Back in January I posted here asking for any feedback on Scrivener software. I remember at the time being so completely inundated with paper and as it was January and the New Year was upon me, I am pretty sure I was doing a new-year-desk-cleaning and trying hard to turn over a new leaf on the cluttered-and-messy-office front. 

So as I’ve been hunkered down inside my writerly cave these past month getting the final bits in place on the novel, it occurs to me that I have been terribly lax on ze blog, and I have yet to follow up on my thoughts after months of using Scrivener.  So here goes…

The short answer: I love it.

The longer answer: Scrivener has transformed my process.

The even longer answer: As an organizing and efficiency dreamer, I thought I had stumbled upon some ginormous secret when I found Scrivener. It was everything I never knew I could ask for in the organized-writer category, and more.

I was initially drawn to it for the research folder. The idea of going paperless with all the bits and pieces and websites and source materials I tend to gather for my novels made me giddy.

I’m using less paper (and ink): The first thing I did was go to my stack of research and pull out all the web-based stuff I’d printed out, returned to that URL and reprinted all that stuff as a PDF, scanned the rest, and brought them all into Scrivener as files. Some of the web-based stuff I just cut and pasted into my source files with a link to the source URL within the page. The reason I don’t just save the links is because this one time I saved a link to something totally awesome and when I went back, the site was gone. So, by all means, document URLs meticulously, but my experience tells me it that the wise researcher grabs a permanent slice of the things she plans to use down the road.

Instant-On File Saving. Writing that reminds me of that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine and Jerry go check out an apartment for rent and in the add it says IOL as a feature of the rental. When they asked, the landlord switched on the light and said, “See, Instant On Lighting!”

Since making the switch to Scrivener, I have not lost a single piece of my work to computer saving issues. Scrivener saves everything all the time. You can still go to the File/Save process, but I no longer worry about stepping away for a second and coming back to find my kids had shut something down or the system froze and whatever I was doing was lost. It is such a fabulous change.

Draft management made easy. When you use Scrivener, you have total control over how to break your work up. I choose to work in chapters one at a time, but you could drill down further into scenes within chapters if you like and organize that way too.

As I have been working on my final draft, I’ve found myself revamping whole chapters of the book. But sometimes I am not sure if I want to keep this new draft and might want to revert back to the old.

There is a neat Roll-Back feature where you can take a snapshot of the current version (it actually is a little camera icon complete with camera sounds!) and save the old version in case you decide to roll back to the old. You can save many roll back copies in your file and pick and choose to bounce between them, all from the place where you took the snapshot.

Super simple exporting. Got critique partners? I belong to two critique groups and I’m also enrolled in a writing class where I need to send various parts of my book to others. When I did this in word, I would cut and paste the section from the original file into a new file. Save that and move on. This was slow and cumbersome for me. Scrivener “compiles” your work with a click and you choose which sections are included in each compile. So simple. Once I got the hang of it, it has been a Godsend.

Which brings me to: Scrivener comes with an excellent video tutorial. It is a couple of hours long, but it is organized so well using the software (go figure) that you can break it into chunks. Trying to dive into this program without watching the tutorial is possible, but there are SO MANY fabulous features and concepts and ideas in the tutorial that you’d never discover on your own. Or if you did, you might find it down the road and say, damn – I wish I had known. So, take the time for the tutorial, you’ll be glad you did.

The bottom line: Scrivener is worth a try for anyone who has to organize a writing project.  And its inexpensive!  Go check it out: Scrivener

About the Author Corinne

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  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I have the older version of Scrivener and tried to figure it out on my own (1st mistake). When I got frustrated, I ended up heading back to Word (2nd mistake). Now that I’m so far along in Word, I’ll finish this ms there. My plan then is to buy the updated Scrivener and take the tutorials before starting my next work.

    It’s great to hear so many writers who love the program. It gives me faith that I can some day figure it out, too! :)

  2. Hi TL – I think you should. It is really worthwhile to spend time on the tutorial. It is not a dry boring thing, it actually flows well and the developer’s voice is pleasant to listen to. :) Good luck and let me know how it goes when you take the plunge again.

  3. Thank you Corinne for this review of the software. I keep flip-flopping between wanting to try it and not. I’ve downloaded the beta version several times and just get discombobulated looking at it.

    I now have a macbook, so I might try it again for my next project.

  4. Corinne,
    I’ve seen a few other writers rave about this programme. My problem is that I tend to buy software and then never use them. I seem to come right back to good old Word. The thought of having research material organized is tempting.

    1. Me too Joy. But this is one that has stuck with me. I’m think I was searching for it all this time, buying other stuff only to let it wither.

  5. Thanks for the Corinne. I’ve been on the fence about trying it out (I use so many excuses for not actually writing the WIP) but now with your endorsement I think I’ll get the trial version.

  6. I love Scrivener too. It has really helped me with plotting and seeing the overall picture. In the index card function, I can summarize each chapter and make sure the story is moving forward the way it should. And today, I found out how to make accented letters (FYI: Edit,Character Map). I keep uncovering features, so I’m sure in another year I’ll have more to be happy about. Thanks for the lowdown on the research and pdfs. I hadn’t considered doing that!

  7. I am a newcomer to your blog, Corrine, and I am loving it! I saw a link for this review mentioned on Twitter and have to say I agree wholeheartedly! I had heard about Scrivener, but had no idea how good it really was until this past year’s NaNoWriMo promotion with a discount to get Scrivener for participants. The already low price was even lower.

    As a user of WordPerfect over Word that goes all the way back into the days of MS-DOS, I never thought I would want to switch. I have a huge body of work that spans over a decade and a half. Getting all of that work in one manageable place was always a concern. Scrivener’s organization tools makes it nearly impossible to imagine ever using anything else.

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