8 Reasons why Scrivener is my writing tool of choice #amwriting #writing #writingtools #Scrivener

I have been writing for a long time now, over twenty years in fact. When I first started, there wasn’t even the basics such as Microsoft Word. I was pretty excited when Word came out!

But in 2011 I moved from a Windows PC to an Apple Mac, and I have been using Scrivener ever since. It was originally only available on the Mac, but you can now get a windows version.

So, I have been using Scrivener for quite a while.  I can honestly say that I am more productive with Scrivener than I ever was with Word or those even worse writing applications that came before. And I thought I would share a few highlights as to why I love Scrivener so much.

  1. It lets you chop up your book. If you are anything like me, the order of chapters at the start is not the order at the end. I pull stuff about, chop it out, put it back, and generally hack the sequence within an inch of its life. Scrivener makes this easy. Chapters can be placed into folders, and I can move them, or delete, and if need be… restore them.
  2. You can categorise chapters. I write in a number of character perspectives so I categorise (And further colour code) my chapters so it is easy to see which chapter is which character. But you might use this colour/ category for many purposes such as location or something else.
  3. Chapters have a status. The status allows you to set whether a chapter is Draft, Revised draft, To do, complete etc. Its configurable, so you can make your own status to suit you. If you are anything like me, some chapters are completed early and some I go back to many times. Using the status makes it easy to see what has been completed and what parts need more work.
  4. Compiling is easy. You can convert your scrivener project to just about any electronic format you can think of, i.e. mobi, epub, ibook, word, pdf, and a whole lot more. It takes seconds! Yes there is a little configuration to do, but the default compile is good for most purposes and it is only if you want to get fancy with font etc. that you need to play with the settings.
  5. It comes with standard novel templates so you can get the book title, chapter list, title pages, front and back matter, built into the compile.
  6. You can add icons to chapters. I mark my quarter points, which makes it easier to see the book breakdown.
  7. Target word counts. I love target word counts, they keep me motivated and moving forward. See Using Target word count.
  8. There is a notes and synopsis section for each chapter. If like me you sometimes hack sentences out but you are not sure you are ready to trash them, you can keep them in the notes section of that chapter so they are easy to see until you are confident you no longer need them. I also use the notes for jotting down comments about the chapter, or points I want to address. The synopsis field is great if you want to put a brief note of what the chapter is about during the planning stage.

I have skimmed the surface of what Scrivener does, and I am sure everyone has different features they swear by. It has been a great tool to use and I can’t imagine going back to Word now. I would love to hear about your writing tool, if you have tried Scrivener what you think, and if there is any other writing software out there you would recommend.

And if I have tempted you to look into Scrivener, you can get it on a free 30 day trial.

Writing Software – changing technology

Writing software – changing technology

I have been writing books for years. Back in the old days, I had a Atari 520 ST with a word processor, Lotus word pro. I am glad to say that writing software has come a long way since then. It was one up from a piece of paper but not by much. The font was hideous, I used to print it out to read it which took forever, and still looked just a grim.

Lotus Word Pro

I have always been a bit of a computer geek, and pretty much as soon as home computers progressed out of the games consoles era, I was quick to take that step. I continued with Lotus word pro on the PC for a while before Microsoft Word took over as my core writing software choice. Under the wings of Word I actually managed to finish two whole books. Neither of these being of a quality I felt an inclination to publish – I like to think of myself as a realist – but it did at least teach me about the stamina needed to actually get a book from inception to completion.

Microsoft WordI am one of those people who just like to write. I don’t necessarily need an end goal I just really want to write. The down side with this is that I have a great swathe of half-baked stories. These ‘in-progress’ stories are planned out in my head, and I have started writing anywhere from one to half a dozen chapters, but never taken them any further. Unfortunately, if you don’t have natural discipline, Microsoft word doesn’t really give you any additional help. I bought a few guides on how to plan a book, and these went some way. I used some of the principles, you know the basics, list the chapters, write a summary for each chapter, write a more detailed list of points you want to cover for each chapter. It helped – at least a bit.

I had been a basic Microsoft girl for a good twenty years before I bit the operating system bullet and moved over to a Mac. Possibly the most agonising month of my life!

My husband was already an apple fan and had been using a Mac for years, so my painful transition was of course all his fault. Until you actually move from one system to another I don’t think you realise just how much knowledge you have managed to build up over twenty + years. I didn’t know any of the short cuts, and some things just drove me absolutely insane!

My husband put up stolidly with my daily rants, until eventually I figured it out and the impassioned complaints tapered off. I got used to word on the mac – it was OK – but clunkier, and I wasn’t entirely happy with this. It felt harder, and when you are writing you really want to forget about the tool you are using to craft, and just focus on the crafting.

ScrivenerMy husband, ever vigilant in the quest to force me out of my computing comfort zone, and in spite of all the drama that had surrounded me moving from Microsoft to Apple, enthusiastically suggested that I may like to consider using a writing application called ‘Scrivener’. It had a really good rating, and would ‘allegedly’ help me with my planning, and dare I suggest it – actually help me to finish another book.

Again, it was a bit of a painful transition, but I am going to admit that I am delighted that I did it. Writing the first two books took me forever – writing a book using scrivener has, by comparison, been a piece of cake. I love scrivener, I set goals, I plan, I track progress, create deadlines, and compile straight to my kindle so I can read and edit what I have done the next morning while on my train to work.

Just one more time…I love scrivener! In my humble opinion it is the best writing software. If you haven’t given it a go yet, consider taking their free writing software trial.

So where am I now…

Another book is completed, and this is one that I have decided to make the positive call in regards to getting it published. I am just in the process of completing a review ready to hand it over to an editor.

I have planned out two further books to complete a trilogy. I am 70% of the way through the second one, and have the chapters roughly planned out for the third.

I am sure there are plenty of people out there who don’t need any help with their planning, or structuring, but for me scrivener has been a great help, and has made a big difference in me getting something quality across that all important line.