Scrivener (1 Viewer)


Founding member
This might be old news to you writer types, but I've been looking for a good program to manage a long piece of work for about a million years now, and everything I ever found sucked real bad (<-- example of professional creative writing).

Then yesterday this marvelous wonder called Scrivener came along and bonked me on the head, and I think I am in love.

If you ever wanted or needed something to manage huge blobs of writing, watch this video.
I had to look that up, but Bartleby would have shit his pants had he seen a tool like this. Because it's so awesome and, well, because he'd be out of work. What with the computers and all.
Bartleby would have shit his pants

I'd prefer he not... (eh? eh? Anyone...?)

I am massively interested in this--but none of the machines I currently have access to can play both videos and sound and support the right formats or I'm still eagerly hoping to figure out what this does soon!
What it does, in a nutshell, is allow you to separate your long piece into chunks that you can move around. You can write a little synopsis of each of those chunks so you know what's in them as you move them around. You can also make a blank chunk with a synopsis of what you plan to write.

That's an oversimplification, because it does about 100 other cool things, but basically it's an organizational tool. I'm working with a 100,000 word manuscript right now, and I was losing track of it in one long text file. It was getting difficult to deal with. But this thing seems to have kicked that problem in the ass.

Download it and go through the tutorial, you'll see.
I am not rich or cool enough to use a Mac, so I am using the Windows beta.

Though honestly, if someone would have shown me that video when it was Mac-only, I probably would have bought an old, used Macbook, just to run Scrivener.
The good thing is that they don't even do a cool check. Of course the money is a problem, but hey... what's another $1500 of debt?

Really cool looking program, I'm checking out the trial now.
Oh jezus...I would buy this for the name generator alone...

I can't count the number of times I've been all full of piss & vinegar when I sit down to write only to be utterly derailed by the "what should this guy's name be" the point that I've actually made a list of names over the years, so I can just pick one and stop thinking about it...
I have also been enchanted and swooned by this thing. I can't wait until I fix the fucking bugs in my computer so I can install it and use it for the thing that I've been calling my novel. That novel that's been making my brain a tangled mess of spaghetti, haunting me in my sleep, stressing out my life for the past couple years and beating me down. Finally - a program to organize all of it's ridiculous, endless, sporadic rantings and bad grammar!
Did anyone end up using this? I think I'd be lost without it now. The 1.x Windows version was finally released in the past day or two.
I'm still on the fence -- though I'm wrestling with some decent accumulations of stuff now...and it's a brand new kind of insanity. Keeping 30K words straight is harder than it was writing them...and I'm not even done with the writing...I think I'm gonna have to look at it again...
I don't even try to keep things straight while writing a long piece. I just roll with bad memory, iffy luck, and half way decent intuition. Although I will use the search function to check what I said before if in doubt.
Well, you're a better man than me, because once I got past 60 or 70 thousand words I was fucking lost.

To me, Scrivener is like a typewriter. If I had 100,000 words on paper I could move them around, refer back to certain bits easily, all that. In a text document (which I used to use) or a Word document or whatever, it's very difficult to do any rearranging or revisiting. Not impossible, just unnecessarily tedious and confusing.

Anyway, the reason I mentioned it is because I bought two licenses for the Windows version of Scrivener, but it turns out you can install one license on up to 10 computers (!), so I only need one. If any of you find yourselves using it a lot, let me know and I'll send the registration digits your way.
Did anyone end up using this? [...]
Couple of days ago, I've installed the free-test-version. And was amazed. You were right with your hail and praise. It's wonderful. (A few things - simple things! - are missing though, I think.)

So, to everybody out there: I confirm, that this is a writing-tool worth trying!
And if you do -
do yourself a favor and GO THROUGH the interactive tutorial they're offering right after installation!!! It'll take you nearly 2 hours, but without it, you will NEVER get from of this program what it has to offer! The promotional video was quite good - but nothing compared to the possibilities, you'll see (and get taught) in that tutorial. These two hours will make all the difference in using it, I promise you! You can even quote me on that.

Thanks mjp for making me aware of this gem.
I switched to Scrivener about a year ago, and it's incredibly awesome. Exactly the kind of writing program I've wanted for years. My thoughts are too random and disorganized to plow through a huge work from start to finish in a linear fashion - I really needed something where I could shift around pieces all over the place.

A couple other things it does that are also huge for me:

- Most of these writing programs trap your stuff in some weird proprietary format and make it difficult to either get stuff in or out again. Scrivener has excellent "compile" options for exporting different output from your book. For example, if you need to submit stuff as a Word doc, it has a very customizable output process that you can set up for this.

