Scrivener: the Indispensable Authoring Tool

by Amber Lea Starfire on May 5, 2013

Writing Anywhere
Before I tell you about Scrivener, I’d like to explain why I haven’t posted during the last couple of weeks and why I’m so excited about it. I’ve been working hard, with my co-editors Kate Farrell and Linda Joy Myers, on the anthology, Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ’60s & ’70s, due to launch in August. If you haven’t yet visited the anthology website, be sure to check it out.

In addition, I’m running a book cover design contest for my memoir, Not the Mother I Remember, to launch in October.  If you’d like to help me choose my book cover, keep your eyes peeled next week for the survey!

showcase-scrivener_header

Okay, on with the show . . .

Why Literature & Latte’s Scrivener is Indispensable

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Ah, how I love Scrivener! Let me count the ways:

  1. It’s feature rich, with just about everything an author could hope for. Here are just a few of Scrivener’s features:
    • A completely rearrangeable virtual corkboard with index cards for jotting scenes and outline ideas that you can color code, key word, and add pictures to.
    • The ability to edit multiple documents at once using “scrivenings” mode.
    • If I’m feeling logical, I can use the Scrivener outliner, which translates directly to the index cards.
    • I never have to lose anything I write, because I can take snapshots of each version, and compare or restore any time I want. And it’s all saved in the same document. No need to search through a folder for different versions of my work.
    • It compiles (exports) for print, PDF, Word, text, every e-book format you can think of, and more — which means I can save money creating my own e-books. I like saving money.
    • Research for any project can be stored within the project file, including links, references, dynamic web pages, pictures, videos, PDF and Word documents, and more. This feature alone makes Scrivener invaluable!
    • There are special places for ideas, character and place profiles, research, and anything else I want to attach to my work.
    • If I want to restructure my work, all I have to do is drag and drop. Done.
    • I don’t write plays, but if I did, there’s a special Screenwriter mode.
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  2. It’s flexible. I can use the program in any way that works for me, rather than having to adjust my style to adapt to the software.
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  3. It’s inexpensive — all this for $45 USD? No kidding.

I used Scrivener to write my above mentioned memoir. I also keep a file for all my freewriting and personal essays organized by topic, and am currently in the process of using Scrivener to convert my writing and journaling classes to e-books. You could also use it for blog posts, journaling, or any other writing venture. Scrivener’s so flexible, exactly how you use it is up to you.

Yet even Scrivener has its cons. With all those features, it’s got a pretty steep learning curve. You can’t just pick it up and start using it like a pro. So I recommend taking a class from the (crowned by me) Scrivener Queen, Gwen Hernandez, or buy one of the many books on Scrivener listed on Literature and Latte’s website. And there’s still no tablet or phone app version, which means you’re stuck using your computer or laptop. Yes, you can sync your index cards with several apps, but that just doesn’t work for me — I want to be able to write and revise wherever I am. To their credit, the software’s programmers have been working on iOS version since early 2012. And I empathize with them; it must be extremely difficult to replicate the features of Scrivener on an iPad or iPhone. Their latest updates on the iOS version can be found on Literature and Latte’s blog.

In the balance, Scrivener weighs heavy on the advantage side of the scale and — honestly? — I think it’s a tech tool every serious writer should have in her toolbox. (I have no financial interest in Scrivener. Here’s the link to Literature & Latte if you’re interested in finding out more.)

Do you use or have you tried Scrivener? I invite you to share your experience by leaving a comment below.

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Photo Credit: Ian Sane via Compfight cc

 

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Howard Veit May 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm

That’s for the post on Scrivener. I have been looking for such a tool and have downloaded the trial version. I also discovered Scrivener for Dummies on Amazon in Kindle format. The Dummies series has always proven to be a good way to learn a new program. My hope is that the combination of Evernote and Scrivener will serve my writing needs.

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Amber Lea Starfire May 6, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Howard, I use a combination of Evernote and Scrivener and they seem to meet most of my needs. Evernote is great for working on content on the go and then transferring it to Scrivener. Also for gathering research.

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Howard Veit May 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I am looking for easy ways to transfer information from Evernote to Scrivener. Discovered today that I can drag a note from Evernote to an open document in the Research folder. A link back to the Evernote note is created. Neat!

Gwen Hernandez May 7, 2013 at 9:18 am

Thanks for the mention, and the new title! ;-) I love both Scrivener (obviously) and Evernote. Can’t wait for Scrivener’s iOS version.

Good luck with your upcoming releases!

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patsy ann taylor May 7, 2013 at 11:29 am

Haven’t tried Scrivener yet, but it’s on my list. Sounds like just the thing for me.
Thank you, Amber, for the information.

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Michael Cavitt May 10, 2013 at 8:36 am

Thanks for the information. Been struggling with Mac notes and txt files to create a sort of storyboard.

Surprised you didn’t have a hot link to Scrivener.

Best, Michael

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Amber Lea Starfire May 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Hi Michael. Thanks for the comment. There are two hotlinks to Scrivener in the article – the Literature and Latte links.

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Judy Baker May 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with Scrivener. Mostly love it, but because my computer is showing its age I have encountered a weird problem that does not let me edit my project. I sent the file to literature and latte’s support and they said nothing was wrong with my file. I continue to use and recommend this great tool and I am looking forward to the iPad app.

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Amber Lea Starfire May 23, 2013 at 8:07 am

Wow, Judy – I have not heard of that happening (not being able to edit a project). Hopefully, Literature & Latte will be able to help. Let us know how it gets resolved. And it must be time for a new computer! :-)

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Ali Marie January 18, 2014 at 8:35 am

I am a little late coming to the conversation. I just purchased a MacBook Pro and am expecting delivery next week. I just recently discovered Scrivener and am planning to purchase it shortly (along with Evernote). It looks like a great program, and most reviews I have read have been positive. It is so affirming to hear such positive feedback from you too. Thanks.

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Amber Lea Starfire January 18, 2014 at 11:28 am

Hi Marie,

That’s one of the great things about blog posts — they stay up and are available for a long time :-). Scrivener and Evernote are both indispensable tools for me. There is a bit of a learning curve for Scrivener, but the benefits are worth it.

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