Oh, Scrivener, you mysterious beast. I’m sure most writers (at some point) ask whether they need it or not. I perused a tutorial and ended up shrieking at myself, “Should I buy Scrivener? Do I need it? I’ve gotten along for soooo long without it? And isn’t it really hard to use? WHAT DO I DO?” Cue existential writer crisis. The main problem here is: Scrivener isn’t cheap. In Aussie dollars it’s around $70. (EDIT: Apparently it is only $50 at the moment!) Um…ouch? Particularly if you don’t know if it’s something you’d like.
Then I was gifted it by a relative. SO ALL MYSTERIES WERE REVEALED UPON THIS GLORIOUS DAY.
Which allows me to magnanimously help you answer the golden question:
“IS SCRIVENER FOR ME??”
But, just so you know, this is NOT A TUTORIAL. There are tutorials everywhere…just google around. This post is a list of things Scrivener can do and whether these are things you might find helpful. Oh and no, this post is not sponsored. It comes to you out of the kindness of my writer soul.
I am an organiser fiend, okay?! I will not deny it. I have folders for everything and 871 word documents per novel I’m writing (because hey, you need to collect names and title ideas and research the origin of mustard and learn how to speak Japanese occasionally). I’m constantly pulling up docs, losing where I stowed information, creating character charts, and descending mightily upon pinterest.
Scrivener lets you do all of this…in one screen.
I love you, Scrivener, marry me.
TURN YOUR EYES TO THIS:
Behold! Folders inside folders, insider folders. Which is a dream come true, if I do say so myself. I can put ALL my research on one page. When I forget how to say “hello” in Japanese…I just nip over to that folder without having to dig through word docs. It’s bliss, Bob, my friend, it’s bliss.
2. YOU CAN SEPARATE YOUR CHAPTERS INTO THEIR OWN FILES.
I thought I would hate this. But I love it! Instead of going, “How the heeeeck did I describe this dude in chapter 2?” and then having to scroll back through my whole doc — I merely pause where I am in chapter 7, flip over to chapter 2, read, then flip back. I DON’T EVEN LOSE MY PLACE IN CHAPTER 7. This pleases me.
3. PLUS DID YOU SEE THAT CORK BOARD? TALK ABOUT…CORK BOARDY.
I like cork boards. I dream of having one to cover my entire wall, but a) I don’t actually have a free wall, and b) no one has offered to give me a cork board anyway. Ahem. SO. A virtual one is pretty delicious.
WITH THE CORK BOARD, YOU CAN:
- drag and drop to change orders
- write on the little “note cards” and title your chapters
- put little coloured-stickers on them so you know if they’ve been revised or if they’re first drafts
- encourage them to do a victory dance in your honour (hmm…yeah, one of these is not like the other…)
4. YOU CAN MAKE TEMPLATES FOR YOUR CHARACTER PROFILES
Or world building profiles too! Although, admittedly, I have not explored that option so much yet.
Simply clicky-click and you get a blank sheet and you can fill it in. Handy and yet…dandy.
5. SPEAKING OF CHARACTERS, LOOK HOW NICELY THEY SIT IN A ROW OF PROFILES.
I used to use charahub.com and pinterest.com for this. I mean, I still use pinterest…BECAUSE PINTEREST = LIFE IN FULL TECHNICOLOUR WONDER. (Plus my storyboards are freakin’ awesome….ahem. #Humble) But now I have neat little rows of character profiles with their basic picture.
I blurred this, yes, because the pictures do not belong to me, but I just want you to see what you can do!
6. YOU CAN HAVE TWO SCREENS OF WORDS OPEN AT ONCE!
I. LOVE. THIS. Why? Because when I edit, I often rewrite the ENTIRE BOOK. So having the old draft open as well as a fresh page? Happiness.
7. AND IT’S ACTUALLY NOT AS “DIFFICULT” TO MANAGE AS THE RUMOURS GO.
I am not tech genius. It took me like 5 years to realise there was an “undo” button on Microsoft Word, okay? Okay.
I did watch one 10 minute tutorial about…oh…a year before I got Scrivener? I remembered enough from there (and my memory is RUBBISH) to dive straight in and not scream. Now I’m picking up random things as I go, but I haven’t watched any of the 2 hour tutorials. I probably won’t. Who has time for that?! Sheesh.
It takes a bit of getting used to? IT’S DIFFERENT. (And all the people who hate changed…DIED IN THIS MOMENT.) And frustration is okay.
The #1 piece of advice? Just CLICK ON ALL THE THINGS. See what they do! Don’t be scared of them! It’s mostly straight forward.
8. OTHER RANDOM AWESOME STUFF SCRIVENER CAN DO FOR YOU, BECAUSE IT LOVES YOU SO.
Let me see….
- There is a built-in name generator.
- You know that cork board? You can make a white board version and pin ideas on there in a kind of “mind map” inspiration board.
- It automatically gives you paragraph indentation and double spacing.
- You can write in whatever font you want, dude. It still lets you.
- You can export your book to a word document file. EASY AS. (And it’ll actually automatically format it for you according to your saved preferences.)
- It lovingly calls you, Sweetheart, and prints out chocolate for you when you cry over your writing.
- I lie. It’s actually an unfeeling, cold hearted BRUTE, and doesn’t even blink if you’re crying. But it’s a computer. So. The fact that it acts like a computer is comforting. It is not, yet, the computer apocalypse.
- It has auto-save. Like every THREE SECONDS.
9. BUT LET ME SHARE A FEW FRUSTRATIONS AS WELL…
- It has autocorrect. Do you know how HARD it is to write a novel with Japanese names with AUTO CORRECT?!?! Tark was always “Talk” and Sumi ended up as “Some” or “Same” or “Soon”. To the point where I wanted to stab either myself or Scrivener in the eye with a spork. Unfortunately I still don’t know how to turn this off. Google has offered no solution.
- Mine kept crashing when I first downloaded it. Not sure if it was my computer…or…Scrivener. But it saved all the files immediately so I never lost anything.
- It automatically tells you how many words you have per doc — but not per whole book. I had to do so much maths. That sucks. I signed up to write not do numbers, dang nabbit.
10. SO LET’S ANSWER THE QUESTION….DO YOU NEED SCRIVENER IN YOUR LIFE?
Um…YES! YES YOU DO! Particularly if you love organisation. But honestly…just if you love things to all be together and easy to find. This is your BFF, first love, OTP, best bud, computer slave, whatever. If I hadn’t been given it, my writing life would be a pitiful thing. (There’s actually a free trial but…I didn’t realise this initially.) Knowing what it’s like now…I would…buy it. Even though I am such a money Scrooge that the real Scrooge looks generous compared to me. Ahem.
I love Scrivener, okay?! It makes me want to write! I love creating profiles and being organised and adding pictures and visuals into the docs and…SCRIVENER IS MY NEW WRITING EVERYTHING, BASICALLY.