Using scrivener

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In my post on writing tools, I mentioned the scrivener word processing program. And everwalker said that she’d tried it but just found she used it to prevaricate. I can see how that would happen – part of scrivener’s usefulness is in giving you a place to store ideas and research, and organising that can be a great distraction from actually writing. But if you can get past that, I think there are some ways in which it can be really useful.

For me, the main thing is breaking the story down into manageable chunks. There are other ways to do this, but for me scrivener’s one of the best. I can click on a scene in the side bar and I’m straight there – no scrolling through a huge document or opening separate documents for each scene. And those blocks are easy to rearrange – if I realise that an incident should happen earlier in the story I don’t have to mess about with cutting and pasting, I can just drag it to the right place.

I also find the pinboard overview handy. It’s a place where I can look at what scenes I have planned, and in what order, with brief notes on each one. Again, it’s a place for rearranging, and for planning, without getting sucked into the details. But when I want the details, I open the file and my notes off the pinboard are there.

And that’s the last useful bit for me – the notes. When writing in word I used to keep my plan further down the document I was writing, and skip up and down to check what I’d meant to include. With scrivener it’s there automatically in the sidebar, visible in the document but not in the way.

I’m starting to sound like a salesman now, and not necessarily a very interesting one, so I’ll stop there. For me, scrivener’s not so much about the research files as the writing ones, and I’ve found it worth having just for that. But it’s only a tool, among many available. Some people will find it handy, and for some it’s a distraction.