Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why I ditched Word for Scrivener


Hello Five Scribe Readers.  One of the most useful and talked-about writer tools these days is a program called Scrivener.  A few weeks ago, one of my chapter mates asked about Scrivener, and rather than try to expound on the advantages myself, I thought I'd ask someone who knows this writing program inside and out.  I'd like you to meet someone who's ditched Word and who literally wrote the book on Scrivener.  Please welcome Gwen Hernandez, Author of Scrivener for Dummies to the Five Scribes.
 
I was in a committed relationship with Microsoft Word for fifteen years. Together, we composed business letters, term papers, memos, technical manuals, and even a graduate thesis. The thesis took the shine off our romance, but it was my foray into fiction that killed the affair.

That’s because I met a younger, sexier, writing program called Scrivener that understood my needs in a way Word never could.

Here are just a few reasons why I threw Word over for a newer model.

Scrivener remembers your spot. Every time you open a project in Scrivener, it takes you right to where you left off before. Maybe not such a big deal when writing the first draft, but when you’re in the midst of revisions, it’s a lifesaver.

Your structure is easy to see. Scrivener lets you write in chunks—such as scenes or chapters—called documents. The Binder, where you view all of the documents in your project, gives you an at-a-glance overview of your entire manuscript.

Saving epiphanies is easy. I tend to be a linear writer, but when I get an idea for a future scene, there’s no easy way to store it in Word without keeping it at the bottom of the document until I’m ready for it. In Scrivener, you can create a document, write out your idea, then store it within the project until you figure out where it goes.

Color-coding. In Scrivener, you can label and color code your documents by whatever piece of data you want to track. For example, I tag my fiction scenes by point-of-view (POV) character, using blue for the hero and pink for the heroine (original, right?). Instantly, I can see which character a scene belongs to and check my overall POV balance.

For nonfiction, I use the Label field to keep track of the status of each section (e.g. Not Started, WIP, To Editor, Author Review, Complete).

Auto-save protects your hard work. If you’ve ever faced the Blue Screen of Death, or lost power after writing 3,000 words without saving, you can appreciate that Scrivener saves your project every time there’s more than two seconds of inactivity. So while you’re pondering your next sentence, Scrivener’s committing your words to memory.

Scrivener also makes it easy to back up your project to an external disk (e.g. flash drive, external hard drive, or online site like Dropbox). A must in case your hard drive fails, you spill water on your laptop, or someone steals your computer.

Scrivener is like a Trapper Keeper®. You can import research documents, web sites, and photos right into your project, so even when you take your laptop on the road, you have everything you need.

Plus, you can keep outlines, notes on ideas for changes and future scenes, and character and setting information all within the project. No more scouring your hard drive or that pile of sticky notes on your desk for a crucial piece of information.

 
Working without distractions. Scrivener’s full screen composition mode blocks out all distractions, making it easier to focus on your writing. Change the background color or image (images are Mac only for now) to suit your mood.

Tracking progress. Scrivener makes it easy to set word count targets for your entire manuscript, as well as each session. You can also set a target for a specific document. A colorful progress bar shifts from red to green as you approach your goal.

Scrivener works for plotters and pantsers alike. Plotters and storyboarders will love the Corkboard where you can create an index card (another view for a document) for each scene—and add a synopsis or note about the scene, if desired—and then add text to the documents when you have the book’s order figured out. And if an outline is more your thing, Scrivener has that view too.

Pantsers can just create a document within the project and start writing their first scene. If you’re a pantser, you might find the Outliner or Corkboard helpful for looking at your story structure or checking your timeline.

Scrivener makes it easy to take notes. I already mentioned that you can write a future scene—or create a placeholder for it—so you don’t lose your idea. But you can also add notes right into the text you’re working on. When you can’t think of the perfect line of dialogue, or you need to do some additional research, simply insert an annotation as a reminder and then get back to writing.

Other options include putting a note in the Synopsis section (the index card), adding a document note, or using a separate document for an ideas log.

Another trick I like is to use the Project Notes (visible from all documents) for a quick-view list of each character and his/her vital stats such as hair and eye color, height, age, and job/role/rank.

Advanced searches. Scrivener lets you customize and even save searches to quickly find what you’re looking for. Want to know in which scenes you mentioned an item, person, or place? A project search returns a list of all documents that match your search criteria.

