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Monthly Archives: November 2012

An ode to Scrivener

An ode to Scrivener

The vast wasteland of writing

I no longer travel alone

Accompany me on this journey

And I shall reach those distant shores one day

Or something like that. Hey, I’m a novelist, not a poet. You get my point, right?

There are a few things I consider to be so life-changing that I can no longer imagine my life without them. The iPhone. The iPad. The Kindle, DropBox, Evernote.

And as a writer, I’d like to add one more thing to this list: Scrivener.

Seriously, folks. It has revolutionized my writing. Forever. Dramatic enough for ya?

When I first heard of this little gem, I have to admit, I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about. I mean, I’d been using Microsoft Word for years and years — pretty much since I first shifted from using a typewriter to a word processor (yes, kids, I’m of that generation that started out on a Smith Corona). What was Scrivener going to do for me that I couldn’t already do with Word, some index cards, a corkboard, and my muse?

Plenty, as it turns out. Because what it did for me was bring ALL of those things together for me in one place, where I could access it all as I was working on my (soon-to-be — I hope?? Please, please, pretty please??) masterpiece.

There’s the actual editor part, where I write the actual scenes. That’s pretty standard in itself. It’s the part that will look most familiar to everyone else, since it’s what looks most like Word. But then there’s the corkboard, which — I promise, I am not exaggerating — is the greatest invention ever. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. But not by much. Seriously, before I discovered this nifty little feature, I had an actual corkboard.

Corkboard

It was fun putting this together, but it ain’t exactly portable

See that thing above ^? I rely on this considerably. Except… it’s not exactly portable. So when I want to be writing at Starbucks or at the library of my old alma mater (both of which I frequently do), I can’t exactly bring this little puppy along and lean it up against the wall to look at it as I write away to my little heart’s content. Let’s face it, how much work could I actually get done if I’m interrupted every 5 minutes to answer someone’s question of why I have Josh Hutcherson’s pictures pinned on my inspiration board? (Yeah, so I “cast” my characters with real actors. Don’t judge. It works for me, ok?)

Now, I can have my corkboard with me whenever I’m working on my first draft, and I am sufficiently inspired.

There’s more than just the corkboard, too. There’s also the ability to be able to do a keyword search across all my chapters and scenes. There’s the brilliance of having my scenes be all modular, so I can drag and drop them as I please if I feel they work better earlier or later than where I currently have them. There’s the ability to toggle between different views (editor, corkboard, outliner), which allows me to look at my project at the 10,000 foot level and delights my inner outliner/planner to no end.

I’m telling you guys, Scrivener is a godsend. I honestly don’t know how I ever completed a work of fiction without it. The only complaint I have is that it doesn’t yet have an iPad app (which would be SUPER helpful when I’m writing the old school way, with a notebook and paper — as I sometimes do if I find myself stalling and sputtering and need that physical motion of pen to paper to get a flow going), but I hear the good folks behind Scrivener are working on that as well. I sure hope so!

I’m only scratching the surface with its features; I’m still learning all of these as I go, but reading as many tutorials as I can and buying all of the ebooks I can get my hands on that go into depth about its powerful tools and functionality. But I have a feeling Scrivener and I are soulmates for life.

My holy grail of writing tools