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  1. MzSnowleopard

    MzSnowleopard New Member

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    To Scrivener to Not To Scrivener

    Discussion in 'Software' started by MzSnowleopard, Sep 28, 2020.

    I have been considering working with software for novel writing. At the least they seem to help writers stay organized. One of my bigger problems.

    I have heard a lot about Scrivener, and yet not much at all. It's been hype vs. actual perspectives and details on the program. And this is what I want to know.

    So, if you have experience with this program. I would especially like to hear about the program itself. I would love to hear about, what you like about, what you don't, what is your favorite (and or least) aspect / feature. Not just how great or bad it is but details, what it offers, you know, the nooks and crannies of it.

    Looking forward to your responses.
     
  2. 31152104

    31152104 Active Member

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    havent used something akin to it to offer alternatives to you. its a nifty tool for novel writing imo.


    It is simple enough to grasp, very customizable, has a nice full-screen feature, easily allows compartmentalized writing, exports to many formats.

    Keyboard shortcuts galore. I havent touched many of its feautures, doing very basic writing atm.

    when writing you have Draft, Research, and Trash. I am doing primary editing so having that research tab really makes things easier, all my info is one place and a click away.


    One issue I have, it cant open Docx, and I don't have the office package, but copy paste from Notepad and no problem exists.

    I add this image to make my post look nice ;)


    [​IMG]
     
  3. 31152104

    31152104 Active Member

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    well i am an idiot, just figured out that I can drag and drop docx directly into a scrivener project
     
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  4. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This is easily Scrivener's most appealing selling point, its organizational paradigm. Now, it's easy to play around with an ap like Scrivener and the many subsequent clones that have hit the market and think "Okay, but I can do something similar with just the file system dynamic of my computer. Isn't this just taking that and compartmentalizing it?"

    Yes, it is.

    So, on that level of engagement, yes, you actually can come up with a similar organizational scheme on your own, but in such a scheme, you, the human, are the glue that holds that scheme together, and sadly you, the human, do not come ready-made to accept integration with other applications. This is where things get really nice with Scrivener, the way other aps have capitalized on Scrivener's success in this particular niche market.

    If you're a planner, aps like Plottr and Aeon Timeline speak the same language as Scrivener. You can create outlines and plot progressions in those aps and then export them to Scrivener. Personally, I like Plottr. It's visually clean and simple and clearly designed with the novice end-user in mind. Aeon Timeline is powerful, but whoever made that ap was clearly making it for an already initiated in-group.

    And there are other aps and utilities specifically designed to play along with Scrivener, like custom page formatting aps for that snazzier, bespoke look, and grammar and style checkers that have direct access to your Scrivener files. I don't know if there is a similar ecosystem of aps for the Scrivener clones. I cannot speak to that. But it certainly exists for Scrivener.

    Without knowing what your writing process is, what your individual needs are, that's a hard question to answer. Scrivener has so many tools, and the superfluity of tools has to do with the way the application is intended to be engaged.

    You don't need to know all those tools. You probably won't use many of them. I certainly don't. You pick the tools that make the most sense to you. You can even customize the main toolbar to only show those shortcut icons that are integral parts of your writing process. Modifying the toolbar doesn't delete any functionality at all. It just lets you set up the workspace in a way that makes the most sense to you because the answer to the question "What's the best settup to have?" is always going to be "The one that makes the most sense to you - individually." And Scrivener 100% affords that to you.

    What I like:
    • The functionality is very tightly bundled and clean. You use the tools that make sense to you and ignore the ones you don't.
    • You can set the GUI up in many different ways, different colors, textures, fonts, etc., and this never - NEVER - alters the output of the manuscript. If I wanted (I don't, but for argument's sake) a Gothic font with Elvira as the backround image, I can have that, and the ap still spits out a perfectly conservative, perfectly formatted, standard Schunn style manuscript in 12 point, double spaced Courier. That may sound like just a silly frill, but say your vision isn't great and making use of a larger on-screen font, or one that's just easier to read, is something you need. You can have that and you don't have to adjust everything at the end. The ap will do it for you.
    • I am an unapologetic Mac user. Scrivener is originally a Mac ap and though it certainly comes for Windows and Linux, the application's Mac ancestry is very much evident. It looks, walks, and talks like a Mac ap. Like most Mac aps, it doesn't try to be a jack of all trades packed in bloatware (looking at you MS Office). It has one job and one job only - help create a manuscript. This ap saved me from the torture that was MS Word 2011 for Mac. That iteration of MS Word was criminally bad, felonious, took forever to boot up, and for reasons beyond my ken, every time I tried to change fonts, it spun up my external hard-drive, because yeah, that's where people store their fonts, on an external. And when I talked to my Windows friends about it, they told me it was just as slow to boot up in Windows, super-duper slow (by Mac standards). That's simply unforgivable for it to happen in the native OS where the ap was originally designed to function.
    • TEMPLATES!!! The power of Scrivener templates is amazing. People quickly realized that the organizational scheme can be flexed for other purposes. There are world-building templates that you use to put together the internal logic of the world you create. There are character-building templates, story-bible templates, all kinds of templates that people make and then upload, typically for free, that you can then use.

