Scrivener – First Impressions

*Post migrated from old blog*

If you’ve followed me on Twitter at all, you know I’ve recently started poking around with Scrivener. Like many, I’ve been an MS Word user. It’s what I use at work. I’ve used it for years, going back to Office 97. It’s what I know.

The writing masses: “…but Scrivener…”

Yes, I know. The one-stop shop writing application. Outline, characters, manuscript, E-book generating all in one package.

Like a lot of writers, I’ve been in kind of a funk that is usually rectified by changing something up. I just left my second job this week, which gets me a gets me a couple extra hours to write, daily, after doing other regular life stuff I’ve had to neglect while working 70+ hours a week. I’m trying my hand at some serious outlining to (hopefully) increase my output beyond what I was doing as a semi-pantser. And the last piece to the “shake things up” puzzle is moving out of my comfort zone (MS Word) and trying what the likes of Scott Sigler and many others recommend: Scrivener.

I have to say I like the actual 30 days of use trial. The cost is very reasonable given what everyone says it can do, should I decide to stick with it. The learning curve (for me) is a little daunting, but that would more have to do with me being a crotchety old fart, set in my ways. While I’m not that old, I can clearly see me sitting on the front porch, in a rocker, reminiscing about the days of buying Atari computer magazines for free programs in BASIC I’d have to spend hours keying in and saving on a cassette. Yeah…no floppy drive on my 800XL.

*Wags cane at kids*, “Get off my lawn!!!”

I have to say that after watching a number of tutorials posted by Scrivener users, I definitely see the value and potential. Although, most of what I’ve seen cover the Mac version. Some of the subtle differences between that and Windows have caused me a little grief.

I’ve gone with using the note cards on the corkboard for my first novella I’m writing in Scrivener for chapters and scenes. I think I like this better than the outline view, right now.

Right now, I love having the Inspector open while writing in the manuscript. Having the notecard for that scene right there to refer to is very handy and I can make changes right on it, if needed. I know I’ve only scratched the surface with this application, but I think I’m going to dig it, in the long run.

I do have a couple issues, though. First, I’ve heard – and it must be true because I can’t find it – that it either doesn’t have a find/replace function or its not very good. This would necessitate exporting into Word if I had any large scale changes that needed that feature. This isn’t a big deal, since exporting as a .docx is a native function, but I worry about re-importing it and all the extra poop code that Word adds mucking with file when I compile it into an E-Book. Which reminds me…

I’ve not touched the compiler yet. It’s supposed to be awesome. I hope it is. A poorly formatted Ebook will kill sales as fast or faster than a bad story. I mean, it’ll take something special to tear me away from the meany ways to strip that poop code out of a .doc or .docx before formatting and I have a pretty good working relationship with Calibre.

As for my other nitpick – and its no more than that – When typing in the manuscript, I feel like I’m working in freaking wordpad. It’s just the view. The manuscript page spans across the full viewing area between the Binder and the Inspector. I’m used to the page view in Word. It feels like I’m typing on paper. If I’m working in Scrivener on a 24″ monitor, I could easily type what would be a short paragraph on a single line. It just looks…wrong. I mean, I know it doesn’t matter with regard to Ebooks but it just bugs me.

Speaking of that, I’m off to go get bugged by typing in that pseudo Wordpad. Any Scrivener tips, would be appreciated.

Till next time.

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