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Goodreads Author Zone > Anyone here tried Scrivener?

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message 1: by T.J. (new)

T.J. (teejayslee) | 16 comments I've been looking at the way it seems to handle research/notes etc which for me is always a mess and I find myself juggling about ten open Word windows. It seems you can more easily keep your notes and research at hand while you are writing with Scrivener. But I'd like to hear from some who've tried it and stuck with it before I take the plunge of moving my work over to a new system.



message 2: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 650 comments I would be grateful for this feedback as well! I read about authors saying they swear by it, but they never say why.

message 3: by Ashley Marie (new)

Ashley Marie  | 539 comments I still like to keep my full MS in a Word or Google Docs document so I don't have to piece it together, but as far as keeping notes and research organized and together, I adore Scrivener. Bought the program after the trial period ended during one NaNoWriMo and have used it the last 3-4 years.

message 4: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Brown | 6 comments I'm making friends with scrivener for mac. it's great for organizing your notes, pdfs, jpgs, etc. my primary use has been using the note cards for detailed outline. it's pretty easy to use. you have to budget some time and head space to master it. if you have a newer windows platform, be sure to try before you buy. it was absolutely useless, illegible, on my previous laptop.

message 5: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 459 comments I just recently started using it. It's been nice so far (easy to keep word and page counts), but I don't think I've truly got the hang of it yet.

message 6: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Rau | 1 comments I love Scrivener. It takes a while to get used to, especially if you tend to rely on Word's page count to gauge your progress. Scrivener uses a word count tool, where you can set yourself daily and project goals. It makes compiling the book super easy and you can export to Word at any time if you feel that's easier. I definitely think it's worth a try.

message 7: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 673 comments Storyist is more Word-like, in that it keeps your entire document in a single file—simplifying word counts, etc. You still get characters, research notes, plot tracking, outlining, etc. It works on Mac and iOS but not on Windows.

Scrivener has both Mac and Windows versions, but the files are not compatible. It has a new iOS version, which I own but don't use enough to comment on.

Both Scrivener and Storyist have full trial versions that last for a defined period. So one option is to download them both (if you have a Mac) or just Scrivener, if you have a Windows machine, and try them out. The approaches are somewhat different, and both have advantages and disadvantages. People tend to like one or another.

But if you need footnoting, then Scrivener does that and Storyist doesn't. That's because Storyist is designed for fiction writing: novels, screenplays, stage plays, poetry, graphic novels, short story collections, etc. Scrivener is more general.

Both create e-books and export to Word via RTF: Storyist is more seamless; Scrivener more complicated but with a bit more control over formatting. It really depends on what you need.

Having used them both, though, I would never go back to plotting my novels in Word. The advantage of having all those notes at my fingertips is just too good to give up.

message 8: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 650 comments Thank you to everyone for taking the time to give useful feedback and info!

message 9: by C.B. Matson (new)

C.B. Matson | 6 comments A little late to the discussion, but having shifted from MSW to Scrivener about 6 mo ago, I'd like to add a different perspective:

Scrivener is okay, but I'm not totally sold. The look and feel is different from Word, which can put you off at first, but shouldn't detract from your work. In the long run, it could improve your writing, as messing with fonts, spacing and so forth doesn't distract you from the story-line. The cork-board is nice, but not quite as "magical" as true-believers have said. The auto-save/auto-backup features are fantastic. A few downsides:
1) Spell-check and search/replace are minimal.
2) Auto-correct is limited. I use it often to add diacritical marks to unusual names or words, but not in Scrivener.
3) Grammar check (useful for finding typos) is non-existent.
4) Hyperlinks are clunky and forget auto-TOC (yeah, it can be done, but).
5) The Scrivener instruction manual is HUGE, and the learning curve is bumpy.

MSW can offer many of the same features that people like in Scrivener, if you know where to find them:
1) Start by using "Styles" to create Chapters (Heading 2) and Bookmarks (I use Heading 3).
2) Now, turn on the "Navigation Pane" to see a list of Chapters and Bookmarks. You can jump to any of them from there.
3) Create a "Chapter" of research notes and web links, just like the cork board.
4) Also, try using "View/Outline View" to select and move large blocks of text. Outline view also lets you edit out the spurious paragraph and space characters that make their way into your draft.

It's possible (likely)... no, wait, it's absolutely true that I haven't mastered all of the Scrivener features. It looks like Scrivener can be an excellent tool for building your first draft. After that, compile and export to MSW for polishing, editing and formatting. That's been my experience so far. Hope it helps.

message 10: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 68 comments C.B. Matson wrote: "A little late to the discussion, but having shifted from MSW to Scrivener about 6 mo ago, I'd like to add a different perspective:

Scrivener is okay, but I'm not totally sold. The look and feel i..."

I just finished using Scrivener & have completed my second, third? draft. Have enjoyed using it, but appreciate your advice as to exporting it to MSW for editing, etc. I have been trying to decide if I should go through it again on Scrivener, but anxious to see how it all comes to together on Word.

message 11: by Larry (new)

Larry Zuckerman | 34 comments I don't know whether there are bugs in the program, or I'm just a klutz, but the program simply got in the way too often to be useful. I couldn't set margins the way I wanted; getting special characters was a nuisance (bad news, since my new novel takes place in Paris); and for the life of me, I couldn't enter a section of text and put it at the right level in Draft. The tutorials are elegantly written and look as though they should answer all your questions, but they don't. I've gone through them three times, and the program still balks at what should be simple tasks. The only thing I like--and it's a good one--is that I was able (after much fighting) to create a single file for a complete manuscript for submission.

message 12: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 68 comments The tutorials did not help me much either. I got on youtube & found some helpful videos.

message 13: by Larry (new)

Larry Zuckerman | 34 comments Thank you, Patricia. I'll try that.

message 14: by C.B. Matson (new)

C.B. Matson | 6 comments Larry wrote: "I couldn't set margins the way I wanted; getting special characters was a nuisance (bad news, since my new novel takes place in Paris); and for the life of me, I couldn't enter a section of text and put it at the right level in Draft."

