Tags:
  1. Mish

    Mish Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    30

    Does anyone use Scrivener?

    Discussion in 'Software' started by Mish, Jun 28, 2019.

    Hi Everyone,

    Up to this point I have mostly been writing 5 - 10 A4 page short stories and for this Microsoft Word was fit for purpose. However, I am now writing a novel and I need a good Word processor to quickly jump between chapters. I'm finding Word to be too clunky to do this. One functional alternative is Adobe Acrobat Pro pdf writer, but it is not really a Word processing tool.

    So, I did a bit of searching and found that Scrivener might have the functionality I am after. So I just wanted to check if anyone has used this Word processing tool? If you have, how did you find it for writing novels? Is there anything better out there?
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,352
    Likes Received:
    13,054
    I love Scrivener. I find the everyday writing capabilities to be very intuitive and easy to use. Some of the other features are less intuitive--for example, customizing compiles can be a pain.

    But I'd recommend it. If you get it, bump up the number of automatic backups--I almost lost some data when I had an issue and had a too-small number of backups.

    I should note that I use it on the Mac. I don't know it on Windows.
     
    Mish likes this.
  3. Komposten

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    2,172
    Likes Received:
    1,357
    Location:
    Sweden
    I use Scrivener for all my creative writing. It is so much more than just a word processor due to its large suite of organisational tools (e.g. splitting chapters into multiple smaller "files", moving chapters/scenes around, adding tags and keywords depending on locations/characters/etc., marking individuals files as WIP/draft/done/etc., ability to keep your research documents right inside Scrivener for access at all times, full screen mode with no distractions, etc.)

    There are many threads on the forum where Scrivener has been discussed in the past.
    This is the most important one: https://www.writingforums.org/threads/scrivener-paid.132694/
    And if you search the Software sub-forum you'll find three pages worth of threads: https://www.writingforums.org/search/34517997/?q=scrivener&t=post&o=date&g=1&c[title_only]=1&c[node]=159
     
    Mish likes this.
  4. Martin Beerbom

    Martin Beerbom Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2016
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    76
    I LOOOOOOOVE Scrivener.

    Now, before I go into a detailed feature list of what I like about it, I recommend this:

    They have a free trial version. 30 non-consecutive days (use it daily, it lasts 30 days. Use it once a week, it lasts 30 weeks.) Download, launch, open the tutorial that comes with it, and go through it. That will give you an impression if it's the right software for you very quickly.
     
    Mish likes this.
  5. Amontillado

    Amontillado Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2018
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    30
    Scrivener is great, without question. It's not the only way to write, but if you put on blinders and lived your writing life in Scrivener, odds are you'd be happy.

    I ended up with more of a piecemeal setup. Currently I outline in OmniOutliner, mind map in MindNode, and write in Nisus Writer Pro. Devontthink serves as a way to sync projects as units. I have databases that use a lot of Devonthink's features, but it's also useful in simple scenarios, too, like just bundling up and syncing files.

    Curiously, I use Nisus in a somewhat Scrivener-like way.

    My usual layout is "draft" view, which is reflowable text without all the adornments, the table of contents in the navigator pane, and I use features like editing window splits and editing more than one file at a time.

    Some of my needs are specialized, like mail merge. That's a dreadfully boring thing, but it helps.

    My favorite Scrivener feature remains locked outline mode. In that setup, you have two editing windows. On one side (the left is my preference), you have the hierarchy of your sections along with their synopses and optionally a few other bits of metadata.

    The right hand window brings up the document associated with whatever is selected in the left hand side.

    Very nice for brainstorming.
     
