Writer’s Tool Review: Scrivener
Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft. (Scrivener for MAC OSX is available for $45 USD)
To me this sounded like a pretty cool tool. I don’t own a Mac, though. Also, $45 is a lot of money for a poor student/writer to pay for any kind of software. So I went on a search. Was there, maybe, a version for Windows that I could use and was it as expensive?
I came across this page (Google is my friend!), where Literature & Latte, the developers of Scrivener, offer their Beta version of Scrivener for free. Come June, when the final product is released to the market, it will be as costly as the Mac version (though students – worldwide – get a $10 discount, which I think is pretty nice of them).
When you start up Scrivener, you’ll be asked to select the type of project you’d like to start working on. You can choose from a wide array of options: ” blank” (where you won’t get any example templates), fiction, non-ficiton, poetry & lyrics, scriptwriting and miscellaneous.
These are all interesting, but today I will just discuss the ” fiction” option, and particularly the “novel (with parts)” option, as you’re also offered the options “novel” and “short story”. See the screenshot on the right for the “New Project” screen.
The “Novel (with parts)” Feature
The difference between the options “novel” and “novel (with parts)” is that in the “with parts” option, you can split your book… well, in parts. You can decide to organize your chapters in the “beginning”, “middle” and “end” parts, or call them Act I, II and III.
It’s not really necessary to organize your book like that, so that’s why you have the “novel” feature, but for organization’s sake, it could come in handy, and that’s essentially what this whole program is for.
Labels & Statuses
Look at the screenshot on the right, here. You can see you get a pinboard with index cards (you can also choose to display a list, or show previews of the text within the index cards). As you can see I added a few chapters to my first project. I gave them all a green label, which stands for “Chapter”. In the Research pin board, you can also add index cards like these, but you could label them with “notes” or “ideas” or “character notes”, and you can add custom labels, too.
As you can see in the screenshot, there are also some big red letters over the index cards. This is the “status” of the chapter, or note, or scene, or whatever. There’s a bunch of statuses you can select. They are “to do”, “first draft”, “revised draft”, “final draft”, “titel page” and “done”. Again, you can add custom statuses if needed (for instance, I would personally prefer to call all the drafts between draft one and final draft “draft 2, 3, 4″ etc).
Basically, all the pinboards work the same. You can add index cards to the pinboard, you can put a synospis or note on the index card. If you double click the little icon in the top left of the index card, you’ll be sent to the content of the folder (for instance, the chapter folder leads to the scenes). If you then double click the icon for the scene, you’ll be sent to the actual text. What’s simpler though, is that you just select the doc you want to see in the sidebar on the left.
You’re also offered two templates, the “character sketch” and “setting sketch”. They are actually quite nice. Clearly, you don’t have to use them if you don’t want to, but still I think it’s nice of them to offer a little help to get you started. Look at the screenshot on the right for the character sketch template :).
I still have a lot of experimenting to do with this program, and there’s probably a lot that I still have to find out about it, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s pretty cool. I’d still not pay $45 for it, but this Beta edition is good enough for me!
I think it’s a great tool to organize your work, if you’re into that sort of thing!
Have you ever used Scrivener, or a program similar to it? What did you think of it? Do you still use it?
If you haven’t used it or something similar, would you be interested in something like Scrivener? Would you pay those $45 for it?
PS: I was just thinking… You could also use this for blogging – collect ideas for future blogs, give them labels and statuses, etc. I think it would actually be quite handy in that capacity. What do you think?