Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Scrivener: The best $40 I ever spent on writing!

Okay, I was introduced to Scrivener by a friend of mine. What is Scrivener you ask? It's a word processor specifically for writers. Using this extremely inexpensive program, you can write, edit, format and publish anything from a full novel to a short story. There are also templates for scriptwriting, comic book writing and non-fiction writing.

Scrivener has a lot of features that will really help you get organized. The best part is, you can try it for 30 days and once that 30 days is up and you decide you like it, it's only $40. There are versions for Mac and Windows, and the Windows version just got a free update with more features that were only available for Mac before.

Let's start with how it helps you organize while writing:

Scrivener lets you create a separate text document for each chapter or section--you can set this up however you'd like. Then once you are finished, you can compile the all the documents, or just selected documents into a host of formats including kindle, .epub, .doc and SOOOO many more.

There are also some fun features.

Want to set a manuscript and or session word goal? Just go to Project>Project Targets and you can set the manuscript goal and your goal for the session.

You can also see an estimate of how many pages your book would be printed out or in paperback by going to Project>Project Statistics.

Stuck on what to name your characters? Forget searching for your baby name books or scouring the Internet, there is a name generator. Go to Tools>Writing Tools>Name Generator. You can even customize what origin the first and/or last name comes from, the gender, and choose whether you want first name only, last name only or both. I believe you can even add up to three last names. You can also find the meaning of first names and search names by the meaning you are going for.

Next, let's talk about how Scrivener helps you organize while editing:

If you have separated your chapters, after writing your first draft, you are able to go through and label each chapter in two ways. The first way is a color label. You can choose to have No Label (grey), Idea (yellow), Notes (orange), Needs Work (red), Good to Go (green), and Scene (blue). You are able to edit these colors to mean what ever you want, but these are the defaults. The next way you can label is by assigning each folder or text a status. The statuses are none, to do, first draft, revised draft, final draft and title page. You can add, remove or customize these too. Here is a screen shot to show you what I'm talking about. To get to the screen I'm about to show you, you would click on "Manuscript" in the left-side binder panel in Scrivener.

As you can see, I am able to tell exactly where I am in the editing process. Before Scrivener I had to write down what chapter I was on since when ever I closed out of my word document, it would not save my place. With Scrivener, not only does it automatically open to the project you last worked on, it opens to the very place you left your cursor.

Okay, on to the subject of formatting and publishing with Scrivener:

So far, I have only published short stories to Amazon with Scrivener. But I have found it to be very easy to format to .mobi by using the compile button. Compile on Scrivener, takes all those sections, and combines them into one document. You can pick and choose which ones to include as well as which titles and subtitles to include. I suggest going through the tutorial and learning more about this. I decided to wing it and got dinged a couple times. Once you figure out how you want to format your work, you start to remember the settings you used. It's probably not a bad idea to write them down. I think you might even be able to save the settings too, although I have not yet figured out how to do that. Soon I will be formatting for .epub, so I will keep you posted.

I have been extremely happy with Scrivener and I suggest that every writer at least try it out. The 30 day trial is risk free and fully featured. The fact that you can do everything from writing to publishing in one program is amazing. If you are publishing to kindle (who isn't these days?) I would suggest getting the kindle for desktop app downloaded so that you can check out your .mobi files before you upload them to Amazon. It's really easy to check them out, find an error, fix it, compile the new file, replace the old file with the new, check it out again on the kindle app and finally publish when you have found no more errors.

For more info or to give it a try, head to this link: http://literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

See you tomorrow when we talk about the best times to post to facebook and twitter!