Every aspiring writer, accomplished author, self-published author and heck, even aspiring wannabe novelists have turned their thoughts to writing software at some point or other. If this is you, you need to know about a powerful writing tool ...
I’d heard a lot about Scrivener, mostly that it’s a brilliant, flexible package for writers and authors to help manage the creative process from start to finish, keep all notes and research ideas grouped together and let the creative juices start flowing.
So I dived and gave it a try.
If you’re working on any material, from books to screenplay and feel frustrated with Word or whatever software you’re using [maybe OneNote to keep your bits and bobs handy] you have just got to move over to Scrivener.
No matter what writing project you’re in or on, it can be pretty scary to get to grips with all the work that is needed to hold your thoughts and wild imaginings.
A complete novel or non-fiction takes plenty of time and mounds of planning, re-planning, shifting, re-ordering, editing and re-editing and re-editing yet again before you see anything that can safely face the light of day - let alone show an agent or publisher.
So where do you begin?
You could try the good old fashioned software widely available on most PCs or you could go Pro and break your project into manageable chunks.
It helps you get far more organised than any note-taking app - I do use OneNote and have looked vaguely at TreePad - but the flexibility of Scrivener gives you far more than just organisation and free flow writing.
The advanced ability to use tools such as the kork board for random ideas and also to move chapters around lets loose the chains of regular software and actually does what Red Bull is supposed to do - give you wings!
Talking of software and Word, Scrivener isn’t a word processor per say, it was designed to let writers tackle larger projects, gathering multiple documents, notes and research materials all in one place and allowing you to rearrange them at will - this is the beauty and freedom!
First and foremost, Scrivener gives you freedom to work on your project in segments, with two ways to work or view your work. Say hello to the korkboard and the outline view. Scrivener describes them as a bird's-eye view of your project segments.
Scrivener’s ‘Korkboard’ view is where your story all hangs out and can be displayed as index cards, letting you see and edit titles and synopses. The Korkboard represents each of your segments as an index card with a title and a synopsis, while the outline view shows more fields.
Another view, called the scrivenings view, lets you see you view all selected segments as one continuous document, to see how they read in sequence. Whichever you prefer to use, you can swap and chop and change constantly throughout your writing experience in Scrivener.
Did I mention freedom?
Ahem … moving on. You can use scrivenings view to read your entire material, manuscript or chapter [aka your work of art], which is pretty useful for making sure an individual plot point or time-line flows correctly and then swap around as needed - something you wouldn’t want to attempt in Word as you may make a real boo-boo of it [she says with experience].
You can add your own references, notes, keywords and a synopsis – to remember which characters are involved in a particular scene or chapter.
Use the research area to keep track of graphics, videos, audio links, PDFs or even full live web pages. The twin document view lets you view your text and research material side by side on the same screen.
You can of course ‘compile’ your finished manuscript, document or play or whatever you’re writing to a variety of formats, from Word document to ebook or direct to print.
Begin at the beginning, some writing experts say …
It may not seem easy to get started with Scrivener and it is so powerful looking that it can be pretty daunting just seeing all the functionality. I decided to chew on it for a bit and then get started slowly.
So, taking Scrivener’s advice I read the tutorial through and through and stopping along the way to poke around and fiddle with each widget and gadget in the tutorial. This certainly took my breath away and gave me more of a ‘awe-struck’ feeling of the fish I had just landed.
Moving on - and feeling a bit less daunted - but still pretty damn impressed, I watched a few video tutorials on the Scrivener site and even went one further and found some more on YouTube, such as this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DthBJhBrYs [35 minutes long but worth it]. Try finding some of your own.
Before I forget to mention this … remember one thing Scrivener saves your documents automatically as you write so don’t panic about closing down and forgetting to save.
I am still getting to grips with the full power under my fingertips and there is lots more to learn such as labelling Scene, Idea, Character Notes, etc.
I am told I can also assign keywords out of a keyword hierarchy to help me search for segments labelled with specific keywords (such as the name of a character), and read them in isolation using scrivenings mode. I am yet to get that clever, but I am looking forward to each writing day with Scrivener!
Scrivener's other writing aids include a flexible character name generator, a quick look shows you can select pick any ethnicity for the first and last name, pick which letter the name should start with or search by meaning. It makes any writer want to fire up a new story - just to get down and dirty with a hoard of possible character names.
That all said for writers and authors, Scrivener is also ideal for any freelancer writer, copy editor and indeed even a PA who writes for clients.
Writing reviews needs lots of organisation with different reviews and categories so after stumbling around for months I tried Scrivener for this too and found it ideal for keeping all of iHubbub’s reviews in one place. I have a file for 'To Do' and another for 'Done' and each review can be added to, edited and moved around in order of priority.
“The writing software to set your writing free, don’t start a story or even a page without Scrivener!”
So, that's it for now ... I'm off - have novels to write!