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Scribbling in Scrivener

August 25, 2014

Let me say this: I  like simple things. – Not in all aspects of life, but when it comes to the technological side of my creative process, I generally just want something that works and isn’t too hard to learn.

So when a friend told me about the program Scrivener some time ago, my reaction went something like this, “Wow! That sounds amazing. All those options. All those features! I’d never use half of them, and besides it must take forever to master.”
For a while, I kept typing my fiction of 80K words + in OpenOffice. I liked OpenOffice. I still do and I still use it for some things (like spellchecking in my native language). But I found that I was looking for a way to get a better overview of my stories than having to scroll through hundreds of pages or keeping each chapter in a separate file.

The corkboard is a handy overview of every chapter in a story folder.

The corkboard is a handy overview of every chapter in a story folder.

“Okay,” I finally thought, “I’ll have another look at that Scrivener thing.” So I tried the free trial, and it was not long before I used the 50% off coupon that I had from NaNoWriMo to buy the program.

See, the thing is that while I was right about not using all the fancy features, you don’t actually have to in order to get something out of a program. Yes, there is a direct link to online dictionaries. Yes, you can have a research folder with pictures and what have you. Yes, you can set wordcount goals for your project. Yes, you can toggle to full screen mode. Yes, you can convert your project to an ebook. But you can also ignore everything that you don’t need right now and use what you do need. It doesn’t hurt to have features that you may not use right now, but perhaps can one day.
So far, Scrivener has been very helpful for me when it comes to editing because I can put my chapters in folders, rearrange them, and add descriptions for a quick overview.

As for how hard it is to get started and understand the program … It’s really not bad. If you have a basic knowledge of word processing tools, you will get it pretty fast. I began typing, played around with making new folders and went, ”Huh …” and, ”Oh, I see!” a lot. There was one thing I wanted to do, something to do with the layout though I’ve forgotten what, and couldn’t figure out at once, but a simple Google search gave me a tutorial for that.
And there’s a good selection of templates for novels, scripts, non-fiction and so on if you don’t want to play around with your own layout from the start.

So colour me converted. From .odt to .scriv.
Conclusion: Scrivener is a brilliant tool for writers, but it doesn’t make your bad puns better.


If you’re interested in Scrivener, here are a few useful links:

This is how it looks when I'm working on a novel in Scrivener.

This is how it looks when I’m working on a novel in Scrivener. It gives me a great overview.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2014 4:50 pm

    I’m pretty much the same, I barely use any of the features but I love the ability to lay the story out and have character profiles right there. I’ve got a couple of very complicated projects coming up and I’m grateful that I’ve got Scrivener 🙂


    • August 25, 2014 6:46 pm

      Thanks a lot for the comment! 🙂 I definitely like the ability to plan things and move chapters around too.


  2. Maggie permalink
    August 25, 2014 11:03 pm

    I think I ought to start using this… I’ve had it on my computer for a long time, but the abundance of features is intimidating.


    • August 26, 2014 12:38 pm

      That’s exactly how I felt to begin with. I recommend making a project for testing out things first to play around with it and see if you can get comfortable/like it. I just moved things around, clicked icons, wrote things like, “What happens when I type this here?” After doing that for a while, I felt comfortable enough to start working.
      Thanks for the comment!


  3. August 27, 2014 2:26 pm


    Many thanks for citing my resources page. I’m glad to see that you’ve embraced Scrivener – it really is a marvel, regardless of what stage your project’s at.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 27, 2014 2:56 pm

      Thank you very much for making the page! It’s a great help. I do agree; I have everything from notes to published stories in Scrivener.
      – And thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment!


  4. August 27, 2014 3:52 pm

    Thanks for following my blog! I tried Scrivener for a bit, but I found all the bells and whistles superfluous and stopped using it. However, after reading your post I realize that they are not mandatory to use in order to get my money’s worth.


    • August 27, 2014 4:10 pm

      There may be other programs out there with the features that you need and not as many of the others. I honestly haven’t searched for others because for my writing routine, coming from a regular wordprocessing program, it was a great improvement. I’m glad you found my post useful!
      And you’re welcome. – Thanks for dropping by here! 🙂


  5. August 31, 2014 4:02 pm

    I love Scrivener! At first I was intimidated, but now I am a Scrivener nut! I have learned how to add color to my index cards, how to assign each character a different color or each scene or just whatever I want to do with it. With Scrivener there is no right or wrong way of using it. It works for you and your needs. Awesome!


    • August 31, 2014 4:37 pm

      Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting! It’s great to know that Scrivener is working out so well for you. I’ve only just begun to colour code my cork board with my latest project. And I completely agree – there is no right or wrong way of using it. That’s really the best thing about all those features; you just use what is right for you.


  6. September 3, 2014 1:45 pm

    Seems like this would really come in handy for serial novels. Since I write a chapter a month, I often forget details about characters and find myself skimming through old chapters.


    • September 3, 2014 3:12 pm

      Yes, it really is. I am quite depending on Scrivener for my serial novel already.
      Thank you for visiting and commenting!


  7. September 19, 2014 9:47 pm

    Scrivener has changed pretty much everything about how I write. The ease of being able to rearrange scenes is good, note-keeping (which was something I was already doing with notes taped against a wall in my apartment) is an invaluable feature as well. I also like how easily you can save in a bunch of different file formats straight from the program, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 19, 2014 9:50 pm

      Oh, the notes on the wall! I’ve been there too. Once with Post-its that fell down after a short while … Yes, the possibility of saving in a number of formats is definitely a plus too. Thanks a lot for visiting and commenting! 🙂


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