Writers need writing software. I’ve been writing with Scrivener for eight years, and I love many things about using this software. Especially how easily it helps me organize my writing.
When you talk about software, some programs have a hefty price tag. Others need to include a class on how to use it. For the non-tech writer, the idea of having to learn a new program causes nightmares. Hello, we’d rather be writing. Am I right?
When I first used Scrivener, all I did with it was write. I created text documents for each scene and typed my story into them.
I was pleased to have a program that separated my scenes into their own document because I’d been writing with a word processing program for many years. Finding a specific scene in a 60,000-word novel when you have to scroll through an entire document? A nightmare I lived.
Until I heard about Scrivener from several writers I followed.
A few people claimed it was difficult to learn, and I will agree that using it to its full potential takes more than a basic understanding.
However, if you want a place to keep all your writing, it’s perfect. You can even import files from your word processor without using the cut and paste feature.
The main reason I love Scrivener has to do with it’s organizational capabilities.
It’s set up like a file cabinet. In fact, what used to be called “the binder” is called the Cabinet in Scrivener 3. That means there are folders, sub-folders, and text documents to put in the folders.
You can choose from different formats for the cabinet when you create a new project: fiction, non-fiction, scriptwriting, and miscellaneous. There are additional presets inside each of those. For fiction, you can choose a novel, novel with parts or short story template.
There are folders for keeping your research, character sketches, and setting sketches. This means you can open your research and look at it side-by-side what you’re typing. I used this feature quite often when I wrote my Bible studies.
There are also different export formats pre-loaded in the cabinet. For fiction, there is a manuscript format, paperback novel format and Ebook format. These come in handy when you’re getting ready to export your book for publishing.
As I mentioned before, I love that each text document self-creates an index card and these are easily movable anywhere in the cabinet. So if I want to move a scene to later in the story, it’s a drag and drop away. Simple.
When I start a project, I add a ton of text documents into a single folder. When I’ve finished my first draft, I organize them into chapters.
Being able to color code the documents and folders is great too. I use color to show the narrator of each scene, but you could use it to track a time line, a setting or a host of other things. The only limit is your imagination, and most writers have no shortage of that.
I could wax poetic about the organizational capabilities for pages, but that might make you think Scrivener wasn’t good for anything else. But if you’re an indie author, its export abilities will make you sing.
Literature & Latte call this compiling. You can choose to save your project in a dozen different file formats. That means, you can make a PDF and an epub file directly from Scrivener.
Album of Previous Drafts
One feature that’s great for the writer who is constantly rewriting and then wishing they hadn’t is called snapshot.
Before you make changes, you click a little camera icon and it saves the current file.
That means if you have revision regret, getting things back to that earlier version are a simple click away. This saves time and space and also gives peace of mind. You can’t put a price tag on that, right?
I talked a bit about this under organization, but I love the visual elements available for viewing a project.
You can view the text documents in an outline if that’s the way your brain likes things organized. Or they can become index cards you can rearrange on a digital corkboard.
The feature I love to use is color coding. This is something that is created to your unique style in the Project Settings. I use labels for each of my narrators so I can see at a glance whose perspective I’m writing from. Plus, it only takes one look to know if I need to muzzle one of the characters and give another more stage time.
If you get distracted with other things on the screen, you can write in a distraction free blank screen. If you’re inspired by a certain photograph while writing, you can have that on display as the background for your writing surface.
All these features can be difficult to navigate at first, and the less tech-savvy person might be overwhelmed. But there are lots of great tutorial videos on how to set things up that walk step-by-step through the process.
I love Scrivener. Even now that I’m not writing novels, I still adore it’s flexibility for keeping all my short stories, articles, and flash fiction easily accessible.
I even started using it to organize my blog posts several years ago. In 2016 to be exact. How do I know? Those old posts are in their own file folder in the same cabinet as the posts for this year. So if I want to recycle an old post, I can locate it with a few clicks.
If you use Scrivener, what do you love about it? If you don’t use Scrivener, what do you use?