    Mish likes this.
  6. Rancid_Old_Git

    Rancid_Old_Git New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2019
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    9
    I have Scrivener and use it less and less as time goes on. I use MS Word 2010 for all of my work from flash to full length novels, the issue with navigating around large documents, is easily overcome using the 'navigation' feature and 'headings' both of which I believe are on all versions of Word. If you are not familiar with how 'navigation' works in Word I would be quite happy to put up a quick explanation on here, it's a very useful feature which not everyone appears to know about.
    I do not like the word processor in Scrivener, it is limited in functionality compared to Word or Open Office or Libre Office to name but a few. (I use Libre Office as well - it also has a 'navigation' system like Word only not quite as slick)
    I like the cork board on Scrivener and occasionally use it for time-lining and brainstorming. However, I wouldn't pay for the package again as I don't think it does anything much that you can't actually do in Word or Libre Office.
    I know some people love it and wouldn't use anything else, we all find what works best for our own way of writing.
    The thing that I find most off putting about Scrivener is lack of access to files for use in other programmes, sure it does save in RTF format which is readable by virtually anything, however it's document naming conventions are, in my opinion, ridiculous, or at least extremely unhelpful.
    Again though, many people do not have a problem with this at all and I fully own my own prejudices on this and all matters.
    Probably best to try the free version as Martin Beerbom said above this.
    Good luck anyway, at the end of the day, it's the writing that counts, not how you do it.
    Bill Shakespeare didn't have Scrivener or Word, I believe he used an early Amstrad.
     
    Mish likes this.
  7. Mish

    Mish Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    30
    Hi Rancid_Old_Git,

    Thank you so much for your feedback and thank you for offering to write a guide on Word navigation! Actually, if you could write a few tips on Word navigation, I would appreciate it!

    I downloaded a trial version of Scrivener and I really like the navigation component on it. I like to be able to jump between chapters and scenes on the fly, I didn't know that Word is capable of that. The Word processing component of Scrivener does appear to be a bit limited compared to Word, so I am still in two minds about it.
     
  8. Mish

    Mish Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    30
    Thank you for your tips, feedback and suggestions everyone!
     
  9. Amontillado

    Amontillado Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2018
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    30
    The navigation in Word is what I use in Nisus, but there is more to it than navigation.

    Heading styles are used to create a table of contents.

    A lot of writers never use styles, but that’s a shame. Swapping style sets is a little bit like Scrivener’s compile function.

    One really nice thing about Scrivener is the company behind it. They are very supportive of the little guy.
     
    Mish likes this.
  10. Martin Beerbom

    Martin Beerbom Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2016
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    76
    Scrivener is a writing program. It's not intended to be a word processor replacement to apps like Word (which is, in effect, a document preparation app.)

    As such, I find the criticisms that it lacks word processor features a bit disingenuous. If you write fiction, you do not need all those features, and the ones you need are there. It has styles. It can make a table of contents (you do not need to use styles to make it, though.)

    And there's more to it than mere navigation. It's not just about jumping from here to there. It's about editing. Realizing that a piece of text (chapter, scene) works better at THAT place than THIS one, so you need to move it there. Or realizing that a bunch (like, 20) of scenes are actually a separate storyline from your main one, and need to be arranged differently. In my experience, while Word can be made to navigate a LARGE text (a novel has ~100.000 words or ~400 pages, after all), such editing is a chore with it. For me. YMMV.

    The other thing I like most (but there's so much more) about Scrivener is that it can hold all relevant information (Research. Inspirational art and media. Backstories. Etc.) in one convenient place. Word does not have tools for that (holding additional data that does not actually belong into the text), though you can abuse the notes feature for a bit of it (but it's not intended for that. What it is intended for is communication with others, and when it comes closer to publishing, it will be used for that.) With Word, I would need additional documents and other apps, which means I need to devote a lot of my brain activity in organizing this instead of writing. Whenever I restart my machine and have a blank desktop, I seem to have forgotten where I put stuff, and when I need that stuff, I need to break away from writing and search for it. With Scrivener, I just launch it and open my project file, and all is there. Scrivener takes away a lot of such organizational problems (there's still a learning curve how to organize, and some of the templates helped me a lot with that). There are apps that seem to do even more of that – Write It Now is one example – but I never used those since Scrivener does everything I need for now.

