For the past month or so I’ve been using the program Scrivener to work on the first draft of my novel. I’ve to admit that I’m about skeptical about all the gimmicks and so called tools out there for the creative writer. Seems like there are plenty of charltons out there trying to make a quick buck of the aspiring writer. But, I’ve got to say that Scrivener is damn awesome. Unlike other word processing programs out there, Scrivener’s built from the ground up for the creative writer, or nonfiction writer working on novel length documents or screen plays. What it does best is helps you keep all your chapters, research, notes, and etc organized and easily accessible. It can help with outlining a novel. The feature I like best is the ‘cork board’ feature which looks like cork board and you can add as many index cards to it. You can add synopsis of a chapter or scenes within a chapter on the cards as well as easily rearrange them into any order you wish by simply click and dragging. Clicking on a index card takes you directly to the document linked to it. I also like the fact you can instantly go to a particular scene or chapter by clicking on the name of said scene/chapter instead of tediously scrolling through a document. Not to mention if you wish to swap the chronological order of some scenes or even chapters you merely click and drag the documents names on the sidebar.
When it comes to research, which I do plenty of when working on my novel that’s set in the 1860’s, Scrivener’s great since it allows you to import pretty much any type of file and you can access it within the Scrivener window rather then having to constantly go into your documents or photos etc on your hard drive to find it. You can also add web pages to your references too, and open them within Scrivener. No need to have multiple windows open, and keeping track of.
A lot of times when I’m writing I’ll want to make notes to remind myself to of something to add or delete when I go through the manuscript during my first edit. What I like about Scrivener is that it allows you to make notes either for that particular document (ie chapter/scene) or the entire project. This helps reduce the clutter, since I don’t necessarily always need all my info all the time.
I also like the fact that you can compile the document into various types of files for exporting, including the ebook format. I’ve exported my manuscript into a .doc and it’s worked perfectly when opened up in Word.
There are other features it has that I’ve not completely explored but from what’ve done so far, I’m impressed. More of my time is spent actually writing and easily accessing my research/notes rather then clumsy finding it by more conventional means. The corkboard feature helps me stay on track and helps overall with my structure. It’s definitely a program worth checking out if you’re a creative writer, and given that its a 30 nonconsecutive day trial (meaning it only subtracts days away when you acutally use it) you can get plenty of use out of it before paying for it, which I plan on doing soon.
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