    What I don't like:
    • When someone asks "How to do this in Scrivener?" it becomes important (and a little tedious) to ask the operating system the person is using. Because Scrivener is Mac-native, it makes heavy use of Mac-native functionality that works very differently in Windows. For example, on a Mac, you don't install new dictionaries into individual applications that need them. You install them into a global dictionary utility baked into the OS that is used by all aps on a Mac. So the answer to "How to install a new dictionary" is quite different depending on OS. Sometimes it can be a bit of a job getting people to divulge the needful particulars when you want to help them achieve a certain goal in the application.
    • Scrivener aficionados are often their own worst enemy. People who love Scrivener L:love:O:love:V:love:E Scrivener. They don't tell you about it; they proselytize. I know because I've been that person. :whistle: That sort of zealotry can be off-putting, to say the least. Thing is, Scrivener checks a number of boxes for a particular kind of writer that simply weren't being checked by anything else.
    • There's no option in Scrivener to just open a blank document - as though it were a just a plain piece of digital paper - and just start typing like you do in MS Word. No matter what you do, you have to create a new project and then go from there. There are easy ways to make use of the ap's tools to achieve a similar result. I just keep one project called "one-shots" where I treat each internal document as a separate story and I get the same result, but the answer to "Can I just open it without any project and just start typing" is no. The point of Scrivener is its organizational scheme and its not going to let you sidestep that, other than what I just mentioned.
    • Inconsistent verbiage. Remember when I mentioned templates above? When Scrivener uses the word "template", it doesn't mean a preformatted sheet of digital paper where you just plug in data, you know, the usual meaning of "template" in these realms. No. What Scrivener means is a preformatted work environment. Things like this can be a small stumbling block for the uninitiated. It would be better if they just stuck to standard, known terms. Kinda' the way this forum software we're using calls PMs conversations. It's not world-ending but those little inconsistencies can sometimes prove frustrating when you're trying to figure something out and the stumbling block is simply not using the right word in your search.

    I love the application. I cannot imagine my writing life without it. It's not the messiah. It won't suddenly turn you into a New York Times Best Seller. It will help you organize if that's what you need. ;) The trial version is fully functional and works for 30 days of functional use, meaning if you open it today to look at it, that's day one. If you don't open it again for another week, the second time is still just day two, not day seven. Look for promo codes. They're everywhere and usually drop the price to 20-odd bucks USD.

    Something I made a while back:

     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
  5. More

    More Active Member

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    You can learn to use Scrivener and you might find it useful. There are other methods and ways of doing things, some will work for you , or maybe not . Word works well and if you use an out of date version you can get it for next to nothing.
    harveystanbrough.com/microsoft-word-for-writers/

    To actuly answer your question , I only write short stories , so Scrivener is not for me . If your a novelist , don't mind the cost and the learning process. It is a good choice .
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
  6. MzSnowleopard

    MzSnowleopard New Member

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    Thank you everyone. This certainly is a lot to take in. I have tried yWriter and absolutely hated it. I can't begin to describe how unfriendly this program was for me. Some people sing its praises, I think it should disappear. This is why I've stuck with Word. Still, my problem persists. What I need is something to help me organize.

    With all the death that's been around these days, I've been thinking I should have my works ready just in case. This way a ghost writer can take up the mantle and know what I indented.

    Of course, I want to get my work publish while I'm alive- to see the fruits of my labor.
     
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  7. 31152104

    31152104 Active Member

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    Best of luck, then! I recall your name and avatar from the other writing forum, where I go/went by Rookish.

    A briefer summation would be that Scrivener is an easy to use software, and seeing as you are working on bigger projects, I would recommend it over word. I havent owned word in ages though, but my general opinion is that it has too many features that dont tie into what you wish your end product to be: A novel, with all the chapters stored in a single file that can be exported at once.
     
  8. MzSnowleopard

    MzSnowleopard New Member

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    I remember Rookish. I'm still debating. Right now my writing files are a mess. I need to clean and organize better. This is why I was looking into writing programs. I've only recently started using Word 365. ::: shaking my head ::: I"m not getting on my soapbox on how unhelpful this program is for my writing. I'm miss Word 2003.
     
  9. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's a pain in the butt to use and the tutorials make no sense at all to me.

    However when I'm serious about something, when a project "has legs," I move it over from OpenOffice to Scrivener. There are two things I understand how to do with it: use the notecards function for moving scenes/chapters around, and more (most?) importantly, you can expand your typing window so that nothing else is visible.

    No tempting tabs, no alerts, nothing but a blank sheet of pixels and a cursor.

