I am going to need a new writing program that has a sidebar in it
November 18, 2016 9:20 AM   Subscribe

I need a replacement for Rough Draft that works in Windows 10.

I love the Rough Draft writing program because it has a sidebar where I can post and see my notes while writing. However, it hasn't been updated since 2009 and while it works on Windows 7, my laptop is about to die and I'm going to have to end up with Windows 10. Does any program out there exist that has a little sidebar in it that I can use in the future? As far as I know only Celtx does, but I don't plan on using Celtx for NaNoWriMo since it's a screenwriting program.
posted by jenfullmoon to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried Scrivener? A lot of people seem to really love it. The settings can be a little involved to set up, but there is indeed an option for a notes sidebar.
posted by ourobouros at 9:25 AM on November 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Seconding Scrivener. It's set up for writing long form projects like a novel, dissertation, screenplay, etc. and has specific features related to the needs of people not writing from a stream of consciousness. In addition to the notes sidebar, there's also a whole separate outlining/note-card mode which has been invaluable when I've written more involved projects in the past.
posted by Sara C. at 9:28 AM on November 18, 2016

I'll third Scrivener. It's so good, and it has a great iOS app if you're going to write on the go.
posted by SansPoint at 9:32 AM on November 18, 2016

Scrivener again. I just now started using the iOS app (I forgot about it, but it got cold out and I want to write in bed) that I bought when it came out. I basically do everything writing-y in Scrivener, including a "Misc Projects" project where I work on things like Metafilter posts and scripts for presentations and stuff.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:41 AM on November 18, 2016

Oh, and to your specific needs - Scrivener has a really nice split-screen function too, which means if your notes/outlines are especially extensive, you can have your notes and your wip page open nicely next to/over-under each other.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2016

Yes, Scrivener! I use the Windows 10 version, and I very actively use the note section in the sidebar. I appreciate that you can have a note section for the whole, top-level project as well as a note section for the specific document/section I'm on, and that it's easy to switch between the two. (And if you only want one note section, that's fine, too!) The split-screen function that Lyn Never mentions is also awesomely helpful for having references/information visible while I'm working.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 9:49 AM on November 18, 2016

I'm not going to add to the chorus of people recommending Scrivener (since I think at this point it would be redundant) except to say that it has previously gone on sale for black Friday so that might be worth waiting for.
posted by quaking fajita at 10:19 AM on November 18, 2016

Just as a note on price: I last paid probably $40 (probably with a NaNoWriMo winner coupon) for Scrivener maybe 4-5 years ago (and many new features/builds have come in that time), plus $20 for the iOS app. Subscription browser-based Novlr, which has a similar set of features except does not work on iOS, not even in the browser, is $10/mo. Scrivener's a hell of a deal for the work put into it.

Novlr's devs do seem really responsive, and apparently you can work offline in the browser but I think you have to connect first and then go offline (so that's good if you're using a utility like Freedom to de-Facebook yourself for periods of writing time, not so good if you're writing at your rustic lake cabin), and then back online to sync.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:48 AM on November 18, 2016

I use Scrivener on Mac and it's excellent. And I'm pretty sure the Windows version is broadly up to feature parity.

I've also heard Liquid Binder is good, though much more Windows-ey.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:59 AM on November 18, 2016

Ywriter is free and easy but mostly for novel. Can also run from a pendrive.

Scrivener is good but not for me.

Liquid Binder is a little outdate but still one of the more complete software for complex projects.

Can I suggest also onenote? Not a writing software as such, but has a sidebar and tabs, runs on all platforms and synchs everywhere.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 2:49 PM on November 18, 2016

Scrivener. I don't know much about its screenwriting functionality except that it outputs to Final Draft format if you want it to. I use the Windows version on Win 10 (not quite up to parity with Mac features, but closer all the time) and the iOS version, which is a gem and definitely lets you open research or whatever in a sidebar.

For the Mac/Windows version there is a 30 day eval -- that's 30 real days, not 30 calendar days. Open it Monday and Thursday, you've used two days of the eval, not two days out of the first week.
posted by lhauser at 4:33 PM on November 18, 2016

Also, if Rough Draft works for you and you have no desire to switch to something else, I just tested it and it appears to work just fine in Windows 10. So you still have that option if you'd like.

(In general, there are vanishingly few programs that are compatible with Windows 7 but not with Windows 10.)
posted by Aleyn at 7:51 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I use RoughDraft just fine in Windows 10. There's no need to change what you're used to.
posted by tomboko at 8:02 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks, folks, but Scrivener has so many bells and whistles and yet I can't even figure out where the sidebar is. I fear I am too dumb for it. I did download One Note for future trying out though. I am happy to hear that Rough Draft still works in Windows 10 and I put it on my tablet and it works. Huzzah!
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:56 PM on November 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

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