Scrivener

I think I’m in love. :)

A reader of this blog mentioned some writing software he used called Scrivener. I didn’t think much of it, having already a solution that was working for me. A couple weeks later on a whim I browsed out to the website and started reading about it.

Immediately I was intrigued with the features. I downloaded the trial version and started using it. After going through the tutorial and then building my first project, I was sold. I bought a license the next day for the Mac version. I built projects for all my current and prior work and ended up buying a Windows license as well, so I can use it on my Windows 7 netbook.

I won’t go into all the myriad features of this software (the website provides all that), but I’ll mention a few reasons why I think it’s well worth the $45:

  • You can create .mobi and .epub files directly from the software (.mobi creation requires kindlegen, freely available from Amazon).
  • All research documents, character sheets, scene settings and more can be stored together in the same book project.
  • Each chapter can be broken into scenes which can be arranged on a “corkboard” in storyboard fashion. Each scene in corkboard view fuctions like a notecard. In text view these same scenes contain your actual manuscript. These notecards can be rearranged by simple drag and drop, integrating both the outlining and writing process.
  • The software keeps running word counts and has a great full-screen mode to block out distractions.
  • It’s available for both Mac and Windows (both versions can use the same project files).

I’ll be honest, the mobi/epub features are worth the price alone. I was using eCub which is great, but it requires exporting the book’s components into separate .html files before compiling. Plus it has some issues creating epub files properly. Scrivener creates perfect .mobi and .epub files, remembering all the settings within each project. Being able to keep all your research documents together is also a great feature.

The storyboarding feature is really a boon for outlining. For my first novel I used Google’s notebook app, but that’s since gone away. This application not only replaces that functionality, it does so natively as part of the book’s actual manuscript. Hell, this feature is also pretty much worth the price alone. Goodbye notecards.

Being able to do everything from start to finish within the same application is incredibly valuable. The only task I have to complete in another application is the book cover because Scrivener isn’t a drawing app. It will, however, allow you to import the book cover image and add it into your finished ebook file.

If you’re serious about writing then you need this software. Download the 30 day trial today and see for yourself. I think you’ll love it too.

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About Brian J. Jarrett

Computer programmer by day, thriller writer by night. View all posts by Brian J. Jarrett

8 responses to “Scrivener

  • thelivingnotebook

    Yeah, Scivener is great… there have been a few times when the learning curve seems annoying but I’ve always stuck with it… the thing that’s most useful to me is being able to organize my thoughts in file folders… happy writing!

    • Brian J. Jarrett

      There was a bit of a curve getting it up and running, but its value was apparent very quickly. I’m loving the cork board outlining feature right now, not to mention flawless ebook creation. Keeping everything in one place really does make things faster and easier. I’m digging it!

      Take care,
      Brian

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  • Brian J. Jarrett

    Oh, and thanks to “Five Reflections” for the software recommendation. (http://fivereflections.wordpress.com/) Good call.

  • fivereflections

    hi brian – i think many of my comments have been going into your spam – Akismet fixed my problem for me.

    • Brian J. Jarrett

      Cool. Still digging Scrivener too, by the way. Love it. :)

      • fivereflections

        not sure if you tried selecting the ‘compose’ button on the top menu, then in ‘compose’ if you hold the option key down it allows you to change the height in the lower left menu at the bottom… MAC version – not sure on the PC version

        i like using ‘compose’ because it isolates you from everything – although there is a fade if you prefer to see your desktop.

        glad you like scrivener, i’d be lost without – i’ve been playing around with Siri Dictation thanks to new Mac operating system

      • Brian J. Jarrett

        Love the full-screen composition mode. I use it often now to minimize distractions.

        Speaking of dictation, I upgraded to Mountain Lion this past weekend and dictation is now available natively in OS X (using the same technology as Siri). After the kids go to bed tonight I’m giving dictation + Scrivener a trial run. I hope I can use it for writing first drafts (which require the most keystrokes). I program for a living as well, so carpel tunnel syndrome is a concern.

        Take it easy.

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