You can also find specific types of formatting, including annotations, comments, highlighter color, text color, and footnotes.

Exporting to e-books is a snap. Scrivener is your one-stop publishing program. When your masterpiece is done, you can compile (export) it to an EPUB or MOBI (Amazon Kindle) file for easy self-publishing, or for perusing on your e-reader. You can also export to DOC, RTF, TXT, PDF, direct-to-printer, and other formats.

That’s just a small list of what makes Scrivener—available for Mac and Windows—too hot to resist. So, if you’re tired of your stodgy, inflexible word processor, hook up with a program that puts your needs as a writer first.

There’s no commitment with Scrivener’s free trial, but you just might find your happy ever after.

Gwen, thanks for joining us.  Readers, Gwen will be giving away a copy of Scrivener for Dummies on November 28th,  in a drawing to one questioner/or commenter.  (Please, U.S. residents only.)  And be sure to leave your e-mail address to be entered.
 
Bio

Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies (Aug 2012, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.), and the teacher of popular online Scrivener classes for Mac and Windows. A 2011 Golden Heart® finalist in Romantic Suspense, she lives in Northern Virginia with her Air Force husband, two teenage boys, and a lazy golden retriever. Learn more about her book or classes and get free Scrivener tips at www.gwenhernandez.com.




http://tinyurl.com/d53d2st


USING RANDOM GENERATOR, GWEN DREW C. HOPE CLARK'S NAME AS THE WINNER OF THE FREE "SCRIVENER FOR DUMMIES" DRAWING. THANKS, EVERYONE, FOR STOPPING BY, AND GWEN THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR EXPERTISE ON FIVE SCRIBES.   

122 comments:

Loralee said...

Wow! this program might be the answer to this non-techie fiction writer struggling with Word who needs help keeping up with random ideas that pop up and quickly get lost in my crowded head. Thanks for sharing the information.

Donnell said...

Gwen, you are reading my mind. Gwen, what do you say to all of us nontechies out there? Would you recommend Scrivener?

Nice to see you, Loralee!

Laura Drake said...

Gwen, I'm trying to stay away from Scrivener - I want it, BAD, but I have deadlines, and I know Scrivener would be the next shiny distraction.

But if I won your book, it would absolve me of blame, right? I'd HAVE to buy Scrivener then!

Or if Santa brought it...

Edith Maxwell said...

I have heard several writer friends extol the virtues of Scrivener but I haven't taken the plunge yet. Your clear discussion of it takes me a lot closer to that. I write software documentation in my day job and I just realized I should be using a sophisticated tool for my fiction, too!

Questions:
-Is it XML based?
-Can I export my document to a .doc format or save as .doc (or .docx)? That's what my publisher wants.

Thanks,

Edith
edithmax at gmail dot com

Kelsey Browning said...

Gwen -

I'm a huge Scrivener fan and have used your blog more than once to find the answer to some small issue I'm having. :-) I figure I use about half the functionality of the program, but would love to become even more proficient.

With every manuscript, I refine my Scrivener template. One day, I'm going to have the ultimate fiction template! (Can you hear my evil laugh?)

I have so much less paper floating around, which helps my productivity.

Oh, and I also use Scriv for assorted other projects: Marketing/Promo, Brain Candy (my blog), etc. It's easy to create a structure that keeps me organized and hold info for future posts or tasks.

I'd be lost without Scrivener. And I'm shamelessly raising my hand for a copy of your book. It would give me the ultimate excuse to learn even more functionality. Congrats on creating such an amazing resource!

Kelsey

JMF said...

Well, that will save me from the corkboard that dominates my study, and the research files that clog my desk drawer! Wow. Sounds like this does what other programs have promised.

Margi said...

So glad I read this post. I've never heard of Schrivener before and it sure sounds like something I'd use. Eliminate the white board, post-its, and all the other little notes that clutter my life and put them all in one nice organized spot. Excellent!

Susan Vaughan said...

This info on Scrivener is fascinating. Over the years of writing, I've created my own color coding and scene card system but Scrivener seems to be much more efficient. Fabulous!

Carol-Lynn Rossel said...

This is fascinating. I've been interested in Scrivener but it seemed a bit intimidating. I'd certainly like a copy of your book.

rossel(at)fairpoint(dot)net

Donnell said...

