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Hail, Scrivener!

With the writing I’ve been doing the past week I’ve gotten curious if there are ways to make, you know, the job easier.  Word has been my tool of choice if for no other reason than it’s something I’ve used for 20 years.  The biggest issue I’ve been having with my latest story is the amount of research I’ve done.  Info on ghosts and other creatures in Indonesia, maps of Bali, keeping long character and village names straight in my head . . . it was a bit of work.

A few months back I found information linking me to a program known as Scrivener, a writing studio program originally developed for the Mac.  Not so great for me, however, is I have a Devil Dell and Windows is my platform.  But, what’s that you say?  There’s a beta for Windows?  Yeah, there is.  And so I downloaded it.

Now, I didn’t really know what the hell to do with it.  Write, yeah, but what else?  With my current project, and the notes I’ve created, the research I’ve developed, I thought, “Hey, lets see what I can do with this.”  So this morning I started loading everything over from my Word document to Scrivener–

Oh, man.  It’s like having a Companion Cube and knowing you never have to burninate it.

You have everything right there at your fingertips, in an online binder, and when you need something do you a quick click and there is information on a character, and there is information on town, or link to a map, or a wiki entry . . . it lets you have everything you want in one place so you don’t have to start looking for a bunch of files to help you bring your story together.

The one function I love is the ability to work on your story scene by scene, which is something I’m doing now.  You can develop and build each seen, put them in sections, and when you’re ready use the Compile tool to merge everything into a single document for submission or publication.  So you can break your story down to the easiest levels, get them nice and tight without needing to scroll all over the place, then put them together in the end the way you like–or your editor likes.

It’s not going to make you a better writer–I mean, if you suck you’ll just be a sucky writer who’s better organized.  But if you can walk the walk, then this is gonna help you enormously.

And if you find Scrivener isn’t your thing, The Lierature and Latte sites gives you a number of alternatives.

10 thoughts on “Hail, Scrivener!

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Other programs try to do this but simply don’t have the same effect. Even at its most basic level and even in Windows (!) it beats the others hands down. And the more we sing about it, the more money Literature and Latte will make and the more they’ll upkeep it for us. Glad you found it. Next stop, a Mac??

    • The more I get into Scrivener, the more I learn about it and what I can do. I do want to see it continue, because writing is hard enough. As for the Mac . . . right now I’ll stick with my Devil Dell. It keeps me warm.

  2. I don’t get it. Surely you can do all that with a normal word processor and a few bits of paper? Or post-it notes on a wall – the writer’s best friend. I find that having things in seperate documents (or physically infront of me) makes them easier to find than if they were in a database, and writing them out helps you remember them.

    I guess the scene by scene thing could be useful, but don’t you get confused taking them out of context?

    I might have to check this out and see if I’m wrong.

    • The nice thing in Scrivener is you do have the post-it notes on the wall; you can actually make up a virtual cork board and pin up ideas, scenes, characters, everything. That’s how it looks when I set up a section and the start putting scenes in: my cork board is the section and each scene is a note. By splitting the screen you can keep your writing in front of you and pull up any notes you need. I found it great to work with because this last story I did was 24,300 words, and when I needs to see something I pulled up the note–there is was–back to writing.

      I didn’t so scenes out of order, but sometimes when I’m developing stories and get that way with anchoring scenes, and then coming up with the connection scenes. Wit this, you can story board it by setting up scenes and then noting information in between

  3. Thanks for the kind words about Scrivener, much appreciated – I hope it continues to help the more you use it. I’m actually the Mac developer, but as a Portal fan I just had to pop by and say thanks purely based on the Companion Cube comparison. (Frankly, I still haven’t got over Wheatley’s behaviour in Portal 2, but that may explain why I still haven’t finished my own novel…) KB

    • Thank you very much. I don’t hold any fear of the Mac (my wife uses one), but I’m so old-school Windows that I’m comfortable with that. And, yes: we much love our Companion Cubes, yes, we do.

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