Scrivener Follow-Up

I promised that I’d do another post about Scrivener after I finished NaNoWriMo. This is that post! Overall, I really like the program and I’m happy with it. I can see why it’s so popular. The amount of time that it saves me in organization alone made it worth my money.

Positives:

The major organizations features of Scrivener were a huge reason why I could write a whole book in a single month (well, three when you count planning and outlining). The ability to have my outline, or character sheet, or whatever else I needed, along side my drafting area without having to muck around in multiple Word windows was very helpful and kept me focused.  The cross-linking was also very handy.

The second best part was being able to import my sketches. My maps, diagrams, and concept sketches were all right at my fingertips when I needed them.

Easily moving around my chapters and scenes is also fabulous. I don’t always write things in chronological order, or the order I’ll want them to be in by the end. This is mostly coming in handy as I do my post-beta edit of the plague novel.

I like assigning chapters qualities, like first draft/to do/etc., as well. It has also been a good organizing tool for the redraft.

Downsides:

I use tables to organize things like character lists and timelines. Tables in Scrivener are not very easy to use or intuitive. It took me a while to get them set up, and they still aren’t quite how I like them.

It took forever to figure out how to make my then-present setup into a template that I could use for future projects. I don’t think that was mentioned in the tutorial and I wasn’t even sure I could do it until I was randomly clicking around.

Finally, the program does not seem to remember which part of a document I’m looking at when I use the forward and back features. I’m not exactly sure why it goes where it does, but it is almost never on the place I left it.

I feel like it has so many features that I’m not using them all, or using the ones I am using effectively. I’m not sure this is a downside, per se, but sometimes it makes me feel bad.

Side note:

My husband has started using Scrivener and he keeps saying that I was totally right about it. He uses some fancy tech term about it being a total environment, which apparently pleases him greatly.

To give credit where credit is due, I got my own recommendation from my friend Casey (@CaseyDownUnder if you’re on Twitter). I may owe her an acknowledgement or something in a book someday.

Progress Update

I’m still working on polishing up Surviving the Plague.  At this point, my goal is to have it completely polished and a query letter drafted and revised by March.  I’m revising at such a pace that I will definitely accomplish this goal, but the reason I picked March is that I would really like to participate in the next Twitter #pitmad on March 17, 2016 (described here by Diana Urban, and rules by Brenda Drake here).

Things I’ve done this week:

  • consolidated chapters 4 and 5 into a single chapter under Robbie’s perspective
  • mapped out the major plot points in chapters 6 to 20
  • made a new outline consolidating and combining chapters 6 through 20 into 9 chapters with improved pacing
  • consolidated up through new chapter 9
  • made character sheets for my characters based on their descriptions, backgrounds, and goals for my personal reference (not even the main characters had these yet because I mostly discovery wrote this book)
  • drafted a few #pitmad pitches to set aside, revise, and then use in March

Another thing I’ve been trying to do this week is beta-read my friend’s NaNoWriMo novel (about 85k words).  We exchanged betas, if you can even call my version of the Flight novel a beta.  Her feedback on the plague novel was amazingly helpful, so I’m trying to give that as much attention as I possibly can.

Oh, and I figured out how to export to epub on Scrivener.  Hooray!  No more awkward converting thing I had been using for .rft files on Windows.

I’m feeling fairly accomplished this week, but also fairly exhausted.  I’ve had a lot of RL going on, and abiding by my goal of writing 2 hours a day has been difficult.  So far, so good, but difficult.  And this weekend is going to be even busier.  Since I’m going to be out of my house from about 8 am to 10 pm tomorrow, I don’t think I’m going to have much chance to write, but I may try to do something when I get home.

Scrivener

Several of my writing friends, including some who actually get paid to write, use Scrivener for drafting.  Various people have tried to convince me to try it, but I had a variety of excuses at hand.  Things like “my word processor works fine” and “I don’t want to start something new in the middle of a project” and “but how can I justify paying for something when I’m not making any money at writing.”

Shortly after my writing break, I decided to give the free trial of Scrivener a try.  I figured that it couldn’t hurt to look into it while I was getting all geared up for NaNoWriMo, and if I really liked it, I’ve spent $40 on video games that I’ve only played for a few hours and surely I could justify the price of one piece of helpful software.  But I would REALLY have to like it.

It turns out that I really like it.  I did the entire tutorial to explore the features, and I have to say that I was almost sold at that point.  Splittable windows is something I can do on my two monitors already, but splittable windows where I can lock one in (like my draft or outline) while easily clicking through my research and notes in the other to reference what I need without having to distract myself by leaving the program and digging around?  I stated salivating.

But the ability to link things like a wiki is what really sold me.  Until this point I’ve been using separate systems of a free, crappy wiki and physical paper notes.  Having the wiki-like ability in the program itself is golden.  And it has turned into a great way to organize my paper notes. I have a scanner at home, and I can easily scan and import stuff.  I still remember the time I lost a whole handwritten chapter of the Plague Novel somewhere.  I’m pretty sure I can avoid that, now.

As far as downsides, I sometimes get lost in the interface.  It’s this odd combination of way too simple for me to easily do what I want, but also way too complicated for me not to get distracted while trying to find what I need.  It’s somewhat intuitive, just not enough for someone that gets easily frustrated by technology (like me).  The sheer amount of organizational features can also get distracting, but that’s mostly because it encourages me to be way more organized than I am by default.  I think when the shiny newness wears off of those, I’ll have picked up a few habits that actually save me time.

Right now I’m mostly glad I purchased it, but I’ll give it a fuller review when I’m done with NaNoWriMo.  After 50k words and two months, it should be pretty broken-in.