Hey everyone, hope you're reading this. To be entered, we NEED YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS OR A WAY TO CONTACT YOU.

HAPPY WEDNESDAY!!!!!!!

Cynthia Woolf said...

WOW. I definitely need this book. I downloaded the free version of scrivner but then my computer crashed and I lost everything. I think I might like to try it again. She makes is sound so easy to use.

sc morgan said...

I've been using Scrivener for years. Love. Love. Love it. I use it for everything: journals, quotes, wip, blog entries. I even have a recipe project complete with photos of food.

But here is an unconventional use I don't think I've heard discussed before. I belong to a wonderful online critique group (Internet Writing Workshop-internetwritingworkshop[dot]org/) Sometimes I like to take a lengthy submission, copy it to Scrivener, and then compile as a .mobi file, which I can then put on my Kindle. I have done this with my own writing, as well, and I can tell you that reading a piece on a Kindle is another great way of critiquing--either you own or someone else's works.

Also like to say that Gwen's class is well-worth taking, and _Scrivener for Dummies_ ROCKS!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Loralee: Yes! Scrivener is perfect for keeping track of those random ideas, and keeping them with your manuscript.

When you're ready to take a look, download the free trial and see what you think. :-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Donnell:
I have quite a few nontechie friends who use Scrivener. In fact, that's what got me started blogging about it, then teaching classes on it, then writing the book.

Please don't let your feeling that you're not computer savvy stop you. I'll bet Word was intimidating before you understood how it worked too.

I think what overwhelms new users the most is that it looks different from a standard word processor. I'd start with the tutorial (available from the Start screen, or the Help menu) because it provides a good overview and explains the basic layout/terms. I also have tips on my web site, and of course, I wrote a book about it... ;-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Haha, Laura. Are you ever *not* going to have deadlines? ;-) Actually, I hope not. Deadlines mean contracts, and those are good things!

You should definitely ask Santa for the book if you don't win...

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Okay, here I go... dragging my feet out of the La Brea Tar Pits since I have to DQ myself from the drawing. You rock, Ms. Hernadez!

Jean said...

Hi Gwen,
I have Scrivener loaded on both computers now. I want to start a new story with it, but this Word 2010 is still confusing and I'd love an easier way. I'm looking forward to learning it.
Great job..keep commenting :)

Kelsey said...

Bet you both know where to find me ;-), but I'm at Kelsey@KelseyBrowning.com.

K-

Gwen Hernandez said...

Edith: You might even consider using Scrivener to write your documentation. I love it for keeping track of where I am in the writing/editing/revision process for each section for chapter. And for quick topic searches.

I've been out of the programming world for a long time, but I'm pretty sure the Mac version uses Cocoa and XML. Not sure on Windows.

You can export to all types of formats, including DOC or DOCX. And if you're into MultiMarkdown, you can even convert from MMD to XML and other formats.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Thanks, Kelsey! My templates are always a work in progress as I keep tweaking how I write. I'm glad you're using that functionality. I'd love to see your evil, ultimate template someday. ;-)

I also use Scrivener for other writing projects, like my blog posts, notes for interviews, and creating/organizing class lessons. There's even a template for recipes...

Gwen Hernandez said...

Donnell: BTW, I meant to say, thanks for having me on Five Scribes today!! :-D

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Yes, Kelsey, but rules are rules :)))) Thanks for dropping by!

Donnell Ann Bell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gwen Hernandez said...

JMF: The corkboard is great. And no more dropped, missing, out-of-order cards. And if you're using a laptop, you can take it all with you.

There's also a version of Scrivener for iPad in the works for early next year. iWant. ;-)

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Gwen! I think I'm convinced.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Exactly, Margi! Glad I could introduce you.

Marlo Berliner said...

Wow, sounds like Scrivener may be just what I need. My scenes tend to come to me in a very disorderly fashion and it takes me loads of time to organize myself. I think you've sold me, Gwen.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Susan: Color coding is huge for me. I love being able to see the values at a glance. And the best part is you can make the values anything you want.

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Gwen - I've been meaning to ask you. Does your book cover Scrivner for Word or just Mac?

Gwen Hernandez said...

Carol-Lynn: Like anything new, Scrivener can be intimidating, but it's worth it! At least to me. ;-)

Theresa said...

