One author’s perspective … on Scrivener. At its heart, Scrivener is a word-processing application. However, it’s one that is especially designed for people who are writing big documents: authors, screenwriters, lawyers, students, researchers, and many others. Will it work for you?
Well, it works and works well for certain things, and I now write all of my books using Scrivener. Now, I still use a mainstream word-processing program for creating the final print master. Please keep in mind that I have a very long and thorough association with one of the well-known word-processing programs today, and that is partly where my bias comes from. I was very used to using it when someone introduced me to Scrivener, and so I was skeptical. Still, I gave it a go, and I’m grateful to the person who introduced me to it!
Now, I’m sure that there will be an innumerable mass of people who will tell me that every feature I’m going to point out as a strength of Scrivener can be found somewhere else, even in the mainstream software I’m using. I understand, but also understand that to qualify as equivalent to Scrivener, it must do these things cohesively towards the single goal of complex and lengthy composition. That … is not an easy a standard to reach. Also, I am still learning Scrivener after writing four books with it, and I’m still learning new things, so don’t imagine this is all of its capability.
First, Scrivener makes it easy to keep your references close at hand – characters, places, technologies, flora, fauna, and the like. Its aim isn’t world-building, and there are other applications for that. Its aim is simply facilitating organization – as little or as much as you want to put into it. I like that I can easily access my chapters and sections in a visual, hierarchical (nearly a file system) like way. I can put a little summary on the chapter “card” that won’t be a part of the book, but it’s just a note for myself. I can check these resources without going to any other application with very little disruption to my progress.
Second, Scrivener comes with some solid built in resources – spell checking, name creation, getting definitions, the works. You can also use the templates for characters and places or simply ignore them and make notes (what I do). It also has a full-screen, bare-bones editor that, unlike most other word processors, gets out of your way and just lets you write. I love that feature.
The third benefit is … the mobile application! Yes! So, there is a desktop application and a mobile application, and they use Dropbox to keep your writing in sync. So, if you like writing on your laptop, great! However, if you’re stuck somewhere and want to read over something you’ve written or do a little proof-editing, this is where Scrivener shines! Now, I know and have said there are other platforms that allow you have a desktop version of a document and cell phone version of the same. Again, it’s the way these features are mixed together that make it work for me.
When I’m done writing the book in Scrivener, I tell it to compile it to a manuscript format. I load that into my other word-processor to begin formatting it for publication. Now, Scrivener can do that, but it’s not a “What I See Is What I Get” visual kind of editor. There’s a lot of configurability, but I have my own workflow that helps me get the book into print and Kindle eBook easily (Kindle eBooks and regular eBooks vary slightly in set-up).
So, if you wanting to write a novel, you can obviously write one in Notepad. You can write a novel on any piece of software competent enough to remember what you type. The benefit of Scrivener is feature set, and this program has a very useful and very desirable one, to say the least.
As always, your reality may be different from mine! After all, this is just … one author’s perspective!