About a year ago, I broke up with Microsoft Word. We had been writing together for over ten years, so it was hard to admit the magic was gone.
I had finally committed to writing a novel-length project, and I had all these scenes (about 20K worth) in order on a .docx. But I wanted to get an aerial view of my unfinished manuscript. I needed to know how much meat I needed to add in between scenes, and I wanted to follow the three-act structure. I went looking for a software that would allow me more freedom and give me more options.
I found Scrivener. It would take hours to go over all the pros and cons, but here are the ones that really stood out for me, so you can know what to expect.
- Removes any “formatting” editing from the writing process. When you’re writing your first draft, you don’t want to waste time indenting paragraphs and dealing with page breaks.
- You can back up and “compile” to .mobi or .epub, or even .docx quickly.
- You can switch up scenes and drag them wherever you want in the manuscript with just one click. I always keep a “Next book” folder, and a “Might cut” folder for scenes that do not fit in the book. If I cut a scene, I don’t have to erase anything or copy it in case I change my mind. I drag it in the “Might cut” folder and recompile to see the book without the scene. All of which takes about 5 seconds.
- You can choose any scenes or chapters to be included or not in your word count and set up a word goal and statistic for a writing session and for the whole book.
- The full-screen writing page looks like Word.
- You can try it for free.
- It’s not expensive.
- It’s new, it’s unfamiliar. Like any new software, there’s a learning curve and you can’t expect to understand it all in just one day. Work with it, explore it at your own pace and ask for help when you need it.
- Formatting is automatic. This is both a pro and a con. Don’t indent any of your lines, the software will do it for you when you compile. Here’s a screen cap of how it should look in Scrivener. Some people hate it, but I say, give it a chance.
I really love Scrivener. Its look is familiar, but it has better options. It’s the perfect match for me.
Word still has its place in my life. I came back to it mainly for late edits such has checking commas, spaces, and overall polishing of the manuscript. But I wouldn’t give up Scrivener. Now that I’m familiar with it and have ironed out the kinks, it’s a wonderful asset.
I hope this post helps you make the plunge if you are considering Scrivener. It might not be for everybody, but I’m convinced it’s the better software. The thing holding most of us back is we are all creatures of habit, and Word is like an old but comfortable pair of pants.
I might do another post about how to set up Scrivener and transfer your work-in-progress without too much hassle. If some of you are interested, let me know. Happy writing!