Monday, January 3, 2011

Writerly Tools: Scrivener

If you've been to a writing blog, you've probably heard about Literature and Latte's Scrivener. Probably because it's awesome. Also probably because you can write anything in it: novels, essays, screenplays, etc. It's an extremely versatile program. But if you haven't, then I pray this post convinces you to check it out.

Anyway, a week ago my Scrivener 2 trial ran out. Being poor, I was limited in my capability to just go buy it. Being an irrational person, I panicked.

How could I write without Scrivener?! Scrivener was my lifeblood! All of my projects were perfect in Scrivener! I'd been using it for over and year, and the recent upgrade to version 2 was like candy raining from the sky! RAINING FROM THE SKY. How could I ever go back to a simple word processor?

Now, I've raved about Scrivener to people before. So have a bunch of other people. We're probably boring after a while. But I don't think I realized how much Scrivener's changed my writing process, for the better, until that panic set it. When it comes to how I think, to how I organize things, Scrivener really does make a difference.

Twenty-four hours later the world took pity on me. I now have my shiny program back. But that memory of panic lives on. So, let me tell you guys five of the reasons why I couldn't live without Scrivener:
  1. Scrivener can break up text
    I've spent most of my writing life working with Microsoft Word and that means I've dealt with long documents. The only way to get away from all that text is to create multiple documents for different chapters. With Scrivener, you can split the text and have it all together and accessible at one time. This is great if you don't want to be distracted by other parts of your manuscript
  2. Scrivener has a scratch pad
    The scratch pad is a notepad function embedded in Scrivener. It's also the perfect place to store the kind of things that don't have a home yet (ideas, loose scenes, etc). The best part is that, as long as Scrivener is open, you can open the scratch pad at any time with the systemwide shortcut: Shift+Command+Enter
  3. Scrivener links things together
    Outlines are best when they're flexible, but that can be difficult when your outline is in one document and your story in another. The idea of Scrivener is to work in pieces, and the program helpfully attaches information to those pieces. Thus, outlines, notecards, and chapters are always up-to-date. If you're like me, this will definitely cut back on sessions of neurotic data-updating.
  4. Scrivener holds research
    If you need to save anything, be it a picture or an audio file, or even an entire webpage, you can put it in Scrivener. Everything can be at your fingertips, which is great when the internet is down or you need that jolt of inspiration. Personally,  I like to store reference images for things like flowers.
  5. Scrivener lets you do whatever you want
    There are a lot of writing programs out there, and many of them involve entering text into boxes. Entering text into boxes is stifling and formulaic. Scrivener, on the other hand, doesn't care if you want to skips steps or use it for bouncing ideas around. Everything is customizable for your unique needs. If you want, you can even change the look of the icons.


Kate said...

Oh wow Scrivener sounds amazing, maybe I should buy it. Ha ha. I didn't know about the scratch pad. I'll check it out.

Annerb said...

I didn't know about the scratch pad either. *goes home to discover new tools*

I'm sorry you went crazy. (Is the world that took pity someone I know?)

Sarah said...


I love the scratch pad! I mainly use it to keep scenes that don't have stories yet. :D

"The world that took pity" was my lovely mother. But, frankly, if she hadn't taken pity, I'm 100% sure that Kyle was going to. I was kind of pathetic.

Annerb said...

@Sarah - I though as much about your mother. I'm glad you are so utterly pathetic you can get people to buy you stuff. I wish I had that for a superpower.

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