I have been writing for a long time now, over twenty years in fact. When I first started, there wasn’t even the basics such as Microsoft Word. I was pretty excited when Word came out!
But in 2011 I moved from a Windows PC to an Apple Mac, and I have been using Scrivener ever since. It was originally only available on the Mac, but you can now get a windows version.
So, I have been using Scrivener for quite a while. I can honestly say that I am more productive with Scrivener than I ever was with Word or those even worse writing applications that came before. And I thought I would share a few highlights as to why I love Scrivener so much.
- It lets you chop up your book. If you are anything like me, the order of chapters at the start is not the order at the end. I pull stuff about, chop it out, put it back, and generally hack the sequence within an inch of its life. Scrivener makes this easy. Chapters can be placed into folders, and I can move them, or delete, and if need be… restore them.
- You can categorise chapters. I write in a number of character perspectives so I categorise (And further colour code) my chapters so it is easy to see which chapter is which character. But you might use this colour/ category for many purposes such as location or something else.
- Chapters have a status. The status allows you to set whether a chapter is Draft, Revised draft, To do, complete etc. Its configurable, so you can make your own status to suit you. If you are anything like me, some chapters are completed early and some I go back to many times. Using the status makes it easy to see what has been completed and what parts need more work.
- Compiling is easy. You can convert your scrivener project to just about any electronic format you can think of, i.e. mobi, epub, ibook, word, pdf, and a whole lot more. It takes seconds! Yes there is a little configuration to do, but the default compile is good for most purposes and it is only if you want to get fancy with font etc. that you need to play with the settings.
- It comes with standard novel templates so you can get the book title, chapter list, title pages, front and back matter, built into the compile.
- You can add icons to chapters. I mark my quarter points, which makes it easier to see the book breakdown.
- Target word counts. I love target word counts, they keep me motivated and moving forward. See Using Target word count.
- There is a notes and synopsis section for each chapter. If like me you sometimes hack sentences out but you are not sure you are ready to trash them, you can keep them in the notes section of that chapter so they are easy to see until you are confident you no longer need them. I also use the notes for jotting down comments about the chapter, or points I want to address. The synopsis field is great if you want to put a brief note of what the chapter is about during the planning stage.
I have skimmed the surface of what Scrivener does, and I am sure everyone has different features they swear by. It has been a great tool to use and I can’t imagine going back to Word now. I would love to hear about your writing tool, if you have tried Scrivener what you think, and if there is any other writing software out there you would recommend.
And if I have tempted you to look into Scrivener, you can get it on a free 30 day trial.