1. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    Scrivener, and why I love it already.

    Discussion in 'Software' started by Greenwood, Aug 19, 2016.

    This thread is not meant as some dramatic display of reverence, as much as the title might suggest. It is more of an expression of hope I would like to share, one that I find will certainly contribute to my growth as a writer. Some have mentioned the name Scrivener to me in the past, but I always shoo'ed them off, preferring to stick to the old ways and think of the program as nothing more than some fancy way to cash in on the growing number of aspiring writers inhabiting the earth, a surface already overpopulated with aspiring-whatever-you-name-it-and-their's-thousands-of-them-whatevers.

    How wrong could I be.

    I used to stick to Word. No, no. OpenOffice, that is. I refused to pay 200 Euros for Word. How right could I be. You might be familiar with it, an OpenSource word processor capable of about 90% of everything MS Word is capable of. I liked it that way. I actually liked browsing through 10's of folders, 100's of individually saved scene doc's, 20'ish final chapter documents, and quadrillions of research notes and ramblings saved in some shady corner of my hard drive.

    How deluded could I be. I loved it, yes. Did it further my progress? No. If anything, it hampered me.

    With Scrivener, I can finally go loose in my writing environment, without having to search through endless folders and doc's, without having to search up numerous notes and awkwardly highlighted files in search of that one bout of inspiration I had three days and four hours ago, and filed down in a rush. Most of all, the full-screen option is a godsend, blocking my hypersensitive brain from noticing all those icons, clocks and buttons of my desktop. Sigh. What a relief this is. It even corrects SPAG errors for me, a great addition for a non-native speaker such as myself (I know all the words, but frequently miss or add an s, r, or p every here and there).

    If Scrivener taught me anything, it hasn't been writing in itself, but how to detach myself from distractions, and foremost; how many distractions there were in the first place. I remember an interview with G.R.R Martin, in which he mentioned that he wrote on an MS DOS computer with a black screen and white text. I now understand the man.

    After this rant, and in case you are wondering; Yes, I am drinking my 5th Imperial I.P.A right now. And I'm loving it.

    Special thanks to @Lifeline for pointing this program out to me about half a year ago.

    Any of you have some good tips and suggestions on how to further exploit all the nifty features this program comes with? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
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  2. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Hehe.. though I confess to be sceptical of the grammar-highlighting. I find it sometimes puzzling. Scriv has its own pecularities, some of which you might discover when you want to include i.e. quotes at a chapter start.

    What I personally like very much is the 'Research' folder, and a little file for each scene into which I safe whatever I cut out, be it sentences or entire paragraphs, to be safed if I should want it again. I am not the most professional user of Scriv, but I get by ;)
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Well, you'll get no argument from me as regards praise for Scrivener. Members who know me know that I pretty much proselytize the software. I will limit myself on this particular engagement to saying that if one is a non-linear writer (as I am) Scrivener is wonderfully tailor-fit. I use the Mac version.
     
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  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I second and third all of the above! I use both the Mac and PC versions.

    I love the Snapshot feature, the very extensive notes features, the research feature (!), the compile feature (!), the ability to have several versions of chapters or scenes and select at compile time which to include,, and on and on. Every time I think of a problem Word has, Scrivener already has a solution.

    Scrivener, baby! As far as writing software goes, it's gold.
     
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  5. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    The most brilliant thing about this all is that Word is a word-processor, and Scrivener is actually a piece of writing software. I never thought of it that way. I thought of writing as typing down words onto a document, or scribbling them down onto a page. To have a piece of software capture the whole "mindset" of a writer on one screen is totally new to me. I like this, a lot!
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Huh. This is half off topic, but: I've been wanting a file organizer--not just for writing, but for things like notes about the garden, brainstorming, assorted plans--heck, recipes. Almost all of my files are text files. I already have Scrivener.

    Sounds like I have a file organizer.

