What is Scrivener?

Scrivener - Corkboard Example - Lorelle VanFossen for Writers in the GroveScrivener by Literature and Latte is software for writers. It’s tagline is “Outline. Edit. Storyboard. Write.”

Some of the members of Writers in the Grove recently purchased it based upon my advice, and they’ve asked me to present a workshop on Scrivener basics soon. In the meantime, to help people get started, this is an introductory series on how writers can, and should, use Scrivener.

What is Scrivener?

Scrivener is software for Windows and Mac. It is designed for professional writers to ease the process of researching and writing. It is used by professional (and not) writers, authors, script writers, poets, teachers, researchers, and anyone with a writing project.

Microsoft Word or its equivalent is used by most people to “write.” It is a word processor. It processes words. You can style and format them, making them pretty, and even write great papers and novels, setting up table of contents, chapters, page numbering, and indexes.

For a writer who writes many things, or is working on a book, working with a Word document is like writing on a never ending ribbon. Navigation is a nightmare. Finding things is horrid. It’s easy to get lost, repeat yourself, and just lose track of what you are doing.

Think of Scrivener as your pre-production writing tool, the tool you use before you get to Word.

I think of Scrivener as my writing brain, a tool to help me not only write, but research, process, and develop my story before it is ready for the public, and Word.

How Does Scrivener Help Writers?

Scrivener - Binder Example with Manuscript and Research - Lorelle VanFossen for Writers in the Grove.Scrivener helps writers by helping them write.

Ah, that’s too vague. Let’s get specific.

Look at your filing cabinet. No cabinet? Then filing box. No box? Then the crap you shove in and out of folders or piles of papers, as well as the stuff you shove into folders all over your computer.

Depending upon your writing style and genre, you probably have physical and digital piles of:

  • Notes
  • Lists
  • Character Development
  • Character Lists
  • Place Research
  • Character Names
  • Calendars
  • Maps
  • Magazine Articles
  • Newspaper Clippings
  • Web Page Print Outs
  • Printed Pages/Scripts
  • Drafts
  • Outlines
  • Sticky Notes
  • Self-Rejection Notes
  • Timelines
  • Weather and Climate Reports
  • Photographs
  • Concepts
  • Idea Lists

You’ve made many attempts in the past to organize these as well as your thoughts. Some work, some don’t. Sometimes your system overwhelms your writing, creating a form of writer’s block.

Scrivener helps make all of that easier to do.

Scrivener Helps You Write Better and Faster

With all of your research and writing together in a single project in Scrivener, no more excuses. It’s all there, and you can easily add to it, write, edit, and build your work.

Scrivener has so many features to help you write better and faster, it will take more than a few articles to cover them all, but here is a sneak preview.

  • Project Templates: Don’t know where to start? Use one of the many included project templates filled in with sample work and templates for you to fill out, or find many free Scrivener Template files on the web for downloading based upon topic and genre.
  • Outline: Scrivener’s outline feature helps you order and restructure your manuscript or research quickly and easily, and gives you another perspective on your work.
  • Corkboard: I like working with index cards to get my outline and ideas in shape. The Corkboard feature allows you to turn your work into index cards.
  • Scrivenings: With Scrivener’s Scrivenings, you can work on a chapter or section alone, or see it as part of the whole with a single click. This allows you to quickly change your workflow from writing continuously, or working only on the section you wish.
  • Snapshot: This feature allows you to edit your work in place, seeing different versions as you work on it. Don’t like what you wrote, turn back to an earlier version with Snapshots.
  • Labels and Status: Want to know what is done, what needs work, what needs to be done? Scrivener has labels and status that change the color of a file or folder in the Binder, and the ability to change the graphic icons next to the folders and files to help you keep track of your to dos.
  • Writing Goals and Scorecards: Scrivener is the writing tool of choice and a key sponsor for NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month in November where you are challenged to write a book in 30 days. Scrivener includes writing goals and targets, word counts, and other ways to track your progress on your novel or writing project. It also includes statistics to measure the rate of your progress.
  • Full Screen Writing: Like the clean interface of a word processor or the feeling of writing on a clean piece of paper? Scrivener’s full screen feature puts that clean piece of paper back into your computer screen.
  • Character Names: Scrivener comes with a name helper that helps you generate names for your characters.
  • Linking: Ebooks permit linking within a book as well as to links outside of it. Scrivener makes that easy.
  • Scriptwriting: Scrivener comes with templates formatted specifically for scriptwriting, making the process simple.
  • Version Tracking with Collections: Scrivener offers Collections, a way of connecting versions and related documents together in groups for easy access.
  • Ebook Publishing: With very little customization, you can go from Scrivener to Kindle or other ebook publishing formats in a few minutes.

If you haven’t downloaded and installed Scrivener yet, go to Literature and Latte to get Scrivener now. It is currently on sale for $40 USD.

There are so many tutorials and videos out on the web to help you learn Scrivener. Here is a small sampling.


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