See…for I have Scrivened!

5 Comments

Mattox MS

I’ve now successfully used Scrivener to compile, complete and sell a short piece of work (15,000 words) as well as continuing to construct a complex novella about Valkyries and I’m pleased to report that I found it to be a very helpful writing tool.

I have no doubt that the seasoned Scrivern-ers amongst you will be nodding sagely, as I am telling you something they already know – that Scrivener is very, very useful to writers.

But if I tell you why it was so useful, then perhaps the reason for my praise will become clearer. The screen shots below might be the first you’ve seen of Scrivener, but for the old hands they will be all too familiar (in a good way).

Simply put, Scrivener allows the writer to build their manuscript chapter by chapter, or in  the case of the novella, scene by scene so that the story can be built in sections. Ideal for Planners, but also useful for Pantsers like me. 😀

If you wanted to be this organised in Word, you’d need either a dozen separate Word docs or you’d have to put up with scrolling / word searching / constructing a table of contents in order to hop back and forth between research and story…and back again.

Scrivener screen shot

As the Scrivener scenes / chapters are filled, they can be linked together (compiled) at any time to form one temporary document which can be read straight through. This will also provide a word count for the whole project (visible at the bottom of the Valkyrie document above). The document can then be dismantled with a single click and you can go right back to working on individual scenes / chapters. Or the whole project can be exported in multiple formats at any time. This has an added bonus – it keeps projects free of all those irritating little formatting errors that Word documents accumulate…errors that make eBook formatting into a nightmare.

Scrivener screen shot2

Additional folders can be created ad infinitum, depending on the extent of your research. Templates of characters and their relationships (not shown here) and settings, geography and history can be placed in named folders, ready for instant access.  Images can also be added into the binder – see the last item in the binder above – plus video and audio files.

This is particularly useful to me; I use an Acer Netbook for my writing. It’s an Intel Atom device that grinds to a halt if more than half-a-dozen documents are opened at one time – something I would need to do if I was to have all my research and reference images to hand. But by using Scrivener, I can now keep all my information in one place – and it’s all accessible from a single folder with a single click. Plus, having everything close at hand keeps my Windows taskbar clear of multiple documents.

Scrivener also allows the writer to create folders relevant to the chapters close at hand, in the preferred order and with multiple sub-folders. I’ve tried this using Microsoft and find myself having to include numbers as part of the folder names to prevent them from being sorted alphabetically.

Although my Scrivener trial period hasn’t ended, I’ve now gone ahead and purchased it. At £34 (about $50), I’m convinced that it will be an invaluable asset to me. All my future projects will now be created in Scrivener, only becoming Word documents at the very end.

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If you’re interested, Scrivener is available as a trial download from here;

(Please note that I am in no way affiliated with Literature and Latte. I’m merely pointing the way for you.)

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Becoming a Scrivener-er…a new adventure.

38 Comments

Mattox MS

On Tuesday 21st May, I finally decided that I’d had ENOUGH of writing in Microsoft Word and took a long, hard look at Scrivener.

But why, you might ask, when more than half of the writers I’d spoken to said it was the best thing ever, had I waited so long???

Well, (long story short) I’d always been happy to use Word in all of its incarnations since before Office 95 was ‘the latest thing’.  But now, as I began to use Office 2010, acquired in March 2013, my heart sank. The darn thing seemed to have a mind of its own.

From paragraph formatting to bullet points it suddenly felt as if Word didn’t want me to be there any more.

I use *   *   * to separate paragraphs – have you tried to type that in Office 2010? It turns into bullets!!

Still, I persisted and wrestled with it for another four weeks, working around the peculiarities as I assembled articles, short stories and…my CreateSpace version of  ‘A Construct of Angels.’ Huge gaps between paragraphs and page breaks that refused to undo became the final straw. For three nights, I was forced to cut and paste sentences in order to get around this idiotic formating problem and when the time came to begin my next project, my brain cried ‘ENOUGH! I can’t go through all that again!’

So, in desperation to soothe my addled mind, I Googled the best price for the latest (or even the previous, for I am not proud) version of Scrivener.

Not so easy, for here in soggy England, we’re unable to take advantage of the NaNoWriMo offer price on Amazon (unless you know of a way around that…) as it’s only on Amazon.com…and we poor Brits aren’t allowed to download from there in case there’s none left for everyone else. We’re quite a ravenous bunch over here – we have been since WW2 rationing ended.

But I managed to uncover a trial download from PC World – priced at $40. Why dollars? Well the download linked to Literature and Latte dot com who seem to have no problems with feeding us hungry Brits.

And so I went for it, desperately hoping that this shining light, this gift from the Gods (they are there…they’ve just retired) was everything that it had been purported.

All right, Toynbee…don’t oversell it!

So far, so good. It downloaded (49MB), installed (even on my stone-age Windows Vista Netbook) opened and allowed me to explore. The tutorial looked daunting, but because it’s interactive (‘try this…see what happens; now try this…isn’t it good?’) it’s more kinesthetic than cramming.

I think that Scrivener and I are going to get along just fine. My ex (Word 2010) will still  be allowed to visit at weekends, but that relationship has definitely cooled.

I will let you know if romance blossoms with the new girl in town.

So, with Scrivener in mind, Write On!

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