    Word has this annoying habit to always try to make your one and only document the "final draft", and most of its tools are intended to work with the appearance of the text, not the text itself. There's no "work in progress" state. Scrivener recognizes that a novel is very much a work in progress for much of the writing life, and allows you to work the TEXT, not how it looks.

    That said, if you do not like the way it works and feel comfortable with Word, so be it. Use whatever works for you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  11. Rancid_Old_Git

    Rancid_Old_Git New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2019
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    9
     

    Attached Files:

    Mish likes this.
  12. Amontillado

    Amontillado Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2018
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    30
    I agree with the sentiment of using what works. Words with a lower case "w" are much more important than Word (TM) or any other tool.

    On the other hand, Word is what originally drove me to Scrivener.

    I liked the concept of Word's Master Document feature. I'm not sure if that's still supported or not. For about ten years it was a very dangerous thing.

    It provided sort of a binder, to use Scrivener lingo, and you could in theory drag and drop subdocuments into different order.

    It was very easy to be a pixel off in where you released the mouse, causing one document to quantum entangle with another. Think Mr. Scott having a bad day and materializing you inside a bulkhead. Not just illogical, very counterproductive. There wasn't an undo function. Two documents intermangled were forever lost.

    In those days, I wanted to like Word because it was The One True Word Processor and all the cool kids used it.

    There is a reason there are so many books being written these days in Scrivener. It's a very good tool.

    There's also a reason Word is used so much. I can fling poo at it all day, but that doesn't change a key fact. A lot of good, worthy prose has been written in Word. Kudos to Microsoft for supporting all that creative effort.
     
    Mish and Rancid_Old_Git like this.
  13. Mish

    Mish Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    30
    Wow, thank you so much for the guide Rancid_Old_Git! That's pretty neat! I didn't know you could setup navigation in Word like that. I'm going to give it a go with my novel.

    Thanks a million!
     
  14. Martin Beerbom

    Martin Beerbom Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2016
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    76
    You just have to love a company that have a "Useful Links" page that happily lists and links to directly competing products, and then some. L&L Useful Links
     
    Komposten likes this.
  15. Komposten

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    2,172
    Likes Received:
    1,357
    Location:
    Sweden
    I'll second what @Martin Beerbom said on this topic. Scrivener is not only about navigation, but organisation. Moving scenes, chapters, etc. around is extremely easy, and you can put them into folders without adding text to your document (compared to Word, where you only get navigation entries by adding text to the document). Additionally, in Scrivener you can mark individual scenes in different colours and such depending on their state (idea/WIP/draft/done/etc) or some other categorisation (maybe character or location, or whatever you want).

    Scrivener's word processor is limited, because you don't need Word's billion bells-and-whistles when writing a manuscript. I don't think there is a single feature I've wanted to use yet that Scrivener's word processor didn't have.
    Granted, if you want to do more advanced formatting (e.g. if you are self-publishing), then you'll have to compile your manuscript and import in another software.

    Storyboarding, previously mentioned organisation and having all research/notes/writing/etc. in the same program (and location) are a few things that Scrivener does which you can't do in Word (unless you want to add all these things into your manuscript document, of course, or keep a whole bunch of Word and web browser windows open at the same time).

    I think Scrivener wants to discourage users from making direct changes to the files it saves, since it uses an internal index of the files which could break. However, I also think that the document names (1.rtf, 2.rtf, 3.rtf, etc.) are really annoying. There have been several times where I have wanted to take a quick peek at some text from a Scrivener project without opening Scrivener (WordPad is faster, and I don't want Scrivener to make a new project back-up just because I wanted to check something real quick), but it's impossible because all you get is numbered files.

    Now this is very, very true. I haven't looked back since the first day of trying Scrivener. I used to write in Word/LibreOffice, but now I always miss Scrivener when I have to use one of those two (and as soon as Scriv 3 launches for Windows, I'll be there to buy it). Yet, I know many people prefer Word for many different reasons, so it's good that there are options! :)
     
    Mish and Maverick_nc like this.
  16. Martin Beerbom

    Martin Beerbom Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2016
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    76
    [Note: That's for the macOS version. The menu entries may be different in the Windows version.]