    Freakishly, I'll probably still WRITE in bbEdit, because the bare-bones interface bbEdit is the "right" place for writing. But I can copy/paste into Scrivener so that I can find what I wrote, later.

    (I really should take the trouble to make Scrivener's default settings as close to bbEdit as possible, to try again to wean myself over. But I vaguely recall running into some issue last time.)
     
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  7. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    It's very handy indeed. I often write the middle of a scene first if it springs to mind, and then focus on a beginning. This program seems perfect for that. I have a whole folder full of these snippets, so I'm going to start indexing them :D
     
  8. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    I would like to see a built-in, fully integrated time-line feature. There is another Mac App that has this, but it's not as slick as Scriv.

    I will probably get stick from the purists for mentioning this but ProWritingAid can now open Scriv files, I find this rather handy when I get to the editing phase.
     
  9. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I bought Scrivener a couple of years ago thinking it would help me with organizational problems. But I guess I'm incurable because it didn't. In fact, without being able to switch from one version to another of a particular passage/file/whatever without first having to haul everything into a Scrivener book (that's what it's called, right?) which turned out to be far more tedium than I could stand... well, let's just say I find it easier to use .rtf format for writing files and Windows Explorer (which will preview them with a single click) gets as close (for me) as possible to keeping things straight.

    I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from buying Scrivener. I'm just adding a cautionary note for those, like me, who don't seem able to home in on the mindset necessary to connect with how Scrivener does things: Try before you buy, but that's good advice for any software you gotta pay for.

    Of course, there are two things about Scrivener that really bug me (which are the other two reasons I stopped using it):
    • Whenever I start it up, it loads the last file I was working on, and
    • If I start a new file, it never remembers my window size preference.
    Some will say these things are features, but I don't.
     
  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Those who like Scrivener like it a LOT.

    Those who don't like Scrivener? We still manage to get stuff done...
     
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  11. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    I got a scrivener trial - Didn't get on with it , went back to writing in open office writer ... theres no searching through loads of chapter files for me because i just write the whole thing into one odt file - different manuscripts, ideas etc are kept in seperate files and in a sensibly set up folder system in W7. So far i'm not seeing the need for anything else
     
  12. Scot
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    Scot Active Member

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    I tried Scrivener until my free trial period expired. It's pretty good, but I went back to using Jot Notes (see resources).
     
  13. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My 63k word Doctor Who fanfic took about 2 years, 8 months to write on Microsoft Word

    1970 words/month​

    I started using Scrivener when I was 5k words into my Urban Fantasy WIP, and since then I've gotten up to 40k words in just 5.3 months

    6600 words/month
    3.35 times as fast. There's some glitches in the spell-check and the auto-correct, so I'm going to have to export the whole thing back into Word for final editing, but for the writing itself: the fact that in Microsoft Word, you have to go through the entire document just to find one area to work on, means that I always feel I have to write my scenes in the order that a reader would find them.

    I can go back to edit earlier scenes that I've written, but if I want to write a scene that's ahead of where I am, then I have to slog through the parts leading up to it that I'm not as excited to write about (just so as not to lose my place and forget to fill it in later), and by then I've lost the energy to write the scene I'd been excited about.

    In Scrivener, each chapter gets its own section, so I can work on one chapter, go back and forth between pages in that chapter because the scroll-bar only covers a few pages instead of the whole thing (unless I specifically want to look at the whole thing for some reason), I can make a highlighted note of an area that I'll have to work on later and I can get back to that note just by clicking the note's icon in one of the sidebars, and if I want to work on another chapter, then I just have to click on that chapter's icon in the opposite sidebar.
     
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  14. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    Not to mention the snapshot function and the comments function, both very very useful.
     
  15. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm actually not aware of snapshot. What's that :D
     
  16. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    If you take a snapshot. it does just that. then you can edit make changes but the snapshot will remain unchanged. BUT, you can click on compare and the snapshot will show you what you changed along with an option to revert. You can make as many snapshots as you please. I would like to see an ability to revert individual changes, as it stands you can only revert the whole scene.
     
