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Writing Tips: Scrivener and Other Programs

I thought I’d write a post about my journey with finding the perfect writing program for me. I can remember when I wrote my very first book – forget writing programs… I had two composition notebooks that I carefully and lovingly filled with words. I was in 6th grade, and I filled those two books to the brink and felt rather proud of myself. It was a little bit after that when I purchased my first laptop (a summer worth of babysitting and hard earned money.) With it, I got Microsoft Word – some pretty old version of it. From that moment on, I began the struggle of Microsoft Word. When I first started writing, it wasn’t so hard. As a younger individual, I would do my planning (if I planned at all) on notebook paper.

However, as I got older, I started to develop habits. I would plan out my chapters somewhat… I would make entire character biographies, including many pictures. I’d do chapter snippits here and there, I’d write scenery description… and I’d end up with a folder for my novels that had around 40+ files in it. When I was writing, I would have to try to find what I was looking for and figure out a way to keep it open while also keeping my word document scrunched and opened up.

Needless to say, it was a difficult way to write. It was, however, how I did all of my writing up until November of 2013. It was then that I discovered something amazing that kind of changed my life and the way that I write.

I discovered a program called Scrivener.

Now, keep with me. If you haven’t used the program, I recommend it for anyone who writes. It’s organizational skills are unparalleled to anything else that I’ve ever used. I’m going to try to get some screen shots as I go, and then I’ll also do a vlog on it (If I ever start vlogging >_>). Oh, extra PS: Pardon if there are any typos in the photos to follow – it’s a work in progress outline. All content (other than the poem) is copywrite to me! ^_^

Screenshot 2014-06-20 00.28.18

So, if you look at the picture above, that’s a document that I’m currently working on for a novel called By Moonlight. If you look, along the side there are folders for your characters, for your chapters, for your research, for your notes. All of that is able to be accessed within the same document. And more than that, if you look at the picture I have a split screen with a chapter on the top and a character profile along the bottom. To the side are my chapter notes, so that I can know what I have plotted and planned for the duration of the chapter. Without having to click in and out, I have access to my world information, to my chapters, to my character profiles, to my notecards… I have access to everything.

Screenshot 2014-06-20 00.13.06

If you look at this picture, you can see the corkboard/notecard feature. You are able to plan out each chapter on the notecard, so that you can have a good idea of what you’re doing. You’re also able to turn on a feature that does a projected amount of words that you want per chapter, and it fills up a colored bar to let you know how far you are into that goal. I really like that you can separate the chapters. In this way, if I feel inspired by a certain point, I can simply skip forward, select the chapter where it should go… and write it. I don’t have to have a thousand disjointed places in a document, or a million smaller documents. I can just have it all in one place, go from chapter one to chapter seven… and continue to write in the same area.

Another great feature is that, if you want you can import your file. You can do it in many formats, including a PDF so that you can do self publishing if you so choose.

Screenshot 2014-06-20 00.15.49

You are also able to look at your project statistics. It gives you full word count, amongst other things… but something that I found extremely entertaining was the fact that it tells you the amount of pages that your book would be printed in paperback format. There was just something about it that made it rather amazing and fun to check on.  If you look at the pictures above, you can also see that your current word count for the chapter is always available at the bottom of the screen, and your overall wordcount is just a click away. It has all of the features of Microsoft Word… and then quite a few more.

This program is honestly unique and amazing. You’re able to customize the appearance, to keep all of your files in one place… and it serves as a word processor as well. Other features include:

name generators

scratch pad

Dictionary and thesaurus links

Spell check

an outliner…

And honestly, that’s only the beginning.

 

I really recommend this program to anyone who writes frequently. I thought that I did a good job with Microsoft Word… but this really blew my mind and concepts of writing out of the water.

Another good thing about this program is that it honestly isn’t that expensive. With things like word, you have to pay for all of the different versions. Scrivener is $40, and if you participate in NaNoWriMo or any of the camps, you can get a coupon to make it even cheaper. I think for the services it provides, and the fact that you can put it onto any device that you own (as opposed to having to buy multiple serial code uses)… well, it makes it more than worth the money.

If you want Scrivener, please purchase it HERE. You can also find a lot more information about the program out via the website. I looked up tutorials on youtube when I first got it, and it helped me to get a handle on it. If you guys really want, I can also make one and link it here 🙂

 

Honestly though, I made my post about having the proper writing space, but I’ve realized that it’s just as important to have the proper writing programs. So… check it out. If it isn’t your cup of tea, there are multiple programs that have some of the same features! I just recommend looking around and finding something that is the right fit for you.

Your muse will thank you!

Until next time guys, keep reading and writing!

 

Author Amanda McCormick

 

 

8 thoughts on “Writing Tips: Scrivener and Other Programs

  1. I recently got a MacBook when I went to school last fall and I just downloaded Scrivener today! I had a program called storybook on my PC before I got my new laptop. It was similar to Scrivener, just with a lot fewer features. I had been using a simple word processor for a year on my Mac (1 page of info and notes, one page of text) and after downloading Scrivener, I don’t know why I waited so long! I’m currently feeling a little overwhelmed just trying to figure everything out, since there are so many features, but I learned some things I hadn’t figured out already from this post! Great write-up of this program, thanks for posting!

    1. Ah, thank you so much for the comment. If you ever need any advice on the program, feel free to message me on here. I’m thinking about doing a vlog on youtube to talk more about the features and how I personally use it to organize and prepare for novels… I just have to talk myself into being brave enough to do the aforementioned vlog. Honestly though, I’m glad that you found the program, and that you found the post useful! Like I said, get in touch with me here or on twitter if you ever need any more advice. Just take your time and explore the features. It can be overwhelming, but once you get the hang of it… you’ll have no idea how you managed without it!

      1. You should definitely do a vlog! You are knowledgable about the program, and I’m sure a lot of people, including me, would enjoy it! You have nothing to lose, and I think you would be glad you did it 🙂
        I will definitely get in touch with you if I have any questions! Thank you!

      2. Aww, thank you so much! Also, feel free to check out my writing group I have listed on here. It’s a facebook group… I think I have it listed on here. >_> If I don’t, shame on me.
        But, I will really think about it. I know being able to click around and show people things would be a lot better than just writing it up. ^_^

    2. Ah, thank you so much for the comment. If you ever need any advice on the program, feel free to message me on here. I’m thinking about doing a vlog on youtube to talk more about the features and how I personally use it to organize and prepare for novels… I just have to talk myself into being brave enough to do the aforementioned vlog. Honestly though, I’m glad that you found the program, and that you found the post useful! Like I said, get in touch with me here or on twitter if you ever need any more advice. Just take your time and explore the features. It can be overwhelming, but once you get the hang of it… you’ll have no idea how you managed without it!

  2. Hi Amanda, this is a really interesting post. I don’t use Scrivener, the journalist in me sticks to Word for writing and Excel for planning. And thanks for finding and following my blog too! SD

    1. I stuck with Microsoft word for so long… but there’s something so amazing about being able to have all of that planning in one place for novel-ing. It helps. ^.^ And glad to be following you!

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