    1. Select the files in the Binder.
    2. "File":"Export":"Files..."

    You'll get the selected files, with folder structure intact, with the names they have in the Binder, in a location of your choosing.

    Dealing with the naming in its own project file/folder then only becomes a problem if you do not have access to a running Scrivener install. Given that the app is still under development, remains so for the foreseeable future, and is offered with a gracious trial version that can do that... it's not a problem.

    I have worked with countless apps, and all kinds of word processors over the years. Scrivener is one of the easiest, most helpful, apps to get data in AND out, in a way that allows working with it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  17. graveleye

    graveleye Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2017
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    364
    Location:
    Georgia
    What does Scrivener cost these days? I think I paid $49...Word is over $120.
    I have both, but Scrivener is a real deal and gets the job done.

    I've written two complete novels on it, and another in the works.
     
  18. Amontillado

    Amontillado Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2018
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    30
    Scrivener uses auto-generated internal names for rtf files, which is just an abstraction thing. It makes it easier to do things like have three chapters with the same name without derailing anything, or using characters in chapter names that aren't legal in file names.

    You can look at the xml for a small project and deduce everything you need to directly manipulate a project. L&L is also generous with their extensive internal documentation.

    It is more than most folks would want to do, but it's not hard to create a Scrivener project without using Scrivener at all. A generic text editor is all that's needed to create the xml file, and an rtf editor will create documents. It's been a while, but I've done it.

    I never lost any data.

    Your mileage might vary, but, truly, you can do major surgery on a Scrivener project with impunity. Just have a care and make backups first. I've used Python, for example, to do things with Scrivener.

    It's also nice the way Scrivener allows new xml tags in its project file. It ignores what it doesn't need, and never deletes anything it doesn't recognize. If you want to add a new type of metadata for some kind of automated manipulation of Scrivener projects, have at it.

    It's true I'm not currently using Scrivner, but I am an ardent admirer and I buy every paid upgrade that comes out. L&L appears to have addressed their design from the standpoint of producing a utility that leaves everything, including development of future extensions, within the reach of average users.

    Being very average, myself, I appreciate that.
     
    Komposten likes this.
  19. Martin Beerbom

    Martin Beerbom Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2016
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    76
    €53 currently in my neck of the woods (Germany, dunno how far it extends to other Eurolands – a big chunk is VAT that varies.) There are frequent sales.

    Word is €135 stand-alone, or included with an Office 365 subscription (starts @ €69/year, but for a proper commercial license runs ~€120/year.) Sure that gives one a lot more stuff, but nothing I want or need. The only vaguely tempting stuff is the 1TB cloud storage... but here I am, still using the free iCloud and DropBox with their measly few GBs, and have 90% free on them... (only shoot text files around, and those are not large and highly compressible, even for full novels.) [NB. Office 365 options are a nightmare to navigate and to choose from. None of the myriad of options fits me, and every one has soul-selling cons, or so it seems.]
     
    graveleye likes this.
  20. Amontillado

    Amontillado Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2018
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    30
    There is another reason I like Scrivener, and Mind Node, and OmniOutliner, and all the tools I use.

    It's ridiculous, but I like tools in general. When I was a kid in elementary school, I always wanted to have a few sheets of notebook paper and a pen in my pocket. The means to write is some kind of comfortable touchstone.

    My Dad was a powerful influence who touched many students and educators through his work. I found a recorded interview where he made an offhand comment, "I've always been a writer."

    I follow in his footsteps, at least in spirit. I've always been a writer.

    One more week until I take on a technical job that will be a real step up, and it appears to me my expressed willingness to write documentation helped me get the job. In another thread, others with more experience than I said that was unlikely, but I think I'll cling to the belief writing is a universal solvent.

    I'm a hack writer. I'll accept I'm a bad writer. I still think enthusiasm for writing has always bolstered my paycheck, even though I've never been specifically hired to write.

    Writing is good for you. Like Mario Andretti wanna-be racers like cars, I like writing implements.
     

Share This Page