Writing Tool: Scrivener

Photo credit: Mine
I'd first heard about Scrivener something like a year and a half ago when some wonderful writing tweeples mentioned it to me. At the time, I was a Microsoft Word person, and while I knew there were other word processing programs out there, I'd used Word for ages and I didn't see any reason to switch programs. I did take a brief (read: exceedingly brief) look at Scrivener, but I didn't really give it much of a chance.

Over time I started to realize that this Scrivener program was actually more popular amongst writers than I'd initially anticipated. Some of my favorite authors like Veronica Roth and Beth Revis used Scrivener and it seemed that no matter where I turned, a writer somewhere was raving about Scrivener.

So I gave it a second shot and decided to play around with the cork-board feature to do some brainstorming for a potential WIP idea I had. That initial Scrivener test turned into a full outline for said WIP, and I had a revelation—I sort of liked Scrivener.

Unfortunately then my laptop died and took Scrivener (and the files) with it.

My new computer did not have Word installed, but after a couple months I downloaded a Scrivener trial again. And now that I've been using it to write, I have to tell you I sort of still like Scrivener. A lot.

Scrivener makes it easy for you to consolidate all of your writing notes in one place—everything from your initial outline (which, by the way, allows you to brainstorm on virtual flashcards, which I love), to character and setting sketches, to random notes about your WIP, can all be saved into a project that is the novel you are working on.

Even better—it encourages you to think in scenes or chapters, which makes the intimidating process of having to write an entire novel much more manageable. Writing a novel doesn't seem quite as scary when you break it up into bite-sized chunks.

I've only just scratched the surface with Scrivener, but between it's fantastic brainstorming capabilities, note consolidation and distraction-free writing modes (can you say beautiful, focused full-screen mode?) it's quickly becoming one of my favorite programs to use for writing.

Have you ever used Scrivener? If so, what did you think? If not, what word processing program do you use?

29 comments:

Daniel Swensen said...

I love and hug Scrivener. I don't think I could write without it now -- or, at least, I really wouldn't want to. It just works for me.

AJ Bradley said...

I'm about to expose myself as a Scrivener junkie: the FREE trial is 30 days, it costs approx. $40 to buy the program (so NaNo winners get it for $20) and here's the website: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

I tried it for the first time when they released a Windows version and I LOVE IT. It really helps me keep my notes, pictures, and research organized and accessible. And there are tonnes of how-to sites and tutorials on YouTube! Give it a try...

SAM said...

I have fallen in love with it. I downloaded it from NaNoWriMo, and didn't take the time to really go through it and learn it all, but I have already decided that when I complete my 50k and get the 50% off, I'm going to buy it. I reallly do love how easy it is to use and how neat it all looks. I especially love the synopsis feature. I fill one out for eah chapter And I'm just over the moon!

Sydney Aaliyah said...

I love scrivener for all the reason you mentioned and I probably haven't even touch the surface forvwhatbit can do. My favorite feature is the way it is organized. My inner list maker has a blast with the cork board feature during outlining.

Ava Jae said...

There's a free month-long trial that you can download for Windows and Mac. If you're considering it, I definitely recommend giving it a try. :)

Ava Jae said...

It really is a fantastic program, and what's even better is that you can use it during any stage of the writing process because it's so versatile.

Ava Jae said...

AJ Bradley answered your question very thoroughly so I'm going to refer you that comment for specific details. Short version is this: trial version lasts a month, all participants of NaNoWriMo get 20% off should they choose to purchase it and NaNoWriMo winners get 50% off. :)

Ava Jae said...

Thanks for providing those details, AJ!

Ava Jae said...

If you're referring to the synopsis feature that works with the flashcards, I've been using that as well and have also found it to be quite helpful, particularly while brainstorming plot points and writing the scenes out later. I also have a sneaking suspicion it's going to make writing a full synopsis easier in the future, as I'll have every section already summarized. :)

Ava Jae said...

Agreed! The cork board feature is my favorite, as well--although I definitely have delved deep enough into the program yet.

Ava Jae said...

You know, I never thought of using PowerPoint to create visual graphics and outlines (although, as far as expenses goes, that's only cheaper if you already have Microsoft Office). Interesting suggestion, thank you Margaret!

Charlene Newcomb said...

