About six years ago, I first learned about a writing software called Scrivener. I was on the fence about purchasing it, but after some research, I decided to take the plunge. It’s a decision I have yet to regret. In fact, this software quickly became one of my most essential writing tools.
I’ll probably do a full review of Scrivener down the line, but since it’s pretty clear that this is a product I recommend, I thought it might be more helpful to give you a product overview that highlights my favorite features. If you’re on the fence like I was, or just curious about the program, this is a post for you! I included some screen shots–click on the images to enlarge.
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Before I found Scrivener I’d written books in both Word and Final Draft. Two of the biggest inconveniences of both of those products was: 1) the need to scroll in order to get from one section of the book to another and 2) the need to copy and paste every time I wanted to restructure my book. Scrivener’s binder feature fixes both of those problems.
The binder is located on the left side of the screen. For each chapter of your book, you create a folder in the binder. Then within each chapter folder, you add your scenes. If you want to jump from the beginning of the book to the end, all you have to do is click on the scene. And if you want to move a scene or chapter from one part of the book to another, you simply drag and drop. (I can’t tell you how much time this saved me when I had to restructure and reorder my last book.)
Additionally, you can store all of your drafts in their own separate file folder right inside the binder. This means you don’t have to juggle multiple versions and files on your computer. Everything is in one place!
The Word Counter
You may have seen this word counter floating around social media. This was a selling point for me. It makes it so easy to track your writing and monitor your progress. It manages both your daily session and your overall progress simultaneously, so you always know if you’re on target to meet your goals. You can keep it docked on your screen or check in from time to time.
This was another massive selling point. I’ve been burned by a crashing Word document too many times for this not to be an essential feature. One of the biggest reasons I used the scriptwriting software Final Draft was because it could be set to auto-save every five minutes. Scrivener takes this to the next level. I currently have the software to auto-save when it detects two seconds of inactivity. Even if the program crashes on me, (which it never has) the most I’m likely to lose is a paragraph. If you’ve ever lost hours of work because you got too wrapped up in your story to hit save, I think you’ll agree that this feature alone makes the product worth it.
Scrivener makes it easy to convert your Scrivener document to almost any file format. This includes word processors like Microsoft Word and Open Office and e-reader files like Kindle and iBooks. This means you can easily share your documents with people who don’t use Scrivener. And while I’ve never tried to self-publish, this feature seems like it would be ridiculously helpful with that if it’s something you’re interested in.
One thing I underestimated when I first started using this program is how it uses screen space. The set up is designed to help you be the most effective writer you can be. The binder is always docked on the left-hand side, the editor (typing area) takes up the center, and the right has a couple different notes sections that you can use as needed. This set up makes it easy to double check a fact that you dropped in three chapters ago or jot down a quick note about your scene/chapter without losing your momentum. You can also completely customize what goes in your sidebars and how much or how little of the sidebar/binder you see.
This software is designed for writers and novelists specifically, but it’s also prepared to handle project by screenwriters, poets, lyricists, and students who just want a quality word processor. Basically, it’s the only writing software you’ll ever need.
Also Worth Noting
There are a host of pre-writing features that I don’t use (I’m more of a pen and paper brainstormer). But if you’re a digital brainstormer, Scrivener has you covered there too! The program has a digital corkboard you can use to brainstorm and arrange your scenes, then easily access that info while you write. There are also areas to keep information on your characters, locations, and research.
If you want to learn more about any of these features, I would suggest hopping over to YouTube and searching for Scrivener demos to see the program in action.
That’s it for now!
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Now it’s your turn: If you’ve used Scrivener before, what’s your favorite thing about it? If there’s anything you didn’t like, tell me that too. If you’ve never tried it, what questions do you have? Let me know in the comments! You can also let me know what you’d like to see covered more in the future.