Scrivener Writing Software–Great!
——Microsoft Word was my preferred writing program—until I started a large writing project. Then I found it frustrating having to scroll back and forth to find material, and making changes by cutting and pasting.
I needed a writing program with more support and oomph. After trialing five—some cute but superficial, some much too complicated—I found one that stood out as writer-friendly, powerful, supportive, practical, and versatile: SCRIVENER.
After using it for an extended time, I love it, and here’s why.
1 Screen, 3 Major Functions
In Scrivener you can change your desktop so that it has 3 parts—Binder, Editor, Inspector—and work with all three at once.
Binder is short for the traditional 3-ring binder. I like to think of it as a filing cabinet drawer, with folders of anything relevant to my project. When I find new material, I capture it by putting it in a new file/folder in Binder.
The information in Binder keeps me focused on the ‘big picture’. Every file and folder is shown as a column, enabling me to create a useful hierarchy of material. I can emphasise this hierarchy through colour-coding, e.g., orange to identify my main headings, green for details, etc.
Binder is flexible so that I don’t need to commit to a firm outline at the beginning of a project. When my ideas change, I can easily move material to a new location by clicking and dragging it to its new spot.
The folders in Binder can hold different kinds of material—not just drafts and finished chapters, but also photos and drawings, music files, electronic articles, etc. That means that all my source material stays in Scrivener.
The central section of the Scrivener desktop is similar to a word processor screen. I can shift from the three-section screen to a single screen, where I can blank out everything except the file I’m working on. That’s useful for keeping focused while drafting.
I sometimes split the Editor section so that I have two screens. That’s handy when I want to view two locations within one file or compare two separate files. When I’m revising a long document I no longer need to scroll back and forth to cut and paste.
This section is useful for adding notes about a file—its creation date, POV, status (e.g, draft, revised draft, whatever). I can add notes to myself, such as reminding me to recheck a fact. It’s more efficient than scribbling ideas and notes on paper.
Scrivener automatically saves my work every few seconds. Worth buying the program just for this feature.
Supports Writing by ‘Bits’
After using Scrivener, I stopped categorising my material by form—e.g., article, news item, interview, chart, photograph. Now I think of it all as information bits.
It supports how each writer prefers to write. I started my current project by gathering facts and views—some immediately relevant, some not but still interesting—plus many questions I wanted to assess. I soon had a mosaic of facts and conjectures, one that threw up some new possibilities. F
Another plus when writing in infobits is that it enables me to use short free periods to write.
Great technical support
Good technical support is crucial. I’ve had queries/issues twice, and Scrivener’s help desk was great in terms of timing and assistance. (Special shout out to Jeff, Scrivener’s wunder-tech.)
It’s hard to believe that such a comprehensive program costs less than $50 US. Some blogs and sites offer discounts. But to ensure getting the most recent program, you may want to buy it from the official Scrivener site: https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php
Excellent training options
Scrivener is such a comprehensive program that newbies have much to learn about how to use it. I muddled around, then decided to seek help. There are plenty of Scrivener experts running courses or providing useful blogs.
I highly recommend the online training course developed and taught by the amazingly knowledgeable and helpful Gwen Hernandez. She authored the Dummies Guide to Scrivener, is generous in providing help, and charges only a modest tuition fee for a comprehensive course.
I was recently asked about the new Scrivener app. I tried it out on my iPad, and it’s fine. It would be useful for notes, photos, references, etc. But much depends on the kind of writing project a writer has in mind. I prefer writing at my desk, with two monitors, a full-size keyboard, and a mouse.