Gwen,
Welcome to Five Scribes! Wow Scrivener sounds like an amazing tool. How much does it cost? Kudos for you on writing the guide for dummies--I'd need that too. Thanks for simplifying things!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Cynthia: I'm sort of evil that way. ;-) No, seriously, it's an adjustment, and you don't have to learn how to do everything, but I know the hours I put into learning Scrivener have come back to me tenfold.

Gwen Hernandez said...

sc morgan: Thanks, Sarah! I love reading my WIP on my iPad or Nook. I always notice something I didn't when reading on the computer screen. I also give it my MS to one of my CPs that way.

Thanks for bringing it up, and for stopping by!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Jean: You might eventually find Scrivener to be more intuitive than Word because it can flex to the way you write.

If you're going to be switching between computers (with a flash drive, or Dropbox, etc) just be sure to close the project on the first computer before you save it to the drive (or remove the flash drive you're working on). Otherwise you'll get an error when you open the project on the second computer prompting you to make a copy to work on.

Good luck!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Marlo: Scrivener is especially great for someone who writes like you!

Melissa Mayhue said...

I keep hearing about Scrivener but this is the best explanation I've seen so far...and one that's left me itching to give it a try. Thanks, Gwen, for laying it out in a way I could understand. I love that there's a Dummies book for it [a must for me and new software!] And knowing there are classes available is a major plus. Thanks, Five Scribes, for hosting Gwen! I'm definitely going to have to look into this now!
~ Melissa
MelissaMayhue@aol.com

Gwen Hernandez said...

Cynthia:
Great question. The book is for both Mac and Windows.

Anne Marie Becker said...

I started using Scrivener over a year ago and LOVE it for first drafts. So easy to organize, outline, add scenes, etc. with that handy-dandy summary bar on the left. I haven't had time to play with it for revisions, but hope to in the future.

Thanks, Donnell & Gwen for the fabulous information!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Theresa: Oh, most wonderful Sandy coordinator! ;-) You run a fabulous contest.

I'm excited to be here. I can tell you're going to keep me busy all day with so many wonderful commenters.

To answer your question, Scrivener is $45 for Mac and $40 Windows.

Gwen Hernandez said...

That's great, Anne Marie! I think you'll find Scrivener excellent for revisions too. I especially love being able to take a snapshot of a scene before I revise it so I don't lose my original words.

Mary said...

I have the trial version of Scrivener sitting on my laptop but have been too intimidated to use it.

After reading your post, I feel brave enough to try.

Your book sounds incredibly helpful. And it's definitely going onto my Christmas Wishlist!

Mary said...

Oh, my email addy is mary.behre@gmail.com

Carey Baldwin said...

Gwen I had to try this! So far I've only started with the cork board function. I love it! I'm the type of writer who storyboards everything before I begin a book. Then...it all goes out the window. But I still need that storyboard.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to learning more over the holidays in my "free time".

Great job with the book. You really broke things down beautifully for this dummy!

Theresa said...

Thanks for the kind words about The Sandy, Gwen. $40-45?? Geeze that's NOTHING! How wonderful!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Mary: Go for it! And you know you can always hit me up for help at a meeting. ;-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Carey: Isn't the corkboard great? So glad you're finding the book helpful. Thanks!

jessicaaspen.com said...

Hi Gwen,
I've been reading all the comments on Scrivener on the PRO loop and I am definitely asking Santa for a copy. Maybe he'll bring a copy of your book too (if I don't win it here :).
Right now I use three different docs to write, one for Snowflaking my story at the begining (tag sentance, one paragraph summary, synopsis etc.) and then I use a spreadsheet for scenes. I'm thinking Scrivener is the way to combine all of these.
Thanks~looking forward to trying your book with it!
JessicaAspen@rocketmail.com

Carmen Webster Buxton said...

OK, I think this is a new question. What if you have a half-finished m.s. in Word. Is there in an easy way it import it into Scrivener? And by the way, it would have to be the PC version because I don't have a Mac.

carmen

carmen (dot) webster (dot) buxton (at) gmail (dot) com

p.s. wow, your captcha is hard to read! I hope it does not think I am a robot.

Regencyresearcher said...

I use Word Perfect because of my dissatisfaction with WORD. can one share pages from Scrivener with others? At present there is some difficulty sharing critiques and such because some people have WORD 2003 or 2007 and others have WORD for MAC or 2010. So how compatible is it with other programs?
Obe draw back to trying Scrivener is taking the time to learn it.
nmayer@bellsouth.net

silverlining1 said...

