Android Alternatives to Scrivener’s Notecards

Writing notes on paper
Photo by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

I love Scrivener. Love it. But I don’t use it. Why? Two reasons. First, Literature & Latte the company behind Scrivener, doesn’t have a Linux version. Second, a lot of my writing these days, at least in draft form, happens on my phone. And it’s an Android, which does not yet have a Scrivener version.

So, I found alternatives. Especially for Scrivener’s beautiful notecard outline.

Hard to do, but possible. Here’s what I’ve found so far, starting with the most recent.

Hello Trello?

This is the most recent approach I’ve found and it works surprisingly well.

Trello is actually a project management site/app. You create a board, which then has lists on it, and cards inside the lists. Cards can have descriptions, checklists, etc. I signed up some time ago, hoping it would help me manage my publishing schedule.

And then found a different system and forgot about Trello.

But I started using it again due to this writer’s wonderful article on using it to outline her novel.

How one woman does it

From what I can see, the article’s author, Anna-Maria Ninnas, creates a board for the chapter of her novel, then creates lists of various sorts on the board. Some of them are for brainstorming plot. Some of them are for threading plots together. All of them involve Trello’s ability to move cards around, even between lists.

After trying it out, I found the trick is to make sure you use the headlines as if you were writing on a notecard. Detailed information you don’t need up front can go in the description, but you won’t be able to see it.

Quick, simple, to the point. Nice.

Other possibilities

If that doesn’t work for you, or you want something extremely close to Scrivener, but don’t care how the outline actually looks, I recommend Novelist.

Novelist is the closest thing I’ve found to Scrivener for Android. It’s extremely flexible, with a way to back up via Google Drive, and sync using Write on Web.

It also has a scene outline feature that allows you to move scenes you’re writing from one place to another.

That’s how I created the outline for my most recent projects, including Puck’s Call (which is still being revised, more later).

If you want to download the app, you can find it here:

Link to Novelist at the Play Store

There is, of course, the old-fashioned way: just use index cards. It’s the most flexible of all. Not quite as portable, though. YMMV.

The important thing, though, is to know if you need an outline, and then find something that allows you to at least have an idea where you’re heading. Even if you scrap it, your mind will say, “Ah, this is important,” and start working out all the issues as you write. That’s been my experience.

What about you? If you write, how do you outline? Let me know in the comments below!

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