I started using Scrivener in April & love it for all the reasons you mention. I sync it with Dropbox for peace of mind, which also allows me to pull up the files to work onwhen I don't have my own computer handy.

Larry Wilson said...

After so many rave recommendations, I bought Scrivener windows. I read the manual, watched the tutorials, read lots of tips. It simply won't work. I can't import PDF files despite claims to the contrary. Well, they go into the research area, but not into the draft area where they need to be to work on them. I've used third-party programs to convert them to RTF and MS Word formats, but Scrivener will not import them properly. Bust. I've also tried to compile scriv. files into .mobi and .epub formats, but that also fails. I am NOT a dummy. This is simply a non-functional program. Oh, and after paying my money, I still get the nag screen for the trail version. Congratulations to all who have been able to overcome these hurdles and the complexities of this monster of a program.

Ava Jae said...

I didn't know you could sync Scrivener with Dropbox...definitely good to know! Thanks for the tip. :)

Ava Jae said...

Hmm...it sounds like you unfortunately have a couple pretty massive bugs in your copy. Have you reported the bugs to Literature and Latte? If you haven't already, I'd recommend checking out the technical help forums on their website or contacting their technical support directly via e-mail.


I'm sorry to hear about your frustrating experience with the program. If you haven't already I would absolutely recommend letting Literature and Latte know about your problems with the program--I would think that someone on their end should be able to help you fix the bugs so that you can get your money's worth.

Robson2 said...

I'm on Mac, so perhaps not exactly comparable, but I do my writing in a folder within the research section, which lets me have anything I want there. I actually almost never use the draft folder at all--and I've taken literally hundreds of thousands of words from idea to publication in Scrivener.

The draft folder is, in my opinion, for outputting text files at the end of a project when the person who will receive those files (or use them, if it's me, which it almost never is) needs only text. Like I say, I hardly ever use it.

Because I do all my work in research, I can set it up the way I want it. I have PDFs, websites, graphics--anything. I do have folders under research for the working draft, the organizational materials, the background data, and so on.

AJ said...

Scrivener STAYS open 24/7. I use it for all important writing that I want to keep track of. I keep separate writing projects, a recipe project file, a journal project file, etc. I even use it to keep all my favorite fiction/non-fiction books in one place, and clip all of my online research to my research file. I have 5 main project files, and the rest are in a history folder. Since it imports MSWord docs I no longer have to cringe when I receive files from Windows/PC users. Scrivener is my favorite "baby" and, for me, nothing compares to it.

Coreena said...

I've just downloaded it a few days ago and am figuring it out, but I can sure see its potential.

Ava Jae said...

Wow! Sounds like you've delved much farther into it than I have. I have to agree that it's a fantastic program, and I look forward to continuing to use it in the future.

Ava Jae said...

It has a bit of a learning curve, but once you grasp the basics, everything else becomes easier. I found that it became extraordinarily useful pretty quickly. :)

David Fuller said...

I've been curious about this for ages! The function of separating things into scenes and storyboarding sounds like exactly what I need, and the ability to collate all my thoughts and notes for a project is gold. I do it now with folders and seaparet Word files, but it quickly becomes cumbersome to keep track of. I will probably stick with Word for my current WIP, but will get Scrivener for the next. Hope it will run on my sort-of old Mac computers.

Ava Jae said...

The original version is built for Mac, so I would think it'd run on your computers. I hope.


I'm transitioning completely over to Scrivener now and definitely enjoying the software. It's a great program.

Scott Moon said...

I would like to know more about Dropbox. I am heading to the website after this blog, but would appreciate any tips you might have.

Scott Moon said...

One of the questions I was going to ask after reading all the comments was how to use Scrivener with Google docs or similar program. Maybe Dropbox will work. I write on several computers, though my primary writing station is an old lap top without internet.

Scott Moon said...

I use powerpoint and excel.

Ava Jae said...

I've used excel for book-related data organization, but not really outlining/etc. I've seen others use it in that way though, and I can certainly see the merits.

Ava Jae said...

I don't have much experience with syncing Scrivener to Dropbox, but I should probably look into it because it sounds like a great idea. :)

Scott Moon said...

Thanks for the information. The comments were also helpful. I am still thinking about it.

Ava Jae said...

Wow, how did I miss this comment? At any rate, you're very welcome!

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