I'm an ex-techie who has hated Word ever since my gov't project ditched WordPerfect for MS. They think nothing of letting the public be the Beta-testers. Scrivener sounds wonderful! I particularly like the ability to convert to various ebook formats. Many thanks for this info.

Lynn M said...

I have heard so much about it and used a free trial once, I will one day get it for myself!

kestrel_cod (at) yahoo (dot) com

Lesli said...

I was going to ask if it was good for non-writers, as I thought to recommend it to a person for business organization. But someone said they do use it for other purposes. Thanks.
I look forward to the tutorial.

Lesli

lesliwrites @ gmail.com

Gwen Hernandez said...

Jessica:
I think Scrivener would be a perfect way to combine all your files. You can create a document for your overall story synopsis and just add to it as you flesh it out.

You can do the same for each character sheet.

When you're ready to create a scene list, you can just create a new document (or index card if you prefer to work in the corkboard) for each one, and add a short description in the synopsis section. These scene placeholders are where you actually type the text when you're ready. So easy!

I hope Santa's good to you. ;-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Carmen: Yes! File-->Import. :-) Then you can split the imported document up into smaller chunks like scenes or chapters (Documents-->Split). I use scenes because I tend to switch point of view between them.

If you're going to split, you might want to memorize the keyboard shortcut for it.

Coming soon to Windows--and already in the Mac version--is the ability to auto-split a manuscript if you use scene dividers like the # symbol. Great question!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Regencyresearcher:
You can export to just about any file type, including DOC (which is compatible on both Mac and Windows). In fact, you can choose just one, several, or all scenes/chapters to export (called compiling in Scrivener because it compiles all the separate documents together).

There is also a simple export option (File-->Export) when you don't need all the special formatting that Compile has, which also exports to DOC.

There is a learning curve to Scrivener, but that's true of any software.

Gwen Hernandez said...

silverlining1: No problem! And if you ever have the desire to beta test again, Scrivener puts beta versions out there before they release updates to the public. ;-)

The nice thing about the creator of Scrivener is that he and his team are super responsive for technical support, and when there is a bug, it gets fixed very quickly.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Lesli: Definitely! I had quite a few genealogists in my last class. I also highly recommend it for academics and college/HS students. My thesis would have been so much easier in Scrivener!

Terri L. Austin said...

I've been curious about Srivener. I'm not so tech savvy and was wondering if it was easy to work with. Thanks for pointing out the interesting features.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Absolutely, Terri! I hope you'll at least give it a try. If it's not for you, that's okay too. :-)

LB Hayden said...

I've been grinding away, writing three steps forward and two steps back. I need to find a new method and you sure make Scrivener sound like a logical new way to start. I've been playing with the program but haven't had success yet. I'm going to tackle it again. Ya know we miss you back in Bama. But I undestand completely the appeal of the NoVa area! Go Air Force and Roll Tide. LauraH

Gwen Hernandez said...

Hey, Laura! Thanks so much for stopping by. I miss you guys too, but we do like it here. Until we move again. I'm a nomad at heart.

I was glad for our short stint in Alabama because SM is such a great chapter. And otherwise I never would have understood what was going on at the awards ceremony in LA. Had to explain the whole rivalry thing to my lunch-mate. ;-)

I hope your second look at Scrivener is more successful. Let me know if I can help!

Viola said...

Thanks for the info on Scrivener. I've heard lots about it but this makes me understand it so much better. Would love to be entered into the drawing. (viola at violaestrella dot com)

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hello Gwen,
Welcome to Five Scribes! (Great idea to bring Gwen here, Donnell!!)

This is a wonderful post, I've been pondering Scrivener for awhile.

I have two+ questions;

Can I use one purchase on both my Mac and my PC? Or do I need to buy one for the mac and one for the pc?

And do you think the learning curve interrupts the flow of writing? Or to put it another way, is the learning curve steep, thus would you recommend we wait until we start a new project to use Scrivener?

I used WriteWay for a short while and it just got in my way, and I'm pretty techie.

Glad you're with us today.
Ciao
LA, one of the Scribes.

Unknown said...

