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Archived Author Help > Scrivener - using it and is it worth it?

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message 1: by Ellison (new)

Ellison Blackburn (ellisonblackburn) | 130 comments Hi All,

I've made a few comments throughout the SIA boards about Scrivener and thought I'd just create a thread specifically for discussion about it.

Share your experience or ask questions; it's a widely used application, so there will be many to help.

Basics:
Scrivener is writing/project organization software.
It costs $45, but there is a free trial.
Mac or Windows versions available.
More info at: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/


message 2: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 447 comments I love Scrivener.

It was one of the tools that freed me to think about the writing and not the tool.

I am a big planner. The note cards and cork board are perfect for me.

The tutorials on Youtube.com are excellent.

The Versioning is excellent.

Automated backups!

Automatic, realtime, spellchecking and repair.

Easy scene reorgs.

Research folders, character sheets, etc.

Plus excellent templates!


message 3: by Ellison (new)

Ellison Blackburn (ellisonblackburn) | 130 comments Thanks for sharing Martin.

I agree with all your points and add that it's really handy to be able to organize a book as a project (everything stored in one place) if you want.

How would you rate the learning curve? Scale of 1-10, with 1 being easy. This has been a question I've seen. I would rate it 3, but then I'm a techie.


message 4: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 447 comments I would rate the learning curve a 3 as well. Easy to use, but the powerful features are nicely revealed in the youtube tutorials.


message 5: by Mimi (new)

Mimi Marten | 54 comments I feel about Scrivener the same as my 10-speed bicycle. Usually don't get past the fourth gear...haha.
It has so many bells and whistles, but I love the product. Worth the money, for sure.


message 6: by Ellison (last edited Nov 22, 2015 03:52PM) (new)

Ellison Blackburn (ellisonblackburn) | 130 comments Three of the most frustrating aspects that I hope are somewhere in the updates for the future:

1. Paperback format: ability to start a chapter on the next right-hand page.

2. Replace more than one font for another, i.e. if Times Roman then change to Garamond. If Lucida Sans change to Calibri. Right now if you choose to replace font, it replaces every font with one.

3. Be able to select US vs. British English for Spelling and Grammar.

If there is some kind of workaround for any one of these, your insights would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


message 7: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 447 comments Mimi wrote: "I feel about Scrivener the same as my 10-speed bicycle. Usually don't get past the fourth gear...haha.
It has so many bells and whistles, but I love the product. Worth the money, for sure."


That is very true. I am in the middle of my 4th project using it. I keep discovering new features!


message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian Copsey (ian_d_copsey) | 69 comments I have to echo Martin's comments. I was introduced to Scrivener by my brother. I wasn't sure of it at first, but I really appreciate the ability to do my research, have access to it, broadening character traits and images to refer to within the same application. I'd go for a 3 rating too.


message 9: by Martin (new)

Martin Wilsey | 447 comments I also use it with my project files on a cloud drive. It allows me to work on my novel in my office PC, my laptop or even my netbook.

Highly recommended.

Plus it outputs eBooks natively!


message 10: by T.R. (new)

T.R. Briar (trbriar) | 58 comments I love using Scrivener. I'm not much of a planner so I don't use the notecards much for plotting, but I do like using the document notes for keeping track of characters as I'm working. I really love using the snapshot feature if I feel like axing whole sections of text for rewrites, since if I have any regrets I can just load that up and pick out any parts I didn't want to get rid of after all.
It's such a great tool for editing too, way easier to go back to different sections to tweak or add something new, instead of scrolling up and down one long document looking for the part I need to fix.
I wouldn't say it has a difficult learning curve as far as writing, but I still haven't completely grasped all the compiling options, and a lot of time when I output my story to a text document to hand out to beta-readers I end up with weird formatting errors I have to go back and fix. And the program's internal dictionary is somewhat lacking; I get yelled at a lot for misspelling words I know exist that the program doesn't recognize. It doesn't take much to add those words to the dictionary, but I hate having to double check a dictionary to make sure I actually spelled everything right. Like Ellison pointed out, a US/British English option would be useful.


message 11: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Loofbourrow (pattyloof) | 19 comments I love using Scrivener for editing. I still use Open Office for writing, but Scrivener saved my sanity when it came to edit my book.


message 12: by Susan (new)

Susan Stafford | 230 comments Ellison wrote: "Thanks for sharing Martin.