- It makes it dead simple to create ebooks. I've published three Kindle titles with this, and aside from some initial tinkering to get things configured, it was pretty much one click, done.

- It has a full screen compose mode, so you can block out notifications and other windows and just have one big document across your monitor, with typewriter-style scrolling, for distraction-free writing.

- There are a bunch of different ways to organize pieces. You can look at your whole book as a "composite", or all of the little pieces glued together into one document. Or you can get an index card view, so you can shuffle around pieces like you're organizing a bunch of index cards on a bulletin board. Or it has an outline mode. It makes it very easy to organize rough drafts or outlines, and get a big-picture look at your work.

- There's a word count thing, and you can set a daily goal, so you can force yourself to write however many words a day. Or put in a goal, like "100,000 words by May 1" and it will calculate it out and say you've gotta write 1347 words today to hit it.

Anyway, worth its weight in gold, I think. If you've got any questions about it, fire away and maybe I can help.
OMG, I didn't even know it had a word goal thingie. It's better that I did not know this however. I am going to pretend I did not read that because it has the potential to make my life miserable. I have the tendency to set unrealistic goals for myself that I can hardly reach, so I will just pretend that Scriv does not have this feature. That's a cool feature for a normal person though.
I'm a recent convert as well, though I'm still finding my feet in terms of the extras...

I gotta say, the word count thing I like in theory, but would probably hate it in practice...another constant reminder of what I am NOT doing! I'll probably give it a try at some point...along with the other hundred or so features I can hardly understand.

I do think the program is incredibly smart, and takes a lot of the pain out of organizing/moving/comparing sections of a long piece. I'm glad I've got it, and recommend it all writer types!
I'm aware, that a wizard shouldn't come up in the open with his tricks. But I owe so many of you cats so much, that I decided to share my very latest discovery which enables me to make pure magic:

It had been talked here about the usefullness (is there such a word?) of Scrivener to manage big amounts of text. Yet, little has been said about certain workflows in the whole process of creating texts. So, if you are (like me) one of these people, who prefer to not sit with a stiff back on a desk to write something up, but to sit in a compfty chair, wine to your side, books to your side, a smoke, music - and while you let your mind wander around take a sheet of paper and just write down what came to mind... then you know how annoying it is, to have to write that by hand and type it into the machine the next day. You want it inside the computer, ready for working on it, right? So, what you all have thought about was a really handy netbook that you can simply take on your lap just like a sheet of paper - while still sitting in your compfy chair and drinking and smoking and etc.But would this work? And how to manage this kind of texts later?

After this long introduction, here's the workflow, I've just discovered and found very very useful:

I use 3 components:

- Scrivener
- Dropbox
- a 9" netbook ('Toshiba NB100-10Y', which I just ebayed used for only 100,- EUR [approx 135.- USD])

You can guess the rest: I'm saving everything into the Dropbox-folder, which enbles me to work on the same text from wherever I am.

Sounds simple. But, what is striking: IT WORKS!
(I've carefully tested into every direction, if this workflow does to my texts what it should and does NOT what it shouldn't. No corrupt files at any point of the process. It works fantastic! [just take care, that your Dropbox-folder is alredy synchronized BEFORE you open the file in Scrivener!])

This is the EASIEST way to work on texts while drinking laid back and go over them the next day without having to retype the Whole thing.

If I had worked like this before, I'd been much happier for the past 18 years.
Yes -- Carol does the same thing because she works on two computers too. But conceivably you could switch between 20 computers, notebooks, netbooks, pads and pids and it would work.
If I had worked like this before, I'd been much happier for the past 18 years.
Ain't it the truth.
This is all probably great stuff, but before I used any writing program, I would consider the possibility that it might result in me doing something in a different way than I naturally would have, and thus perhaps losing a bit of creativity somewhere along the line. Another way to say that is that the work might be better organized, incredibly well organized, but as a result of the process it wouldn't contain some quirky bits that would have been there if I had been relying solely on my fallible brain. Just a thought. Hell, I don't even use index cards. I do make a few plot notes on a long, complicated piece of fiction, but I really don't follow them. I let the story tell itself, follow my nose. Maybe my work would be better if I used a program, but I fear losing something in the bargain.
Remind me never to hire Barker Construction Company.

"A two car garage? Hmm, well, I figure six months and around a hundred eighty, a hundred ninety thousand. Could run over that price of course. We cut and mill the lumber ourselves, using only spoons, pocketknives and donkeys. We don't use any power tools or metal fasteners in the construction. Or ladders. Oh, and we might end up building something that isn't, strictly speaking, a garage, per se. But it will be good, you'll like it. I know it sounds a little odd, but the finished product is much more pure when it's done this way."