Yeah, forget margins and general formatting... that is, forget doing any Book Design in Scrivener. In my experience, it's the wrong tool for that task and it won't love you for trying. In Scrivener, you can concentrate on your writing and not on the way it looks. (note: C.P., in Comment 7, says that Scrivener works for formatting. So, more to learn I guess...)

I've started using "Auto-Correct" for special characters, but you have to mine down several levels to edit the list and enable Auto-Correct. Clunky but doable.

Okay, here's a Scrivener plus that I've found: the Split-Screen. It behaves better than the Word version. Split your screen so that your new text appears on top. Use the bottom screen to display style-sheets, spelling (you can copy and paste for long/complex words), names, research notes... keeps your work front and center while you flip through your boards.

#StillLearning #NotGivingUpYet

message 15: by Larry (new)

Larry Zuckerman | 34 comments Yeah, I hear you. Split screen in Scrivener is also better than its counterpart in WordPerfect, the program I normally use so that I can concentrate on my writing, instead of on how it looks. . . .

message 16: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 673 comments C.B. Matson wrote: "C.P., in Comment 7, says that Scrivener works for formatting. So, more to learn I guess."

I was talking about e-book formatting: things like ensuring that first lines after chapter and section breaks don't indent. E-book formatting is of necessity very simple (although Scrivener makes it kind of complicated to learn).

I would never, in a million years, use Scrivener to format a print book. I use InDesign, because I have it and know how to use it. But ID is expensive. Next best bet is to compile to RTF and use Word. Even then, getting the same results in Word that you can get in a professional typesetting program is a challenge. But one does what one can.

message 17: by Tony (new)

Tony Morgan | 14 comments Sorry this a bit late - but I've written both my novels in Scrivener and really like it.

It's also very good for publishing mobi files etc for Amazon etc. I've also used it to create a format I used to create a paperback on Amazon without too much of a problem.

Whenever I've got stuck I've googled and found an answer.

message 18: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Walker (jkwalkerauthor) Love Scrivener for outlining and 1st and 2nd drafts. After that, 3rd draft onward, I migrate to Pages. Scrivener is great for organizing and outlining [their virtual note cards and cork board are invaluable to me) and getting that painful 1st draft done by “writing through the note cards,” then doing that first big round of meat-axe revisions. After that, it’s kind of clunky for me, so I just go to a standard word processor. In my case (Mac) that’s Pages, for PCers, it’s Word or whatever.

message 19: by D.B. (new)

D.B. Woodling I haven't, but seems it would be a great tool, particularly for outlines.

message 20: by Sally (new)

Sally Christie (goodreadscomsally_christie) | 2 comments I love Scrivener and find it absolutely indispensable for not only organizing notes and research but also for drafting the entire book - scrolling through Word can be a nightmare but with Scrivener I can create as many readily accessible "chapters" as I want, all clearly labeled, some no more than a few paragraphs, so I can easily find the scene I want.

I also color code everything. For example right now I am working on getting a Draft 0 (very early draft but with ~ 80% of the content figured out) and once I deem a scene or a chapter ready for Draft 0 status I label it yellow, and slowly seeing the sea of yellow emerge is very exciting. It also shows me quickly where I need to focus.

Once the book is at ~ Draft 3 stage - say ready for my agent - I always print it off, usually in 2 or 3 documents, and do final formatting and polishing in Word.

message 21: by Ken (new)

Ken Farmer | 5 comments Scrivener Version 3 is out now. Works just about the same* as V2, so I don’t see any pressing reason** to change. I still use V2 for my work although I have bought the new one. But, my second sentence comes with some caveats.

same*. The compile feature of V3 is different (massively different, in spades!) and is the reason I am still on V2. I was about to submit a completed paperback for publishing, needing to produce a formatted ODT file and after a couple of days in producing nothing but compiled junk, went back to the old for now. Not to say that V3 is bad or defective, just that there is a massive learning curve on the new compile functions.

reason**. When the next MacOS arrives, it will be the end of 32 bit apps, and Scrivener V2 is such. So, if you really like V2, don’t upgrade the OS until you have to. It won’t work on High Sierra Next.

Still, IMO Scrivener is by far the best book writing software in existence, and I have tried most of the others. Just don’t try to use it to produce a printable paperback. Feed the output to a template in Libreoffice or Word to design your book. Kindle files it makes just fine, but words on paper to submit to a publisher - it can’t do that. That is not a defect - just something that the software isn’t designed to do.

message 22: by Caven (new)

Caven Tootell Ken wrote: "Scrivener Version 3 is out now. Works just about the same* as V2, so I don’t see any pressing reason** to change. I still use V2 for my work although I have bought the new one. But, my second sente..."
Thanks Ken, have been using Scrivener and also like the Research links (keeping it all in one place) after trying OneNote & Evernote - it is a better 'writing' platform. A tad disappointed that I can't seamlessly move between my Mac & MS versions though.
Will check out V3.

message 23: by Josanna (new)

Josanna Thompson | 6 comments A fellow author friend introduced me to Scrivener several months ago. I bought it on her recommendation. It took a little bit to install it - tech issues, don't you know. The Scrivener tech support was great about helping me trouble-shoot. Viola! I was up and running, and I haven't looked back since.

I LOVE working on Scrivener. It's a great way to organize research, characters. I also like breaking my story down into scenes. I also like having the option to export my files to Word. (I do this to back up my work.) It's a great writer's tool.

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