Sometimes there's nothing like a deadline to get a writer to stop checking out stuff on YouTube and Facebook and Twitter and blogs and forums and email and Zappos and Etsy and (oops I'm not supposed to admit I daydream-shop when I'm supposed to be writing)... I am a bit mushier from lack of yoga and too many lattes, but alas. How we suffer for our writing!
So I wanted to chat just a bit about Scrivener. I posted about it just over a year ago here. At that time, I was wondering if I should use writing software to help me with my editing process. Back then, editing consisted of a lot of note cards and color-coded notes. It was a mess, but it worked.
This time around, I vowed to make my life a little bit easier. So I bought Scrivener (it was $45) based on a friend's experience with it.
What I've loved about Scrivener:
- The "binder" view lets me see my whole manuscript sectioned into chapters and scenes. I can title each of these separately so I can find things easily. So for example, a chapter titled in the binder with "girl kicks boy's undead butt" doesn't show up as the true chapter heading in the manuscript.
- The split screen. I can have one part of my manuscript on a lower half of the screen, and a different part on a upper screen. This avoids the whole scrolling back and forth within a manuscript to fix stuff. Also, I've used other manuscripts by betas or my editor with their comments in a different window so I can fix stuff simultaneously. Brilliant.
- Compile. Once you're done, you can compile all these chapters and scenes together and export your document to be printed, or as a PDF, RFT, Word doc, whatever. I always use the "original" setting so Scrivener doesn't use those wonky formatting presets I don't like.
- Automatic saves. No need to hit command-S anymore. My laptop has died at least three times when I forgot to hook up my power cord. Nothing was ever lost!
- Snapshot. I can take these snapshots of scenes or chapters, which saves an old version. This way when I'm making changes, I can easily view the previous version when I need to.
- The potential to use with the iPad. I haven't done this yet, but I'm set to try it soon. Using a go-between program called Simplenote, you can sync your computer's Scrivener files with Simplenote, then write/edit in your iPad using Simplenote. Here's a great blog post that outlines how to do this.
- The formatting is wonky sometimes. Importing my Word doc into Scrivener, I've found that sometimes my tabs and paragraphs have become weird. It's been a slight pain to redo/undo them. Also after compiling, I've found random blank pages in there which I've had to delete.
- The initial work. As with any new program, the first time you use it, you make mistakes. And then there's the initial time it takes to get to know the software. Plus importing your document and painstakingly separating out each chapter, scene, and writing titles for them took hours. In the end, it was worth it but with a deadline looming, it did stress me out a lot.
- Can't import track changes. You can import comments on manuscripts by saving as an RTF, but track changes won't import. So you must accept/reject them in Word, then import the rest of the comments after. Kind of a pain.
- I only know the tip of the iceberg. (Oops, I almost wrote "iceberk" which would have been more appropriate, given the beserky nature of what I've been going through). I know Scrivener has a million more uses that I don't know of. Time will tell if I'll use them.
Also, here's a great, basic tutorial on how to use Scrivener.
So how about you? Do you use writing software? Why or why not?
And if you use Scrivener, please tell me your favorite trick! I'd love to learn. :)