Writing tools: Scrivener

About two years ago, I came across Scrivener in a writing magazine. At first, I frowned. Why pay for writing software, when I could use Word?

At the same time, I was curious. What could be different? It’s just files and letters. Free trial, here I came.

Scrivener came with a massive and rather technical manual. I had to close it within minutes to prevent my eyes from popping out. Luckily, there were plenty of enthusiastic writers offering free YouTube tutorials.

You know how you can walk the same route for ages and then spot a shortcut? I ditched Word a week later and never looked back. Wait, that’s not true. I did look back, mostly to find my old files. It was not pretty.

1. Time
I couldn’t believe how much time Scrivener saved. It made a massive difference whenever I needed to change anything, which was often. No more mess cutting out scenes, changing the order of them, deleting characters, switching their names, renaming or switching chapters. Everything is neat and easy. It makes my OCD very happy.

2. Distractions
Having all research notes and pictures in the same place means everything I need to check, either on characters, places or my other research, is one click away. No more distractions, jumping around files or scrolling through pages of notes.  My favourite Scrivener feature is the blacked-out screen that makes it easy to focus.  

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There is, as yet, no feature able to distract cats.

Her majesty Nitzan, taking a nap

Her majesty Nitzan, taking a nap

3. Templates
Scrivener’s templates for characters and places are just great. I tweaked their structure. It made a big difference to my writing. The best part is that all details are never more than one click away. The name generator is another handy feature that saves time looking on the Internet and in graveyards.

4. 'Ready to go' formatting
Whether I write fiction or non-fiction, Scrivener does all the formatting for me. Once I am done, it’s super easy to export the text into whatever format I want, from word to Kindle. It even watermarks the proof copy. It looks professional and is super easy. Love it, love it, love it!

5. Scene descriptions & synopsis
I used to write my scenes down on pieces of paper and shuffle them around all the time to get an overview of the story. I now write down short scene descriptions in Scrivener and export them into the synopsis later on. You can even view them as a cork-board.

6. Project & text statistics
Scrivener makes an overview of your most common words and number of pages in paperback and print. I found this super useful when editing. It makes it easier to cut out repetitions and avoid overusing certain words.

What writing tools are you using? How are they working for you?