I suppose there are a million different schools of thought...but I spent years trying to keep a blueprint/plot in mind while banging out pages -- only to get 100 pages into 5 different novel projects and think "Honestly, McCreesh...who gives a shit?" And with no answer to that question, I left them behind. These days I find a loose structure for anything longer than a short story...and a not-so-loose sturucte, if I can swing it. Makes it a lot easier for me to answer "what the hell am I doing here?"

No word yet on if the approach will see a longer piece finished or not...though I do feel like it's more real than it's ever been, and Scrivener is a big part of that underlying organization for me.
I didn't say I wouldn't use a writing program, just that I would consider what the trade-offs might be. If I built a garage, I would as many power tools as possible. Wood is a pain in the ass to work with. What I'm suggesting is that -- possibly -- some of the "flaws" in a plot, such as disconnects, lapses in continuity, contradictions, logical errors, dropped threads -- may actually be strengths, if they reveal something of the author's mind on a subconscious level. The "unreliable narrator" sort of thing. Or, they make just be screw ups. But I'd be careful not to put up barriers to the workings of the subconscious when it comes to plot building.
possibly -- some of the "flaws" in a plot, such as disconnects, lapses in continuity, contradictions, logical errors, dropped threads -- may actually be strengths...
I'm sure some readers may find those kinds of things to be strengths. I would never finish a book that did any of those things, so admittedly I'm not a good judge.

I just find the idea that some tool is going to interfere with your creativity to be a bit pretentious. If tools and technology hindered creativity we would have never created any musical instruments, because hollowing out that first log to make a drum would have tainted the purity of the music-making process.

What do I know. I am an avid proponent of some creative technology and a harsh critic of others, so I doubt I make much sense in a discussion like this (or any other kind).
Creativity is a mysterious thing. I don't think a tool would interfere with it, per se, so much as possibly distract you by providing an order where maybe chaos would be more productive. Or, maybe I'm pretentious. That's highly possible. I'm not against using a computer to write (although I won't even try to defend the idea that it was different writing on a typewriter. I know a losing battle when I see one.)
You want to stop now? I thought it was just getting good! ;)

So I'll just keep going.

Using a manual typewriter didn't make anyone more creative than they would have been writing on a computer. Or with a quill and ink pot. Or a snot and charcoal mixture on a cave wall.

The words are either there or they aren't. The tools are inconsequential.
I used to think creativity was some kind of sacred mystery, and that things like structure and convention were antithetical to true art. Then I tried writing long pieces -- screenplays, novels, etc. And goddammit, I just couldn't do it. I couldn't keep all the fraying threads in line; couldn't gather and keep the narrative clicking along, and couldn't separate the stuff that mattered from that awful "two people talking in a room for no apparent reason" feel so much bad writing has. And maybe I haven't made any strides in that department. But the organization I do now, it makes the whole process more deliberate -- like the decisions I make have reasons behind them. Plenty of editors disagree...but I like that I can more easily explain "why" to myself (especially when a fresh reject lands in the box, and the temptation is to scrap the whole damn thing!)
The words are either there or they aren't. The tools are inconsequential.
Years ago, I worried that switching from paper to computer would "harm the muse" somehow. My thinking was that I needed to see physical stacks of paper to feel accomplished or vindicated. Nonsense. The sight of dozens of Notepad and Word documents on my computer screen does exactly the same thing.
It wasn't that the typerwriter made you better. The difference was how you approached the task. Faced with having to retype a long manuscript if changes were needed, you tried harder to get it right the first time. It became more of a stunt that you pulled off. You didn't always get it right, but you tended more to be on your game. That's the difference. With the computer, changes are easy, and you aren't faced with that challenge. It's not better, just different. Ask a baseball player if it matters what kind of a bat he's using. Wood bat, aluminum bat. Same talent, different situation. I prefer to write on a computer. I'm more productive, can be more of a perfectionist, but I no longer have that discipline to muscle up and get it right the first time. But that's just me.
my first draft, whether it's on a typewriter or computer or by hand, is there to get the ideas and flow down before I forget them. unlike most writers my first draft is almost skeletal and then I add to it, whereas other writers take away the excess.

the tools don't change the talent, but they change the process and that takes some getting used to before it becomes second nature.
I seldom take away anything from a first draft. I may add a little, but mostly I just fine tune.

I agree: the talent doesn't change, but the process can change with different tools. No one method is critical -- computer, program, typewriter, longhand. Whatever works for you.
I should point out that scrivener is awesome. It just took me a week or so to get used to it.

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