by Lynn Blackburn
Last year, I reviewed the writing software Scrivener when the PC version was still in beta form. Mac users have had Scrivener for years, but I’m not bitter. Nope. Not at all.
I gladly paid to upgrade to the full version ($40) as soon as it became available and I’m happy to report that everything I said last year remains true. I LOVE SCRIVENER!
Scrivener, in my humble and not at all expert opinion, is a far superior way of writing a novel than opening up a Word document and diving in. (Be sure to read my previous posts—ScrivenerPart 1 and Scrivener Part 2—to get an overview of the program).
But I know some of you are still struggling with the idea of using software like this. You wonder if it can really be all that helpful and if it’s worth the time to figure it out.
So I thought we’d take a more visual approach.
When you open Scrivener, there are three tabs at the top that control your view. You’ve got a document view, a corkboard, and an outliner.
Here’s what this post looks like in Document View.
|Document View of Scrivener|
As you can see, this is familiar territory. If you can use Word, you can do this. You type, words appear. No sweat.
But what if you’re working on something a little more complex than a blog post? Let’s take a look at the other two viewing options—the Outliner and the Corkboard.
The Outliner—Do you follow the classic 3-act structure? You could label scenes by Act. Maybe you prefer Angela Hunt’s Plot Skeleton? No worries. Set up your skull, eyes, neck, ribs, etc. What if you use Susan May Warren’s Lindy Hop? Go for it. In the Outliner, you can see where each chapter and scene fits into your plot structure. You can even set word count targets based on the desired length of your book.
For illustration purposes, here’s a screen shot of an outline I’m currently working on.
|Outline view of Scrivener|
The Corkboard—Does the outliner make you feel a little queasy? Look too much like a spreadsheet? Never fear. The corkboard takes the same info and presents it in a more casual way. You can even label it however you like. First Draft, To-Do, Bad Idea, I am Awesome!—whatever you need to motivate you, go for it.
Here’s a screenshot of the corkboard that goes with the outliner above.
|Corkboard view of Scrivener|
The best part? Whatever I change in outliner is automatically updated on the corkboard and vice versa. So when I’m brainstorming ideas in the corkboard (my preferred method), everything I type onto the little notecards is transferred over to the synopsis part of the Outliner. When I move from brainstorming to writing, my word count from the document view will update in the outliner. And if I move a scene on the corkboard, it moves in the outline and in the document. (Try to do that in a Word document and see if steam doesn’t start pouring from your ears).
I’m going to share a few more of my favorite Scrivener tools next week. But for now, I’ll be happy to attempt to answer any questions you have about how the software works. So chime in. Do you use Scrivener? Want to try it?
Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Go straight to More About Scrivener, Part 2.