Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Scrivener Report

Okay, so here is the promised Scrivener report.

 I'd heard a lot about Scrivener for several years, but
  1. being easily intimidated by super-techy things, 
  2. as well as dubious of "takes the work away" claims, 
  3. coupled with a budget of zero, 
  I didn't get Scrivener.

But after finishing NaNoWriMo 2013, I decided that I had heard enough good things about the program to give it a try. The lovely folks who make Scrivener ran a 30 day trial for WriMo's, so I took advantage of that, and by the time Nov. was over I was convinced of it's benefits!
 Being a NaNo winner, I had a 50% off deal, which I exercised.

Scrivener gives a huge amount of flexibility in arranging a work space that fits you best; it has multiple screen options as well as different ways each option can be displayed, so it's super easy for formatting your thoughts and getting a good look at the big picture for your project.

 It also has places for reference material, in the form of photos or articles or just about anything. You can keep them right there in the program to refer to them at any point during your writing, but they won't be counted among or mess with your actual manuscript. It's pretty neat.

 I have only really scratched the surface of what it can do, but it's been a great leap forward in my writing tools department.

Being a "pantser", I leap right in and jot scenes hither and yon, and build and build until I've got a story that I then must stick into a structure-type frame. This has always been a highly difficult task in Word, and has really slowed my creativity down while I cowered in the face of the monumental task of rearranging everything. (I usually took the passive-aggressive track of avoidance, during which period, I got no writing done, of course.)

  Scrivener makes it super easy to rearrange things, and I have to say I'm totally in love with it's Project Targets aspect!
 This allows me to set Word Count goals for the overall project, each Scene I've created, and also to keep a Session Target, (I've set it to 2k, and shoot for that each time I sit down.)
 This ingenious aspect makes it easy to keep track of how much I'm getting done, and the feeling of accomplishing stuff makes my creative muscle happy!
   A happy creative muscle creates better, stronger, faster, and I get a lot more accomplished!

  So it's basically a beautiful cycle that keeps feeding upward momentum.

 One thing, I wish it had a smarter spell-check… my Word program had gotten to be a genius at correcting my typos; so I get a little miffed when I accidentally transpose the letters in “to” and Scrivener suggests “oat, at, OT” ;-)
 Not sure how much it “learns”, either… though I’ve only had it a few months now.
(I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Word “learned” my habits, ’cause it got scary good at suggesting the very word I wanted when typo’d. :-) )

 Do you have any questions about Scrivener?
   Have you heard of Scrivener before?


Deborah O'Carroll said...

I've heard a LOT about Scrivener before, but I must say this was a rather more informative post on it than I've seen in awhile... ;)

I've half-wanted to try it for awhile now, and unfortunately this has moved that percentage to three quarters want to... If it were free, I'd jump on it. ;) I may be using a NaNo discount at some future point...

I like the idea of something that can organize that well and is so fluid--though there's also something about a linear document like Word (or in my case, OpenOffice) that I like too. I've heard you can also have it link together the "chapters"--is that so?

I don't usually pants my stories, which is why I'm so very lost on two I'm working on now, because I started them before I knew what I was doing. The plotlines are a mess and I've got scenes scattered everywhere without a thread connecting them, with characters running hither and yon being mysterious and not offering any explanation of what they're doing... I've been trying to figure out a good way to organize all the different plot bits. Do you think Scrivener is VERY useful in that aspect? How/what did you use for your pantsing-plotting and/or trying to piece things together before you found Scrivener?

Sorry for rambling... (I do that a lot, and always blame NaNo. ;))

I really enjoyed your post! :)

Hannah Scheele said...

Wow, looks amazing. I find Word confusing as it is, but this is incredible.
I used to be HORRIBLY disorganized as a writer, and this would have been a life saver for me if I'd been able to acquire it. But maybe it's just as well--my story ideas back then were pretty junky, tbh. :P
This must be useful for random plot ideas--stuff you're not writing at the moment but mean to try later.

Kelsey Bryant said...

Wow, this looks fun to use! It looks like it might take some getting use to, but once you get to know all the gadgets, it must be so cool. I would love to have my reference photos and notes side-by-side with my story instead of in another document! The word-bars would be so cool!
Does Scrivener work with .doc or does it convert your file into a .doc or another format that you can upload anywhere?

E. Kaiser Writes said...

Thanks, girls! Glad you liked it!

Yes, Hannah, there is a lot left for me to learn on it, but once I got the basic hang of it, it's pretty neat for organizing story stuff!

Yes, Kelsey, it converts the files, and then when you are finished you can convert them back into whatever form you pick. I understand you can even have it "ready to pub" from there, though I haven't tried it and am not sure how smoothly the formatting would come through.

E. Kaiser Writes said...

Deborah! Thanks for joining in here!
And ALWAYS!!!!! rambling is allowed. In fact encouraged.
I love rambling!! ;-)

Yes, linking the chapters is true. I just did that this evening, and it counted up a combined total of 33k in three "documents" thingies. So that was very nice!
As I said, there are still lots of things I have yet to learn about it, so I'm sure it will get more and more useful as I do!

Yes, Scrivener is proving highly useful with it's fluidity of moving parts around, and making it easier to see the big picture plan.

What did I do before?
Well, mainly, cried.
I know, that didn't help a lot.

You mean what did I try to make work? :-)
Well, I've tried strings on the bedroom wall, with little notes tacked to them with paper clips... that shoudl have been a good idea, but ended up not working that well. I simply didn't want to move them around like they should have been, and I found it hard to visualize how much writing was represented by each note.
I did better when I put sketches on the notes, to sort of jump start the brain that way.

I tried several different things, but the best thing I did, (that I actually still do for brainstorming) was make a "story arc" on paper.
I big looping half circle, put a slash that the half and quarter points, and then write scene names sticking off from the half circle line in approximate places where they go. This kind of gets me the idea of pacing, and what needs more help.

Although, with JA some people said it ended to quick, (indicating more wrap up time would have been appreciated,) and with TK some said it started to slow (so more action earlier would have been good)...
You can't please everyone, of course, but keeping feedback like that in mind is always a good tool to learn from!

Anyway, I should probably do a post demonstrating my handy little "arc chart" and it's use. :-) Thanks for the idea!

Connie Jean said...

I'll have to look into this now! It seems really good. :)

E. Kaiser Writes said...

Yes, it's a pretty nifty writing program, Connie. If you get the chance you should give it a look!