Laura Howard: Scrivener: More than Word

12/21/12

Scrivener: More than Word


How many times have you heard about Scrivener and thought

'I'll look into it someday'?

Well, maybe it's just me, but I can't tell you how many times I've thought that. Maybe I just need a little more info, and I have found the definitive source for all things Scrivener ~ Gwen Hernandez, author of Scrivener for Dummies. 




As a writer, you're probably intimately familiar with some sort of word processing software. But, while Microsoft Word and similar programs are great for formatting a finished manuscript or business letter, they may not be the best tools for writing a story.


Enter writing software. Several programs out there are geared specifically for writers, and there's a good reason for it. Traditional word processors force you to write linearly, or cobble together multiple documents if you don't. Good writing software can free you to write in the way that works best for you.


My choice is Scrivener (available for both Mac and Windows). 

Here are just a few reasons why I love it so much.

Each writing project is organized as a collection of documents (e.g. scenes or chapters), all accessible from the same screen, much like being in Finder or Windows Explorer.


You can write a scene--or an outline of a scene--when inspiration strikes, and save it for later. You can easily move scenes around, create scene cards for them (viewable on the “corkboard”), search for terms across all scenes, color code them (by POV, setting, storyline, or whatever), search by keywords, keep project and scene notes, track your word count progress, and so much more.



I don't know how I ever wrote without it!

Within your project you can store web sites, character information, research documents, photos, outlines, synopses, pitch and blurb text, ideas for plot or character changes, and even older versions of scenes.


For those who are easily distracted, Scrivener offers a full screen mode with customizable background. And, in the end, you can export part or all of your project to one of many file types, including e-book (EPUB and MOBI), DOC, PDF, and RTF.



I use Scrivener to write fiction, nonfiction, blog posts, magazine articles, and class lessons. I know people who use it to write screenplays, poetry, legal briefs, academic papers, and genealogy records. You can even use it for recipes.

If you're serious about writing, consider switching to software that works with your writing style, not against it.



  


Got questions? I’ll check in throughout the day to answer them.

12 comments:

  1. I started using Scrivener with my second novel and I love it. Yes, I resisted for a while, but now that I've made the switch I wouldn't go back to Word without a fight. One thing I do, however, is keep an empty Word doc open and use its spell check (which seems to know more words than the one in Scrivener) and thesaurus. As for the learning curve, I installed it on my son's netbook but didn't have time to show him how to use it. The next day, when I called him over to give him a lesson, he showed me a story he was writing and had it organized by chapter/scene. When I asked him how he figured it out, he rolled his eyes and said, "It's not that hard." By the way, he turned 10 this week.

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  2. Laura: Thanks for letting me share a little about why I love Scrivener so much. =) I'm happy to answer any questions.

    Carl: I'm impressed that you got your son to try it out. I keep telling my teen boys that they need it for their school papers, but they're dubious. And, jeez, they have tech support under the same roof. ;-)

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    1. All it took was for him to see me using it. I was actually showing it to my wife, who had expressed an interest in writing down some childhood stories, when my son saw it and told me he had to have it.

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    2. See, if I'd been smart I would have been sneaky about it, but as soon as I told them how great it was and recommended it to them, it was all over. ;-) But I won't give up the fight!

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  3. Laura: Thanks for letting me share a little about why I love Scrivener so much. =) I'm happy to answer any questions.

    Carl: I'm impressed that you got your son to try it out. I keep telling my teen boys that they need it for their school papers, but they're dubious. And, jeez, they have tech support under the same roof. ;-)

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  4. I so much want to use Scrivener - I have the 30 day trial but day 1 and boy was I confused!
    I spent an afternoon going through the tutorial and was totally bemused, (at best) and then so frustrated that I wanted to throw the laptop at the wall that I'd lost an afternoon's writing and got nowhere.
    Perhaps...just perhaps...this Dummies book is what I need!
    G x

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    1. I understand, Grace. Scrivener is so different in many ways from a standard word processor--part of what makes it so great--that it can require a change in thinking before it makes sense. But if any of it sounds like something you use, give yourself a chance, and take it slowly.

      The biggest mistake people make is wanting to know how to use all of the features right away. Yet with most software it takes weeks, months, or years of use to become really adept. Word processing programs like Word have been around so long that they seem easy. But really, how many people know how to record a macro, add a section break, or perform a mail merge? Most of us only use the basics of a program--the part that applies to what we're doing. With Scrivener, so much of it applies that we get overwhelmed trying to take it all in at once.

      Okay, that might have been longer than my blog post, but basically, good luck. ;-)

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    2. I think you've hit on the key problem with learning most software -- wanting to know how to use all the features right away. I'm sure Scrivener has features I'll never learn, but that's okay, because the ones I use and understand have already made me a more productive writer.

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  5. I'm still a rank beginner, but I share your passion for Scrivener. Like Grace above, I struggled the first time I opened the program up and dived into the tutorial, but I did as you suggest and decided to proceed one toe at a time. I'm still not using it to anywhere near its full functionality, but oh, how I love it, love it, love it. I'll definitely be buying your book (probably after Christmas), because I know there are features I'm still missing out on.

    I'd never considered using Scrivener for blog posts or poetry--what a good idea!

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    1. Kern: I'm glad sticking with it worked out for you! Always glad to hear that I've given someone a new idea. I'm so used to hearing myself talk about Scrivener, I sometimes wonder if I have anything new to offer. ;-) Happy holidays!

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  6. I love the idea of Scrivener and downloaded the trial software a while ago (long since expired) - but didn't really have the time to learn to drive it. However I keep hearing other writers raving about it - so Scrivner for dummies might be exactly what I need!

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    1. Raewyn: I hope you give it another chance. Happy new year!

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