I agree with all your points and add that it's really handy to be able to organize a book as a project (everything stored in one place) if you want.

How would you rate ..."

I've been trying to use Scrivener, but I'm not a techie and I find it confusing! I so want to like it, I've been playing around with the free trial, but there is SO much to learn....


message 13: by Ellison (new)

Ellison Blackburn (ellisonblackburn) | 130 comments Susan, it's best to not overwhelm yourself with all the bells and whistles of what Scrivener can do. If you were brand new user of Word, for example, nothing would make sense either, but when faced with a blank document window you'd just type.

I would advise you do the same with Scrivener. Type into a template and go from there, playing around with the visible work space icons to get an idea of what you like or would find useful. The Novel template under "Fiction" is a good place to start, if you write fiction that is. Otherwise use a template that would be most useful for you.

Then when you want to do something look around the actual menus to tackle one problem at a time. Granted they are not as intuitive since we've all gotten used to the terminology and layout of MS Word or similar word processing software over the years.

Also, as Martin pointed out, there are great YouTube videos you can access right from the "Getting Started" menu.

If you have a specific question, please feel free to ask, someone is bound to know something :)


message 14: by C.A. (new)

C.A. Pack (capack) | 49 comments Scrivener can be frustrating when you're first starting out and you come to a roadblock that don't know how to get past, but that's what search engines are for. There are plenty of great Scrivener tutorials on the web. I write epic fantasy and at first, I used Scrivener to write entire chapters, but then I discovered how much easier it is to write scenes that I could easily move around as needed. That is one of its best features.


message 15: by Ken (new)

Ken (kendoyle) | 364 comments I love Scrivener for its organizational tools. I need to do a lot of research for my projects, and it's nice to have everything organized in one location.

I don't use it for final output (I make my own ePub files with Sigil), but I couldn't write without it now.


message 16: by Ellison (last edited Nov 23, 2015 02:59PM) (new)

Ellison Blackburn (ellisonblackburn) | 130 comments Thank you all for your input.

- In order to help those who do not use it but are considering whether it's worth the effort to learn it ...

#1 Q: Why do you use it over another writing platform?

My #1 A: Before, I was creating duplicate files just to have a backup. After my first book I ended up with over 100 files of variations. After a while I didn't see the point in doing this as I was never going to go back and compare what I'd written with an old draft. Scrivener has auto-backup of the entire project.

I was using MS Word and it often annoyed me that the work space wasn't fully utilized. I was opening 5-6 windows at once. I want to see my project or document notes, two documents at the same time all on one screen.

I liked the idea of being able to write in a different layout style from the output styling.

Organization! and the ability to not have to write in sequence (easy drag and drop moving of scenes) without having to cut/paste like in other platforms.

I could go on.

- And help those of us who use it to get more out of it ...

#2 Q: What is your number one tip?

My #2 A: There are oh so many indispensable features now that I'm a convert. But split screen is my tip, opening two documents at the same time in the same window has been very useful.


message 17: by Cori (new)

Cori Dyson | 23 comments I used pages for a brief time before moving to scrivener and love it. You definitely get your money's value! I chose to do the course 'Learn Scrivener Fast' because I didn't want to spend my writing time learning the program. It was an initial investment (small) that has paid off in large dividends! That's my $2(adjusted for inflation).


message 18: by Micah (last edited Nov 23, 2015 02:40PM) (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments I've only been using it for...well I've owned it for over a month, but I haven't used it enough to answer questions about it.