    That does more to help me write than anything else.

    So yeah, it's worth it and would probably really be worth it if I could muster up the energy to learn how to use it.

    Also, the 30 use days trial is really good. I wasn't terribly productive when I first got it, so I ended up with something like four or five months on those thirty days to decide if I really liked it or not.
     
  10. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Given that yWriter was one of the earlier Scrivener clones (the ap still looks very Windows XP), what was/is it about this particular application that presented an impasse?
     
  11. MzSnowleopard

    MzSnowleopard New Member

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    The biggest issue is that the copy I received did not come with a users manual. When I asked assistance, I got silence. When I asked my friend for assist she laughed and shook her head. "It's easy to use." I had to figure it out on my own and lost patience with it.
     
  12. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Understood. Well, Scrivener does come with a tutorial built into the software. You're given the option to run through it at the beginning, and it's worth the while to do so in order to get a basic grounding with respect to core features. At the Literature & Latte website (the software's home-base), you'll find any number of more specific tutorials as well, from basic to advanced. There is also a forum there for chat and more fine-tuned questions.
     
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  13. MzSnowleopard

    MzSnowleopard New Member

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    Thank you Wreybies, that's helpful and good to know. I am leaning towards Scrivener but those free ones looking tempting. Of course, we get what we pay for, right?
     
  14. Amontillado

    Amontillado Member

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    I'm not currently a Scrivener user, but your experience with their support is not the norm. The developer is active in his own forums and I found support quick and easy to get.

    I even wanted to know the internal structure of a Scrivener project and the company graciously sent me a lengthy and well-written document.

    That's another strength of Scrivener. It is a very open design, to the point you may not need the company's documentation to figure out its internals.

    Literature and Latte are so nice, I feel guilty not using Scrivener.
     
  15. SolZephyr

    SolZephyr Member Supporter

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    Question: do you use a Mac or Windows? Scrivener for Mac is far better than for Windows (I've used both). To me, the most frustrating part of Scrivener is actually managing the final compilation, and that's one of the biggest improvements of Mac over Windows, imo (though there are others).

    That said, I'm currently writing on a Windows machine and still use Scrivener precisely for some of the reasons mentioned above, #1 of which is organization. It is super easy to keep all of your notes and scenes separate but just a single click away, and the split screen functionality lets me keep my notes open on one side and my current scene on the other.
     
  16. Amontillado

    Amontillado Member

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    Hey, SolZephyr, I use Macs as a compromise between my natural Unix habitat and the convenience of consumer applications.

    I'm a little all over the map with tools at the moment. On the one hand, a pencil and a Big Chief tablet are sufficient to write the next literary classic.

    On the other hand, efficiency can be served with good tools.

    My drift away from Scrivener comes from little things. Should I ever write anything long enough (and worthwhile enough) to put into an ebook, I might come around to Scrivener's idea of compiling. For now, it seems nicer to swap style libraries/sets and call that a compile.

    Frankly, vim and pandoc would do most of what I need. Devonthink will work like Scrivener's Binder for Markdown files (or rtf, or docx, or anything).

    The perfect environment has yet to appear, "perfect" being my personal perfect, different from anyone else's.

    I'm happy with what Devonthink does. I like the reliability and large document performance of Mellel, but if I could take the split screen and draft view features from Nisus and plug them into Mellel, I'd be very happy.

    And throw in mail merge from Nisus, too. Like Captain Jack Sparrow sought relief from care by shooting undead monkeys, I've found it soothes the soul to fire mail-merged broadsides at Congress.
     
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  17. SolZephyr

    SolZephyr Member Supporter

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    I know this is heading into a slight tangent, but...

    Vim? Wow, I like vim, but I never thought of using it for writing. LaTex, on the other hand, I've used for technical papers and think it could do everything Scrivener does, but even after years of using it I still find the learning curve a pain.

    I might look into that setup of vim, pandoc, and Devonthink. It sounds like an interesting alternative.
     
  18. Amontillado

    Amontillado Member

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    I should point out that I don't write much in vim. I use it for programming and I write work documentation in Markdown with it.

    For creative writing, I use more mainstream tools.

    Devonthink has managed to be a big part of everything I do. Note-taking, creative writing, financial documentation, business records, email archive, all kinds of things.

    For using it like Scrivener, set the sort order to "unsorted," which is a manual sort. You can flip to other sort options and when you go back to unsorted, your manual order is preserved.

    I've come to the conclusion my tastes aren't mainstream. Your mileage may vary. In fact, if you're fortunate, it will. :)
     
  19. Amontillado

    Amontillado Member

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    A quick observation about Literature and Latte (Scrivener's developer) - I see that as of today they are actively surveying at least some of their customers for input.

    This is an excellent example of Literature and Latte's company character. They will listen if you call or write, and if you don't write them, they are likely to write you and see what you think.

    Kudos to them. A great company.
     

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