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!


Okay, on with the show . . .

Why Literature & Latte’s Scrivener is Indispensable

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.
  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.
  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.


Photo Credit: Ian Sane via Compfight cc


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