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Scrivener Review

December 12, 2011

Now that I’ve been using Scrivener for a year, I feel ready to review it. I bought it when I won NaNoWriMo last year and got the 50% discount. Best. Purchase. Ever. The great thing about Scrivener is that you can use it as casually as a Word document; type a quick blog post, to-do list, etc. without using the other features if you don’t want to. But why wouldn’t you want to?
The way I like to explain Scrivener is that it makes everything simpler. Yes, you can do almost everything Scrivener does in Word but Scrivener makes it easier and, well, pretty. I like pretty. I blame Lisa Frank for conditioning me as a child. Moving on.
Biggest plus? It saves your work every two seconds. Seriously. I’ve never lost more than eight words. That is a reason in itself to buy this program. Which reminds me that I still haven’t backed up this year’s NaNo novel … oops.
Here is a basic screen shot of Scrivener:

On your left, you have all your “stuff” for your project in Binder. Research notes, character bible, outline, chapters, etc. You don’t have to open Finder to look at them. They are right there. As if they were printed out, three-hole-punched and slid into the Lisa Frank binder you bought in 8th grade.You know you still have it. You can also open any of these documents at the same time as the document you are working on, by either splitting the screen or opening it as a separate reference window, which you can make stay open above your document if you so wish. So you can have your outline open at all times, as well as that page of research on spherical chickens in a vacuum. See how nice this is? You can do all these things in Word by opening a ton of windows, but like I said, easier.

On your right, you have Inspector. This nifty tool allows you to make comments (compatible with Word if you ever need), footnotes and general notes for any document you work on. You can label the document as a chapter, concept, first draft, revised draft, final draft, etc. It also has a notecard on top, which you can use to write a synopsis of the scene or chapter you are writing. You can also add an image (so fun!). You can then use the notecards of all your documents to play around on the cork board mode:

See, I have a hard time seeing the big picture when it comes to a novel. I have actually written up descriptions of every chapter, cut them out and played with them on the floor. This makes that time-wasting and paper-cut prone system a thing of the past. You can reorganize your chapters/scenes. You can do this as just an outline tool or use it as you go. Are you starting to understand why I love Scrivener yet?

You can compile all of your chapters into a single document to export. You can make that file a .pdf, e-pub file, Word document, whatever you want. You can also set the formatting for that export as far as size, the look of chapter titles, page breaks, etc. So amazing.

Composition mode allows you to black out the rest of your screen so you can just write. Or you can change the background to a personal image for this document.

You can import files, even if they aren’t supported. They will open in their own program but now they are handily available in your Binder. This is nice for people like me who like to use spreadsheets to track their writing progress. It’s right there to update.
The one thing that puts Scrivener over the top as the best writing program out there? It has a built in name generator. That is my number one reason to go to the internet, which of course leads to me getting lost and unproductive looking at cute kitten videos.

There are hundreds more things I could tell you about Scrivener. Really. It has templates for script writing, screen writing, college papers and proposals, poetry, comic scripts, etc. Revision tools, formatting presets, paste and style match, etc. It is so customizable. But don’t fell overwhelmed. You don’t have to use any of it if you don’t want to. It will never force you. Simply use it for the fact that it saves your work every two seconds if you want. That is reason enough. But when you’re ready, watch some of the tutorial videos from Literature & Latte. They are short and to the point. Not to mentions the narrator has a melt-in-your-mouth British accent. *shrug* Anglophile.

As of writing this review, Scrivener costs $45 and is available for Mac and PC. If you won NaNoWriMo, you just got a 50% off code. Use it. It is the best thing you will ever do for yourself as a writer. Because writing is hard enough without all the technical drama.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 28, 2011 2:35 am

    Great overview of the product! I just paid for my licensed version today. Very happy. Although I still think I could stand to spend more time with the Tutorial… LOVE this program to death, but I still get lost pretty often… and compiling always takes me a good 20 attempts to get right.

  2. February 18, 2012 12:13 am

    Great write up. I am in love with Scrivener too. I used my 50% from winning NaNoWriMo to purchase mine, though it took me forever to find the winner’s page (I’m slow like that). I did a short write up on getting your 50% off. I included a 20% off code for those that didn’t get to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but still want to try this great program.

  3. May 2, 2012 6:33 am

    I just found out about this program and wanted to get some opinions on it. Your review has convinced me. Thanks so much. Excited to get it now

  4. Joe permalink
    January 20, 2013 10:55 am

    I got lucky, I purchased Scrivener along with about 10 other small applications. Some useful and some not so much, for $29 back in October 2012. I just started getting into Scrivener and this article will help me out a lot. Than you for the time you put into it. Its appreciated more than you know.

    PS I got the programs through MacHeist. Sometimes they have really great deals.


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