Gwen, I just bought and downloaded Scrivener and stared at it for three days. I want to use it for my new manuscript while I plod away on Word with a completed manuscript. I plan on taking your February class. I'm so glad you mentioned the feature missing from Word, the ability to open a project to where you left off with having to push any keys. There's so much to learn I just want the basics to get me started. My email address is yasmine.phoenix@gmail. I think my odds for winning are better than the 550 million Moneyball tonight.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Gwen.

People mention Scrivener every once in a while. Whenever they do I ask, How is it better than Word? I've never gotten a good answer before. This explains it all.

Greta

badgermirlacca said...

This sounds like a good program. Thanks for the detailed discussion!

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

My favorite feature is the snapshot of each document so I can compare old and new versions to see what I changed. I'm sure I'd learn a lot more with your book!

~Debbie
dallenco[at]gmail[dot]com

Sandra de Helen said...

I've been using Scrivener for a few projects, but wow do I need your book! I've been getting by with tutorials and learn as I go, and it's rough. Still, SO MUCH BETTER THAN WORD! After all these years of using Word, I have problems with it, and it can't do any of the things I can already do with Scrivener with my limited knowledge. I'm so happy to know about your book! Thank you.

Sandra de Helen said...

Forgot to leave my email: sandra at sandradehelen dot com

Hope Clark said...

I keep hearing writers speak favorably about Scrivener, but I've always been devoted to Word. You make it sound so doable! Count me in for the drawing.

hope@chopeclark.com
hope@fundsforwriters.com

Gwen Hernandez said...

LA: Thanks for having me!

If you want both the Mac and PC versions, you'll have to pay for them both since they're different products. However, once you have it on both computers, you can open your project on either one (from a flash drive, Dropbox, etc).

And, if you have more than one computer on the same operating system (i.e. both Mac or both Windows), you can purchase Scrivener once and load on multiple computers in your home.

As far as the learning curve, I'd take a look at it and see what you think. Some people click with it right away and others take longer.

It's easy to create a new document in a project and start writing, so if all you're doing is writing right now, you can import what you have (or wait on that) and then start adding new scenes. If you want to get more sophisticated and you think it'll slow you down, then wait and play with it later. No help at all, right? ;-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Unknown (Yasmine): I look forward to "seeing" you in my class in February! You might try taking a look at the tutorial to see if that gets you jumpstarted.

Good luck with the lottery! ;-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Anonymous (Greta): Glad to hear it. Thanks!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Debbie: I agree. Snapshots are great. I just have to remember to take one before revisions. It's finally becoming a habit. Thanks!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Sandra: You sound like most people I know. They're just using the bare minimum in Scrivener and they still would never go back to Word. ;-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Hope: Word definitely has its place, and it rocks for ease of formatting and general correspondence. And for some, it really may be the best tool.

I just suggest that people give Scrivener a try and then decide. Good luck!

Gwen Hernandez said...

badgermirlacca: Oops, I skipped you earlier. You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

E. B. Davis said...

I'd love to try it for my next novel. But what am I going to do with all my Post-It Note pads that I buy by the carton?

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

How difficult is it to learn? Sometimes I feel like there isn't enough time to learn a new program.
I'd love to try it though.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Haha, E.B. I love Post-Its and other office supplies. Maybe you could leave notes for your loved ones? Reminders for yourself? Inspirational messages on your bathroom mirror?

Or just make sure you transcribe the note to Scrivener before you stick it in the "pile of great ideas". ;-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Jess: That really depends on you, and how comfortable you are with software. I know some people who get the basics right away, and others who never quite figure it out.

Everyone's brain works differently. Though I will say Scrivener does a good job of catering to all types of writers.

What if you gave yourself an hour to download the program and look at the tutorial? Or maybe an hour a day for a few days. Then see what you think.

Sparkle Abbey said...

Thanks for the great info on Scrivener, Gwen. I've been interested but a bit intimidated. Now, I'm intrigued. LOL Thanks!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Sparkle Abbey: Ha, then my work here is done. ;-)

April Henry said...

I've written my last six or seven novels on it, and I'm still learning cool new things to do with it.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

EB, maybe we can auction of your note pads at Left Coast Crime :)

Wow, what a successful blog. Gwen, you're a dynamo. Looks like this is a win/win for you and our fellow writers.

Parker Blue said...

I downloaded the trial version a couple of months ago because I thought it might be what I needed, but it was taking too long to actually get to the writing while I played with the software. Maybe I'll try it in the neat book!