I bought it because it provides a one-stop shop for organizing writing projects. And, not being much of a planner, I found myself sitting on several bigger projects that really demand more pre-planning and structural attention before the majority of writing starts. I needed an easy, logical tool that would cut out some of the clutter I normally would have to suffer through on these kinds of projects.

Things I've liked so far...It has:
* Separpate file sections for the manuscript text files and for Research items
* A robust and flexible file folder structure (which is missing from some other tools I've tried, like Evernote, which only allowed like two levels of file folders back when I tried it).
* Multiple ways to keep track of characters and scenes.
* Clever and useful file navigation.
* User definable metadata and notes at several levels.
* ...And as all of this is stored in one project file (rather reminiscent of some of the tools I use for database applications I build in my day job), backing up and maintaing all these files is dead easy.

I spent over a week slowly going through the tutorial it ships with, and that showed a lot of what it could do. However right now I'm not familiar with it enough to know HOW to best use it for my purposes. I.e., I'm not sure what parts are going to end up being time savers and help me really move things alone.

I've ported a few of my works in progress into it and have been playing around with them off and on. I like what I see and think this will pretty much put an end to my Word addiction. But I haven't gotten to the point where I notice an uptick in my productivity.


message 19: by T.R. (new)

T.R. Briar (trbriar) | 58 comments I would definitely say organization is one of the best reasons to use Scrivener over other platforms; even if you don't care about all the other bells and whistles it's just so much nicer to be able to organize everything into folders and have places for notes and research without having a dozen different instances of Word open.

And as for tips, I've met people who are still surprised to learn there's a character name generator included. I still like going online to look up different names and meanings, but it's nice to have a way to just grab some throwaway names for incidental characters.


message 20: by Reese (new)

Reese Hogan (reesehogan) | 47 comments Does Scrivener have a tool to format your document for publication?


message 21: by Ellison (new)

Ellison Blackburn (ellisonblackburn) | 130 comments Reese wrote: "Does Scrivener have a tool to format your document for publication?"

The way scrivener works is you write one document and compile it to whatever format you need, .mobi, .doc, pdf ... you can adjust the formatting of different types of publications through the compile windows. The are a ton of compile options but there are limitations (named a couple above).


message 22: by Reese (new)

Reese Hogan (reesehogan) | 47 comments Thanks. I'm one of those who's been thinking about it, and if it has those capabilities, that's far cheaper than buying Adobe Acrobat when I'm ready to format my next one.


message 23: by Brian (new)

Brian Dingle | 23 comments I love Scrivener too.
Writing a series where you have some of the same characters, book to book? Character notes easy to copy and retain.
Lose your cover art in one file, manuscript in another? Scrivener keeps it together, along with all your research so you just have it in a project binder.
Organize your research? I even insert a page in the binder with links to research on the net I use, so the stuff is at my fingertips, contained in the same binder.
Keeps scenes you decide not to use separate section...
Also very nice to Compile your ebook without having to go to the publisher.
It really is indispensable. However, when I am formatting for uploading, I process it in Word ... would be neat if Scrivener developed files for uploading to places like Amazon, Smashwords etc. automatically.


message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan Stafford | 230 comments wow! so many of you use Scrivener and give it a lot of praise, I think I need to take the time and study some of the YouTube videos. Thank you!


message 25: by Ken (new)

Ken (kendoyle) | 364 comments Brian wrote: "... would be neat if Scrivener developed files for uploading to places like Amazon, Smashwords etc. automatically...."

It does that already--you can compile your manuscript in a number of different formats for publication.

I don't use that feature, because I'm nit-picky and prefer to code my own ePub files, but I know many others who do and are happy with it.


message 26: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Ken wrote: "I don't use that feature, because I'm nit-picky and prefer to code my own ePub files, but..."

I haven't gotten to that point yet but I'm going to give it a try and then see if it's easier to tweak the Scrivener generated ePub, or do it myself from scratch.

