For the longest time I have been hearing about a writing program called Scrivener. Joanna Penn talks about it, Joel Friedlander talks about it, he is kind enough to drop emails to invite his list to join him for free Scrivener classes.
I downloaded the trial and took it for a spin. I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about. After the first few hours, I was hooked. Best $40 usd I have spent in a long time!
There are over 10 reasons I am in love with the program but this post will concentrate on my top reasons.
I am not getting paid for this article, nor am I being endorsed by anyone. I love this program, and if you write anything, you should check it out. My kids also use it for assignments such as short stories, essays, and book reports. Scrivener is a writer’s dream!
What is Scrivener?
Scrivener is a program built with writers in mind. It is a word-processor, an outliner, a management system, and more. Scrivener is for Windows, Mac, Ipad, and iPhone use. It comes with built-in templates for short stories, non-fiction, fiction novels, screenplays, recipe books, and a plethora of others. You can build your own templates like I have for my novels and for yearly blog posts.
Scrivener is not a free program, the Word version costs $40 usd, the license allows you to use it on any computer in your home you use, or your spouse/partner or child uses. So you can write on your PC, save your document into something like Dropbox, and use the program on your laptop. This page gives you more detail on allowed single purchase license use.
You can try Scrivener out for 30 writing days for free! That means 30 days of actual use, not 30 days according to the time on your computer’s calendar.
Why I love Scrivener and will never write anything without it again.
You can click the images to see them bigger!
1. It has nice writing tools on its own. You need not open a browser during your writing time, you can research inside of the program itself. Fantastic for those of us who are easily distracted… Oh, look… Facebook! (Just kidding, I have an app called StayFocused that blocks me from all social media and the typical sites I use to procrastinate during my work hours and writing time.)
If you have read my goals post, you will recall I said Grammarly in Word distracts me from finishing a rough draft by setting off my OCD with the warning “You have issues!” I am thankful Grammarly does not work within Scrivener and I get more words down during the first draft process. I check my documents with Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid after the words hit the paper and then edit. Goal complete! Thank you Scrivener Gods!
2. You can write your blog posts in Scrivener before you put them onto your website. Why do I like this?
- I can see how many words I am writing for the draft.
- I can plan out drafts and organize my time better than I would be if I was doing this straight on my website. I am someone who gets distracted easily; you know what they say about an ounce of prevention…
- I can keep track of my goal of having at least 100 posts for my blog in 2017, and for having written at least one month ahead.
- I can insert my post images right into Scrivener, so I remember which order they need to go in.
- I have a backup of my blog posts in case something ever happens to my server. I have had server failure on another site I ran for 13 years… I had backups but reloading them into the rebuilt space didn’t work so well…
- I can compile my blog posts for the year into an eBook if I feel like it.
3. Set a word count for the entire manuscript, or for a chapter, or a scene. For this post, I set 1K words as I try to do per post. By the time I finish writing this post, I will have more than the 472 words you see in the image.
4. You can import Word documents of your older drafts into Scrivener and continue with the extra options Scrivener offers, import your outline document with ease, character files, and any resources you may have collected. Images too!
5. The corkboard for mind dumps/storyboards and keeping track of what the document is with a synopsis written on each individual card. As you can see in the image below, I have cards for months that connect with the sidebar for blog posts in the binder. If I click on the month, the corkboard cards for that folder would show in the corkboard.
6. The ability to drag scenes around is much easier than you can with programs like MS Word. You can “kill your darlings” by removing a scene that doesn’t work for your story and keeping them safe in a folder. You can also add more “pages” if you have to copy and paste certain parts or characters out of part of a scene. I like to keep those for my own benefit. Being able to keep them in one document is priceless. The “cards” on the corkboard allow you to drag scenes around and put them where they should be. If you look at the image above again, each month in the binder has its own cards. I could drag the cards around to replace their order or move them into a different month.
7. Have all of your items in one file for quick reference. Setting notes, outlines, red herrings, character profiles, and even images for inspiration. No more searching your hard drive to find that outline you wrote and forgot where you saved. In the image below, I am showing the corkboard for my Research folder. You can see all the other binder folders I have created. Front Matter, the actual draft folder there by default, back matter, characters, planning, settings, and more.
8. Keywords for each scene. When writing your blog posts in Scrivener, you can add your focus keywords to each post. It’s handy for keeping track of who is in what scene in your story or book as well. You can use the search bar and enter a character’s name for instance and find the documents the character is in. Collections are also handy for that, but I haven’t yet dived into those.
9. Add your own meta-data in the outliner. I have added Settings, Conflict/goals, Date the scene takes place and whose POV the scene is in. As you can see in the image above, I added a post date to my blog Scrivener file.
10. The compile feature. So many options! I am still experimenting with the program and learning how to format the different manuscript types. Unlike word, Scrivener compiles into a .epub format. I plan on using Scrivener to compile manuscripts into eBook formats so I can edit them in Sigil. You can also compile your manuscript into a print book format, but since I don’t know how to format for a print book yet in the program, I may compile it into a word doc and do that in Word. You can also compile your document into .pdf.
There are many great tutorials to get you started with the program. The default Scrivener tutorial is well done, easy to follow, and gets you started with the program. If you need even more tutorials, Simply Scrivener is my favorite website to read.
I would love to hear from you! Have you used Scrivener? What are your favorite things about it? Are you thinking about trying out Scrivener, or is this the first time you have heard of it? Let me know in the comments below!