Lisa Potocar said...

Perfect timing for this blog, Donnell and Gwen--on a day when I hit one button with a tiny clip of my nail and a whole bunch of my text got erased and I couldn't recover it--UGH!!! I've been wondering if it's Word or my computer. Either way, I'm finding that Word is getting tedious to use, and I thank you for introducing me to another alternative.

Kathy Bennett said...

I've got Gwen's book and took her class. All I can say is wow!

Because of a looming deadline, I wasn't able to keep up with the class as much as I would have liked. However, I'm now getting ready to start my next book and I'm going to write it using Scrivener.

I can't wait. This program will be perfect for the way I write. Oh, and I'm taking Gwen's class in February - I hope to have the basic's down by that time and maybe I can learn to utilize more of the program.

Robin Burcell said...

I've used Scrivener for the last three books, and still don't know all the bells and whistles. I love the program. Would probably love it better if I knew everything it did, because there are times when I get frustrated at not knowing exactly how to do some simple task. I know I'm not utilizing it to its fullest extent. The book sounds amazing!!!

Eliza Gayle said...

I've had Scrivener for a while now. I guess it's time to really sit down and figure it out.

Eliza

Loralee said...

Think I forgot to add this: lilli530 @ yahoo dot com

donnell, thanks for having Gwen here.

Suzanne said...

Thanks for the great post listing Scrivener's advantages, Gwen. I've had my eye on Scrivener for almost a year and downloaded a trial copy on my laptop. I "get" that it's better than Word. But I've only used 3 days of the trial copy because I cannot surmount the learning curve.

Robin Kaye said...

I adore scrivener and have been using it for years, but find I don't use it fully. I'd love a copy of your book to become a better scrivener user. Robinkayewrites (at) me (dot) cpm

VICKI BATMAN, said...

I have never used Scrivener. I've been so happy with how I write and use Word. Might be checking it out. Thanks for the information.

Terry Odell said...

I went to a workshop on Scrivener at NINC, but it wasn't 'hands on' which is the only way I can learn. I've got the free sample downloaded, and am wallowing through the tutorial. I'm a VERY linear writer, and a total pantser, so it seems scary to have a program want me to know where I'm going before I get there. I thought I'd use it to track my characters or for a series bible. I confess I was (and still am) tempted to get your book.

Terry

Rosemarie said...

I must be living under a rock. Scrivener is news to me. I see that it is for both Mac and Windows which is good. The corkboard sounds really great! My handwriting is so bad that keeping 3x5 cards is just not possible.

Just sign me 'dummy'

Serena Wolfe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Serena Wolfe said...

Great blog post. Made me actually think about having an affair...on Word. We've been in a committed relationship since I left Lotus Word Pro some ten years or so ago. Don't tell Word, but I'm going to go check out the younger model right now. If we hit it off...who knows. This could be the start of a beautiful relationship!

ladyofwinter68 (at) gmail (dot) com

Gwen Hernandez said...

Great, April! I love finding cool features and tricks I didn't know about. I learned a lot while writing the book. Also, it pays to read the "What's New" section on the updates. There's always something neat in there. :-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Love the auction idea, Donnell.

I'm floored by the number of commenters. I think the great turnout is in part to your promo efforts. Great job on that. Thank you!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Parker: Like anything, Scrivener can be a distraction. It's just so darn fun. Maybe a timer? ;-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Oh no, Lisa! There's nothing worse than losing words.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Thanks so much, Kathy! *blush*

Glad to hear you're coming back in February. :-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Robin:
Glad to hear you've enjoyed writing in Scrivener.

If you get stuck trying to do something, you might find some help on the Scrivener Tips page on my blog. Also, the guys at L&L have video tutorials up on their site, and their forum is full of helpful posts.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Suzanne: My best advice is to be patient with yourself and Scrivener. Any software takes time to learn, and most people only use a small portion of it. (Really, how many of you can do a mail merge or attach a template in Word?)

You might consider getting started with something less intimidating, like blog posts or a personal journal rather than a manuscript that requires you to "get it right" right away. Good luck!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Robin Kaye: It's easy to get competent and forget to look around, isn't it? Human nature. :-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Absolutely, Vicki B! And if you give it a try and want to go back to Word, that's cool too. ;-) Everybody works differently.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Terry:
Scrivener has great features for plotters, but you don't have to know where you're going at all. It doesn't force you to answer questions or create scenes in advance or anything. You *can* do those things, and maybe that's how your NINC instructor writes, but you never have to.