Once you've got a working ePub template, it's not too hard to do the old fashioned way (hand coding the HTML in a text editor like Notepad++). However, when it comes time to make edits after publication, I find I have to do the updates in multiple places (the manuscript's source doc, Smashwords version, and the HTML version). If tweaking Scrivener's ePub file is easy enough, then I'll only need to make edits once and then recreate the ePub (and other versions).


message 27: by Brian (new)

Brian Dingle | 23 comments Yeah. I'm not sure it is doable yet...not in a way that allows Smashwords to distribute to other markets like Kobo and Apple Etc. I know you can make ePubs, and other formats...I have not found HTML filtered for uploading to Amazon, so I did that manually too, using Word.


message 28: by Ellison (new)

Ellison Blackburn (ellisonblackburn) | 130 comments With Scrivener 2.0 I was able to create .mobi files fine after downloading KindleGen. Scrivener shows you this option when you compile and choose format for: Kindle book.


message 30: by Brian (new)

Brian Dingle | 23 comments But then if you use the KindleGen to creat .mobi and upload that to Amazon, is there a problem with re-distributing from Amazon to other sites?


message 31: by Ellison (new)

Ellison Blackburn (ellisonblackburn) | 130 comments Maybe I'm misunderstanding the question. As far as I know Amazon doesn't re-distribute (or distribute) e-books to other sites; just as iBooks and Barnes and Noble do not distribute to Amazon.


message 32: by Yolanda (last edited Nov 24, 2015 10:19PM) (new)

Yolanda Ramos (yramosseventhsentinel) | 36 comments I tried Scrivener and liked the set up, but I'm no technie so struggled with all the bells and whistles and found myself spending too much time figuring out how it worked and not writing. Now I just use Word, but would still like to give it another go.


message 33: by Robert (new)

Robert Lalonde (robertlalonde) | 2 comments I've just started using it about one month ago and I can't imagine writing a book without it already. There is a learning curve, as with any new software, but there's a ton of information out there and all you have to do is invest a bit of time up front.

In the end, it's a big time-saver and it lets you focus on your writing rather than trying to figure out where you left a draft or a bit of research.


message 34: by Ken (new)

Ken (kendoyle) | 364 comments Brian wrote: "But then if you use the KindleGen to creat .mobi and upload that to Amazon, is there a problem with re-distributing from Amazon to other sites?"

I don't even bother with .mobi anymore. I simply create one ePub file and upload that to KDP--their converter uses Kindlegen, anyway. I can then use that same ePub for D2D and distribute to all the other outlets (except Google Play, which I upload separately).

The only quibble is Apple (iBooks), because they throw a fit if you have links to your web page that lists other vendors. I strip those out and do a separate Apple version.


message 35: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) I love Scrivener and use many, many of its useful features. I have published 21 (I think...) books using it as my starting point (most of them on four or five platforms - Createspace/Ingram, Kindle, Smashwords, and Google Play,) and have many others in the works. I am definitely a power user, but have not yet used every feature of the program! I am always finding new things to try.

I use Scrivener for everything from initial brainstorming through to final compiles, excepting research, and sometimes I import that as well.

Definitely better on Mac than on Windows.


message 36: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Brian wrote: "But then if you use the KindleGen to creat .mobi and upload that to Amazon, is there a problem with re-distributing from Amazon to other sites?"

As has been said, a .mobi can't be used elsewhere but an ePub can be used to create a .mobi (.mobi is actually just a derrivative of ePubs).

But for Smashwords I've always used specifically formated Word docs, following their templates. If you do them correctly (and don't use complicated book layouts) there's never a problem.

So I'm not sure how I'll end up creating distribution files through Scrivener. Cross that bridge when I get to it.


message 37: by C.M. (new)

C.M. Halstead (cmhalstead) | 46 comments Love it! Best $45 I've ever spent. I am writing my fourth book with it.

Rave:

How easy it is to jump around when I write (I bounce from scene to scene, write it as it comes to me, if I find myself in pause, I just jump to another scene.)

Instant access to character descriptions

The ability to grab a scene or entire chapter and relocate it at will.


