Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Scrivener

Last year for my birthday, I received Scrivener and it has made a world of difference in my writing process. At first, I imported an older WiP into the program and mostly used the program for revisions. Since then, I started my newest WiP from scratch using the program and really fell in love with everything Scrivener had to offer. Here are the highlights, imo:

1) Outlining: For every scene or chapter (depending on how you like to organize your WiP), an index card is created. On the index card goes a short summary of the scene/chapter. In addition, you can include other information (meta-data) like status (To-do, first draft, revised, etc.), color-coded label (ex. scene, chapter, plot thread), or word-count goal with progress. Plus, you can add custom information (I always add POV). Once you have this information on your index cards, you can view them on a corkboard and best of all, rearrange them however you want. Moving around a notecard also moves the associated chapter/scene within the MS. Most of the time though, I use the outline mode where I can get a quick overview of all my scenes/chapters and associated meta-data.

*Outlining in Scrivener also came in extremely handy for the finished first draft before I jumped into revisions.


2) Writing: There are so many little things in Scrivener which have made my writing sessions so much easier. The full screen option for example. You can choose the background (and the level of transparency) and then enter full-screen where there's absolutely nothing to distract you from finishing that scene. Sounds relatively simple, but it sure has made a difference for me. And then there are the writing targets. If I set a target word goal for the whole MS and tell Scrivener which days I plan to write on, I'll get a target word-count for each writing session. As I write, I can choose to have Scrivener display my progress toward both the overall target word count and the session target. As I get closer to the target, the progress bar changes from red to green. That sounds ridiculously simple, but it really does motivate me! And finally, Scrivener has blank character and setting worksheets built right in. I can even add photos and music which I can then look at/listen to while writing about a particular character/setting.

3) Revising: With Scrivener, I can break up my screen for easy comparison between drafts of my MS. Or, I can split the screen between my MS and feedback from my CPs or Betas. Just being able to have the feedback and the MS side-by-side like that in a single window has really streamlined my revision process. Also, I can choose assign different text colors to different revisions so I can see exactly how my MS has evolved as it's gone through each revision. Pretty cool, right?

4) Formatting: Once I'm done with my MS, I can compile all of the scenes/chapters into a single MS in pretty much whatever format I choose (Word, RTF, PDF, HTML, Kindle, ePub). That's got to be one of the best parts!

There is so much more that Scrivener can do (I only use the features which best fit my writing style), so if you're thinking about trying it out, check out these tutorial videos, but beware, after I watched the first one I just knew I had to get the program!

There are other writing programs out there of course and I've read blog posts and forum posts from writers who swear by something else and maybe can't stand Scrivener. So, before you buy anything, check out this List of 25 Writing Programs writer's should know about.

What about you? Do you use a particular software to writer (other than Word)? What do you think of it and would you recommend it to other writers? Or are you maybe in the market for a writing software?

12 comments:

  1. I recently jumped on the Scrivener bandwagon to revise my last manuscript. I'm using it now to outline a future project. I definitely sing its praises now. :)

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    1. Yay, another Scrivener fan! Isn't it wonderful? ;)

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  2. I just checked out Pro Writing Aid the other day. It's a free, online editing program that just came out this Feb. Like AutoCrit, helps scan your document for commonly overused words, cliche phrasings, and repeated words (i.e. words that you tend to overuse). It was actually extremely useful to me. However, I have to say I'm a little sketched out about the idea of plugging my WHOLE manuscript into their field for analysis. It makes me a wee bit worried. That said, I've only heard good things about this tool, and it was actually extremely helpful for the bit I did do. Have you heard anything about the software?

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    1. I definitely like the idea of Pro Writing Aid telling you which authors your work compares to...but like you, I don't know about entering my whole MS into an online program.

      I haven't heard anything bad about the software - and it would probably be all over the Absolute Write forums if something bad had happened - so I guess it's probably okay, but still, haha. I guess I'm a bit cautious - maybe overly so.

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  3. I've only ever used Word and I'm so anti-change I can't imagine I'll try anything else either. But Scrivener looks pretty amazing.

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    1. You should check it out! I was skeptical at first too - it seemed like so much work to transfer everything I already had over to a new program - but in the end I'm so glad I tried it. I'm a much more efficient writer these days :D

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  4. I use scrivener too and love it. I also have it synced to my iPad so that I can do some writing when I travel without my computer.

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    1. That sounds like a great idea! Although, I still can't really type well on the iPad - I think I'd need to hook up a portable keyboard to be able to use it that way, haha.

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  5. Great post! I can't imagine how life without Scrivener anymore, just like without a phone or Google. It's the most amazing piece of software to ever enhance a writer's life! :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by :) And I'm so glad to hear of another happy Scrivener user!

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  6. I hear a lot of great things about Scrivener but I've never broken down and used it. Yet. That may still happen LOL These days I write my first drafts by hand and then transcribe them to Word but I keep being tempted by Scrivener because it will let me move scenes around easily. We'll see...

    ~ Rhonda Parrish

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    1. Try it! I bet you'll love it :D Especially if you move around scenes a lot during revisions.

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