As a linear pantser, you can just create a project, open a document, and start writing. When you get to the end of that scene/chapter, create another document and keep going.

Breaking them up allows you to find things easily, revise in logical chunks, and tag scenes in a way that makes sense for you.

I don't put my scenes into chapters until after the first revision. What I do like is use the Label field to color code them by POV, and set the Status field to track the day and week.

You could use Scrivener for the rest of your life and never look at the Corkboard or Outliner. :-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Rosemarie: I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one with awful handwriting. I find I just don't have the patience to slow down and make it nice anymore. Plus I write so little that it's deteriorating by the day. ;-)

Gwen Hernandez said...

Serena:
This is the one time when I encourage people to cheat. ;-) Hope you like the younger model!

Jean said...

Gwen,
Thanks for the response to Carmen. I was wondering how to shift my current Word document to Scrivener. I plan to give it some time today.

Jean

Gwen Hernandez said...

Absolutely, Jean. Good luck with it!

Pat Marinelli said...

Interesting. Gwen, a quick question. Would Scrivener be worthwhile for a short story writer? Flash fiction writer?
Thanks,
PatMarinel(at)yahoo(dot)com

DP Lyle,MD said...

I've been using Scrivener for years for both fiction and NF and I love it. Simply the best program out there for writing. And Scrivener For Dummies is an excellent book that will help anyone understand the program---though it's pretty easy and intuitive to use.

Doug

D.P. Lyle, MD
Website: http://www.dplylemd.com
Blog: http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/DPLyle

Gwen Hernandez said...

Pat: I think Scrivener would be great for short stories or flash fiction. In that case, what I'd probably do is create a project to contain multiple stories (maybe around a theme or something). Though you could still create one project per story depending on the length.

For flash fiction, I'd use one project, much the way I do to organize my blog posts, guest appearances, or class lectures.

Gwen Hernandez said...

I agree, Doug. Thanks so much for the book praise! :-)

Terry Odell said...

Gwen - thanks -- I've tried again. I seem to be able to create 'text' stuff, and 'synopsis' stuff on the index cards, but I can't figure out how/why when I go from my manuscript to the corkboard, the index cards aren't there. And there are minor editing foibles--Scriver seems to assume that anything after a period is a new sentence .. So writing, "A Blackthorne, Inc. team" comes out with a capital T unless I turn off all caps at the beginning of sentences.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Terry:
The corkboard shows the contents of a container (such as a folder), so you have to select the container your documents are in if you want to view the index cards. That's another reason I don't group my scenes into chapter folders until after the first draft. That way I can choose either the Manuscript folder or a part folder (since I usually organize them into parts) to view the lot.

As far as the auto-correction, capitalizing after a period is pretty standard in any word processor (Word does that too). So, yeah the way to get rid of it is to turn off auto-capitalization.

Suzanne said...

Gwen, you said, "Any software takes time to learn, and most people only use a small portion of it." Right-o. My question: What part of Scrivener do I use?

I'm not trying to be snarky. This is a serious user-interface question. When I attempted the tutorial, I had no idea where to ground myself with a basic document because the tutorial insisted on showing me *every* way they could think of to accomplish a task. That's the kind of thing developers would enjoy. They're deeply in touch with the "what" of the software program, but less so with the "how" and "why."

From an end-user perspective, when I have a task to complete, I want to know "how" and sometimes "why." I don't care about "what." If someone could show me one simple way to create a document in Scrivener, I'd probably figure it out from there.

Serena Wolfe said...

Hey Gwen! It appears I will be leaving Word for the younger model! I downloaded the trial version and played with it all afternoon. I will definitely be buying the program. I really LOVED the story/cork board feature. Being able to access each chapter/scene directly is a dream come true! So much easier than scouring my Word doc to find I something. I can't tell you how pleased I am to have read your blog post. Thanks so much for turning me on to Scrivener.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Suzanne:
I understand what you mean. Us techie folks have a tendency to want to show you everything we think is cool. ;-)

The simplest way to create a document is to select the folder in the Binder where you want it to be (e.g. Manuscript) and click the round green + button in the toolbar.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Yay, Serena! So glad you found a new love. ;-)