files for novel in progress

My Experience with Scrivener

At one of our Saturday writers’ meetings, I asked for advice on novel writing software. Teri spoke up for Scrivener, saying it worked quite well for her. My online research returned the same results. Many writers tout the benefits of using Scrivener. So I purchased the downloadable software for under $50, a one-time fee, and immediately started using it.

Uploading my Word documents for the chapters of my novel proved simple. While I know I’ve not yet explored the complete capabilities of Scrivener, I will say that I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far. Compared to One Note or using Word documents, Scrivener wins, hands down for organizing a novel.

It uses a familiar file system, so most writers can dive right in without training. YouTube offers videos that helped me in some areas. My scenes uploaded with their names intact, just as I had them named on my PC. I added sections — higher tier folders — for various acts/parts of my novel. Whenever I need to reorder the scenes, I simply drag and drop them in the sidebar. I’m telling you, Scrivener makes organizing scenes extremely simple.

A note card is associated with each scene, so you can add a scene synopsis. When I look at all the note cards in the bulletin board view, I can add a watermark on each one. This allows me to place a date or time over each scene, to make sure they’re in proper order. Before using the watermark capability and bulletin board view, I had only a loose concept of the timeline.

Oh, another great feature: When I changed a character’s name, the search and replace tool was invaluable. It saved me hours.

Scrivener also provides a template for character sketches, or you can create your own — and upload photos or illustrations. In my novel, my characters live in a camp, then they move their campsite across the state. Hand-drawn maps of the camps come in handy when characters move around.

The map, character sketches, and timeline on scenes help me keep everyone in the correct place, at the correct time, consistently acting like themselves.

When I need to print a scene or set of scenes to take to my critique group or share with my writing partner, the press of a few buttons sends specific parts of my Scrivener project to Word.

I am not yet half-way through my manuscript, and there’s much for me to learn about Scrivener. So far, I highly recommend it. You can explore or order Scrivener here.

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