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  17. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Huh.
     
  18. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    Is that a 'Huh' of awe, or one of what f**k is he talking about?
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think that's a good reason to use Scrivener. However, I do the same thing in Pages. I simply create each chapter (and scenes if need be) separately. I save them in documents named Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc. These are stored together in an appropriate folder (Book One, Book Two.) I can zap into whatever I want to work on that day, no bother. When I finally want to assemble the whole novel, it's a simple thing to just copy/paste each chapter into the large pre-formatted document. (Which I've done to export to Kindle for my own reading.) I do my formatting in Pages as well, so there isn't any problem there.

    I have a research folder, with individual named folders stored inside that help me keep it organised. I can drag and drop any new information into the relevant folder. I have a Timeline that I can add to at will, and save the changes easily. I have a 'discards' folder for stuff I've changed, but still want to keep the old copy. All of my changes are named and dated, so there is no confusion.

    It's horses for courses, really. I have never had a problem organising my own work. And since all the stuff pertaining to a particular novel is stored in a single folder named for the novel, I can easily do backups every day, just by dragging the folder onto my flash drives. I also occasionally send the folder to myself as an email attachment, just as another backup method that could be accessed from anywhere. Piece of cake.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
  20. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    Other Scrivener goodies are the ability to have separate scenes in a folder and the ability to toggle reading them as a continuous document or as individual documents. Then, of course, there is the split screen. great for comparing versions of scenes or chapters.
     
  21. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm actually not sure yet :D It looks like a cool feature on an intellectual level, but I have no idea whether I'll actually use it.

    @jannert I've tried Pages before.

    I like Microsoft Word better ;)
     
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  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't dislike Microsoft Word, and have used it (on other people's computers.) I think it's all what you get used to, and many people who use Apple computers started with the Apple wordprocessing programme ClarisWorks, and morphed to AppleWorks and then to Pages. But these work in a similar way to Word. And my computer allows me to work in full-screen mode if I want to eliminate distractions. So Scrivener isn't unique in that respect either.

    Scrivener, however, is not a wordprocessing programme. It's a database formulated for writers. I discovered it doesn't like interacting with other kinds of projects. You really need to have both a wordprocessor AND Scrivener, if you want to write letters, and do other kinds of wordprocessing tasks. And as you pointed out, you need to have a wordprocessor in order to do formatting and other editing tasks anyway. So that's why I'm not a fan.

    I did try Scrivener on their free trial period, but just didn't like the experience at all. I was immediately frustrated by what it can't do. (Like import my previous work, for starters.) I know some people love it, but for me it's a million-dollar bridge over a 10¢ river. Not worth the hassle.
     
  23. Iain Sparrow
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    Iain Sparrow Senior Member

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    I just purchased Scrivener this week, and while I love it's ease-of-use and adaptability, you are correct, it is crap as a word processor.

    For my money, I think I'll stick with Storyist. It's specifically designed for writing a novel, and as an artist I greatly appreciate the what-you-see-is-what-you-get interface.
     
  24. EnginEsq
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    EnginEsq Senior Member

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    I tried the trial of Scrivener and it had no trouble importing all 110,000 Word words (in 25 .docx files) of my WIP.
    I then quickly ordered them, and started splitting them up into scenes.

    I'm quite enjoying it. One advantage of using it: it has a different custom dictionary than Word.
    I use Word in my "day job" (I'm a work-at-home attorney) and now I don't have to worry that the new words I'm coining in my SF work might accidentally wind up in my legal documents. :)

    Scrivener is currently on sale (today's the last day I think) for $30. I think it's worth that much, so I bought it.
    Yes, you will probably still want a word processor for other things.
     
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  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Only problem with WSIWYG is you have to reformat the document for various end products, like a submittable manuscript v ePub etc. Scrivener's formatting is done during compiling and will put the manuscript in the final form you want. I haven't tried all of the outputs though.
     

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