covered.

For the record: NO, I'm not getting any kind of kickbacks or anything for promoting this software. It took me forever to find this software. Unfortunately, I had already spent money on other options before I did. So, I am hoping to help others put an end to their writing software blues by getting this info in their hands.

  • 1
    Welcome to Writing.SE another_starving_artist, glad you found us. Please check out our tour and help center. I'm really glad you added that paragraph at the end because your enthusiasm about this product made it sound like you were selling it. But I understand why you feel that way if you've been searching for the perfect thing then found it.
    – Cyn
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 18:39
  • 1
    Thank you for this. I too, like most other people, also suspected that you had an affiliation with WaveMaker due to the fervour that you put across in your answer. I'm pleased to learn that you are merely sharing knowledge. Duly upvoted.
    – M.Y. David
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 21:20

You could look at Evernote. A lot of writers swear by that one. It's not exactly like Scrivener, but it does a lot of nice things and can be very versatile.

Alternatively, Microsoft is giving away OneNote, which is similar, if you're familiar with the concept of an electronic notebook. It can also output the pages created as Word documents or RTF files (I think).

And a +1 for both Hiveword and yWriter, too.

  • I would not recommend OneNote for organization of files unless you are dealing with a small number (< 100, organized into several folders). It is great for generating custom forms/templates and rapidly filling them out, and you can search your documents, but it is decidedly not a database nor a file organization tool, and it can get overwhelmed with content. (I used it for a work project for 2 years with thousands of forms. We constantly had to move content into archived "notebooks" to keep it usable-- in terms of organization, not memory.)
    – wordsworth
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 18:22

Scrivener is a fantastic tool that's also a remarkably well-written piece of software. The programmer deserves recompense for his effort. Neither Word nor Evernote nor OneNote are sufficiently similar to Scrivener to merit comparison. Look at the Literature and Latte website. Read about it. Check out Gwen Hernandez site; she's an expert on Scrivener. Yes, it costs money. Yes, yes, yes, it's worth it.


I think you'll find that TrueNovelist just about fulfils your requirements. Free, online with a management suite.

Here's some blurb from the site

Organize your writing and research in a way that makes sense to you. Create separate folders for characters, places, research, and more. You can create as many folders and scenes as you like.

Nothing is more motivating than knowing how much progress you have made on your story. See daily statistics on your words per minute, overall words typed, and more.

Set daily word count goals, and track your overall progress. View the last few days and see how many times you have reached your goal.

Doing a little bit of experimental writing on a scene? Take snapshots of your work, so you can rollback to an earlier version at any time.

Work is autosaved to the cloud as soon as you stop typing - work anywhere you have an internet connection.

Another online alternative is Yarny


Seequill (seequill.net) is not free but it's pretty close ($30/year). I think you'd find it hard to find a free version online, unless you don't mind it being plastered with ads. But I have been very happy with Seequill. It's got a very clean interface. You can do the basics of what Scrivener can do (reorder scenes and chapters, etc.) plus it lets you store images for characters and locations. It also has a timeline feature to track you characters in your story. And you can export to Word.

From their site:


If you're on IOS and write on the go like I do? You should try out Storyist. It's more of a management suite like Scrivener. Works really well on iPad with BT keyboard. The price is affordable, way less than what you'd likely spend on Scrivener for comparable capabilities.


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