Scrivener

I recently had the opportunity to purchase this writing assist tool, and after spending most of the day fiddling around with it, I’ve decided to give my thoughts on the whole program.

To start, for anyone who does not know what Scrivener is, it’s a writing-assist program used to keep a sometimes overwhelming amount of information and work in file-style order. With a plethora of templates and styles, it’s a program dedicated to larger writing projects such as novel-writing, textbook creation, screenplay-writing, etc. I spent over an hour reading the step-by-step how-to “project” simply to understand the nuances of the program.

I’m a fiction novel writer, so I decided to use it exactly how it explains I should: a folder for each chapter, a text file for each scene in said chapter, and synopses to keep everything labeled correctly. I placed all my characters in their own character sheets under the “characters” file and my scenery/languages/countries of note under the “settings” file. I uploaded my cover image, the “front matter” and “back matter” for the novel, and even took the time to label each character with its own color. That being said, after I finished all of my filing, I can honestly say…

If you are a writer, this will slow you down.

On the other hand, if you want to be a published author, this will expedite and speed the process immensely. Let me explain what I mean. It’s a handful of busywork. Every scene for every chapter split into each text file, each chapter in its own folder, is exasperating. I can’t stand it. Give me a word file, a big one, and I’ll fill it right up as I work. I don’t have to step out of the “zone” and click new folder, click new scene every time I start a new chapter.

Now. If your novel is finished, I highly recommend you plug the whole thing in, step by step, because ABSOLUTELY everything is at your fingertips. Chapter 6, scene 4? You know, the one where your protagonist hangs over a pit of punji spikes while a board of trustees deliberates her future on a conference call? Yeah. Mistype, paragraph six. Boom. Managed. Click, click, click. Done. Passive verb use in chapter 15, scene two, where that airplane WAS falling to where that lake used to be, before the villain evaporated it. That darn thing fell. Fell right down to the salty depths of a… ravine. I guess.

And what was that secondary character’s name? You know? The one from Chapter 1, scene 3? Yeah. His reappearance in chapter twelve REALLY needs to coincide with his ACTUAL name. Click characters. Click Darnell. Managed.

What I’m saying is, for casual writers, this program will possibly add to the distractions. Write your shit and make it hit. Worry about where it goes, and how it works, in the editing process. BUT ONCE YOU’RE THERE? Hit this program up. Please. You’ll thank me for it.

With a price tag somewhere around 45 bucks, it’s much more affordable than a few other programs, namely Microsoft Word (which bundles with other programs to be somewhere around 100 dollars, if you’re lucky). I like it, especially if you can find a deal on it (like I did).

Also: Composition mode. Love it. Not the first program to offer a “blur all your crap on your desktop out so you can sit and actually write” screen, but certainly something Word doesn’t understand. As well, at least.

Scrivener also offers track changes features, post-it notes, cork boards for visual scene layout, outline protocol, all sorts of fun extras. If you’re like me, that stuff simply slows you down. If you’re as anal retentive as some (very amazing) people I’ve met, it might be that little piece of something something that allows you to actually write your memoir. Either way, I recommend you look into it. Novice or advanced alike.

~x

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