A piece of software isn’t going to make you into a great writer but the right software might improve the writing experience. Scrivener is a $40 software application that boasts plenty of features that writers should appreciate. With functions to assist both writers of fiction and non-fiction, Scrivener should be highly sought after.
I have had the chance to hear from a few writers and ask how they write their books. They each seem to have different methods, some just keep it all in their heads while others use index cards and physical notes. For me, sitting in front of Microsoft Word and typing out a novel just seems like a daunting task. With the complexity of a story, it seems like you have to have a system. Since I’m not a practiced (nor published) long form writer, I figure I might as well learn a new system and see what it can do for me.
This is where Scrivener comes in and separates itself from your standard word processor. You start a new work with a project. The fiction, non-fiction, scriptwriting, and miscellaneous types of projects give templates to help fit those types of books. There is also an interactive tutorial which is recommended for everybody to go through. It helps teach you the interface and different places information can be kept as you write.
Scrivener has many features to help organize your work. The chapters, research notes, and other folders along the left-hand side keeps the bones of the book. A pane on the right-hand side can show metadata and other references as you write. Scrivener can help you actually get words on the page with its full screen editor to remove some of the distractions. It also has a “snapshot” feature so you can record and revert to revisions from the past.
A “split mode” allows you to view different chapters at the same time. The “Scrivening” mode allows you to select multiple sections of the project and view it as a continuous section. This might be useful to allow a continuous writing of one character or scene even if in the book’s organization it is split up for style or other reasons.
Scrivener has a Corkboard where each section is given a synopsis on an index card. You can then move the cards around as you see fit, and the other cards will automatically adjust so you don’t have to do it all manually. Scrivener also has an outliner to view the overall structure and collections to store related articles. You can also add references, footnotes, and keywords to help keep the document organized and searchable as you continue to work on it.
When complete, you can export your work to print, rtf, doc, docx, pdf, html, and other formats. You have options to remove or retain the metadata, footnotes, and other references in the exported version.
Scrivener has a learning curve to understand how to use the software well but some of its features can help reduce the learning curve of writing well and developing a structure to organize your writing. I will continue to try it out during the trial to see if it fits me. I think it is quite affordable at $40 for such a complete product.
I tested the Beta version 184.108.40.206 on Windows 8.1. You may also take advantage of the 30 day trial to take Scrivener for a spin.