Sep 28

Rethinking SCRIVENER

I’ve been working on my latest novel, a mystery, MURDER IN MULESHOE, and almost 30 chapters in I began struggling with it in MS Word. I’d bought SCRIVENER for both the I-mac, my main computer, and for my old luggable PC which I use when I’m away. But — there is a steep — although very worthwhile learning curve with SCRIVENER, and not easily finding what I wanted after my previous novel, THE RELUCTANT INCUMBENT, (political fiction), I went through all the labor of moving things back to Word before I published on Amazon. (Remember, I only write e-novels.)

So, back in the middle of my new novel I was having problems keeping up with everything; therefore I reluctantly returned to SCRIVENER — but only after I studied a half dozen Youtube videos and got a better handle on how the program works. Now, I’m very happy to be back in SCRIVENER because when you can do what you want, it’s a lot easier than stumbling around in MS Word.

Here’s what I mean: I don’t name my chapters I number them. But deep in the story I realize there is something I need to go back and correct or add in a previous chapter. I don’t know what chapter the original material is in — even if I’m close, I have to check out two or three chapters before I find the right place. Now with SCRIVENER I can display the whole novel as a single document and even if I continue to use the ol’ standard numbering system for chapters, I can find what I’m looking for in the text without having to open and close several chapters. An even better method I discovered on one of the videos is not to number the chapters but to give each a three or four word name that’s really the point of the chapter. Of course, I could do this in Word, but it’s still easier in SCRIVENER.

The way SCRIVENER works is that it will number the chapters for you when you’re finished and “compile” the entire document with a single key stroke. And the names I’ve given the chapters for reference never shows up anywhere in the finished document. If I decide I need to add an additional chapter, drop one, or reshuffle the order, I can do that with a simple drag and drop and the program will properly number the chapters correctly in the end automatically. There’s no more going through the whole mess of changing the chapter numbers in the file name and inside the chapter on its first page.

This alone is reason enough to make the switch.

But a second advantage I learned from one of the videos is to use DROPBOX in the cloud as my savings hub (I do a back up on both my I-mac and my PC, but the primary document is in the cloud. Both copies of the SCRIVENER on the PC and the MAC can read the DROPBOX files and so I can switch back and forth with no hassle. Another major plus.

I am writing all this to save you some grief. I got an I-mac because I like the big screen and I like to enlarge the print to make it easier to read and work with, too. But in order to access many of my old files which were on PC formatted discs, I needed to put Parallels, a program which allows you to devote part of your Mac to PC format and programs. So, now I don’t have to do so much switching back and forth between the two formats on my I-mac.

The whole point of this post is to help anyone who happens to read it — and has not ever heard of, much less tried SCRIVENER — to check it out. There is a free download available and even if you don’t move between machines, the program is so worth learning. I have even broken down and bought the Kindle version of SCRIVENER For Dummies (which I also recommend). The more you use SCRIVENER and the more you learn about it, the better I believe you’ll like it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>