Recently on a private forum, after responding to a plea for help with the suggestion, “use Scrivener, the program makes you a better writer,” I’ve received questions about that statement.
My first response was to giggle. Ah — NO, I’m not a shill for Scrivener’s developers. You won’t find any affiliate links in this post. Nor do I know anyone in the company, but I have immense admiration for the developers.
So, how does Scrivener make you a better writer?
I believe that Scrivener is worth every penny of your investment in its purchase, and more. Your mileage may vary of course, but I know that before Scrivener, writing a book took me three and four times as long.
If you need to write a book, you need Scrivener
Scrivener’s beta version arrived in 2005. In that year, I switched from using Windows machines as my primary computers to Macs. It took forever to make the decision to switch.
At that time, I was writing about PCs for computer magazines, as well as doing ghostwriting for a global publisher, so I still needed my Windows machines.
My contract for the large publishing house meant that not only did I write chapters for them for various books, I worked as a ghostwriter and copywriter for them as well.
My life was chaos. I spent 12 and 14 hours a day, just writing. Research took another couple of hours at least.
Then suddenly, at just the right time, Scrivener came out with a beta version — suddenly writing books was much easier.
Scrivener will make you a better writer because it makes it easier to organize your writing projects, and to think.
1. Scrivener makes it easier to organize and think, so your writing improves
Books, whether fiction or nonfiction, morph.
In this post, I suggested writing your blurb (book description) before you start outlining and writing:
Writing your blurb first is important because you need to fulfill promises you made in the blurb. It’s much easier to edit your blurb than it is to edit your book.
Nevertheless, even with your blurb as a compass to your writing, your book’s vision will change before your eyes. When this happens it’s not only disorienting, it can throw you off track. If you’re unfortunate enough to have deadlines for several books at one time, it also leads to a lot of stress.
Scrivener has a marvelous feature called Collections, which helps you to revision (re-imagine) your book, no matter how much it morphs.
An excellent article on Collections:
Before Scrivener, I’d print out a novel, then lay out “collections” of documents on the bed, and the carpet. Next, I’d create index card summaries of every document in every collection. I’d delete scenes and chapters by tossing their documents, and then type up fresh scenes, and lay them out on the carpet. It was chaotic.
2. You can view your Scrivener project from several different angles, so you get better ideas
When it’s time to outline, I start out in the Corkboard view. The Corkboard’s index cards are itty bitty things, so I usually switch from there to the Outline view, and then to the Scrivenings view, to flesh out the outline.
You can start writing at any time.
For example, with fiction I’ll usually write the first scene, and then because the final scene mirrors the first, I’ll write that scene next. Of course, the final scene needs rewriting later, but I’ve mapped out the territory.
You may find that being able to switch so easily between views helps you to keep your project on track, and become more creative.
3. Got an editor, or beta readers? It takes just a few clicks to compile a draft to send them (and you can quickly make changes)
When ghostwriting, I like to send my client or editor a copy of the first draft of each chapter when it’s done. That takes just a few clicks in Scrivener, and the PDF is ready to email to the client, or to attach to a thread in a chat program.
Sending out out ARCs (advance reading copies) is just as simple. A few clicks, and your PDF is ready to send.
4. Inspiration can strike anywhere: Scrivener has iOS and (soon) Android apps
You can get ideas anywhere. I have an “Ideas” folder in each Scrivener project, so I can type up an idea quickly. Occasionally, I’ll be on the sofa, watching a movie, when inspiration hits. It’s easy to open Scrivener on my tablet, and add a few paragraphs to a scene, or correct something in a scene if I realize that the timeline is off, for example.
So, there you have it. I truly believe that Scrivener can help almost any author to become happier and more productive.
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