But mechanics-wise, digging through the guts of almost 75,000 words that I hadn’t really looked at in more than a year was daunting. Aside from forgetting what I’d written, even managing the files could pose a challenge – old chapters, new chapters..and what the heck happened to that description I wrote for what’s-his-name?
For me, Scrivener came to the rescue. I’d started the project in Scrivener and my files were there, just as I’d left them, ready to be broken down and remolded into a readable and hopefully (!!) entertaining story.
For those who haven’t heard of it, Scrivener is a writing application that builds all sorts of gadgets into its functionality intended to help writing productivity. It will format the pages for a novel, a screenplay....and I forget what else. It has sample templates for settings and character descriptions. And those are just the basics.
Even though I only use about a quarter of its functionality, I find what I do use so helpful in keeping my easily scattered brain (somewhat) in focus.
Here are a few of my favorite features. (Scrivener users out there, feel free to correct me if I’m getting any of this wrong!)
I write sequentially. I’m not one of those brainy plotter-types who can write the ending, then the beginning, or random sections in the middle and make them all work together. I have to advance the story in my head in the actual order it takes place.
Scrivener opens up to a view of your project with the files running down the left and the main work section on the right. (It’s probably customizeable but I haven’t tried it.) While I’m working, I have a snapshot view of the other chapters/sections in the order that I want them.
|Basic view when I open the app.|
Even better, there is a “move” feature that allows me to reorder the files with couple simple clicks; the list’s view isn’t dependent on a file name or date or other file properties. To stop working on one file and move to another, again, it’s just a simple click, either from the left-hand list or a couple buttons on the top that let you move forward and back.
|Side-by-side view of file list before and after moving my "Sunday" file.|
Notes and Outlines
I tend to keep my stories in my head while I write. (Um...yeah...that’s how I end up going of track.) I find reading through paper notes annoying. But with Scrivener, I can create a cork board (bulletin board) for each chapter as an easy reference for whatever detail/information I think I might need. It could be a general plot point, character information or scene goals. It’s like a handy-dandy index card. (Mostly I put the basic scene outline, but you can put notes in there, reminders–whatever you want.)
I can even split the screen so I can see the corkboard while I’m working on the scene. I can also split between two text files to copy/paste from one to the other.
Or I can view an image or website I’ve saved for reference.
|This is from a website; the link is displayed at the bottom.|
I have all sorts of things stored in my "Research" folder.
And if I mess up and do the unthinkable–like inadvertently write over something I needed–Scrivener runs backups on the files so I can always retrieve an older version. When I’m done, I can “compile” the Scrivener file into another format (or simply copy/paste into the other application). I then email it to plot-master hubby and myself so it’s somewhere other than in my computer.
There are tons of other intriguing-sounding features that I learned about when I took the tutorial a few years ago but have NO CLUE how to use now. I think I’ll do myself a favor and retake that tutorial.
I’d love to hear from other Scrivener users on your favorite features. Or those who use other apps or tools, what do you find most useful?
If you haven’t tried Scrivener but would like to learn more, go here. There’s a free trial, and the full program is a pretty cheap (by software standards) $40. I believe it’s available for both Windows, Mac and iOS. (And no, I don't work for them. I just love their software.) :-)
Whatever you use, happy writing!
Kindle. Read more at leahstjames.com or visit her on Facebook where she mostly hangs out online. She loves chatting with readers and other authors!