Scrivener, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Several months ago my writer friends suggested I pick up Scrivener, a writer’s software, much like an organizational toolbox, that offers a wealth of handy tools to get that novel started, cleaned up or finished.

I bought the software not long after, but then saw there was a pretty intensive tutorial they advised taking before getting started. I needed to set time aside to focus on the tutorial, so it got shoved to the side for awhile.

Just last week, thanks to an unexpected day off with my twins who were sick, I finally made the time to do the tutorial. It took me more than a few hours to go through it all since I was multitasking a bit, but I was super excited to see all the in and outs of the software. I then spent the rest of the day (and late into the evening) putting my current WIP into the software.

I went from having an almost 80,000 word document that had major holes and some scenes out of order to a project in Scrivener that has about 20 different scenes or chapters. Breaking the draft into workable pieces is by itself going to help me edit this crazy first draft. Editing just got far more manageable for this novice.

But I learned from my tutorial, and from putting my draft into the software, that there are a lot of great features. Below is a short list of some of my favorite features of Scrivener and why I think this will help me get this novel finished. Then, hopefully, it will also help me get the next one done far more efficiently! 🙂

1) Corkboard: Each scene or chapter or section you create can be viewed in several ways, but one of the neatest is the Corkboard. Each scene/chapter will have an ‘index card’ with the title (or whatever you chose to display) “tacked up” on the virtual Corkboard. I can pull up my Corkboard and see all the chapters and pick which one I want to jump to so I can get started on that scene. Or I can easily move them around if that placement isn’t working. I haven’t set up a dedicated writing space to put up a real Corkboard but have often thought it might be a good idea. Super cool. But something else I need and am not good at…

2) Outline: Scrivener also will take the scenes I’ve put in and display in an outline form. Sweet! You can make that outline as simple or as detailed as you like. I don’t have an elaborate outline, but I love how this takes what I’ve put in and lets me play with it a little in outline form. Maybe this will help a pantser like myself get back on track!

3) Split editor: I love that I can have one chapter open in one part of my split screen, then have current chapter open in another part of screen as I work. If I want to reference what a character said in an earlier chapter when writing a new scene I can have it open at the same time. I can search multiple chapters while keeping the current one open where I am writing. This is far easier than how I was working with multiple documents in addition to the one long master draft. I believe there are a lot of ways to manage and manipulate the spilt editor view but I am still learning. There are so many possibilities!

Speaking of lots of possibilities and having a lot to learn, I will have to do an update to this post once I have spent more time working in Scrivener. For now, I am very excited to explore and discover how this new tool can help my writing.

Do you have Scrivener? Love it? Not love it? Do you have another brilliant software or organizational tool you use for your writing? Feel free to share in the comments. 🙂

Have a great week!