Coming Over From The Dark Side: Rediscovering Scrivener

Some years ago, I tried Scrivener. Tried it and then shut it down. I don’t think I lasted more than a day on the free trial. Then, for the next several years, I lived in the Dark Side. Ignorant. Unknowing. Refusing to give Scrivener a try.

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Here were my complaints.

1) There were no instructions (Okay, I don’t know that for certain, since I rarely read instructions. But they didn’t jump out and say “Read me, you dolt!”)
2) I tried it on a Mac, but I’ve been a PC girl most of my life. Macs are designed for children or geniuses. Not for those of us in-between.
3) I had a lot—I mean a LOT!—of information in dozens, nay, hundreds of Word files. The thought of copying all of that was depressing. (See Complaint 1 AND 2: If I had experimented, I would have realized that I could just drag files over to Scrivener and they would be imported. The things one could have learned with just a little experimentation.)
4) I thought there might be better programs out there than Scrivener. I just didn’t have time to look for them because I was so busy complaining about Scrivener.

Well, all that came to an end ten days ago. I read someone had a great template for writing and tracking blogs, so I downloaded their file. Alas, I discovered that you needed Scrivener to open the file.
So, reluctantly, I downloaded the free thirty-day trial and started using it. This time, I did read the instructions (there really aren’t that many, though the Scrivener web page does have some great tutorials that you can watch on YouTube). And I experimented. Wow, what a great concept!

Now, here’s what I like about Scrivener.

1) I can put every one of my different genres in a separate project. This allows me to have a master file for all the books in a series, create separate projects for each book, and still have everything in one place. (I like that you can have several projects open on your desktop at the same time, which allows you to drag and drop files from one project to the other).
2) I immediately saw that I could do searches on a particular character, find all references to that character, and make sure that all my references were consistent with the character’s bio.
3) You can write your story in Scrivener! Yes, I know that’s what it’s intended for, but bear with me. After all, I did spend a lot of time in The Dark Side. Scrivener has a great spell check feature, tracks the number of words (and characters). You can add words like blogs and YouTube to the dictionary. This is great for an author who often uses fanciful names for her characters, since you don’t want them showing up as spelling errors. Unless, of course, you really spelled them wrong.
4) I became really impressed with Scrivener’s organization. Folders, sub-folders, and sub-sub-folders. Of course, Scrivener calls them Binders, but we know what they are. And then they have all these nifty icons that can be used to distinguish different topics, themes, etc.

Despite what I’ve said about Scrivener, I’ve only used a fraction of its capabilities. It has a feature called Compile, which allows you to format your manuscript in a variety of formats. I’m still experimenting with that feature, but when I master it, watch out world! I will have emerged from the Dark Side and will be ready to conquer the universe!

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