Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Scrivener - My New Love

Yesterday, I downloaded the 30-day-trial version of the writing software Scrivener onto my MacBook. I played around with it for about an hour, feeding my current manuscript
into it - and found myself hooked.

Here's the description from the Scrivener-Website: "Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft."

The way it works is that you create a file for each chapter and fill the chapter-file with text-files, one for each scene. You can move both scenes and/or chapters around wherever you want them in the manuscript. Like in Word, you can attach comments to single words or sentences - and you can see the whole structure/story line, your current scene, and the comments all side-by-side, without having to jump from screen to screen. Or you can open solely your scene to full-screen mode, in which you can work on the document.

The really cool, amazing, awesome thing about the whole chapter/scene design, is that, with a single click on the button "compile", the program joins all scenes together in a pdf-file, automatically adding your chapter titles page numbers and title page with title, your name, address and word count number. In doing so, the formatting you used in the text-file is "translated" into manuscript format. For example, words in italics are underlined in the compiled version, chapter beginnings start halfway down the page, stars mark the breaks between scenes and there is an indentation at the beginning of each paragraph (this is already done automatically in the text-file, as well).

So, really all you have to do is write - then, once the first, second and/or third draft is finished (you can even mark each scene as "first draft" or "revised"), click one button and the program converts your scribblings into a presentable, basically format, which can save a lot of time and ulcers. Gone are the days of scrolling through the manuscript time and again, making sure everything is consistent and looking for those pesky formatting glitches Word likes to slip in that only show themselves when transferred into pdf or when printed out. Bliss!

Apart from the manuscript itself, you can create files and texts for each character and location. I haven't explored these options further yet, but I think you can even add pictures - which I'm totally psyched about because I luuurve scouring the internet for pictures of people that resemble my characters or illustrations that depict certain scenes (sometimes with amazing accuracy and resemblance). Such visualization brings them even more to life for me and helps with writing them.

Until last night I was a writing-software virgin, so I don't have anything to compare Scrivener to. Patricia C. Wrede recently tried out and compared several writing programs in her blog posts Tools of the Trade and Tools of the Trade, part 2, which is also where I got the idea to try one of them myself. Since I have a Mac and because my first trial-choice, ywriter5, is strictly Windows-based, I went for Scrivener. Oh happy day! I might try out one or two others (if I can find more Mac-based, free-trial programs) before deciding on Scrivener. As of now, if it continues to inspire me, it has good chances of becoming a permanent fixture in my writing-life.

No comments:

Post a Comment