Rant:

How hard it is to import a book back into Scrivener after it was edited by someone else in Microsoft word! If anybody knows an easy way to reintegrate it. Please speak to it here!

I'm embarrassed to say, I'm still figuring out the details of compiling it into different formats (leaving out chapter heading , adding them back in etc) I wish that part was as intuitive as the rest seems to be!


message 38: by Brian (last edited Nov 25, 2015 04:55PM) (new)

Brian Dingle | 23 comments No. Short of taking each chapter and creating a new folder around it. I did that recently for a book I really wanted in Scrivener for a variety of meta-data reasons.
I mean, it's not hard, just tedious. Five minutes of tedium, though.
If you really want to do it, transfer the entire document into a document file in Scrivener, then go through and Command-K at every chapter to divide into sub-scenes, which I expect you can then convert to folder files, and then divide each folder file into further scenes within chapters. Don't drink while you're doing it though.
You'll end up with scenes of scenes of scenes.
Still, with those back and forth arrows, even that shouldn't be hard to fix.


message 39: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) Import and split on two hard returns. This will put every chapter heading and every scene into its own document. Highlight all documents and retitle according to first line. Drag the scenes below each chapter heading into the chapter folder. Collapse all and convert the top level documents to folders. Two minutes and you're good to go.


message 40: by Erin (last edited Nov 25, 2015 05:51PM) (new)

Erin Zarro | 95 comments I just recently purchased Scrivener, and I've heard it's wonderful, and looks wonderful but...I am old school. One Word document, no chapter headings (I do that afterward)...I can't seem to get my head around putting each scene in a separate file and then compiling it all..let alone ePubs and MOBIs and all that. It will take some time, I think.


message 41: by Brian (new)

Brian Dingle | 23 comments To P. D. Workman
Thank you. That's much better.


message 42: by C.M. (new)

C.M. Halstead (cmhalstead) | 46 comments Thanks PD & Brian!


message 43: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) Happy to be a Scrivener evangelist!


message 44: by Mary (new)

Mary Criswell-Carpenter | 44 comments I have a chromebook and Scrivener is not supported.So I use novelizeit.com. First Novel is free, or $5 a mo. for unlimited. I like it and it works on all formats. Just my 2 cents.


message 45: by Ellison (last edited Nov 26, 2015 01:17AM) (new)

Ellison Blackburn (ellisonblackburn) | 130 comments Previous advertising post removed, this discussion is about Scrivener. If you provide a service please place your post in one of the appropriate 'Services' folders.


message 46: by Ellison (new)

Ellison Blackburn (ellisonblackburn) | 130 comments Just a heads up for anyone considering buying ... Scrivener is on sale for $25USD this weekend (Black Friday Sale).


message 47: by Mary (new)

Mary Criswell-Carpenter | 44 comments Wow, wish it could be used on Chromebook


message 48: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Mary wrote: "Wow, wish it could be used on Chromebook"

There are real PCs on sale for Black Friday too... **ducks** :D


message 49: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Erin wrote: "I can't seem to get my head around putting each scene in a separate file..."

Well, the good news is you don't have to. Scrivener is nothing if not flexible.

You can write each as much as you like in each document. Or you can break it down into as many tiny scenes as you like.

You can also click on the Manuscript collection in the binder (the top folder in the project), then switch to the View Mode that allows you to view/edit the entire project as one long document (I think it's the far left icon in the View Mode header).

I'm not sure but you probably can add new documents while you're in that Mode (using the Command-K shortcut), so you could write the same way you're familiar with doing but also gain the advantages of having scenes as individual documents.


message 50: by Mary (new)

Mary Criswell-Carpenter | 44 comments Micah wrote: "Mary wrote: "Wow, wish it could be used on Chromebook"

There are real PCs on sale for Black Friday too... **ducks** :D"


You should duck! hehe If I had the money to buy a real PC I would, however, I made $4.12 in royalties last month, so...YOU can buy it for my Christmas gift. Thank you. email me for my snail mail addy


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