Scrivener understands my writing needs in a way that other word processors never have. Here are 10 reasons why I threw over the old standbys.
1. Scrivener remembers your spot.
Every time you open a project in Scrivener, it takes you right to where you left off. Maybe not such a big deal when writing the first draft, but when you’re in the midst of revisions, it’s a lifesaver.
2. Your structure is easy to see.
Scrivener lets you write in chunks—such as scenes or chapters—called documents. The Binder, where you view all of the documents in your project, gives you an at-a-glance overview of your entire manuscript and thus the structure of your work.
Change your mind about the order of scenes or chapters? It’s a cinch to drag and drop them around and play with a different story flow.
3. Saving epiphanies is easy.
Got an idea for a future scene, but you’re not ready for it yet? Just create a new document, write out your idea, then ignore it until you figure out where it goes. You can also add notes right into the text you’re working on. When you can’t think of the perfect line of dialogue, or you need to do some additional research, simply insert an annotation or comment and get back to writing.
In Scrivener, you can color code your documents by whatever piece of data you want to track. For example, in the drafting phase I tag my fiction scenes by point-of-view (POV) character, using blue for the hero and pink for the heroine (original, right?). Instantly, I can see the POV of a scene and check my overall balance.
In the revision phase—and for nonfiction—I use the Label field to keep track of the status of each section (e.g. Not Started, WIP, To Editor, Author Review, Complete).
5. Auto-save protects your hard work.
If you’ve ever faced the “Blue Screen of Death,” or lost power after writing 3,000 words without saving, you can appreciate that Scrivener saves your project every time there’s more than two seconds of inactivity. So while you’re pondering your next sentence, Scrivener is committing your words to memory.
6. Scrivener is like Hermione Granger’s bottomless handbag.
You can import research documents, web pages/links, and photos right into your project, so even when you take your laptop on the road, you have everything you need. You can also import any writing you already started in another program.
Plus, you can keep outlines, notes on ideas for changes and future scenes, and character and setting information all within the project. No more scouring your hard drive or that pile of sticky notes on your desk for a crucial piece of information.
7. Working without distractions.
Scrivener’s full screen composition mode blocks out all distractions, making it easier to focus on your writing. Change the background color or image to suit your mood.
8. Project Targets.
The ability to set word count goals and track your progress. You can track by the project and by the session in Scrivener (see below) so you will know at a glance how close you are to meeting your goal.
- A draft target is the word count goal for the entire project.
- A session target is for that current writing session.
- Sessions, by default, reset at midnight, but Scrivener provides you with the option to reset it wherein a session can last more than one day.
- To open the Project Targets window, go to Project–>Show Project Targets (Mac) or Project–>Project Targets (Windows).
- Project targets only work in the draft section.
9. The Corkboard.
The Corkboard is a “book-at-a-glance” area where you can view each document as an index card (perfect for storyboarders). Literature and Latte, Scrivener’s creators, describe the Corkboard like this:
- Using Scrivener’s virtual corkboard, you can get an overview of your project and rearrange the documents using their synopses only.
- If you don’t like the corkboard background, you can change it to one of your choice, or just a flat color. You can even make the index cards look more like Post-It notes if that is your preference.
If you are a visual learner, here is a video showing how to use the Corkboard and Synopsis features.
10. Advanced Search.
Advanced searches help you find anything, anywhere in your project. I wrote a post about this feature, providing step-by-step instruction of Advanced Search, if you want to know more. Best of all, it’s easy.
But one last extra feature…
Exporting to e-books is a snap. Scrivener is your one-stop publishing program. When your masterpiece is done, you can compile (export) it to an EPUB or MOBI (Amazon) file for easy self-publishing, or for perusing on your e-reader. You can also export to DOC, RTF, TXT, PDF, direct-to-printer, and other formats.
And there’s so much more! I could wax poetic about my fabulous writing partner all day.
That’s just a small list of what makes Scrivener—available for Mac and Windows—too hot to resist. So, if you’re tired of your stodgy, inflexible word processor, hook up with a program that puts your needs as a writer first. Also, there’s no commitment with Scrivener’s free trial.
What are your favorite Scrivener tricks? Which of these 10 fun features were new to you? Hit me with your questions.
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Gwen Hernandez is the author of Scrivener For Dummies, Productivity Tools for Writers and the Men of Steele series (romantic suspense). Before she started teaching Scrivener to writers all over the world, she was a manufacturing engineer and a programmer. She loves to travel, read, jog, practice Kung Fu, and hang out at home near Boston with her Air Force husband, two teenage boys, and a lazy golden retriever. Learn more about her books or classes and get free Scrivener tips at gwenhernandez.com.