Scrivener – the Author’s Perfect Secretary

Anyone who won NaNoWriMo last year has heard of Scivener – and if they haven’t, then they obviously didn’t care to look at the winner’s page. Scrivener is

an award-winning program for writers… Whereas the main tools of page layout programs and many word processors are predominantly focussed on the appearance of a document, Scrivener’s tools are focussed on generating content. It is not intended to completely replace a dedicated word processor but is used for structuring and writing those difficult first drafts of long texts such as novels, scripts and theses.

The original Scrivener was made for MAC computers and was only really known to fans of the big Apple. However, as the program grew in popularity and people began to take more interest in it, the offices of Literature and Latte realized there was a need for a Windows Scrivener. If you followed the link just now, you’ll notice that this software isn’t available yet. Scrivener for Windows is still in the Beta stages, a trial system that will last until August 26th…ish. The planned official release for the Windows program is late August to early September, though it may get delayed. One last round of betas is going on even now as I type. On the site through the link, you can sign up to receive email updates about the status of the Windows version so you’ll know when to push the ‘buy’ button.

Why is Scrivener such a big deal?

I’ll tell you why.

For 1, it has multiple templates to fit whatever it is you’re writing – a fiction piece, a non-fiction piece, a script, some poetry or lyrics, and even a misc. section, or you can start with the blank template and work it in whatever way you like best. I use the fiction template, of course. After it loads the chosen template, I alter it a bit, change the names of sections to fit myself so I’ll know what I’m looking at on my own terms.

2, It organizes thoughts. If you like to write one scene followed by another scene and another in sequential order, like me, go for it. If you get an idea for a random time later in the book or piece, add a new page, type it up, and save it for later. If you like to write whatever scene sounds best to you at your whim or fancy, Scrivener was MADE for you. Write up each scene in it’s own spot, then organize them when you find the time. Drag and drop until you find the timeline you want.

3, Character folder! In the fiction template, a separate folder is there entitled ‘characters.’ This folder is specifically for creating and holding pages that represent each character. Instead of keeping your character list in a separate document or at the top or bottom of your manuscript, keep them all listed in their own folder, readily available whenever you need them.

4, Word Count. On a normal writing software – like Microsoft Word – you can see your word count and your page count. This makes it easy to control how long each section of a work is. While this is perfect for writing school papers, it could be limiting for good book work. Scrivener has no page count, only word count. This keeps you from marking yourself by pages. You simply write what you want until that subject is exhausted, then you move on to the next bit. Who cares if your chapters aren’t equal in length? That’s not what you should be focusing on. You just focus on writing the best quality work you can.

5, Research. Scrivener has a special section called ‘Research’ where you can hold all images, webpages, or whatever else you found to use as research for your work. I currently use it to hold my plot outline and some witty sentences I like. I’m sure it’ll fill up as I go. But it makes it easy to keep all your tid bits and knowledge in once place alongside your novel work, instead of in another document or lost in the recesses of the machine you once called friend.

Those are just basics, mind you, and I truly wrote all of that just to blab about the word count/not page count option in number 4. However, Scrivener has multiple functions for formatting, combining, backing up files, exporting files, maneuvering between sections of your work, and much more that I haven’t even attempted to use yet. The more I toy around with it, the more I become convinced that it is truly an ingenious piece of programming and absolutely the best secretary for a writer – or at least for a writer who works on the computer. I love it the more I use it. I can’t wait for the official release so I can upgrade my beta to the real deal.

If you haven’t tried it out yet, take a look. Watch the short overview video (you may need a headset). Fall in love with it, my fellow writers.

I made no profit from this promotion save for releasing my own pent up joy over this program.

Ciao tutti,

RM

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One response to “Scrivener – the Author’s Perfect Secretary

  1. Pingback: NaNoWriMo – A Kick in the Rear | Ultra Special Blah, Blah, Blah

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